Don't Eat Dessert before you have your Veggies

Can we just take a moment to think about all the fabulous desserts that you have ever had? I mean oooey ,gooey, messy melt in your mouth hot desserts like Pioneer Woman’s peach cobbler, or Hot Apple Pie, or that Butter Cake I had with Rob in Las Vegas last month or for that matter every Death by Chocolate I’ve ever tried. So far not dead yet…so I’m going to keep on trying them. Or what about those cold confections like Chocolate Lovers Trash Concrete from the Dip, or Southern Living’s Banana Pudding or O’Charleys caramel pie. Let’s not forget good ole NYC Junior’s cheesecake, or that Chocolate Mess I had with Kellie the other day. I love, love, LOVE desserts and I just thought of another while I’m typing…I can’t forget Tiramisu in NYC - but my favorite recipe was definitely when Kim and I had to make pans and pans of it for a youth event years ago. Remember that? Ok now lets go ahead and name our favorite veggies - go…um…hello? Anyone? Bueller? Why are there so many crickets? I like fried okra, and corn on the cob. Green beans and broccoli aren’t bad…but I just can’t get excited about them like I do dessert. Am I listing the greatest veggies at the greatest restaurants I’ve been to? I mean do any of these sound as good as any of the desserts I listed before? Let’s be honest…even my favorite people who love their veggies have to admit, these don’t sound nearly as wonderful as the Chocolate Mess or hot Peach Cobbler.

Well this next blog post is really a no brainer all right…I mean I’m not being extremely original here. If you are like me and have had that piece of cheesecake before dinner - yes I have, and I guarantee you’ve done it too - you know you never do get around to getting the veggies eaten. They just don’t seem appealing anymore if you have already inhaled all that sugar. I’ve had to work on this lesson in the studio before and yesterday was no exception. Let me describe a scenario for you - a student arrives having prepared several things really well, hiding one or two things behind the rest of the books. It’s kind of obvious to me already what’s going on , but I let them do what they do. I try really hard to keep a variety of music in front of my piano students. Depending on their age and level, I try not to overcomplicate it, but we usually have a book of some technical/scale type exercises, a lesson book and a book of fun songs and sometimes a hymn/worship song book. If they are a little further along, I will add in a composition/music writing book and/or chord instruction book to go along with lead sheets or fakebooks. Inevitably if they are struggling to practice consistently, it becomes painfully obvious early on.

Some weeks I start with the warmups, and then move through the different books..but sometimes I like to change it up and ask them to play the song they enjoyed the most that week. Always the song they enjoyed the most is the one they practiced the most. Go figure…where they spent their time is what improved the most and in return becomes their favorite. Who doesn’t love to sound good - so it’s pretty easy to want to play something that sounds good! Eventually in every lesson though, a song or two is exposed for the little amount of time practiced. There’s usually a common is the hardest piece, it’s not as much fun or it’s the hardest piece so it’s not much fun right now. So we struggle through a performance of a piece that in all reality may have been played through at home for a week from top to bottom or maybe not at all. I say “we struggle” because the student struggles to play it, and I struggle with listening to something I know is unprepared. As a teacher, striking a balance between critique and encouragement is a HUGE challenge. Sometimes we just have to encourage the student to keep making things better, letting them know where they improved already, and reminding them that there’s still more to do. That’s usually my first angle…I am incredibly perfectionistic, so I have to temper my expectations many times, and though I insist on clean rhythms regularly, some other things may have to just be ok. But if after repeated encouragement things don’t improve, sometimes my tactics have to change. In order to be inspired to be better, sometimes we need to know that we have missed the mark and we need to work harder and smarter to make the progress necessary. So then I have to be tough and ask some hard questions - “how much time did you put into this piece?” If that one is met with a positive amount of time, then the next question is “How did you spend that time - what did you do?” But truthfully 9 times out of 10 the question is answered with not very much time at all. I usually follow up with a why question to try to understand what is really going on. Sometimes it’s the piece itself…sometimes the music just isn’t pretty or fun or interesting, but again 9 times out of 10 it’s “too hard.”

When I’m met with the “too hard” response I try to analyze quickly whats going on. Do they have multiple pieces at one time that are all challenging…meaning the repertoire just doesn’t have a healthy mix of difficulty levels.

Do they have a legitimate complaint…is this piece just too far beyond them.

Or…and this is especially if they asked to play the song in question - is it just that when they look at the page they believe it to be too hard so they wait until the end of their practice times each day and “run out of time” to practice it and the piece never really gets worked.

Yesterday was just such a case. The student had asked to play a song from Tangled and its definitely cute and the difficulty factor is just a bit beyond the student, but manageable if practiced well. So the problem was more that, during her practice time she was spending her time playing the things that she could easily get ready for her lesson this week - the exercises and short lesson book songs, but always waiting to the end of practice to play this piece. In this case, nothing ever happens because at the end of a practice session even if it’s 15-20 minutes you are just not as fresh as you were when you first got started. So instead of practicing this difficult piece each day when she practiced through the week - it either barely got a glance at the end of practice, or got set aside for another day “when there is more time”. So what’s the life lesson here for the broader spectrum of our lives..because it’s really important that we get this! Do the hard things first! This is true in any task we try to undertake in our daily lives. If you are a college student - do your hardest assignments first and knock them out. Mentally you will feel as if a huge burden is lifted and you’ll be able to finish the easier assignments quickly and have more free time. If you are trying to clean your house - clean the worst mess first! Start a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, set the oven to self clean and start working on the pile of papers overtaking the office. Or the laundry that seems to be replicating on the bed. And no I am absolutely not talking about myself right now…ha!

If we don’t force ourselves to act on the difficult things, the mind will play terrible games with us and render us powerless for the task at hand. I don’t care if you are trying to play a difficult piece on the piano, sing an Italian aria, take a College Psych class, do a backflip or clean out a closet. The mind will dwell on the difficulty of the task, and in very short order we will decide that we can’t get it done. Whether you “CAN’T” do it because you are not capable, don’t have the knowledge/understanding, or the right tools, or enough time - it doesn’t matter. Don’t put it off - take on the challenge head first and get the hardest jobs done first…you will find you have MORE time at the end of the day versus getting psyched out over the big job and doing all the little things first and excusing yourself for running out of time. And in case you miss it, there never is MORE time…we have 24 hours in a day - every one of us. Once it’s gone, it’s gone..don’t waste time obsessing about needing more time - just go do the Hard things that you have been procrastinating about - I promise it’ll work - just DO it!

Creative processes, Femininity, and Fish Sticks...

I’m having one of those days. Creative people will likely (maybe) understand…It happens when we try to write music, or a book, or create an amazing work of art. There are a lot of days along the way that lack inspiration and ideas, and then there are days when too many ideas are flowing..too many snippets of great themes to write a piece of music around, too many lyrics that flow and too many words to say to be coherent or logical or understood. Today is one of those days. I’ve been trying to sit down to write for about three hours. But life…do I really need to elaborate? I mean you understand right? I have children, we homeschool, I teach piano and voice, and have laundry piles and paperwork piles out the door. I juggle so many things, that sometimes I feel like I juggle the juggling…and sometimes I just need TIME. Today is one of those days. I have just started in the last several months to allow myself the opportunity to work on some writing projects. I say allow, because I really have to schedule the TIME in to be able to sit down and get anything accomplished. I say allow, because for me to sit down and type these words out means that I am not folding that pile of laundry or fixing the paperwork that is going to one day overtake the office. I say allow because it means I’m not working on grading the work that is being done or not done, or checking on what’s cooking in the kitchen. There’s three children, there is always something cooking in the kitchen. But I have to sit and write, if for no one else but myself. I am compelled to write. I have discovered that I am a “stream of consciousness” type of writer I do this because I am also a perfectionist and I do try very hard to edit my thoughts after, but in the midst of the process I work really hard at just letting the ideas flow. But today the ideas are everywhere. I have been working for a couple of days now on a blog post regarding illegal immigration and the role of the church. I have ideas on politics, and the things that are so important in the upcoming election. My head is turning on the lack of prayer in our churches and daily lives, and the great need for a spiritual awakening right here right now today. I'm compelled by the great needs of our society and the culture at large globally. I’m overwhelmed with the thoughts of the ravages of cancer and the disease that affects so many lives of friends and families today. As a matter of fact I have to laugh for a second and let the computer catch up to me. I am typing so fast that I have apparently overwhelmed my pages app with my typing because it is laboring under the load of my thoughts. mercy… This happens to me when I argue an opinion with a friend or my thoughts go into overload and can't keep up and so I sound very illogical and unprepared. That's why writing holds such appeal for me. I can type type type away, and then go back and make sure that the point I'm trying to make is still the point I am writing about.

I have never actually planned on my blog being a one track mind kinda place. I have lots of ideas to share about many different things, not just my Christian walk, but these first few posts seem to be centered around that for some reason. I have prepared some other posts in fact and some are related to real life lessons but I haven’t been really excited to post those yet. Again I’m not sure why…I’m trying to navigate through the ideas in my head carefully being sure to post the next “right” thing.

You see I have always been a “strong woman” … definition - opinionated, and prefers being in charge. That’s right, everything about me screams let me lead and I know how to get things done. This is a difficult position for any woman. We have natural God given abilities, we have confidence, we have a strong work ethic and believe if we don’t know something now or today, we can certainly figure it out. We are headstrong and opinionated and believe we have the answer to the problem. We are full of ambition and ready to take on whatever task lies in front of us. The problem with myself and others who are wired like me is that we are very goal driven and list oriented. We thrive on the checklist and the feeling of accomplishment it brings. Unfortunately this means that we are not relationship driven. This can mean that we can neglect the very folks around us who love us just the way we are. We can neglect nurturing relationships with the TIME they need, because we need the TIME to accomplish our lists. Does this resonate with anyone else besides me? I mean I do it all the time…I choose to stay in and fold laundry, or work on a project, instead of shop the mall, sipping a latte or grabbing lunch with a friend. I detest spending time on the phone, and prefer a quick text as means of communicating. But all of that leads to distance in relationships because people feel like we don’t care about them. Or they perceive us as having a superior attitude to everyone else because we don’t really sit and make small talk. Having a Mary heart in a Martha world is a true challenge. I read the two books that Joanna Weaver wrote about this very topic when my kids were little and seemed like they required tons of work. I still remember that Joanna Weaver wrote them even though it's been likely 10 years since I last read them 14 times in a row.  At this particular phase of my life though, my husband and I were very busy working in our local church.  Not only did we have very young children but we also assisted in our church by leading the youth group, leading the college and career, having weekly Bible studies that included dinner and teaching Sunday school each week. I also was the church pianist, and planned out the music for the church services for part of that time, including the special music schedule, and my husband worked in the sound booth, ushered and was in leadership positions in various committees that met weekly, or monthly etc. I also baked muffins every week for delivery to the folks that were visited on Monday nights after they came to church on Sunday. Lest you think I was home all the time during the day with nothing to do, I was also working as an Administrative Assistant for a VP from my home, and I am tired just typing these words out! Trying to implement strategies of being more like Martha and resting at Jesus’ feet were almost impossible at the time, but I did find myself craving something more from my relationships. There were almost too many goals and things to be accomplished at that point in time.  It was a real battle to find time for anything else at that stage, and most days felt as if I was failing on so many levels.

Unfortunately,  I have also found myself in a quandary in today’s Christian culture at large. These are not necessarily treasured character traits of the Christian woman in today's society. I have found myself at odds with many things since I was a young child. There have been ideas in the church that have been difficult to accept - and sometimes I have wondered if I changed denominations I would be happier. I’ve told my mom for years that I’m sure I really should have been a man. Haha...did you laugh?  Good - I do too, because I really am glad I am a female, but surely you understand what I mean.  I took a spiritual gifts survey many years ago and the number 1 trait - evangelism. Do you know any Baptist female evangelists? I say Baptist because I know that’s the distinction. I have been taught to direct choirs, and lead orchestras, but do you see any women as Baptist worship leaders in a church? Also before you believe me to be disparaging the Baptist faith and denomination. I am absolutely not doing that. I definitely am a Baptist and my search and study of Scripture bears out that my theology aligns mostly with the Baptist Faith and Distinctions. But being full of ambition I desire to run for political office, and start a business, write books , write and publish music and do theater. The lists are endless of things I enjoy and want to do. So how in the world do I navigate this treacherous water. Before you write me off as a blazing feminist, understand that I am not a liberal feminist. What I want to be is an advocate for girls and women who desire to please the Lord in our femaleness. I don’t believe it is wrong to be a strong Female voice. But I do believe it can be a harder row to hoe then if we are born with a little different nature. Being compliant and easy going would be far easier to manage in this church environment but wouldn’t we all get a bit boring if we were all alike and thought just like each other? What does it look like on a daily basis to be a strong female leader, happy in our femininity and strength but not assuming a role of leadership of men?  Well I certainly don't have all the answers, and I'm certain I get it wrong a lot of the time but this is what I have found out so far. It’s following the Lord and doing what He leads us too. It’s submitting to our husbands desires and goals and dreams, even when it means giving up some of our own. It’s working and pursuing, and gaining knowledge knowing that there may be a day in the future when that skill set or talent may be needed. It’s doing the thousand little things each day in our lives that God calls us to in our family lives even when it seems dull and unimpressive. It’s working hard to influence the young hearts and minds in our care for their greater purpose of bringing glory to the kingdom of God and realizing that it is no small task or work of ministry.

Do I regret being a woman in this position - not at all. It’s here in this spot of the rock and the hard place that I learn to trust my Creator. Realizing that he does not give us desires and ambitions just to torture us with seeing these things unmet. My desire for marriage and a family was so great when I was in college, but I could not see who God had planned for my future. My mother reassured me frequently that God places in our hearts the desires that we are to have when we are pursuing Him and His will. God has always met those needs and desires for me just not always on my timetable. But His perspective is far greater than mine and He sees the beginning and the ending not just the middle of what I’m doing at that moment.

So at this point in time, I feel as if I’m on the brink of something new.  God is stirring in my heart anew a change of some sort. I have no idea what it may be, but I’m ready for whatever God has for me when He’s ready to show me. I have been impatient in the past and that leads to nothing but dissatisfaction when we are discouraged that our timetable is not being met. I was ready to run for political office in the Spring. I was ready to jump in, had my talking points, opinions and reasons why I was a good candidate to elect. And then the family fell apart…there was a knee injury, and wrist problems, there was physical therapy two, three, four times a week with doctors appointments in between. It was so painfully obvious that the timing was just not right. Not yet.. So I wait, knowing that I’m ready and willing for whatever lies ahead.

For’s checking that the fish sticks haven’t burned in the oven. The 11 year old boy is making lunch today…one more step on the road to independence for the youngest one and me learning to let loose of the reins a little bit at a time.  It's learning to rest in the moment, and work hard at the appointed times and pursue our relationship with God with all that lies within us.

With heavy heart and tears...

I wrote this particular post before I started the blog.  I realize that may be strange to you, but I had all these things in my head and need to get them out.  I woke up this morning and ready of the KY State Trooper who had been killed early this morning, I reviewed the feed of the video of the attack at the Delta State Fair yesterday because the ride operator was moving too slowly and just shook my head.  I thought about this post and thought..I should post this, it's still relevant today, just as it was when I was writing it on 9.1.15.  But I talked myself out of it, and thought of the other things I've been writing lately, thinking I would post one of those later today.  But then the news hit that Delta State is under lockdown with a shooter on campus and a man dead.  Just as my thoughts were running on 9.1 and again as I revisted my memories from 9.11 I realized my thoughts remain the same, the battle continues to be waged and I wonder how long do we wait for the enemy to be defeated.  If anyone has ever really doubted the truth of Scripture in the realm of spiritual warfare - let me challenge you to think through it once again.  The evil that runs rampant among us is not just flesh and blood.  The ruler of the darkness of this world is roaming back and forth and looking for who he may devour.  Once again I seek God's justice to right the wrongs and to once and for all vanquish our enemy.  Here's the post I wrote almost 2 weeks ago.  I have not edited, or adjusted my's just whats coming out of my head...again not perfect, not polished..just me.


Yesterday I was ready to fight.  Fight the Spiritual battles that war around us, fight those who long to break marriage and families apart and encourage others to fight the good fight as well.

Today I’m overwhelmed with the desire for God’s action.  For Him to not delay any longer in exacting His righteous justice upon the lawlessness of this earth.  I am weary of praying the same prayers for those who need Him and waiting for Him to act swiftly.  As wonderful as His mercy is towards me, and I crave the knowledge that there is nothing I can do to lose His steadfast love and loving kindness toward me - I am anxious and impatient for Him to move on behalf of those who have no one else to fight for them.

My prayers this morning for the ministries of New Hope Girls Academy and Jewelry and the DR Vision ministries this morning turned into an all out emotional cry fest.  I begged the Lord to intercede in their lives and ministries today and bring healing to those who have been hurt and destroyed by sin.  Little girls, who by no fault of their own, are girls and as such are a commodity on the island.  Little girls who should be free to run and jump and play with the friends playing hopscotch, or kickball or whatever they want who instead are locked away in safety on the side of a mountain. Little girls who are not safe to be out at night for fear of someone taking them away.  Little girls who still rejoice that they have received love - Jesus’ love in physical form from women who labor tirelessly and many long hours for these precious faces.  They are burned in my mind and etched in my heart and I cannot forget or lose sight of the many needs they face.  Slip across the island and see the weary women who were these little girls once upon a time and in need of rescue but none came.  No one came and helped them or their families, and they were sucked into the mire and muck of the sex trade.  People actually travel to this country purely for this particular entertainment.  It disgusts me and fills with me anger.  The majority of these women had no choices offered to them and took the only route available to them to survive and now they continue to support the children who have been fathered and abandoned to them to raise.  Now these women are leading new lives and learning new truths, but who’s struggles run deep and heartaches are real.

How long dear Lord, how long will you delay your justice in their lives.  Why do you wait - why don’t you act.

It’s really an unmistakable fact that around the world the girls of the world are the discarded ones.  The ones who's only value lies in the small amount of money that can be made when their lives and bodies are sold into bondage.  All because they are born girls.  They are unwanted in many nations because they can’t carry on a family name, all because they are girls.

How long will You delay? these precious children whom you have known from before time began - how long will you delay before you mete out your perfect justice?

As I prayed this morning and wept and grieved for these girls, and teens and women, my heart turned and I prayed for those men and women who were being attacked simply for the faith in Christ that they profess.  You don’t have to look hard to know that there are prisoners in Iran, China, North Korea, and countless other God forsaken lands that have been jailed, tortured and punished for simply having the audacity to believe that Christ is the way to Heaven.

How long Lord will you delay?

Men torn from their families, and beaten without mercy - with one swipe of Your hand, or one breath from Your mouth God, You could remove them and their memory from our earth forever.  I continued to pray, and to ask God to move in a mighty way and I thought of the havoc that ISIS is currently having on our world.  The sheer barbarity of their methods and outrageous acts of heinous disregard for life of any kind but their own is stunning and overwhelming to my soul.  I can barely breath when I think of these souls who are simply being rounded up and destroyed for no other reason than where they live, or because they refuse to do as they have been told.  Or Boko Haram or Syria’s Bashir or any of the other bloody and destructive regimes of man made proportion.

My prayers continued and my heart turned with heaviness toward the things happening here in our own nation.  The complete disregard for life in our land is appalling.  The depths of depravity to which we have sunk is mind numbing - whether you want to speak of the videos we have seen and news we have heard coming from Planned Parenthood, and the selling of baby parts, did I actually just type that - the selling of pieces of human babies?  God forbid! or the attack on police officers lives almost daily reports now in the news from city to city around our nation.  My dad was a state trooper, my uncle and cousins and friends have all been or are currently in law enforcement - this hits home for me and hurts.  They don’t do it for the money, or because it feels good but because they desire to keep the peace.  Enforce the laws, protect the innocent, and keep evil at bay.  It feels as if we are coming apart at the seams.  I weep for the loss of purity and sanctity and for the lack of moral compass because we have denied God and His goodness for too long.  We are so stuck in desire for pleasure and entertainment, we become indifferent to the news as more of it gets piled on.

Why aren’t we grieving?  The loss of all lives matters.  God is the giver of life and all lives matter. We are each made in God’s image - so we all matter.  It doesn’t matter the color of the skin, the creed or religion, or the differences of our belief system.  All lives matter.  But who is fighting for the ones who can’t fight for themselves.  We are told, commanded to fight for the oppressed and the widow and the fatherless.  Who is acting on their behalf with any resolve?  Why is our nation slow to move to restore dignity and hope to those without any? Why do we not try to rescue our citizens from other nations who refuse to cooperate?  What happened to our indignation over the treatment of those who can’t do anything for us?  I can’t comprehend it - why are we so complacent.

I submit that we are callous and content.  We live on in our comfy houses, and our cozy beds with no thought of what we are going to eat tomorrow.  We have plenty.  We have more than plenty frankly, we are overwhelmed with the niceties of this life and all it has to offer.  We have wi-fi, electricty, cell phones and need of nothing.  So we surround ourselves with happy things, and tv shows that make us laugh, wondering what will happen next on the Kardashians, or Big Brother  because that stuff is so culturally relevant.  We bemoan the sad state of the VMA show on MTV because it isn’t what it used to be and we turn a blind eye to the catastrophic disaster of lives crumbling all around us.  We hear it, and comment how awful it is on Facebook, Instagram and send out a tweet with a cool hashtag believing we have taken some action on this.  But nothing changes.  The next time we hear of another murder, another suicide, another life removed too soon, we weep less, we grieve less and eventually we just turn up the sound of the television because that stuff just becomes the new normal.

How long Lord will you delay your hand of judgment? How long will you wait for us to move on your behalf? How long Lord till you hear the cries of your people for rescue and restoration.  Lord let it be today - please, move today!  I am weary and tired and wait for you to move.  I guess theres no irony in the fact that my Bible study of late is in Psalms.  I feel like I understand David - he was constantly praying for God to give to his enemies exactly what they deserved and find myself praying the same way.  I want justice and I want the rights to be wronged.  Sin wreaks havoc on lives and this is just more havoc and more loss and reproach to us.  As a normal human, we should be horrified by the actions of those taken around us in this world today.  As American citizens we should be even more appalled that things happen here and abroad to our citizens of our sovereign nation and our leaders do not seek to protect us and help us when we need it.  And our greater calling as Christians and those who profess to love the Lord, we sit on our hands and don’t act.  We have the greatest weapon in our arsenal, and we have no requirements for it’s use other than that we have a clear line of communication.  Prayer is that weapon and its available to those young and old, to those who are physically capable and to those who are not.  To those who are mentally stable and emotionally well, and to those who are not.  To those who are lovely people and to those who are not.  To those who have it all together and to those of us who don’t  Black and white, yellow and red the prayer weapon is the MOST valuable resource we can employ but we are too busy to pay the price of sacrifice and spend our time getting on our faces before God pleading with him to take action.  We are too comfortable in our beds to get up early in the morning, we are too tired at night to spend time in prayer, and we are too callous to our own sin in our lives, to bother spending time in God’s word and begging Him to create in us a clean heart.  Woe to us, for not bothering to do something about it.  Woe to us my Christian friend for not caring enough about others, to sacrifice precious time and energy and resources to do something for the kingdom.  Because at the very root of all the violence, and the unrest, and the activities of those who mock God is sin and what this world needs more than anything else that we can give is Jesus.  Only Jesus can change a man or woman completely from the inside out.  We need Jesus and we need to spread the good news of what Jesus has done for us sooner rather than later.  What on earth are we waiting for….


Passion..Passion..Passion I am passionate about many things. I have opinions that are passionate and I have convictions about passions. I am passionate about coffee and chocolate, children, music, politics and Jesus…not necessarily in that order but coffee and chocolate are high on the list.

While someone might read this and think at the end of this little ditty that I am indicting anyone else on their behaviors or how they handle life, I want to open with a statement letting you know right now - this is to no one else, but myself. These are the ideas that roll around in my head, and how I pour out my heart to God in my quiet time and some of the conclusions I am reaching in that process. I, in no way shape or form have things figured out..I am a work in progress. So please don’t read this and feel as if I am taking aim at anyone - I really am not…this is a very personal deal for me and I genuinely don’t judge if you post about chocolate, music, or politics. Because I do too! Please hear my heart…I am striving for balance and focus personally - not for everyone else in my timeline or twitter feed! OK?

I am highly task oriented and filled with the desire for things to be done right. I am so strong in my sense of justice that many times mercy is nowhere to be found. I find it incredible that my God balances both justice and mercy in such a delicate manner that it really kinda just blows my mind. I don’t like to enter in an exit…I don’t care if the bank is closed, you enter the entrance and you follow the arrows! Same thing at Zaxbys in Hernando, MS do not turn left after you enter…the arrow says to go right…so just do it the right way people!

I have many tasks that I do on a daily basis..some out of love and desire, some out of necessity. Some things I have an extreme opinion over and some I do not. Folding towels should be done precisely in the manner I want it to be done…I will refold! Same thing with the dishwasher. If I open that sucker up and it is not packed out to its ultimate potential I am reorganizing and adding more! And those are things that I do not have an extreme opinion on - but I do believe they need to be done right.

Extreme opinions on the matter of the constitution, the 3 branches of Government and the government stepping on states rights are much more passionate. I’m passionate about doing it right in the music studio and teaching kids to love music and be better than they were before they came to see me. I’m passionate about sports and love to watch them and participate in fantasy draft football and making out my college championship basketball brackets each season. I’m passionate about music - good and bad, lyrics and beats, auto tune, and harmonies. I have some really strong opinions on good and bad. I recently went to see the Jonah production in Branson MO - my friend who had previously seen it asked if I enjoyed it. I told her I did, and then proceeded to tell her which acts and why, the staging, sets, live sound, and elaborated on harmonies. I then realized, she really was just wanting a yes it was great kind of answer and not a breakdown on the why. It took me a minute…because I have an opinion!

I have an opinion on homeschooling, home based businesses and my rights as a citizen in the good ole US of A. I have opinions on how we should personally take responsibility as citizens in the land we live and vote and research candidates and issues to be fully responsible in that role. I think we have removed too much History and too much Bible from our children’s education and too many parents have detached completely from being the parents only they can be. I’m passionate about good nutrition systems, and being healthy. I’m passionate about products that work, or taste good, or are good for me and taste good or that skin cream that made my wrinkles disappear - for real - it really did. I get on Facebook and Twitter from time to time and the things I could post are too numerous. Do I talk about my kids, my studio events, my health and wellness company, my husband, our travels, sports, or Jesus? Do I mention the homeschool business my kids started, the drama my daughter is in or the fact that I hate cancer and those people who are killing policeman?

I’m absolutely serious..I could fill all of your timelines up with my opinions and passions and not skip a beat - or be done. That would be just one day or an afternoon or even an hour. I could go on about what is happening in the Dominican Republic and how I have seen first hand how much we could really help if we really, truly wanted to. I could talk about the decay of morality in America, and the collapse of the family. I could exhort the church to clean its own house and work on it’s marriages, and homes till the cows come home.

But at the end of the day I rarely say much..most of it stays locked up in my head and on my heart. Because mostly I feel like nobody really cares…I am passionate about so many things, how can they hear me above the noise of one relentless post after another. How do I keep the main thing the main thing because at the end of the day the only thing that matters is Jesus? I want to be passionate most of all about Jesus because that’s exactly what the world needs today. Jesus is the answer to the conflicts and wars around the world, Jesus is the answer to ISIS, Syria, and Obama. Jesus is the answer to school prayer, violence, and the evil that men do to each other. Jesus … only Jesus. So how do I make the most of the words that I do have? I don’t honestly know…I’m still navigating how to make the important things important. What good is it to be passionate about so many things, but for me to never let people know that Jesus is the most important person that they could ever meet. Knowing that Jesus is the answer to our sin problem - the Nations, the USA, the state of Mississippi, the county of Desoto, the congregation at Longview Point, the household of the Duerstocks, and me and my own depraved, wicked, sinful heart.

Jesus - pure and holy, righteous and just, gracious and merciful full of compassion who sacrificed everything…even His perfect relationship with His Father, took my sin and shame upon Himself, endured the rejection of the Father and the entire world to hang on a cross and die for me. He was beaten and mocked, disrespected and dishonored, rejected and alone and while completely powerful to remove himself from that awful scene- he accepted my punishment willingly and wholeheartedly so that I can have a secure future in a home He has prepared for me in Heaven one day. Without that sacrifice, I would be without hope, desperate and doomed for all of eternity. Without that sin debt being satisfied by His precious blood, I would be lost in my sins and muck forever without any redemption in my future. When I get passionate about everything else under the sun, I decide to get quiet for just a moment and consider these thoughts. Because frankly everything else pales in comparison to the understanding that I need to be passionate about sharing my faith and my story with a world who is dying to know Him and the Hope he brings each and every person. When I get really passionate about sharing Jesus, the other things just don’t matter quite as much to me anymore. The balance shifts, and the most important things stay front and center. At the end of the day, I don’t have to be less passionate about the other things - I believe it’s extremely important that American Christians have a voice in todays society - and we should definitely accept responsibility to be salt and light in our culture. But the balance shifts when we keep Jesus as the focal point for the conversation. Because of Jesus I am alive! Because of Jesus you can be too!