Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Visit

My daughter arrives today with two little ones in tow. She will be here in time for Julia's concert (Snell Hall, 7:15pm, a solo concert featuring original music, in case you're interested!) Jamie is still here, so the only one missing will be Carina. That is a sad note, but I am glad to know she will be here for the musical. That will make that busy weekend even more special! (Hey, maybe I could get her to help do hair for the show!!)

Needless to say there is excitement galore in the Sinclair household. Today we will clean bedrooms - a good excuse to get the spring cleaning done - and prepare for a concert!

Julia's website is up and running. You really ought to check it out! (

Have a good one and enjoy this beautiful spring weather!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Night-time Story

How many varying emotions can fill a heart simultaneously? Lately I feel joy, grief, doubt, confidence in the same moment. Is this the sign of a heart that is enlarged with age? I think so...

Usually when I find myself awake in the middle of the night, I hop up and get to work on whatever it is that keeps my mind from sleep. Last night I laid in bed and prayed. Then I slept. And I woke. And prayed. And on and on it went.

The Terri Schiavo situation has filled my heart with absolute grief. Since when have we considered the provision of sustenance a debatable issue? What would happen if we put our imprisoned enemies in a room and denied them food or drink? What would be the resounding consensus? "Heinous!" And yet, without medical testing, written word of request, or resounding consensus by those who care, this woman is sentenced to just such a death. My heart is broken for her, for those who care, and most certainly, for this nation.

The Gondoliers has taken a front row seat in my life, as do all musicals this close to production time. "Will we have it all learned? Are there enough rehearsals scheduled? What about the orchestra - have they all been contacted? How will I get the volunteers needed still for the cleanup/setup teams? Better get in touch with the person doing the cast party. And that program info - need to find that . . . " So I prayed. I certainly wasn't about to start making phone calls in the middle of the night - right?!

School. Chores. Schedules. Are the kids doing okay? Is everything still happening? What can we let slip for the season and what must remain in place? "Lord, help us . . . "

A Mother's Conference, May 6&7. That's the weekend after the show. I am overseeing and speaking at this conference. I can hear you now - "You must be nuts! Crazy! Why are you doing a conference a week after the show?" It will be alright. Don't worry. I have fabulous ladies helping out and it is so the Lord's will. But it will take some planning, thought, and prayer. God is in the business of building homes and families. Moms in this day and age are dealt a short hand. My heart is moved to action for women who desire to grow in their vision for mothering the next generation. So off we will go! (If you are interested, contact the Thousand Islands Church - sister Dee Brown 482-7353. We would love to have you join us!)

At any rate, that is the story of my night - the thoughts that filled my mind and the emotions that gripped my heart. And they all found a place in prayer. What a blessed people we are!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Submission . . . again

Luke 22:42"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine."

We face daily opportunities to yield our wills and lives in countless ways. However, there are some encounters so significant - when the choice to yield is so challenged and death so distasteful - that the altars of sacrifice will forever be reminders of His loving Lordship. You see, He never forces that death; He looks for willing sacrifice.

In my past I have two such altars of remembrance: times when giving up my will to His was a prolonged, incredibly agonizing wrestling match. I recently erected a third.

Somtimes our wills are firmly set, our minds are deeply entrenched in a certain paradigm, and we have set our hearts in that direction. And if that will or mindset is in any way contrary to His, He will ask for it. It is then that we must take up our cross and follow.

It is mercy revealed that would challenge us to lay down our wills. If left to our own desires, they would ultimately result in the death that all flesh knows. He gives us the opportunity to lay down our wills, sacrifice those desires, and put them to death at the altar, thereby receiving His life-giving will in return.

In my recent encounter, the arduous wrestling with my will was agonizing. I was wondering if it could be sincere when accompanied with such pain. Could I truly declare with the Lord, "I delight to do thy will, Oh my God"? This was far from delightful. This was an obstinate display of self-will. Not pretty in any way.

I found myself in church the following week singing a worship song with these words - "whose obedience shows the way for me" - and immediately recalled the Garden of Gethsemane. His willingness was not accompanied with jumps of joy and cartwheels. Instead He brought to the altar blood, sweat, and tears. I could relate. This was a supreme act of will - a laying down of a fleshly will for the lifting up of a purer will - God's will. And He showed us how. We must lay it all at His feet and say, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."

The act itself is simple - a child could do it. But the act of obedience involved is, at times, wrought with pain and suffering. Death is not always easy. But the fruit it yields is life.

At that recently erected altar there was no outward display of emotional joy - no cartwheels, no exultant shouts of "hooray!" But the inward delight came springing forth with abundance, bubbling up from that eternal fount found within all who are His. This death, this cross, could only result in tremendous life and fruit! My soul was flooded with hope once more. His will would reign supreme again. Could there possibly be anything better?

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, Oh my God!

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Needed Lesson in U.S.Gov't

Okay. A quick reminder regarding the structure and function of our government.

Three branches: judicial, executive, legislative

Checks and balance: founding fathers wanting a system that would keep each branch accountable and in place

Elected officials take oaths swearing to uphold their understanding of the constitution (state and/or federal)

Judicial branch are to interpret existing law, not create law.

So much for our brief overview of US Gov't. Now I want to consider some of these things in light of Terri Schiavo's case. Let me quote William Bennet and Ann Coulter (don't get too nervous...)

I hope you take time to read the following. Please.

"Florida courts [judicial] have found that she is incapacitated and beyond repair. Doctors have voted three to two that she is in a 'persistent vegetative state.' Her husband and legal guardian claims that she would have wished not to be kept alive should she find such a state. The courts agree. Florida law, as interpreted by Florida courts, provides that she should be allowed to expire. It appears Terri Schiavo has no legal right to life.

But does Terri Schiavo have a natural right to life?

Yes. She is a human being. She has committed no crime and therefore she has forfeited not one of her natural rights. Our American faith teaches us that, 'all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' And the purpose of all American government is 'to secure these rights,' not destroy them.

What then is to be done?

The Florida legislature [legislative] sought to keep Terri alive, or at least postpone her death, by authorizing the governor [executive] to issue a one-time stay in order to prevent the withholding of nutrition and hydration from anyone under certain and extreme circumstances. "Terri's Law" was signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush in October, 2003, but soon after, the Florida supreme court struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Clearly, Governor Bush believes "Terri's Law" to be constitutional. Not only did he sign it into law, he later challenged the decision of his own state Supreme Court by appealing to the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear the case.

In theoretical terms, this is a conflict between the separate powers of Florida government, as the judicial and executive branches have different opinions about what the Florida constitution requires. But in practical terms, Terri's life hangs in the balance: If the Florida supreme court prevails, she dies. If Governor Bush prevails, she lives. It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means. Every governor is bound by oath to uphold and protect his state constitution. In the case of Florida, the constitution Mr. Bush pledged to defend declares that, "All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty..." If the governor believes that he and the Florida legislature possess the constitutional authority and duty to save Terri's life, then he is bound by his oath of office to do so.

It is time, therefore, for Governor Bush to execute the law and protect her rights, and, in turn, he should take responsibility for his actions. Using the state police powers, Governor Bush can order the feeding tube reinserted. His defense will be that he and a majority of the Florida legislature believe the Florida Constitution requires nothing less. Some will argue that Governor Bush will be violating the law. We think he will not be violating the law, but if he is judged to have done so, it will be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., who answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion. In so doing, King showed respect for the man-made law by willingly going to jail (on a Good Friday); Governor Bush may have to face impeachment because of his decision.

Governor Jeb Bush may find it difficult to protect Terri's rights without risking impeachment. But in the great American experiment in republican government, much is demanded of those who are charged with protecting the rights of the people. Governor Bush pledged to uphold the Florida constitution as he understands it, not as it is understood by some Florida judges. He is the rightful representative of the people of Florida and he is the chief executive, in whom the power is vested to execute the law and protect the rights of citizens. He should use that power to protect Terri's natural right to live, and he should do so now." - William Bennett

"Democrats have called out armed federal agents in order to: 1) prevent black children from attending a public school in Little Rock, Ark. (National Guard), 2) investigate an alleged violation of federal gun laws in Waco, Texas (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), and 3) deport a small boy to Cuba (Immigration and Naturalization Service).

In two of the three cases mentioned above, the Democrats' use of force was in direct contravention of court rulings. Admittedly, this was a very long time ago – back in U.S. history when the judiciary was only one of the three branches of our government.

As important as it was to enforce the constitutional right to desegregated schools, isn't it also important to enforce Terri Schiavo's right to due process before she is killed by starvation?

As a practical matter, courts will generally have the last word in interpreting the law because courts decide cases. But that's a pragmatic point. There is nothing in the law, the Constitution or the concept of "federalism" that mandates giving courts the last word. Other public officials, including governors and presidents, are sworn to uphold the law, too.

It would be chaotic if public officials made a habit of disregarding court rulings simply because they disagreed with them. But a practice borne of practicality has led the courts to greater and greater flights of arrogance. Sublimely confident that no one will ever call their bluff, courts are now regularly discovering secret legal provisions requiring abortion and gay marriage and prohibiting public prayer and Ten Commandments displays.

Just once, we need an elected official to stand up to a clearly incorrect ruling by a court. Any incorrect ruling will do, but my vote is for a state court that has ordered a disabled woman to be starved to death at the request of her adulterous husband.

What was supposed to be the "least dangerous" branch has become the most dangerous – literally to the point of ordering an innocent American woman to die, and willfully disregarding congressional subpoenas. They can't be stopped – solely because the entire country has agreed to treat the pronouncements of former ambulance-chasers as the word of God. The only power courts have is that everyone jumps when they say "jump." (Also, people seem a little intimidated by the black robes. From now on we should make all judges wear lime-green leisure suits.)

President Andrew Jackson is supposed to have said of a Supreme Court ruling he opposed: "Well, John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." The court's ruling was ignored. And yet, somehow, the republic survived.

If Gov. Jeb Bush doesn't say something similar to the Florida courts that have ordered Terri Schiavo to die, he'll be the second Republican governor disgraced by the illiterate ramblings of a state judiciary. Gov. Mitt Romney will never recover from his acquiescence to the Massachusetts Supreme Court's miraculous discovery of a right to gay marriage. Neither will Gov. Bush if he doesn't stop the torture and murder of Terri Schiavo." - Ann Coulter

Please. Let's pray.

"We pray for Gov. Bush. We pray for President Bush. Give them faith and strength of conviction, give them wisdom, and grant them grace to act accordingly. And let them stand - having done all, let them stand. We pray that we may live in Godliness and peace and that they will take the actions necessary to protect those things.

"And Lord, move miraculously upon Terri Schiavo's physical being causing her to be not merely sustained, but thriving. In your infinite mercy, move upon this situation and spare this nation once again. Amen."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Nurturer's Portion

He arrived home today, with his totally sunshiny, infectious smile. He has an award winning smile. Did you know that? Yup. He does. And, of course, I'm talking about my Jamie. He walked in the back door this morning and everyone was soon smiling in return. In no time Easter was mentioned, at which point he said, "Oh, about Easter... I was thinking to myself that I was headed home for spring break. I figured I would pack light. It didn't dawn on me until a bit ago that it was going to be Easter. All I have is these..." (he points to his slightly worn jeans) "...and some shorts. So..." Ah - boys! Should we try the costume shop? :)

Life is full, to say the least. But in the past day or two I've had some good investment time with people that I absolutely love. Somehow, that is always the best use of time.

They say that a mother is someone whose heart is walking around inside of different people. How true. And how many places I walk these days. Oh, to be with them all at all times. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the knowledge that He is. And He loves them with perfection as well. The depth of such love is unsearchable and the peace it affords immeasureable.

At times our hearts ache with concern for others. Mine aches today, for many concerns in many places. Can it stretch this much? Can it stretch more? It can and will. And He is the one to whom I carry the burden. He is also the one who will provide the energy and time to minister to them in ways other than prayer. The needs are endless and we are the hands and feet that He will send. What better portion is there?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My Weakness - His Strength

Isn't failure a bummer? Don't you just despise your weakness?

I do.

But it seems to be a part of the landscape, at best on the distant horizon. I am reminded of Paul's thorn in the flesh.

Not that we have an excuse for sin. There is none available.

Yet sometimes repentance seems futile. Or insincere. Do you ever recoil from asking Him one more time, feeling like it is useless - "I will only fail again"?

Repent anyways. Fifty times a day. One hundred. The number doesn't matter; the humility does, the willngness to seek does.

Sin patterns can be overcome, habits can be broken, and longstanding failures changed. He lives within.

I remember telling my daughter once as she sat in tears of frustration with her sin - "Repent to Him and whoever is involved. It is the beginning of His grace flowing in this area. It is where it all starts. Do it as much as you need until this thing is dealt with." She soon found help and change.

Still there are certain weaknesses that seem to be part of the package - inherent to human nature, like that thorn; they seem to be a part of our makeup. Weakness is not sin - it is just weakness. It leaves us short of perfection and causes us to need Him. We find ourselves incomplete apart from Him. Acknowledgement of our weakness separates the men from the boys, the truthteller from the hypocrite, the God seeker from the fool.

At times I flail in frustration and hopelessness against my weakness. In better moments I strategize plans for overcoming them. But in the best moments I go to Him and ask Him to work through me in spite of them, and even to somehow use them for His glory. After all, His strength is seen through them.

Better His strength than mine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Time to smell the roses?

I just read my daughter's early morning entry - you know, sunshine at 6:00am, spring in the air, and all that stuff. That's when I realized that it is definitely musical season again. For me, a director of a high school musical, this is the time of year when I don't notice the sun, feel the breeze, or hear the birds. I went to bed envisioning royal gowns moving in time to the music and woke up trying to remember the steps I had dreamed up. Ah... it is that season again.

But it is just that - a season. There is a beginning and an end. And fortunately I know the end is in sight. I encourage myself to hang on because it will all be back to normal eventually.

Life is full of seasons and oh, how we need to learn to move with them. The way we live out our relationship with Him and others may need to look different. When I have a newborn baby I just can't expect 2 hours of uninterrupted Bible study to happen. I could be one frustrated lady. As a mother of nine, I know that time set aside for Him is needed, but how and when is another story. Flexibility is essential. Practicing the presence of God at all times is key.

Your life will not look exactly like anyone else's. How tempted we are to look around and think it should. And the enemy has us then. Guilt, feelings of failure, and discouragement flood in. We don't have what they have, our lives aren't "together" like theirs, we haven't prayed and fasted three days this week, etc., etc.

Here's a golden rule: look to learn, not to compare. Find the principle applied in their life, then seek God for His creative plan for implementing it in yours. He doesn't expect it to be the same - He doesn't want it to be the same.

Our failure doesn't lie in our not measuring up to Susie or Fran; it lies in our lack of seeking. Know Him, know His will, know what He is saying to you, and rest in it.

For today, for me, it means purposely setting my dance steps aside and setting my mind on Him. Do I have 2 hours. Nope. Someday maybe I will. For now, I take what is my portion and dream up creative ways to keep Him first - even in the midst of royal gowns dancing...

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Please read sudden - a journal entry written by my daughter who is preparing for a June wedding. Perhaps this will help explain the tears of melancholy you will see in my eyes for the next few - make that several - months. It expresses my feelings to a "T" . . .

Practicing the Presence of God Today

One taste of His presence and people will hunger for more. I'm talking about the real presence of God with all the peace, joy, and love that is encompassed therein. If you have experienced His presence then you know just what I mean.

Christians have the privilege of knowing that very presence in our lives. Everyday.

However, minutes, hours, and days can slip away with His presence going unnoticed and unacknowledged by us. Recognition of Him is not automatic. We need to practice such awareness, develop our sensitivity. It is possible for someone to stand right next to you and never be noticed. That is just what happens with His presence in our lives.

We know that He has promised to always be with us and to never leave us. How is it that we fail so often to recognize His daily presence?

I have found a need to "practice" my awareness, to create a habit of communing with Him throughout the day. Not to sense Him just now and then, but while doing the laundry, practicing songs with the kids, talking with my husband, etc. In order to grow in this, I borrowed a seemingly trite little strategy from a woman I greatly admire; Nancy Campbell recommended using a kitchen timer - that's right, a kitchen timer - to remember His presence. Sounds a bit silly, I know. But it was just the ticket for me.

Every 15 minutes the timer is set to go off - a reminder to stop and realize His presence. At the bell, you immediately move into praise, turning your focus from the daily grind to His greatness. In a matter of days, you have become accustomed to seeing that greatness in your vision at all times. A bit more utilization of this exercise will allow you to cement this practice into your paradigm of daily living.

As we began using this method in our home, the kids got right into it. "Mom, the timer is ringing!" "Okay," I would call back, "everyone, stop whatever you're doing, think about Him, and praise Him!" These few minutes were soon known as our "Hallelujah time!"

I must share a very amusing, yet profound situation that I encountered as I set about using this discipline. I was a busy mother with several children at home. It had been an especially tiring week. One of the many trying events of the past few days had been my lost battle with a stubborn window shade; with a less than gentle tug, I had pulled it completely off the rod. It lay crumpled on the floor for most of the week before I could get around to repairing it (true confessions here!) Finally I managed to get to it. I placed the repaired shade back in the hardware and pulled it halfway down. "Ah! Perfect! Finally something in the house is in place . . ."

Ten minutes later I returned to the room to find it laying in a heap on the floor, completely off the rod once more! A daughter had already had an unsuccessful contest with the shade. And Mom was not happy. I was about to cry when suddenly I heard the bell.

"Mom, the timer is ringing!"

Hesitation. Sigh.

"Okay everyone, stop whatever you're doing, think about Him, and praise Him."

I found myself face to face with God's plan for us: to know His love in every situation. This window shade episode had become a profound lesson in practicing His presence. Knowing He is there and His love is real no matter what we may encounter brings strength, grace, peace, and help. He is our all in all, always, in everything, immediately - "a very present help". I was truly rejoicing in seeing His love through that broken shade! What a wonderful lesson it had afforded me!

Until we practice His presence in our lives on a "day in and day out" basis, we are no different looking than the guy next door. Instead, we could have the fragrance of the Lord's presence upon us at all times. But if we haven't acknowledged it, they won't either. Once we do, it leaks out all over.

I have worn the same fragrance for several years now - Patchouli. I love it. People have come to recognize it and tend to link me to it. Not long ago, I was visiting a friend for the afternoon. Shortly after I had gone, her husband returned home. He walked in the house and promptly asked his wife if I had been there recently. "I thought so," he said. "I could smell Patchouli."

As Christians, we need to be saturated in the Lord's presence. Then we can carry the fragrance of our Lord to the world around us. His presence in our lives should be evident to all onlookers. May they taste and see that the Lord is good. Perhaps once they do, they will hunger for more and more.

So whatever it takes to get you in the habit of practicing His presence - go for it. May His praise be always upon our lips and a sense of His presence always in our hearts. Even if it takes a kitchen timer to prime the pump!