Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy 16th Birthday Levi





Levi with his Great-grandmother "Mamaw"




Today is my oldest son’s birthday. He is 16 years old. He was due on February 28, 1996, and was born on February 29. My entire family, cousins included said, “Leave it up to Kathy to have a leap year baby!”


He is special. He is my firstborn son. The leap year thing just adds to his special status. 


L to R: Billy Haag, Levi Haag, Me, Rusty Haag


Levi Taylor Haag was named for my father’s middle name: Taylor. But my father never met him. He had already passed when Levi was born.


As my firstborn, he is the one that I dedicated back to God after reading in the Old Testament that God wants our first fruits and our first born. He is the one that I read the entire New Testament to when he was a baby because I wanted him to hear the scripture in his spirit. 


He is the child that I learned on. He is the one that I learned about formula and bottles and pampers with. He is the one that we could afford to have pictures of, and the one I foolishly took to the fair while he was still an infant. 


He is the one that I ran to the emergency room when he first climbed and fell and got a bloody nose. The Doctor looked at him, and suggested that we all go home and go to bed.



He has had to grow up the fastest because he is the first born. He had to baby sit his brothers at the ripe old age of ten (under the supervision of helpful neighbors who were like family), so that I could go to work. 


Levi playing guitar in San Antonio; Age 14


At times, these 16 years have gone incredibly slowly; at other times, the years seem to have zoomed by. 


He led his brothers in creating a volcano with mud on a roaster pan in my house. After observing his dad pour carpet fresh on the carpet, he tried to mimic the activity the next morning before we awoke; except that he had climbed up, retrieved the garlic powder instead of the carpet fresh, and poured it all over the brand new living room carpet. I woke up to a house smelling of garlic.


We had to put a hook lock on the refrigerator door when he was small, because he wouldn’t stay out of the refrigerator. At the age of ten, he had fourteen year olds in the neighborhood bringing his bicycles to him for repairs. 



Being the active boy that he has been, he has had stitches and a broken bone. He has shown leadership qualities through questioning and challenging. 


Levi and Me; Age 12ish


Now, he is 6’3”, 230 pounds, and loves cars and girls. (Well, one girl in particular I understand.) 


L to R: Rusty Haag, Billy Haag, Levi Haag, Me


All that he is; all that he will ever become; I will always love and be proud of him. 


Levi with his Dad. Age 15


Happy 16th birthday Levi Taylor Haag. I love you.


copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Body of Christ Broken for You






Three weeks ago, I was asked at my new church if I wanted to help to serve communion on Sunday morning. We have communion every Sunday. We have three stations. Two stations have people to go through the line and receive communion. The third station includes prayer with the communion offering.


Not many people like to serve at the station where they are called upon to pray with people. Many people are intimidated about praying with and for others in a setting in which they are called upon to pray out loud. I am not one of those people. It isn’t because I am particularly good at it; it is just that I have a desire to become good at it and I know how powerful prayer can be. I think that the only way to become good at something is to try. For more information about what I am not good at, I suggest that you read my post entitled “Foo-foo.” Ahem, I digress.


I agreed to help in the role of prayerful communion and two weeks later, they had me on the schedule. I attended church that morning not knowing quite what to expect. Whenever we think that we know what to expect, that is when we are frequently surprised by the unexpected. Sometimes it is a pleasant surprise, and sometimes, not so much.


I lined up with the other communion servers at the appointed time in the service, next to the gentleman with whom I would be partnered, used the hand cleaner, received communion from the pastor, and then was sent to our station.

We actually had customers. Without violating confidentiality, I have to say that I don’t know whether or not I blessed anyone, but I received a blessing. We had several people lined up for prayer. Several had a long list of areas that they wanted prayer in their lives. I was a little nervous about insuring that I remembered every request. As we prayed, I could sense relief for the individuals for their struggle. The relief was faith-driven. For the people asking for the prayer believed that the prayers were effective. I could see that in their countenance after we prayed together. I could see that the furrowed brows smoothed out as I offered the body of Christ to them. Seeing the calmness come over them was a blessing for me.

Feeling like I had handed them tangible hope with my words that were led by the Spirit of God was a mighty, powerful blessing for me.
I was reminded again that whenever we step forward with the sincere intent to bless others and to be the vessel through which the spirit of God operates, there is always a blessing awaiting us.

I left that service feeling quite uplifted. It is my hope that the people I prayed with did too.

Amen.
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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare:
 Today, I am thankful for:


71. Texting
72. Blogs
73. Easy recipes


Linking up today with Laura

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #29


Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 15 or for as long as you can.
Concentrate on the long signing sound and feel the tension diss
olve. Repeat 10 times.

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Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am thankful for :


68. A good night's rest
69. Sitting on the front porch with friends under blankets with the wind blowing in the evening.
70. Family photos to record our togetherness forever.


copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Unexpected Event at Sunday Worship


Today, I have invited Ryan Stratton to write a guest-post. Ryan Stratton is currently employed as Youth Director at Buda United Methodist Church in Buda, Texas, and a student at Wayland Baptist in San Antonio, Texas. He serves on the Austin District Lay Speakers Board, Austin District Youth Professionals, and the Austin/Crossroads Chrysalis Board. I am honored to have Ryan's message in word today.





The measure of God’s love can be expressed in many ways, depending on each person’s circumstance or situation. God’s love is the same for each of us, but impacts us in different ways in our lives. 

One Sunday, during the message, an elderly lady passed out, so some of the congregation began to check on her to see how she was doing. Once it was known she needed help, a prayer was offered up to help her heal and help her family during this time. The message for that day was about love and how we can express love to each other. 

Then, something amazing began to occur, a few people in the congregation stood up, held hands and prompted the entire congregation to create a large circle around the woman. This was a circle of love that can only be seen through the love God gives each of us. When EMS came, the woman made some jokes and had the people around her laughing and they took her to the hospital. 

The incredible piece to this story is that a sermon on Love was given by the people to the people in a way that could not be expressed by words. “Amazing Grace” was sung as the congregation took their seats and the service continued in prayer. “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that save a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.” To be part of this experience was incredible and what amazed me even more was how much God’s Love filled the room and the hearts of the congregation. 



copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can a Lay Person Really Speak?



Here I am leading a session at the Advanced Class







About three years ago, I responded to an announcement at my church about Lay Speaking classes. In the United Methodist Church, lay people can become Certified Lay Speakers. Because I have been speaking and singing in front of groups since I was a child, this sounded interesting to me.


I signed up and paid the little fee, and was excited to attend the first class, which I was sure would be the spiritual equivalent of Speech 101 in college. I loved that class, because we had a wonderful instructor.


Sheri, Ryan and Tami,
Course Instructors

To become certified through the United Methodist Church, two separate courses are required: Basic and Advanced. Sometimes someone will only take one or the other and think that they are certified, but it doesn’t quite work like that. Both classes have to be completed within a three-year time frame to be eligible for certification. Each class lasts approximately two days of eight hour sessions each. The Basic Class doesn’t have to be taken before the Advanced class.

Ellie attended the book table.
This was good for me because I was able to sign up for the Advanced Class first. Our particular topic was Our United Methodist Heritage. We received a book on the topic, which was great to have. Knowing the history of the religion that you profess is always beneficial. It is great to understand what the core beliefs are and why. One of the things that I received from this class is the knowledge of the connectedness of the United Methodist Church. We are somewhat unique in this over some, but not all, other religions. 



One of the benefits of this connectional system is that we have ministries in operation all over the world at all times. When a disaster occurs in a country, we don’t have to send people; usually, we already have people there who live there. And through our UMCOR program, (United Methodist Committee on Relief), because of our apportionments, (money paid to a central fund by every Methodist Church), every penny donated to UMCOR goes directly to the relief effort. None of that money is used for administrative costs. This is a church that is truly being the hands and feet of Jesus worldwide. Lay speaking classes helped me to realize the extent of these programs.


The thing that surprised me about the class is that it had more of a focus on ministry than on speaking. The idea behind the class was to give us the background and information that we needed to be able to lead a class about Methodism within our own churches. I also noticed that we had a lot of small group discussions, which gave us the opportunities to explore topics with others.


That is when I realized that Lay Speaking is more about leading, teaching and ministering. Speaking is one element of this leadership, but ironically, speaking isn’t always the focus.




When I took the basic class, in addition to providing information about the different gifts and ministries of laity, they also did a session about preaching and had us to write and present our own sermons, based utilizing the Wesleyan quadrilateral. That was fun and a little scary, because we didn’t just present our own sermons. We were critiqued on our sermons. But it turned out to not be as scary as I thought because the one critiquing now would be the one preaching later. That always softens the criticism before it starts.


After I finished the second class, which, for me, was the Basic class, I received a certificate, a pin and a wallet card that can be used for a discount card on selected books at Cokesbury. My children immediately lost the pin, but it was nice to have while it lasted. 


Then, I turned in a form to my Pastor for her signature and presentation to the charge conference. (Annual meeting of the administrative board with the District Superintendent to kick the tires, so to speak.) A vote is taken at the charge conference meeting to approve lay speakers. I am guessing that a recent ax murderer wouldn’t be approved. Then the District Superintendent forwards that information to the leader of the District Lay Speaking Committee. And voila, the process is complete.


Since becoming a Lay Speaker, I have had the opportunity to join the District Lay Speaking board and help to teach the newer classes. The Advanced Class topic changes every year based on the selection among approximately eight topics that are available. I have also had the opportunity to speak at different functions at church and preach at other churches. This has been a very rewarding journey.



For those in the Austin, Texas district, the next class will be held at Manchaca United Methodist Church on April 21 and 28, 2012 at 8am both days. Childcare and lunch will be provided. To sign up please contact Tami Anderson at tamianderson2000@yahoo.com.




copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #28


Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal can help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective. Or writing a letter to someone that you say all of the things that you want to, and then throwing the letter away can help to vent steam.

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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am thankful for:


65. Humility
66. Passion
67. Processing information with friends.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, February 20, 2012

Relationship Mastery: A Business Professional's Guide By: David Fraser, PhD




Have you ever met someone for the first time and realized that you were hitting it off? If so, you may have the same thinking style, according to Dr. David Fraser in Relationship Mastery. For example, you may both be visual thinkers. If you have trouble connecting with someone, it could very well be because you have different thinking styles: you may think visually, and the other person may be more of an auditory thinker, for example. So, how do you bridge that difficult gap with someone who has a different style so that you can communicate effectively? First, be able to identify the thinking style of others, by paying attention to certain cues that will reveal a person's thinking style. Then, you can acclimate your speaking patterns to match the other's style. Fraser identifies four different thinking styles, which include visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and auditory-digital. Then he explains all of this in a simple, easy to understand way.


Thinking styles are just one facet of the twelve steps in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is the methodology advocated by Dr. Fraser. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is an intimidating label applied to the skill set that leads to improved relationships in every area of life. This programming relies on learned material from the areas of psychology, Provocative Therapy, semantics and anthropology. Dr. Fraser developed these concepts into a twelve-step system that simplifies the intimidating label.


The twelve steps are in the following areas: Attention to others, attitude, self-control, wavelength, filters, connection, values, language, self-awareness, attention to yourself, balance and love.


Dr. Fraser wrote that approximately 100 days of work in these areas should produce results that are noticeable to others. Although this book can be read in a matter of hours, working on the specific areas will require more time.


He cites the wonderful body of work by Dale Carnegie in his relationship study, but makes the point that the area of human relations has been more highly developed since Carnegie's time.


Boxed sections can be found interspersed throughout each chapter, breaking up the reading material into chewable, smaller bites. These boxed sections cover specific real-life examples, steps to take, summaries and special topics. He also peppers his writing with applicable quotes from Carl Jung, Jim Collins, Albert Einstein, Albert E.N.Gray, Dale Carnegie, Milton Erikson, Richard Koch and many others. 


Dr. Fraser's engaging style breaks down a complex system into easily understood concepts. I highly recommend this book for anyone who could improve in the area of interpersonal relationships.



Note: This book was provided to me free of charge in a Goodread's Book Giveaway, in return for performing the book review. No representation was made by me to give a favorable review of this book.
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Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am thankful for: 


62. Selfless service by others
63. Travel mercies for friends.
64. Reading and writing.


copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Voice







I have tried for a week to find the words to express my reaction to the life and death of Whitney Houston. No words seemed adequate to describe the talent, poise, performance and impact of such a gifted soul.


Whitney Houston sang both a capella and with a band in a way that only a black woman can; with a bold, yet silky voice characterized by the phenomenal ability to hold a note for long periods, while traversing the extremes of the musical scale. Any listener could not help but to have a physical reaction. She incited energy in the beholder. Reaction to her voice reminds me of dipping into a cold spring on a hot summer day. The immersion of the hot body into the cold liquid results in a shock that causes a quick, deep breath. Whitney‘s music evoked a similar response, always followed by a relaxing of the body and soul, with the deep slow breaths that accompany relaxation. 


As her body became an instrument that transformed air into sound, Whitney effortlessly used lyrics to communicate universal truths. This effortlessness is a sign of a gift that comes from none other that the Universal Creator. She utilized her brilliance to co-create with Him through song, acting, dancing, and physical beauty that catapulted her into worldwide superstardom in the 20th and 21st centuries.


This high energy diva was a creative. Creative people need to be free to experiment with both the conventional and the absurd. Criticism can cause paralysis of the creative spirit because pure creation requires a certain vulnerability. 



A creative artist puts her heart on display for the world to either accept or reject. That is why, whenever I write a book review, I am as kind as integrity allows. I do not want to be the one who crushes someone’s heart with harmful criticism.


The creator is typically separate from the creation. With the different mediums of art: music composition, writing, and sculpting, the creation can be offered anonymously. Even when the author’s identity is revealed and known, the creator does not have to be present for the audience to experience the work of art. The singer can not be anonymous. For if attempted, some people would be able to recognize the voice, even in the absence of documentation of the singer. And while one may argue that based on the style used, the creator of a painting, drawing, sculpture, and writing may reasonably be identified, for the entertainer, anonymity can never be achieved.




In Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle writes of the similarity between the creative and the spiritual. She says that both are similar in that to create truth, the artist must die to self, getting out of the way of the expression itself for the art to be pure. The spiritual person must die to self in order to become an instrument of God, putting one’s own desires away, yielding to the will of God.


In entertainment, the entertainer can become dead to self for the performance to the extent that they can, but the body is the instrument; anonymity is destroyed. The entertainer retains some of the identity of the art to the point that the artist is mistaken as the art form rather than the vehicle of the art form, thereby becoming the focus of the audience, sometimes twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. The artist, then becomes a focus of worship and criticism simultaneously for the masses at times. What mortal is worthy of this and can survive this experience without dysfunction?


So what, then does this say in terms of Whitney Houston? The entertainer becomes a victim of the art form itself if not careful, especially in the presence of such an extraordinary gift. I think that this led to the untimely demise of Whitney Houston.



As for me, I will remember her performance of The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl as a representation of her talent and voice. I think that performance was her greatest moment in time. This performance established Whitney not only as a superb vocal musical instrument, but as an instrument of our national patriotism and possibly an instrument of God as well. When she sang this song, she made our nation proud.


I will miss Whitney. She will forever remain one of the top talents of this century. This voice sadly has been silenced on this plain forever. May she have peace.






copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Priorities



Maybe it was the writer in me. Maybe it was boredom. Whatever the reason, when I worked in retail, running a register, to keep my mind busy, I would sometimes make up a story in my head about the people coming through my check-out line. Sometimes, I just made up a story about what they bought.


A thin, black woman came through my check-out line wearing pajama bottoms, slippers, a cute top, with a beige coat, opened and unbuttoned. She placed a bag of hard, red candy, individually wrapped on the counter. Right beside it, she placed a can of extra strength feminine deodorant spray. What a combination: candy and feminine deodorant spray. For these two items, she hopped into her car, not bothering to change out of her pajamas and slippers, and drove to the nearest discount store.


And she wasn’t just buying feminine deodorant spray, but extra strength feminine deodorant spray. I offered a greeting and scanned her items as I wondered to myself what had happened to her that caused her to need extra strength feminine deodorant spray. I knew that there must be a story here, but what it was, I did not know. I certainly was not about to ask.



Trying to look rather bored to  conceal the activity in my mind, I read the total of her groceries to her. She opened her thin hand and began to count out wadded-up dollar bills and change. She didn’t have enough money to buy both items. I didn’t think much about that because I know that happens to all of us at times. We forget our wallets, forget to get enough cash; it happens all of the time. Now it was time for a decision. Which item should she keep: the extra strength feminine deodorant spray, or the candy? She wanted to know the individual price of the spray, then of the candy. I told her the price of each. I watched her closely as she was obviously thinking hard. This was a matter of priorities. I knew which I would keep if it were me, but we are all different. I imagined a drum roll in my mind as she pondered. Which-- the candy or the deodorant?


Maybe she could buy a bar of soap and the candy. Or maybe a bar of soap and the deodorant. 


She put back the deodorant and opted for the candy. A part of me wanted to look at her with the best “middle-age old lady” look that I could, dropping my glasses down lower on my nose, raising my eyebrows, pausing and slowly saying, “Don’t you think that we should examine our priorities?” 

Instead, I took her money, gave her some change and her receipt and thanked her for her business. 
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Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for:


57. Waking up another day, for no day is promised to us.
58. Austin district Lay Speaking Board.
59. Unplanned fun with friends and family.
60. Batteries full of power.
61. Beautiful sunsets over this big Texas sky.





copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Foo-Foo



I don’t usually have a Valentine’s story. Things change. I began attending The Journey United Methodist Church in Buda, Texas, which sponsors an annual ladies’ Valentine’s brunch. Never having been to one, but loving fellowship with like-minded Christians, I registered to sponsor a table. Sponsoring involves decorating a table, providing scrumptious food and inviting seven ladies to attend. This event included food, fellowship, a inspirational message and silent auction on Saturday, February 11.


I had trouble keeping the invitation list reduced to only seven ladies. I wanted to invite 50, to bless people who had been a blessing to me. Domesticity is not my area of giftedness. I am more of a Mary than a Martha. I opted to pay for the food I needed rather than to cook. So, with the invitations and cooking taken care of, all I had left to do was to decorate. Easy, peasy, right? Wrong! For me, that is. 


The church has all of the table leaders to decorate their own tables. From table to table, there is a mismatch, but within each table is a beautiful opportunity for self-expression and creatively creating a masterpiece table setting. Except for me. As I mentioned before, this is not my gift. I was assured by the leadership that the tables are all different every year, running the gamut from tables with paper plates to tables with fine china and silver. I was assured that paper plates would be just fine. 

I arrived on Friday night empty handed to see what was being done in preparation before I went to get my supplies for decorating. I had received a text earlier in the day from a friend who offered to supply her grandmother’s dishes for the affair. I kept that in my mind as a possibility as I arrived to survey the scene. Much to my surprise, what I witnessed was some serious decorating. Ladies had fine china, with matching crystal, centerpieces of crystal vases full of an array of sweet-smelling, colorful flowers on tablecloths color-coordinated with the cloth napkins. Shocked at the beauty that I beheld, I uneasily left to do my paper plate shopping, and called my friend who had texted earlier. 


At first, I was rather shy about allowing her to help me. Then she explained. She said, “Kathy, I have attended these things every year, because I have always been invited by someone else. I was excited that you had invited me to sit at your table this year because I love coming to these brunches. Then, in the middle of the night, I awoke realizing that you may not have attended one of these events before and are not a ‘foo-foo’ person.” (Translation-we all know that this is not your gift.) “ I didn’t know if you had any idea how these people decorate these tables, so I want to offer to help. I have these dishes and vases and cups, and glasses. I would love to offer them, because I never get an occasion to use them.”


Now, I am thinking, this is a definite heaven-sent phone call. My friend was right. I am not a ‘foo-foo’ person to use her term. Not that there is anything wrong with people who are gifted in this area. This is just not my area. And not only did I know it, apparently everybody else did too. Lol! I am glad we got that out of the way.


She explained that she wasn’t available to decorate that evening, but would be there in the morning to rescue me. I went forward decorating with my paper plates and Styrofoam cups, just in case something fell through in the morning. I wish I would have taken a picture of my table when I was finished. She asked me which table was mine, and I assured her that she could walk around the room and would be able to know intuitively.

I arrived early in the morning to meet her, and she had already decorated my table. I was amazed at the transformation from the paper of the night before to the matching plates, saucers, coffee cups, water glasses, cloth napkins and water pitcher. She created a flower arrangement from an assortment of colors and flowers. They had a definite engaging scent. I was amazed at her gift. This was a natural for her. I had been blessed beyond measure by her. We discussed what a beautiful thing it is that we don’t all have the same gift. That enables us, through God’s grace to bless one another.


This was truly faith in action. She expressed her love for me through her actions, utilizing her phenomenal God-given gifts in an area that I needed help. Amazingly, I never had to go to her to ask; she knew the need was there and stepped up to meet the need. I, who had tried to invited her in order to bless her, received the blessing.


Approximately 150 women arrived on scene ready to enjoy the fellowship and food. One of the ladies at my table won a door prize. The same lady won the silent auction for a portrait package. We listened to an inspirational speaker who very creatively explained to us that The Holy Bible is a love letter to us from God. She said that the love story is still being written. 


Indeed it is. It is not only being written by God but by his saints who use their gifts to do his will.
Amen.


Happy Valentine’s Day!









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Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am thankful for:


53. My friend, who rescued me from paper plates.
54. My friends who joined me at my table.
55. The wind blowing the smell of rain outside.
56. That God first loved us, so that we can extend this same love to others.


Linking up today with Laura and Jen, Jennifer Lee, and Ann :
GettingDownWithJesus
holy experience





copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stress Relief Idea #27


When feeling stressed, most people tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When you breathe like this, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete and muscle tension frequently results. Check your breathing throughout the day and before, during and after high pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. Note how, when you're relaxed, both your abdomen and chest expand when you breathe.

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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am Thankful for :


50. Praying with people at communion
51. A wonderful Valentine's brunch with 150 ladies.
52. The life and gift of Whitney Houston. May she get the peace that eluded her in life.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mexican Spinach Dip and Queso


I had the pleasure of attending an Emmaus meeting in Austin, Texas on Thursday night. After the meeting and worship, we were treated to refreshments. As I made my way to a table of chip and dip, a lady standing behind a crock pot asked me if I would like spinach dip. I told her that I would love some. She dipped it out of her crockpot onto my plate. It was the best that I had ever had! I shared with her that I would love the recipe, and she was gracious enough to email it to me. Now, I would like to share it with you. Enjoy!



Mexican Spinach Dip
1 10 oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
½  white onion, chopped
1/8 to ¼ cup fresh or canned jalapeƱos, seeded, chopped
2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes (1 drained, 1 undrained)
12 ozs. Mexican cheese blend
1/3 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon cumin or to taste
½ teaspoon chili powder or to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Turn into a baking or casserole dish.  Bake 30 minutes or until hot and
bubbly.  Serve with corn chips or tortilla chips.

Here is a recipe that I got from a friend after tasting Queso at a Christmas Party for the Senior High Youth at my church. I have made this many times, especially during football games that I watched on TV. It is delicious!

Queso

1 pound of hamburger meat
2 cans of Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 pound of Velveta

Brown hamburger meat and drain. Combine with one pound of Velveeta and 2 cans of Ro-Tel. Put on Medium heat. (Warm enough to melt the cheese). Stir regularly while heating. Keep on low heat, stirring regularly when serving on Tortilla  Chips or Fritos.


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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare:

Today, I am Thankful for:

48. Babies with healthy lungs.
49. Beautifully decorated tables for Valentine's Brunch.


copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Friday, February 10, 2012

My God, Your God? By Wallace (Shaun) Shaunfield







Wallace Shaunfield was an engineer by trade. As a non-believer for 50 years, he concerned himself with facts that were provable, and tangible. Anything that couldn’t be proven using the scientific method had no place in his belief system. In this book, he explains his belief system, which he says that he really never analyzed in depth. 


A series of events that he explains in this book led him to move his family to Boerne, Texas, where he began attending church with his wife. She had been a devout Christian for the 50 years that he had been a non-believer. This series of events was no doubt the prevenient grace of God in operation, loving Shaun with a love that would not let him go, as Pastor Teresa Welborn used to say time and time again in her sermons.


He decided to re-evaluate his position about God by doing what every good engineer does: researching the facts. The analysis of his research led him to change his beliefs, and he became a born-again Christian, not long before his wife succumbed to the ravages of pancreatic cancer.


When he was on a Walk to Emmaus, he decided to write this book. In his own words, he says that “the purpose of this book is to motivate the objective, truth seeking non-believer to consider seriously the question of the truth of God, and then make up their own minds.” (p.3)


He addresses what he considers to be four fundamental questions: “1. Is God real? 2. What is the nature of God? 3. What does God expect from us? 4. What can we expect of God?” (p.4)



He spends a lot of time discussing evolution and consciousness in this book, and explaining them in terms of what the scriptures present. He also writes about the division between current scientific knowledge and scripture.


This was a very interesting read for me. I was impressed with the fact that as soon as he developed a belief system, he was eager to share this process with others. Isn’t that what we are challenged to do? To share the good news with others?


Another thing that I liked about this book and the author is the attitude that he had throughout the book: that as Christians, we share certain fundamental beliefs and then we also experience differences about other beliefs. He indicated a respect for the belief system of others who share the same fundamental beliefs as him.

I recommend this book for all non-believers to encourage them to analyze their own belief system against the facts that Shaunfield presents in this book. I also recommend it for believers who experience doubts because of the chasm between science and scripture.


Amen.



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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for :


45. The Greater Austin Emmaus Board and members.
46. Pastors who know how to minister.
47. A willing spirit even in the face of a weak wallet.:)



copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Apology



George and Mable reminded me of Snuffy and Loweezy Smith from the comic strip. They were parallel to the couple in both appearance and the relationship dynamics. The fact that Mable outweighed George by 300 pounds it never diminished her energy level. They lived in a rural Texas farmhouse surrounded by the fields full of the cattle that they raised. When you turned in to the long, dirt driveway and drove into their yard, you had to wait inside your parked car for either Mable or George to come out with their whip to chase off the mean cattle to keep from being attacked. No doubt they never had to worry about a burglary.


Once they had chased off the cattle, you would be warmly encouraged to come inside and indulge yourself in one of the dozen or so of eggs that they kept in a bowl on the long kitchen table. This was what they kept on hand for snacks. Mable would bring small bowls to hold the eggshells to be peeled off of the handy snack. I always secretly wondered why they had such a huge kitchen table. They only had two children and both of them were grown and had long moved off.


This story occurred back in the day before people had cell phones or even were able to dial their own home phones. Whenever someone wanted to initiate a telephone call, they would pick up the receiver on their home phone before hearing the voice of the operator who would say, “Number please”.

The caller would recite the number that they were calling before being connected by the operator. The telephone had proven itself as a comfort to Mable while living in the country without any neighbors living close. She tried calling one of her friends when the operator informed her that the line was busy. She got frustrated but said, “Ok”. The truth was that Mable’s friend liked to talk just as much as Mable did, so the line was frequently busy. Mable was always asking the operator to break in  on the call, but she never would.

One day she was particularly frustrated and wanted to talk badly. She tried calling her friend and the operator informed her that the line was busy. She asked the operator to break in on the call, tell them to hang up because she was trying to call. The operator refused.

Mable, in her frustration said, “Well, you just go to hell!” Then she slammed down the receiver. Unfortunately for her, as she did this, George had just walked through the back door. As he wiped his feet on the rug, he overheard Mable telling the operator to go to hell. He frowned and called to her. 


“Mable, who was that you were talking to that you told to go to hell?” 
George asked.

“Well, it was the operator,” answered Mable.

“Why on earth did you tell her to go to hell?” George inquired.

“I was trying to call Betsy. And you know that operator, she said the same thing that she always says: the line is busy. So I told her to break into the call and tell Betsy to get off of the phone so that I could call in and speak to her. You know she wouldn’t do it?! She makes me so mad!”



George replied, “Now Mable, that is no reason to tell someone to go to hell! You call her back and apologize to her right now!”


Martha didn’t want to fight with George because of the grumpy old operator. So she picked up the receiver.


“Number please”, said the voice on the other end.


“Is this the operator?” Mable asked in a sheepish voice, with George standing there watching and listening.


“Yes it is.”
“Well, are you the one that I told to go to hell while ago?” Mable asked.


“Yes it is”, answered the operator.


“Well, you don’t have to go to hell if you don’t want to I guess”, replied Mable. With that, she hung up the phone. For today, that was the best apology that Mable could offer.


The End

Note: The above story was related to me by my friend Kathy Shaw about people she knew from her childhood. She granted me permission to tell this story. I elected to tell it as if I knew these people.

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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare


Today, I am thankful for:


41. The wonderful life of Kay Woertink.
42. Safe travels.
43. Curbside garbage pickup.
44. The countryside.




copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nothing Left to Lose






This traumatic saga began on Dec. 7, 2009 when a 28-year old mother of two from West Valley City, Utah was reported missing after she failed to arrive at work. The mother, Susan Powell, has never been found. An investigation revealed that her husband, Josh Powell, said that he took his two boys camping in Utah in the middle of the night, in the midst of a blizzard. At the very least, this was very odd and suspicious. At the most, this could be a story of Josh Powell murdering his wife and hiding her body.


Soon after Susan disappeared, Josh moved his remaining family to Washington state, to live with his father, Steve Powell. 


Fast forward to September, 2011, when Steve Powell, was arrested for voyeurism and having child pornography on his computer. Josh, who was residing in the house, lost his sons to Child Protective Services, who placed them in the home of his in-laws.


Last Wednesday, all involved parties attended a hearing for custody, where a judge ruled that the children, then ages seven and five, would remain with their maternal grandparents. Susan still had not surfaced.


Then, on Sunday, Feb. 5, a representative from CPS in Washington took the boy’s to visit with Josh in what was to be a supervised visitation session. The boy’s ran ahead of the representative into the arms of their father, who immediately took them inside, locked the door, locking out the representative. He then attacked both sons with a hatchet before igniting a fire that exploded and killed all three of them.



Whether or not he murdered his wife, I do not know. His ability to carry out the brutal murder of his children tends to illustrate his ability to murder his wife. This is a tragic story.


According to reports, his oldest son had drawn a picture of the final family trip camping in which the child had said that his mother was in the trunk on that trip.


Had CPS not removed the children, would they still be alive? I can remotely understand the hurt and isolation that he felt that might have led to him taking his own life. But for the life of me, I will never be able to understand his desire to brutally murder his children, who had done nothing wrong. 


I don’t think that anything short of serious mental illness could have led to this case of domestic violence at its absolute worst. I think that once the Judge ordered a psychosexual evaluation along with a polygraph test, he knew that he would not pass both, and would never have custody of his sons again. Maybe he knew that an arrest for his wife’s disappearance would be imminent.

The forensic analysis will continue on this case for years.

Obviously, he was in a position in which he felt that he had nothing left to lose. Loss of hope can be an eerie thing. Did the public opinion contribute to this?

Do we need a better way of getting treatment for the mentally ill?

I don’t blame anyone in this tragic story but Josh. But, had he been able to retain his dignity, I am not sure that we would be looking at the tragic ending that we are seeing.

But those are just some of my thoughts on this heinous crime. What are yours? 


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Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare


Today I am thankful for :


38. The gathering of the Saints.
39. Active, healthy, happy boys.
40. The cool weather of February.
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Vaccine for Heroine Addiction?


According to information from the Latin American Herald Tribune, a vaccine has been patented in Mexico to prevent Heroine addiction. This vaccine has successfully be tested on rats and now will need about five years of Human Testing.
Linking up with Laura Boggess today at:




copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins