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Has anyone seen a moral compass laying around?

Kinda hard to know where North is when your north is not the same as your neighbor’s, isn’t it?   Welcome to the world we live in.  One reason I stopped blogging a while back was due to the business of life. Another was my frustration with life itself.  I didn’t want to get too cynical or opinionated.  But I’m sorry. This world needs a compass and I’m not going to stand by anymore while everyone wanders aimlessly seeking their own North…. their own solutions, their own god, their own ethics.  

Here are the top news stories in the Greenville area today (with a brief synopsis): 

NEW INFO: Thieves Target Murder Victim’s House Just Days After Her Death

POLICE: Woman Fakes Handicap To Steal Elderly Woman’s Credit Card

FIRST ON WITN: Teen Rape Suspect Surrenders In Greenville

Three Charged After Drugs Found At ECU Fraternity House

DEPUTIES: Woman Posed As School Employee To Buy Computers

Two Former ECU Employees Charged With Embezzlement

For real… It’s bad enough there was a murder-suicide.  Who says it’s ok to go into the victim’s home (the NEXT DAY) and essentially loot her home?  How does someone see it as ok to 1.pretend to have a disability and use the accessible wheelchair or 2. ask an old lady to get you something off a shelf and then steal her credit card out of her purse?  Why, why, why am I continuously bombarded with stories of men raping CHILDREN?  Eight, ten, fifteen… all children!  Who are the men?  Substitute teachers, bus drivers, coaches, family friends, very few strangers.  People are looking for something to fill a void in their lives so badly they are using people, drugs, anything they can get their hands on.  The woman who is accused of fraudulently buying computers with state money (stealing funds from our children’s schools) is 57 yrs old. In her photo, she is SMILING.   Then we have the two ECU pharmacy employees who stole FROM A LOW INCOME MEDICAL CLINIC!   They stole money from people trying to help the unemployed, poor or uninsured.  One of these people stole $62,000!  

Welcome to America. 

America. Where everyone with a home has a television and most likely a cell phone, even if they have never worked for a dime. Worried about what fast food meal we’ll eat for our next meal. We donate money to protect and support animals while children in this country and others go hungry and are homeless, sometimes TRADED like commodities for drugs or sex. We have debates over what is humane yet many people don’t know where the basis of their personal philosophies originates.  We are more so stepping on someone else’s toes that we end up remaining so tolerant we let things slip by that we know are not right… 

I am not a prophet. I can not tell you when the day or hour of Christ’s return will be and suggest we synchronize our watches. Instead, I have the following proposition(s):

1. If you are unsure which side of this debate you sit on, please contemplate your life and attempt to find your compass. You may need to ask a friend of family member, “What drives me?” Think about where you go for answers to life’s questions, for drawing the line between what is right and what is wrong.  

2. If you do not have a True North and are keen enough to realize it, EMAIL ME or call me. I will GLADLY talk to you about my own personal North, Jesus Christ. (Note I didn’t say “God” but the path to God that I believe without doubt is the way, the truth and the life).  If you don’t know me personally or can’t find me, then talk to a Christian that you know or go by a local church and talk to a pastor.  You can also pick up a Bible and ask God to show you what you need to know (pray). 

3. If you claim to be a Follower of Christ (a Christian), be righteous. I hope to have a future post about just that thing in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled.  In addition to being righteous, go to your pastor, Sunday school teacher, someone and ask for a Bible study about “apologetics” and/or foundations. Find out why you believe what you believe, the basis of your faith, so you can help others find North. 

Sorry for my soapbox, but it’s getting ridiculous. 

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Joy

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart….” or is it, “If I wrote you a symphony, just to say how much you mean to me (What would you do?)”…   Well, if you were Abby Stokes, you would DANCE!  Abigail means “joy of the father” and Abby has surely been our sweet joy of a child.  She surprises us more every day with the things she finds funny and the ways she can make us laugh. 

Here’s a video of her rocking out to the new JT single (sorry for any bad things you may hear Jay-Z say. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but we were so tickled we didn’t stop playing it.  

To see Abby’s mad skills, copy and paste the link!   http://youtu.be/aNk6gWm_qd0 

Don’t think Emily doesn’t add to the fun around here. She’s just a little more serious and shoe-loving.. here’s an example from Christmas…. 

Emily’s shoes: http://youtu.be/YGSzkwZIbxA

Sorry I can’ t get them to embed for some reason (wordpress doesn’t want to toggle to text!).  

 

 

 

 

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Only in Ashe…

I’m back!!! :)  Sorry for the long absence and no guarantees we won’t have more in the future.  My family has been through a LOT since I last wrote.  We married off my sister-in-law, said our goodbyes to Robbie’s Daddy and, most recently, said our goodbyes to my sweet grandfather.  No, I have not gone off my rocker and quit my job and moved back home to Ashe Co., NC.  However, that notion does not seem as crazy as it once did.  

When Poppie died, it was Christmas eve.  Poppie. My daddy’s dad and last grandparent who loved people and cars.  It was a mixed bag of emotions.  The shell of a man I visited in the rehab center days before his death was not the same vibrant, compassionate, brilliantly witty man I grew up with.  And then he died on Christmas eve, one of my Granny Pauline’s favorite times of year. (Granny was my mama’s mama.)  In the days following his death, I spent a good deal of time (a good deal alone) at his family home. A beautiful, majestic home situated on a hill with a beautiful mountain view.   As I drove between mom’s and there (about 10 mins) each time, I could not help but be in awe of God’s majesty on display for splendor.  

Life in this mountain town is different than anywhere else I have ever lived.  Yes, people are people. Yes, jobs are jobs (if you are lucky enough to have one there as the factories continue to close one by one).  But the speed of life is different.  It takes “a while” to get any where. The grocery store, McDonald’s, a decent gas station may take you 15-40 mins to get to (depending how deep you live in the hills).  That alone allows for “thinking time” in the car. Cell signals are hit or miss so I don’t even turn my phone on unless I am headed to town. People really want to know how you are.  It doesn’t matter that the visit may mean they are late for something. They take/make the time to visit.  They remember you.  The question is, when you leave, will you remember them? 

I certainly will. This place “made” me. It helped form me into the person I am today.  So I am starting this installment of my blogs which will be placed in the category “Only in Ashe…” to post musings after my monthly visits.    I hope you can develop a love of this place as I have!

This photo is courtesy of my cousin, Renee Ashley.  It is a photo of her standing on Mt. Jefferson looking over the town of Jefferson, NC.   The hospital is mid-photo on the right. The nursing home I worked at during college just above it on the hill. The clinic I work in now just beside the hospital.  So many of my roots… 

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He lives! He lives!

After spending an evening/day at a very nice hotel and spa this week,  I’ve had some time to reflect and put things in perspective. Something I haven’t had time to do lately between 2 children under the age of 2, my learning curve as a new “professor” coming in mid-semester and sick family members. So, this night away from home that included a few hours of spa time and a nice massage in a really really nice hotel was extremely refreshing.

First of all, I felt like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court… Robbie and I are known for just “being ourselves”. We are what you see… normal, casual, down to earth people.  We live a modest lifestyle. No where near rich, also not poor. We are both blessed with college educations, good paying jobs. But we also came from more modest backgrounds than we currently live in and we know there are no people better than other people.

It was interesting to see an affluent family from NY who had missed a connecting flight in Raleigh, with the mom/wife worried about the condition of the hotel the airline was putting people up in, naming a reputable chain. She called a place I would have gladly stayed “sketchy”.  Her husband is a spine surgeon. They own a home in Tribecca and in New Jersey. Her kids to go school “in the city.”

All of this made me think of my Granny; she was a wonderful, sweet woman who had a very successful life. She worked hard, she had 3 wonderful children and gave all she had to love them and her grandchildren. She also was a child of the depression in the mountains of NC.  She was the oldest daughter, robbed of an education to care for her siblings and the house while her siblings were all allowed to attend school, she only finished the 3rd grade.  She taught herself to read and write (with a little help). She found Christ late in life. Her favorite old hymn was one we sang at her funeral, “God Saves Old Sinners”… I swear my life story could be told in music.  One day maybe I’ll make a post for you that includes all the songs I feel “formed” me… this is one of them.  I can see her now, in the back row of that small Baptist Church I grew up in, tapping her foot and nodding along as she hummed or sang the choruses while we sang it.  I’m so glad we sang it at her funeral. It was like her life’s testimony.

Writing my facebook status update today about how rich people have the same amount of “junk” I have, just more spaces to hide it all, this song came to mind.  There is no escape from God. No place you can hide all your junk. No station in life that will gain you salvation.  We are all sinners in need of salvation. There is no salvation short of the grace of God.  Given tomorrow is Easter, you should know that short of the Resurrection of Christ, there is no salvation.  If you do know God, consider this Easter Sunday your chance to set your relationship straight with Him. If you don’t, consider attending a church service tomorrow and seriously ponder what Christ did for YOU!

Here are the lyrics to God Saves Old Sinners for you…. Hopefully I’ll get some pics of the girls in the Easter dresses up tomorrow.

The drunk on the street
The rich in their palaces
The poor and unlearned
And men of degree
They all have a soul
In need of salvation
And they all have to come
By Calvary

CHORUS:
I am so glad God saves old sinners
I’m thrilled and amazed, how He sets them free
But the biggest surprise in redeeming old sinners
Is that He would save and old sinner like me

Was I so wrong,
That I needed forgiveness?
And was I so bad?
I had to be redeemed
Well I wasn’t a thief
But I lived in sins prison
And I was as lost
As a sinner could be

CHORUS:
I am so glad God saves old sinners
I’m thrilled and amazed, how He sets them free
But the biggest surprise in redeeming old sinners
Is that He would save and old sinner like me

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“When my world is shaking…

… I’ll never leave your hands.”  I love that JJ Heller song. If you don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, check her out on you tube.  She definitely knows how to put things into perspective with her lyrics.  Lord knows, we need some perspective right about now.

To catch everyone up, since November we’ve had quite the mess on our hands around here. Robbie has still been looking for work, his dad has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer, my grandfather’s health has seriously declined, and I lost my job. Oh yeah, and we had baby girl #2 (Miss Abby) in November!

This week, Robbie started a new full time job within 20 mins of the house.  I found out today I have a new job in academics of all places!  I will be teaching in the PA program at ECU as soon as they can get my contract drawn up.  I can’t wait, but at the same time I’m anxious about all I will have to learn.  Nonetheless, I know I’ll make it.  If God is for me, who can be against me? If God is with me, I will stand.

If I have learned anything in this time, it is about the faithfulness of God. Somewhere in all this, I have been clinging to the concept of “light”.. “God is light and in him is no darkness” more specifically…. These verses in John inspired me to dig a bit deeper. Within a day, I found this passage written by David in 2 Samuel 22: 1-37, 47. I have highlighted the verses that spoke out the most to me…

1 David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior
from violent people you save me.

4 “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
5 The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
6 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

7 “In my distress I called to the LORD; 
   I called out to my God. 
From his temple he heard my voice; 
   my cry came to his ears. 
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens[c] shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared[d] on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark[e] rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the LORD,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 

he drew me out of deep waters. 

18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

21 “The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; 
   according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. 
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; 
   I am not guilty of turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness[f] in his sight.

26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, 
   to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 
27 to the pure you show yourself pure, 
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29You, LORD, are my lamp; 
   the LORD turns my darkness into light. 
30 With your help I can advance against a troop[g]
   with my God I can scale a wall.

31 “As for God, his way is perfect: 
   The LORD’s word is flawless; 
   he shields all who take refuge in him. 
32 For who is God besides the LORD? 
   And who is the Rock except our God? 
33 It is God who arms me with strength[h] 
   and keeps my way secure. 
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
your help has made[i] me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.

47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! 
   Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

There are SOOOO many take home points from this passage, it is overwhelming to me.  What I liked best about the passage, is that David says he cried out to God who heard his cry… but it doesn’t say God immediately came to him and anything/everything was “perfect”. It says that as God came near, things got pretty ugly. The earth quaked.  The skies got “dark”. Darkness was his “canopy”. There were even lightning bolts. But through all of it, although those dark clouds “carried” God to David, God’s hand reached down and lifted David up.  Praise God for his faithfulness!!

Of course, here are some pictures to catch you up…

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