Thursday, August 30, 2007

On the Road Again

Tomorrow I am hitting the road...again! It is something that I should go ahead and get use to since I will be gone the next four weekends. I am beginning to think I should host a game on my blog called "Where in the World is Jane Masters?"
  1. According to MapQuest, my destination is 9 hours and 6 minutes from here.
  2. There is only one state between my destination and here.
  3. I have never lived in this state, but have visited several times. Actually was there less than one year ago.
  4. I have very good friends who live in this state, but I won't get to see them on this trip
  5. The state's slogan is "the stage is set for you" least that is what I think it is
  6. The town that I am going to is the home of the Ocoee River and the Cherokee National Forest.
Any guesses? If you said Tennessee then you are right, if you guessed Benton, TN you are the winner!

I am going white water rafting with a group from church. I am excited to get away and have a little fun. I am not sure about the bus ride there, but I have my new iPod charged and loaded with lots of music. I even bought a nifty wall charger to make sure I can get back without the battery dying.

I hope everyone else has a great Labor Day weekend. I will give you all an update with pictures next week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some Have Said (God's Will Continued)

(I actually began this last week, but go sidetracked with a few other subjects...Sorry for the plethora of long posts. I will see what I can do about that!)

You may have heard it said, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will." I have often wondered who said that. Well, I don't know if she was the first person to say it, but Betsy ten Boom did say, "The center of God's will is our only safety." Her sister might be a little more well known, Corrie ten Boom. During War World II, the ten Boom family became a safe haven for those running from the Nazis. Four members of the ten Boom family died for their commitment to Christ and their dedication to helping their fellow man. Betsy died at the age of 59 at Ravensbruck, a concentration camp near Berlin, Germany. Betsy and Corrie were the only Christians at the camp, and they not only witnessed to the Jewish women in the camp, but lead Bible studies and prayed for the guards daily.

I think I understand what Betsy meant when she made this statement, and I admire her for the life that she and her family lived. However, I do not agree with the statement. Before you judge me, let me explain. :)

Throughout Christian history there have been martyrs. In Acts, we read how Stephen was stoned to death. According to an average of 465 Christians are murdered each day for their faith. Foxe's Book of Martyrs was first published in 1563. More recently DC Talk published a book entitled Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs. Wikipedia lists the following people as martyrs:
  • James, son of Zebedee
  • Phillip the Apostle
  • Simon Peter
  • Paul
  • According to the list the only Apostle who wasn't martyred was John. He actually survived being cooked in boiling oil.
  • Polycarp
  • Origen of Alexandria
  • And a lot of people I had never heard of
Of course you could add many others to the list:
  • Jim Elliot
  • Ed McCully
  • Roger Youderian
  • Peter Fleming
  • Nate Saint
  • Bill Koehn
  • Kathy Gariety
  • Martha Myers
  • Bill Hyde
  • David McDonnall
  • Larry Elliott
  • Jean Elliott
  • Karen Watson
You may recognize some of those names. The first five are, of course, the five men who were killed by the Huaorani Indians in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. Bill, Kathy, and Martha were killed in Yemen in 2002. Bill Hyde was killed by a bomb in the Philippines in 2003. They were all Southern Baptist missionaries that were serving during the same time I did. (I actually had the opportunity to take a position at the hospital in Yemen were the shooting occurred.) David, Larry, Jean, and Karen were attacked by terrorists in Iraq three years ago. David's wife, Carrie, was the lone survivor. They were also missionaries through the International Mission Board. By this time, I was in seminary, but David and Carrie had been students at SWBTS. While I never meet either of them, I was friends with several of their friends.

Lives Given, Not Taken- 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs was written by Erich Bridges and Jerry Rankin. It is a wonderful book that celebrates the lives of Bill, Kathy, Martha, Bill, David, Larry, Jean, and Karen. I typically do not write in books, but the pages of this book are filled with notes and other markings. Which brings me to the point of this post...

I feel pretty certain that each man and woman that I have mentioned and the millions that I have failed to mention felt they were filling the call of God on their lives. That they were in the center of God's will. However, it did not prove to be a safe place. Each missionary knows that they may not return from their assignment. My supervisor challenged me and the rest of my team, "Settle the time and place of your death now." Yes, missionaries could die on the field. They could also be in a car accident on their way to work here in the states. You never know, and you can't let fear keep you from following God's will for your life.

(My supervisor is no longer in East Asia. He and his family returned to the states for a few years, and eventually took a different assignment. They now serve in the North Africa and Middle East (NAME) region. They are probably in one of the most dangerous areas of the world.)

While it isn't anything personal against Betsy ten Boom, I think that a more accurate statement would be, "There is no better place to be than in the center of God's will." I might not always be safe, but there is no other place that I would rather be.

  • All historical information came from and
  • Carrie McDonnall also has written a book about being the only survivor from the Iraq shooting called Facing Terror. I have read parts and it is very good. The only reason that I haven't finished it is because it hits a little to close to home.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Go West Young Man

We all have decisions that we have to make each and every day. Pants or skirt? Black or brown? Right or left? North or south? East or west?

On Friday evening I choose to go west. Not that big of decision...I could run my errand either direction. For those of you who don't know, when I go west I cross the bridge and head into Pinellas County. There was a light mist coming down. Lightning could be seen in the distance. The sunset was beautiful.

I have noticed that the sunsets are prettier after a storm. There may be some scientific or meteorological explanation, but I don't know. Maybe it is the contrast between the darkness of an afternoon thunderstorms and the vibrant colors of the sunset. Maybe it the clouds that diffuse and disperse the light of the sun. Maybe it is the moisture that remains in the air that catches the rays of the sun causing the variety of colors- much like what causes a rainbow to appear. (Those last two are my dad's theories.)

In life we all go through storms and trials. Sometimes these are do to our own actions, mistakes, or consequences. Other times God uses these to bring about change in our lives. Either way, He can use them to refine, stretch, and mature us. It often is painful. It often is ugly. We can feel beat down and like the storm will never end. But when it is all said and done the work that has been done in our lives is like the sunset after a rainstorm. God's glory shines through and His handy work is evident for all to see.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Current Events and My Thoughts

You most likely have heard the news. However, I apparently have been living in hole. It has been on Fox News and the Today Show...I have seen none of the footage. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a new concentration at the College at Southwestern, its undergraduate program. It is a homemaking concentration in the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities degree.

The College at Southwestern began in 2005. (The seminary itself began in 1905.) It only offers two degrees- Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. There are four concentrations in the BA in Humanities including history of ideas, education, homemaking, and music. There are three concentration in BA of Music- worship, performance, and composition.

There are several names that continue to be brought up in this "controversial" program. Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. Dorothy Patterson, and Dr. Terri Stovall. Dr. Paige Patterson is the President of SWBTS and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been known to be center of other controversies in the past. I only had a couple of run ins with him while on campus. He is nice guy, and I think he means well. He is just one of those men that says what he believes and makes no apologies for it. His wife, Dr. Dorothy Patterson, I never really knew while in school. However, my seminary roommate did get to know here since she was int he women's ministry concentration.

Dr. Stovall is now the Dean of Women's Programs, but when I was at SWBTS she was a professor in the School of Education. I did have her in class and my roommate had her for several classes. I came to admire and respect her. She was fair. She was open with her students. And to be honest, she had this coolness to her as well. How many other professors claimed to be roller coaster fanatics, drive a red Corvette, or a Harley? From what I understand she has been seen on both Fox News and The Today Show.

First, I would like to point out this is one concentration. Not every woman who enrolls at The College at Southwestern has to choose the homemaking concentration. It is just an option.

Secondly, lots of colleges offer home economic classes or degrees. Mississippi College offered a degree in General Family and Consumer Sciences when I was there. I feel pretty confident that other schools have similar programs. (Apparently this program was modeled after one in California.)

Lastly (and I could go on, but will refrain), I trust Dr. Stovall. This isn't a degree that degrades women. Neither she or the rest of the staff believe women are incapable of learning. She does believe that a woman's first priority should be her home and family, which she says in the Fox article. Women who choose this concentration are still going to take theology courses, education courses, Greek, isn't some Mrs. Degree.

I don't think we should be asking whether or not a seminary/college should offer such a concentration. I think the better question is why is a seminary having to do this. Why are they having to teach the biblical roles of the family? Why are they having to go to college to learn to cook and sew? Why aren't they learning some of this in the home. I think that schools and universities are having to pick up the slack for what is not being taught in the home.

I know it seems odd for a single woman to be commenting on such things. That's okay with me. A lot of the critiques are saying that a concentration like this one is telling women they have no value. That there only role is to be Suzy Homemaker and Mommy. What is wrong with that? That is a very hard and noble job. It is one that the world doesn't value any more, but no price can be placed on it. I know many women who feel that this is their calling, and they are doing incredible jobs being a helpmate to their husband and raising godly children. It is a job that someday I hope to have.

I am not endorsing any of these articles. I just thought it would be nice to provide additional information:
Southwestern's Press Release
Baptist Press
Fox News
The Today Show

Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Will

I have heard many sermons on the topic of God's will. Many books have been written on the subject. I searched a popular online Christian bookstore and found 6,238 books that came up when I typed in "God's will". They were all about discovering, finding, desiring, knowing, seeking, discerning, following, or praying God's will. One of my favorites was entitled Knowing God's Will Made Easier and the book only costs $3.49. What a bargain! If it were only that easy. Obviously it isn't or there wouldn't be over 6,000 books on one website about the subject.

As an avid reader, I have to careful how many times I turn to books about the Bible or about God, instead of turning to the Bible, God's Word. (I am not saying that there aren't some wonderful Christian books out there that can challenge, encourage, and strengthen each one of us in our Christian walk. However, we all have to be careful that we aren't substituting reading these books for reading the Bible...But I digress...)

All of this leaves me to ask myself, "What is the will of God?"

In my studying I found out that the main Greek word that is used to for the will of God is thelema which means a determination, choice, or inclination. Often this word is translate into desire, pleasure, or will. It occurs 64 times in the New Testament.

Here are a couple of examples:
  • Paul was an apostle of Christ by the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1)
  • Our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
  • Giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Doing good (1 Peter 2:15)
However, a lot of the other references were a tad more ambiguous.
  • We are to filled with "knowledge of [God's] will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9)
  • We receive God's promises when we "hand done the will of God" (Hebrews 10:36)
  • Sometimes God's will is for us to suffer for doing good (1 Peter 3:17, 1 Peter 4:19)
  • God hears us when we ask for things in accordance to His will (1 John 5:14)
  • We are to understand what the Lord's will is (Ephesians 5:17)
  • God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2)
They all sound great, but it doesn't help me quiet answer the question, "What is the will of God?" Perhaps I am making this much more difficult than it really is.

The more I think about it, I have asked the wrong question. I think the right question is, "What is God's will for my life?" What is that He wants me to do in life? (If you are beginning to wonder if I am having some crisis in my life, the answer is no. I have just been thinking and reading a lot, which can both be very dangerous.)

It can be easy to become bogged (not blogged) down with these questions. Even as I have been thinking through this whole idea, it seems that this is one big circular discussion. I may even be more confused now than when I began. I think the goal is to pray, stay in the Word, seek godly counsel, and wait on God's answer.

Other's thoughts on God's will:
"I find doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about his plans."
-George MacDonald

"I want what God wants, that why I am so merry."
-Saint Francis of Assisi

"To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere."
-C.S. Lewis

"There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God."
-Frederick William Faber

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Papaw

Today is my grandfather's 82nd birthday as well as my grandparents 64th wedding anniversary. (That's right they got married on his birthday!) When I talked to my grandmother this afternoon I asked what advice she had about marriage since they have been married for so long. She told me, "You have to be patient...very patient. And you have to think before you speak. You'll get yourself in trouble if you don't." Mamaw, I will remember that for future use.

They are not followers of the blog nor do they probably even know what a blog is. However, I do hope he has a happy birthday and they have a wonderful anniversary! This post is specifically dedicated to my grandfather on his birthday! (I actually began this post after returning from Texas in July.)

The larger than life man I once knew, is only a shadow of himself. I still remember him as he was 20 years ago. He towered over me, but he was not intimidating. He sang all the time. He made me laugh. He had a steel trap for a mind. He was a self-made man with a work ethic that puts the majority of us to shame. The dark hair has turned snow white. The large shoulders are a little slumped. He is quiet. You can often find himself off to the side, out of the crowd. He doesn't like it when his routine is interrupted and doesn't deal well with change. It isn't fair. He told me so himself. Slowly but surely he is being robbed. Not of his youth, but of his mind. The thief is Alzheimer's.

He is one of those men who could charm anyone. I have extremely fond memories of going to downtown Houston and visiting him at work, counting cows at the ranch, and helping haul hay. He always told me I could do anything that I put set my mind to do. He was always one of my biggest fans and in return I am one of his.

Born in a rural town, the oldest child of sharecroppers, he came from humble beginnings. His birth certificate says that he was born 4 miles north of Iola, TX. I have always found that strange, but he explains that was where their house was located. He moved to Houston when his parents left the country for my great-grandfather to take a job at the docks as a long shore man.

He met his wife while still in high school and married her on his 18th birthday. Neither were old enough, so their mothers had to apply for their marriage license. Just a few weeks after their wedding he was shipped out to serve in World War 2. It would be over 2 years before they would see each other again. They have told stories about how hard it was when he first returned. Both had grown up and become adults during his time overseas. It was their faith in God and perseverance that has brought them through 64 years of marriage.

I could tell so many stories, but none seem quite appropriate. There was the time that I got sick in the elevator or when he taught me how to bottle feed a calf. Or the time he caught me steaming open mail. I still don't really know if he believed me when I told him that I was making tea. During high school I began mowing his lawn every week and he paid me $20. It always made me laugh that he helped me. He is the one that taught me to drive and then several years later attempted to teach me how to drive a standard.

I had great plans to ask him many other questions on this last trip, but it was not possible. Alzheimer is winning the war. There is nothing that any of us can do. We must sit back and watch the disease take over his mind. It isn't fair. The hardest part is knowing that is next generation will never know him like my brothers and I did. There won't be trips to the ranch or driving lessons as soon as you turned fifteen. It will be up to those of us who knew him in his prime to tell the younger ones the stories...just like he has told us stories of his parents and grandparents.

He will always be one of my heroes. A man of integrity and devoted to his family. He is my Papaw!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Today is Jacob's 4th birthday. It is hard to believe he is 4! It seems like only yesterday that I was waiting outside the hospital room waiting for that cry. In honor of my "little man" I thought I would take us all on a trip down memory lane. Happy Birthday, Bud!

Jacob Andrew
Born August 21, 2003

About two weeks old...No, no one posed him this way!

Gig Em Ags! (And yes, he was posed for this one.)


Two years old and ring bearer at Uncle Roger and Aunt Alisa's wedding...
they were brave and Jacob was incredible!

Always the cutie!

Where has the time gone?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Toys

I had done the research. I had looked at all the options. I had weighed the pros and the cons. Today, I took the plunge and bought. I am now the proud owner of a Macbook and an iPod. I am having way too much fun playing with all the whistles and bells. I have figured out how to use the web cam and the Internet (obviously). I am charging the iPod and will figure out that next. I will post some pics of my new toys as soon as I add my camera software to this computer.

You might wonder what my favorite part of the new computer is....well, it is the fact that it has an 'm' key! ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cooking Experiment

Last week the Snap It assignment was to take a picture of a meal or dessert that you ate during the week. Since I had been out of town I ended up submitting a picture of my Papa John's pizza that was dinner on Saturday. I really enjoy cooking and was sad that I wasn't able to show off some of my skills.

Tonight I decided not only to cook dinner, but try a little experiment. I really enjoy trying new recipes and recently have enjoyed trying to cook ethnic dishes. I make a pretty mean fried rice, which three Chinese women taught me to cook when I first moved to China. I am also working on perfecting a Korean style curry dish.

You might be wondering what new dish I is one of my favorite Thai dishes, pad thai. Pad thai is a noodle dish with a special sauce. You can use chicken, shrimp, or tofu (yuck on the tofu) and at the last minute a scrambled egg and cilantro is added. Finally it is garnished with fresh lime juice and chopped peanuts.

I made chicken pad thai, but I must confess that I had a little help from Thai Kitchen. The noodle mix made this experiment much easier.

How was it? See for yourself! (In other was yummy!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Don't Feed the Bears

Do Not Feed Wild Bears!
Wild bears that are fed by humans
become nuisance bears. If a bear
cannot be detoured by removing
food or other measures, the state is
often forced to destroy the bear.
Please help us keep our wild bears
alive and safe.

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. Galatians 5:17

I can still remember the first time that I ever heard anyone mention the battle between the flesh and the spirit. Her name was Kandy and she was a career missionary in Taiwan. I had just graduated from college and was spending five weeks outside of Richmond, VA preparing to leave for China. It was a new concept and it had my mind spinning. However, I also realized that the war that waged inside me was not new nor was I the only one experiencing the confusion that it caused.

I immediately dove into the book of Romans with a desire and thirst to learn more and more about the war between the flesh and the spirit. Over the last six years, I often find myself rereading chapters five through eight. I often feel like Paul when he said, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on..." (Philippians 3:12). I will the first to admit that I still don't understand it all, but I keep reading and each time I learn something new.

One thing that I have learned is that I am responsible for who wins the battle between the flesh and the spirit....which ever is stronger. I know it sounds simple, but it all depends on what I feed. If I feed my flesh, then it is stronger and will win. If I feed the spirit, it will be stronger and win.

I don't always succeed in making sure that my spirit is the stronger being, but my goal is not to feed the bear! Because whenI do, it becomes a nuisance and I now know that sometimes the only way for it to be "detoured" is for it to be "destroyed".

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

Romans 8:12-16

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:24

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Coffee and Reflections

I finally think I have caught up on sleep...I mean after sleeping 11 hours two nights in a row, I should be caught up. Now that I am rested, I have had some time to do a little thinking. So, this morning I had a chance to curl up with a cup of coffee and my Bible.

I am assuming that the majority of you noticed the new look to my blog. I don't know how long it will last, but it was inspired from my recent trip to North Carolina. As I have shared, it was an incredible trip, and I am still working on processing everything.

Throughout Grandfather Mountain there were warning signs. Some of them looked like the one in the header. The majority of them warned about being careful near the ledge and watching your footing. I saw one that warned of the danger of feeding the bears. Apparently wild bears who are fed become a nuisance and often have to be "disposed of" by the state.

I found the warnings slightly ironic. This was mainly due to the fact that a good part of the filming occurred on the rocks. There was often someone near the edge of a cliff or a rock. Sometimes the drop was just a few feet while other times the drop off appeared to be several thousand feet.

Often while hanging out in these areas I was reminded of verses that call God our rock. Over the last several years I have begun to identify with verses of Scripture that refer to God as a rock, stronghold, refuge, etc. Needless to say, I have spent a good amount of time reading through Psalms. (Some of my favorites include Psalm 18:2, 40:2, 62:6.)

What does it mean for God to be our rock? God is our strength, our defense, our refuge, our salvation, our safety. In reading a couple of commentaries on the use of the word rock in Psalms, it talked about how there were rocks in Palestine that were used by men to escape their enemies. These rocks were elevated and difficult to access and many used them shelter, security, and protection from danger.

When God is our rock and our foundation, our lives change. He is unshakable and unchangeable. Yes, there are still ledges, storms, and high winds. Yes, we still have to watch our footing. We have to watch for the warning signs that God puts on our paths. But when the storms of life occur we have a rock in which to cling. A rock that cannot be shaken. A Rock that is like no other rock.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:1-4

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
Psalm 18:33

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Psalm 40:22

(I also have some thoughts about that sign warning about the dangers of feeding the bears, but I will share that another day.)

Friday, August 10, 2007


It may be hard for many of you to believe that I ever become speechless, but it does happen. On Wednesday afternoon I came down off one of the cliffs on the side of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, and I was speechless. After three days of taping with a group of ladies from Tampa and the LifeWay team, words were gone. I was overwhelmed at the power of God that I had seen throughout the week. Exhaustion may have also played a part in my inability to speak, but this was also one of the top experiences of my life thus far.

I will share more later, but I did want to share a few pictures. The weather was great and the view, well it was beeeeeautiful!

This is the house where we stayed.

The view from the balcony of the house.

I don't recommend trying this in flip flops!

View from Grandfather Mountain

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mountains, Here I Come!

Tomorrow I will head to North Carolina. I will be there until Thursday, so there probably won't be any blogging going on over the next several days. Technically, this is a "business trip", but I am planning on having a lot of fun too! I am very excited about getting to do a little hiking while I am there. I have done a little hiking in the last four years, but not near the amount that I did while in China.

This was on a hike headed into Burma. We didn't make it because we had a run in with the Chinese authorities...ah, those were the days!

Some people take pictures with one foot in one state and the other foot in another state. In this picture I have one foot in China and the other foot in Burma.

Please pray for me and the 12 other women who will be working on a project with LifeWay. Pray that I have covered all the logistics and everyone actually makes it there safely. I know I will let out a big sigh when we all make arrive. Also pray for the women who will be sharing their testimonies.

I can't wait to share all my adventures when I get back, and don't worry, I have packed my camera!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

After the Rain

It has been a long week and it is only Wednesday. Since I am lacking creativity and general brain power, I thought I would simply share a photo. I managed to catch this view last week after one of Florida's afternoon/evening rain showers. And to think I almost went back inside before snapping this picture!