Holy War on the Homefront

I’ve heard a lot of arguments lately. Not just regular arguments, but so-called holy arguments where people on both sides claim to be speaking in goodness and truth. I’ve involved myself in these arguments, if only in my head. 

We have the argument about whether or not we should receive Syrian refugees. One side claims that Jesus himself was a refugee. Don’t we believe we would have fed and housed him, a stranger not in his homeland, had we the opportunity? 

Others believe that refugees would be difficult to properly vet providing an opportunity for terrorists to slip in our country under the guise of a refugee.  So some say help them in a safe place, some place other than here. Then there are the people who would welcome refugees who have been properly vetted and will be monitored. 

I don’t find myself fitting neatly into the A, B or C category. 

That’s not really what I want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about Starbucks either or the importance of having the freedom to say Merry Christmas although I find each of these topics worthy of healthy discussion. 

Last night I read a news post about the Facebook group Little White Crosses. A couple of ladies, with I’m sure a lot of help, have constructed hundreds of two foot by three foot crosses to go in yards. They’ve been made in response to the FFRF’s attempt to have the monument cross at Riverside Park in Port Neches removed. These yard crosses are available at no cost to the public (who want them). 

As you can guess, there were dissenters. -many of them. Underneath the Facebook post were negative comments suggesting that these crosses were built, and are being placed in yards, with the purpose of intimidating unbelievers in our community. 

We have a cross in front of our house. Our placement of the cross in our yard signifies our faith in Christ and our gratitude for his love poured out for us. I can imagine that most placings of these crosses are similar in  purpose.

 Honestly, I feel we can thank those who stand to have this cross removed for this stirring. My personal stand for the cross is not in retribution. The possible removal of the cross is a reminder to hold dear that which is sacred.  

But it was a different common critique on this post that I found most troubling. Many who took offense to these yard crosses were perplexed as to why anyone would spend their time constructing crosses when there are homeless people with needs and other charitable ways to serve. These commenters suggested that real Christians would help winterize houses and feed the hungry.  If it wouldn’t get me agitated I’d go back and count how many times I read comments of that nature, some from believers. 

My initial reaction was to make a mental list of things my family has personally done for the needy. I added to it, the long list of charities and mission-minded activities our church and churches in our community are involved in. The number is many. 

I wanted to out-good those commenters, or at least prove to them that we do serve. 

I recently heard one lady put it best.  “People have gotten to the point of trying to out-Christian each other.”  

That’s when I was reminded that no person wins in a holy war. Our serving and loving is not about us, remember? And God’s not glorified in it either. 

There’s too much bickering amongst us. Add in unprofitable discussions with unbelievers and we’re super distracted. Acts chapter fourteen talks about unbelievers embittering brothers and sister in Christ. We need to be careful of such traps. 

Believers are using statements like 

I’m pretty sure Jesus would…

You must not be a Christian if…

Christians don’t…

You call yourself a Christian?…

Our focus becomes the good we’re doing and the evil we abstain from

Our focus becomes the thing we perceive as good that our neighbor isn’t doing. Our focus becomes the evil thing we pick out that our neighbor practices. 

The only one who is truly good becomes out of focus. 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6

I wore one of my favorite bracelets this morning. It’s a stamped leather cuff. I won it on Facebook by commenting my wrist size and sharing a post written by the lady that makes these. 

I didn’t earn it. 

I didn’t do much to deserve it. 

It says forgiven

It speaks to cross makers and cross takers. It calls out to the mockers of the cross. 

It speaks of those who feed the homeless and those who fill shoeboxes for the needy overseas. 

It speaks of those who would welcome refugees and those who, in caution, fear the danger in such a quest. 

It speaks for all those who receive God’s gift of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection. 

Its the only thing worthy of boasting. 

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

We’re all needy. Our need for forgiveness puts us in the same camp. Let’s not fight a holy war here together. These little white crosses, this war on terror, this season we’re approaching ought to remind us where our focus needs to be. God’s love is vast. His instruction is wise. We need more of his spirit.

That’s when our invitation for others to join our camp will matter. 

In the meantime, give, love, forgive as God leads you. 


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Words and Things to Ban in 2016

It’s been a lazy Saturday. I’ve read too much on social media. To escape my more tender frustrations, I thought I’d attack a few inanimate objects just to blow off a little steam. 

Thought I’d jump on a “ban” wagon.

Here are a few words and products I think should be retired in 2015:

The word offensive– I used it tonight and then I decided to ban it. I was offended at someone’s so easily being offended. The word has been watered down so much that it’s lost its meaning. The Indian as a school mascot is offensive. Manspreading is offensive. People are now offended by the cross. The Christmas Tree, and to be fair, a coffee cup without one, is offensive. Can we all stop being so offended? 

Pop up ads– Can we please just get rid of them?  I doubt there’s two in five million people who click on the secret to smoother skin or an offer for a Popular Mechanics subscription when they’re trying to read an article about a veteran homecoming surprise. Stop pop-up ads. 

ROTFL– For those of you who don’t know, this means “rolling on the floor laughing”. The first few times I saw this acronym I had to think the five words through slowly. It diminished the funniness. Here’s the other thing.  I’ve never seen ANYBODY do this. And if they did, I would probably think their taking such extreme measures would be to annoy somebody. It sounds like something a brother would do to make of fun of his sibling. Maybe we should make a new acronym ROTFPAL “Rolling on the floor pointing and laughing”…

Capri suns and other pouch drinks- Approximately half of them are missing the straw. One fourth of them don’t stand up. The other fourth squirt juice in the air when you stick the straw in. And fruit punch is the only flavor that tastes any good. 

Cranberry sauce in a can– I’m against food that keeps the same shape as its container. Jello is unacceptable too (unless it has whipped cream). Canned pumpkin is questionable, but at least it typically gets mixed up with other ingredients where it looks like you’re eating something other than an edible can. 

On fleek- the phrase “on fleek” needs to go. It means that something is perfect/on point and is often used when referring to drawn on eyebrows. An eyebrow’s only purpose is to shield the eye from sweat or to let children or your husband know they’re walking on thin ice. Real eyebrows are bushy, or thin and sparse.  “On fleek” is overused and eyebrows on fleek are not reality. 

Pantyhose -no explanation needed

Making beds– I ban making beds. It’s for your own good. I recently read a study where untidy beds are healthier. Apparently dust mites need moisture to survive. Made beds keep moisture in the sheets. With unmade beds, dryer conditions make it harder for dust mites to survive. There you have it. No more making beds.

Name tags– “Hey. I’m Kristi”…When I meet someone, that’s my go-to line. You make me wear a name tag and I’m at a loss. What else is a great first line talking to someone you don’t know? “Hi…You have great hair…” That’s just abrupt. 

Scarves in Southeast Texas– Some of my best friends here wear scarfs…and they’re really cute. But other than being fashionable, scarves are really as pointless as on fleek eyebrows. Scarves have lasted long enough. Because of those friends I now have a basket full of scarves that I don’t wear. I have neck claustrophobia. And it’s only cold twelve days a year here. They need to go. 

What word or product would you ban?  Really… do share. The world could use a little more light-heartedness. 

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Flickers of Light and Garbage Guys

Let my eyes see Your kingdom shine all around

Let my life be a song, revealing who You are

For You are salt and light 

-Salt and Light lyrics by Lauren Daigle

I sat in my car yesterday afternoon doodling in the fog on the window. I drew the outline of a heart; a symbol both easy to draw and always applicable. I was waiting for Jason to bring his car. It was nearing three o’clock (time to get Rylie, our youngest, from school). He was coming, offering his car. I couldn’t see well enough to back up three feet in mine, much less drive to school. 

My car defroster, and the air system for that matter, is out of commission.  I’d tried wiping the driver’s side windshield and mirror with a shirt,  but the drastic weather change we suffered yesterday provided a thick layer of blur that kept covering the window as fast as I could wipe it away. 

Moments before Jason pulled into the driveway my finger pressed against the squeaky window, writing out the letters which spelled out “unsung hero”. It was a cheesy thing to do. Maybe it’s worse that I’m sharing about it. But I was thinking how grateful I was for his willingness to drop what he was doing to come help with the visibility problem I was encountering. I’d be able to jump in his car with seat warmers (I was wet and cold from the downpour) and I’d be able to grab Rylie before she started to worry I’d forgotten all about her. 


He made my day a little easier. He has a thousand times. He’s my favorite day brightener, but he’s not my only one. 

The first ray of sunshine yesterday came because it was garbage day. 

As I made my way down my sidewalk yesterday morning,  I noticed my neighbor and her little boy standing in their driveway waiting for the garbage guys. The truck’s mighty arm grabbed hold of their trash bin and dumped the contents into its bottomless well, while the four year old looked on with delight. 

I remember “trash man” being on our son’s future occupation short list at one point. I also remember visiting my nephew for a week. His house had a street-facing window that was more captivating than cartoons…on garbage day. And the best part of garbage pick-up yesterday morning? The driver happily honked twice at the neighbor boy in a gesture to say “I see you, seeing me….”

I see you too sanitation men. And I’m thankful for you.

Two blocks away from my house I was thankful for the crossing guard in his bright yellow and orange stripe vest. He was holding off traffic so the little girl who was almost late for school could dart across the street on her bike safely. The guard is there, rain or shine, with a warm smile (unless you’re driving too fast or aren’t paying attention to his signal to stop). His job is important to him because my kid and the kids that go to Helena Park are important to him.  I remember as I write, how weeks ago, a lady crossing guard was hit by a car, getting a kid out of harm’s way. 

I see you crossing guard. 

Then there’s my little friend who I pick up to read with every day at school, right before lunch.  I work half-days helping elementary ESL kiddos. This friend cried the first day we met as I picked him up to go read with me. Thankfully every day since then he’s been a much more willing partner. In fact, these days he jumps out of his chair and does a sort of a double fist-pump when I walk into his classroom. His little legs move in purposeful strides with his reading book tucked under his arm. He tells me in his thick accent “Let’s just read!” It’s a daily dose of encouragement  for me. 

Thank you reading buddy. You brighten my day. 

And thank you Chik Fil A.

 I keep waiting for you to mess up; especially yesterday when I pulled up in your drive through lane. There stood one of your employees outside in a ferocious wind waiting for me to make up my mind about what to order. I had to ask him to repeat several of his questions like the one about what kind of sauces I wanted. Your employee was patient even though I deserved a good eye-roll and huffy breath. 

  It’s not that I want you to mess up; you’re my favorite chicken joint.  On the contrary, I’ve worried that you WOULD eventually mess up having such a squeaky-clean record as a national franchise who’s known for its generosity. Squeaky records are usually short-lived. Your record is still impeccable. 

I see you. 

And I will “eat mor chikin”. 

Yesterday afternoon my husband came along on his white horse (old black SUV) and saved me from sticking my head out a rainy window to be able to see to drive. He rescued me from walking to school in my son’s ratty hoodie without an umbrella. He provided an umbrella and even drove me to get our older daughter. He was a mighty fine chauffeur. 

I see you over there on the couch, husband, having put in ten hours of work again.  I’m grateful for you. Thank you for the hundreds of little things you do that light up my life; for being someone who doesn’t complain and for the six pack of 90 calorie Dr Peppers you brought home for me the other day, not because I needed them but just because. 

Thank you church friends, Laura and Michelle, for designating and organizing our church to be a receiving center for Operation Christmas Child. Thank you church for for providing supplies, and then packing somewhere around 558 boxes for children around the world; that boys and girls might get their first stuffed bear, some pencils and a new pair of socks. But most importantly that they might receive Christ; that their families and friends might learn of saving grace and eternity. 

I saw you 568 boxes with more coming in. 

And I’m praying every single one makes an impact. 

So who are  your unsung heroes? Who are you grateful for in this season known as Thanksgiving? Who has God used to sprinkle glimpses of light into your life today? What have you witnessed today or recently that has added clarity to foggy vision? 

Tell those people you see them. Tell God you see Him too, in storms…and when things aren’t clear, like in foggy windows… especially then. 

You see Him in bright faces of people he’s placed particularly who carry out purpose seem it simple or grand. 

God’s light is broad and bright.

 And then sometimes His illumination comes in flickering fragments in human faces. 

Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. Ephesians 5:14

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The Cross-Its Message Matters

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 

Galatians 6:14

Jason and I try to find great new spots to eat lunch when we have available Fridays. This Foodie Friday took us somewhere unexpected; to the foot of the cross.

News travels fast, so I suppose you’ve heard about FFRF’s (Freedom From Religion Foundation) letter to the city of Port Neches, our back door, requesting the removal of a ten foot cross from its city park. It’s a small display that, from what I read, has been there for over forty years purchased by a woman, Mrs. Conrad Miller.  

So for lunch today we grabbed a Boss Burger and a Fish Sandwich and headed over to the park for a windy picnic. We scarfed down our lunch and then snapped a few shots of the cross including a selfie or two. We said a prayer and then left. Our Friday lunch experience, without fail, leaves my stomach feeling heavy. Today it’s my heart that’s carrying around some extra weight. 

I wouldn’t call it worry. I’m not foolish enough to think my faith is rooted in anything formed of concrete or else anything made in the shape of a cross.

 My mind is full of wonder. 

How many local people are actually offended by a cross that stands in the back corner of the park about five yards away from a crumbling concrete wall scribbled with graffiti? Does its presence discourage those who don’t believe in its symbolism? Is its message discriminate? 

The cross is a symbol of Christ’s work to overcome sin and death. It’s an offering to all (For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son). It’s an offering to which each person has the right to refuse. 

Its message doesn’t force itself upon anyone. 

 I read somewhere how it’s a message of hate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians can be guilty of hate.  The cross is hate’s cure. I suspect some of us shy away from the message of salvation because our message is carried around in jars of clay. We’re fragile and fallible.  We fear our hypocrisy will be pointed out, and it will. There is no hypocrisy in the cross. 

Then there are those who point out the suffering of Christians in Syria, reminding us that the removal of a cross cannot be considered persecution when there are fellow Christians losing their lives. Of course we are still a free nation; able to freely worship…more the reason to hold our freedom dear. But we ought to pay close attention. We’re quite like frogs in a pot. Many of us are confident of our current situation. We’re comfy with the gradual loss of small freedoms. For those without our eyes on the heat dial, we have no idea that we’re getting closer to boiling. 

It’s not absurd to think that America’s future may be one where our faith is not allowed to be demonstrated or shared freely. 

No one can take your faith from you. I also agree that faith is a matter of the heart and doesn’t have to be plastered on billboards and worn as jewelry around the necks of believers. Our faith is secure.  Do we care about those whose eternity isn’t secure?  If we do, we ought to be concerned with whether or not public semblances of the gospel remain legal. 

Check out FFRF’s warpath. They exist merely to wipe out any semblance of Christianity. Its co-president, Dan Barker, describes himself a free thinker. I feel someone ought to be able to view a cross in their path without their abilty to think being stolen or harmed. 

Or maybe the cross does change one’s thinking. 

It is a gentle yet powerful message of redemption. It’s a reminder to those of us whose sin is no more. It speaks kindly and in love to those who don’t believe. 

Its message matters. 

I pray the cross at Port Neches park stays. 


Through Christ’s death on the cross, those who turn to Him are delivered from both the penalty and the power of sin. 2 Peter 4:24-25

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A Thursday for Your Thoughts (On Gratitude)

Todays guest post is written by

Christy Cauthen Pope

What really is gratitude?

 Do we truly know what it is to be grateful or is it something we just toss around when the calendar gets to November and December of each year? Do we truly count our blessings?  I was born in America and thus have the typical American mindset of “first world problems” where you desire to keep up with whatever your neighbors are doing. 

 Yes, I am grateful for the food that I eat, my family, my friends, my church, ability to pray to God freely, etc. but it is not something that I think about every day until I went to Israel this past summer and met Foteh and Hannah. These dear Christians are on fire for God and really know how to express gratitude.  

My husband and I attend one of the mega churches here in America, Second Baptist Houston which has over 63,000 members. Our friends in Israel are proud to attend a church that has 50 members. 

 Gratitude changed for me after hearing them speak of how important it is that you find what binds you together in the body of Christ and concentrate on that rather than on the differences. These 50 members use whatever resources they have to spread the gospel and to help their fellow believers who are undergoing intense persecution over there in the Middle East.

 Gratitude took on a new meaning for me as our guide Foteh told us about a father of six children who sells backpacks on the side of the road in Bethlehem to put food on the table for his family because he cannot get a regular job in Bethlehem as he is a devout Christian. Gratitude is realizing that for this season, we are free to worship and profess our faith in Christ here in America and we can feed our families and not face the persecution that our brothers and sisters face in the Middle East.

 On this trip I also learned that in Bethlehem, Christians are now less than 1% of the population and back in 1990, they made up 80% of the population. Christians here in Jesus’s birthplace are proud that they follow Christ and they put Christian symbols up outside their homes even though it can be dangerous to do so. 

Gratitude is thinking of the Bedouin children that we encountered who did not have much in American standards who were thrilled to play in the dirt with rocks and sticks. It proved that gratitude is a heart issue. These children were grateful to just have something to play with. 

 What am I thinking that I need when all God has for me is in front of me?  

Am I too busy trying to keep up with my neighbors, other mom’s, what I see on tv, etc.?  Am I truly being grateful for the blessings God has given me each day? Truly it is important to count your blessings each and every day. 

 Gratitude for me is thinking how seven years ago I was thinking I would never marry or have children, but how God provided me a spouse five years ago and children three years ago. God’s timing is perfect in all he does. Be grateful for everything you have. Try to see life through the eyes of a child or through the eyes of a Christian in a persecuted area of the world. It will change your outlook.

My church supports a church in Damascus, Syria as the pastor of the Syrian church has a daughter who attends Second baptist. The Syrian pastor sent a video out to our church a few weeks ago telling of the intense persecution there but of how grateful the Christians were of the revivals that were breaking out due to the persecution.

 We need to be truly grateful for what we have and stop being selfish by always lamenting about what we do not have. As a Christian, we have eternal life, something that no one can ever take from us. For this I am most grateful as I know where I will go when my time on this earth is over.
Teaching gratefulness to my 3 year old and 9 month old? I am striving to do this even now by getting our 3 year old to get a gift for a needy child. I am all for ideas as I want to have grateful children.

About Christy: I met Christy this past summer on a trip to Israel. It feels like I’ve known her mugh longer. She’s delightful; easy to talk to and easy to listen to. She has a smile the size of Texas and a heart to match its size. She has three sweet guys in her life; her husband Clay and and her two cuties Will and Alex. (And of course Jesus…She really loves Jesus and she’ll tell you so). 

Enjoy if a few more of her Israel pics. 


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Getting on to Christians for Getting on to Starbucks

Starbucks has never been overtly Christian. Sure they supported the feeling of Christmas spirit when they put ornaments or snowflakes on their cups. I don’t know this from personal experience. I don’t even like coffee, but I read that their past cups have been decorated with holiday cheer. 

And now they’ve decided to go plain red this season. Java at Starbucks this holiday will come in a regular red cup. 


This has frustrated some Christians who feel there is a war on Christmas. Others think “war” is too strong a word when it comes to a cup design. Is it simply a red cup that has Christians stirred? 

I read yesterday about a mall who decided its  “Come See Santa” display would be adorned with a glacier instead of a Christmas tree. People complained until a small Christmas tree was placed beside the chunk of ice. Seems like a first world problem. We know that Santa and Christmas trees aren’t at the heart of Jesus.

These things only attribute to “Christmas feels”. But we also know that there has been a movement in past Christmases to remove manger scenes on government property even when privately purchased. Without a doubt, Christmas is becoming less about Jesus in the general public. 

  But few of us have ever got it right when it comes to making the season all about Jesus. 

There’s the shopping. And Santa. And the fretting about shopping and decorating and cooking. There are the parties, filling the shoeboxes and other charitable activities, the travel plans, or the else the disappointment when we’re counting down to a Christmas we won’t be sharing with those we love. The best we seem to do is ask Jesus to join us in the crazy, naming Him the guest of honor. 

We all fall short when it comes to giving Jesus due worship at Christmas, not to mention the rest of the year. 

It seems to somehow make us feel better to point out how others aren’t doing such a good job making Jesus the reason for the season, like the people at Starbucks, or the people pointing out, the people pointing out Starbucks. 

So I guess what I’m doing here is making myself a pot in a line of pots calling the kettle black. 

Some people are clearly offended by Christmas. Starbucks tries to (in their own words) “create a more open way to share the holiday“. You can surely say this isn’t a war on Christmas (I don’t believe it is), but this “being more open” business means backing off from Christmas (even if it’s only backing away from secular Christmas.) It feels to some like one more step away from any hint of the important holiday.  They might feel we’re on a slippery slope. So Christians share the offense on social media. 

Christians, in response are now offended by the initially offended Christians. They call them out, with sarcasm and ferocity, I might add, claiming that being offended by a red cup means you must not care about orphans and world hunger or the salvation of baristas. Christians who dare say they’re bothered by Starbucks unholiday-like cup are branded imposter Christians or Christians who really need help (Don’t we all?). 

And here I am today slightly frustrated with Christians who feel the need to point out Christians who feel the need to point out…

Do I agree that God most certainly cares more about orphans than the 2015 design on a Starbuck’s cup? Absolutely. I doubt He’s downcast that a bunch of commercial outfits have decided to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas in the interest of the mighty dollar. I’m pretty sure He expects it. 

I’m thinking that He’s interested in His childrens’ response. All of us. I’m guilty as any in thinking that He needs us to be on the ready to jump to His defense; for us to (like Peter) figuratively cut off the ear of Christmas offenders or those who dare to challenge them by boycotting their wares or by writing snarky Facebook posts about their company. Keep in mind that Peter, who cut off the ear of the Roman guard, denied Jesus shortly after. 

We (myself included) pay too much attention to how everyone else is doing in their walk and in their talking (and boy do we talk). It sometimes seems our response is less about our genuine concern for people individually and more about 

“Did you see that Jesus? Did you see what I did for you fellow Christian. Did you see how I stood up for you ‘world who doesn’t know Him’?” 

I’m on your side. 

 Neither the saving of souls nor gentle correction and encouragement of the saints seems to be as important as picking a side on a line that social media is so excellent in drawing up. We throw each other under the bus in order to “save” another. 

I don’t care about Starbuck’s holiday cup. We’re called to care about people who drink from it and those who’ve chosen not to. Our love ought to be for people who are offended by Christmas and those who are tricking Starbuck’s baristas into writing “Merry Christmas” on the cups. 

We say we love them. That means our response ought to always be made in kindness, not by saying “Starbucks hates Jesus” or  “You judgy Christians make Christianity look foolish”. 

It seems we feel like our feet ought to be formally placed in one of two courts. We want to shield those who are lost and support the politically correct. So we honor their rights and respect their feelings, standing up for them with hopes they will see the light. We’re careful Christians who don’t want the message of Christ to be lost in closed fists as we proclaim Christ is Lord. 

Then there are those who feel the dire need to fight to preserve Jesus’ name, a name most worthy of praise. We see His name being erased in effort to not offend. As a nation who once called itself Christian, we as a whole are becoming, as Starbucks says “more open” to other faiths and to the idea of no faith at all. But we’re quite closed-minded as a nation when it comes to sharing the Christian faith. Just ask the coach who was fired for praying on school property after games. Just ask military chaplains whose mouths have been shut when it comes to sharing the gospel. It grieves us, and rightly so. 

The only cure for a court divided is Jesus. His love spans the divide. We all need more of it. We all need to give more of it…to the “red cup” defenders and the lovers of Jesus who are cross with His disappearing from Christmas displays and from kid choirs who once sang “Joy to the World” in their school Christmas plays. 

We’re fighting about red cups. Seems there is a war. 

Wise men still seek Him. 

Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. 

Let’s proclaim his name in kindness to all men; baristas, coffee drinkers and complainers. Let’s be devoted to promoting peace on earth and good will toward men. All men. Amen.

P.S. Please don’t get offended. 

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Foodie Fridays; Crown Pizza 

My tongue is attending a little burn spot on the left part of the roof of my mouth. It’s a beautiful reminder of the pizza Jason and I had for lunch.  


I’d heard about Crown Pizza from a couple of people, but I tell ya, your suggestion came without proper emotion. This is not simply a “good” place to eat. I went all the way to Italy, and back, before unreservedly saying to you now that Beaumont and Rome are duking it out for first place pizza. 

Crown pizza is located at 5535 Calder Ave in Beaumont. 

We studied the online menu before going in, so we had a game plan. Decisions of this nature should be made only after careful consideration. The menu boasts somewhere around a dozen pizzas, none of which could easily be excluded from our playing field. 

We narrowed our choices down and ordered three pizzas, the Margherita, the Shangrai La, and the BLT. 

La Margherita


Jason and I had a small tiff regarding the ordering of this beauty. I’ve tasted its kind. Though wonderful, I’ve had it many times and was hungering for something foreign to my tastebuds. Jason won, but I admit it, my tastebuds won too, being reunited with this old friend. You’re familiar with its ingredients: hand crushed tomato sauce, fresh cow’s milk mozzarella, hand torn basil, sea salt and olive oil. It was already half gone before I came to my senses and snapped a picture. 

Jason ordered the Shangrai La.

 He says 

“It has a combination of toppings I never imagined possible on a pizza. The basil pesto made a great flavor foundation. Whoever thought grilled brussel sprouts could be a legitimate topping.” 

The Shangrai La is topped with prosciutto, serrano peppers and fresh mozzarella. My great grandmother may have never said “You don’t love food, you love people” had she tried this pizza. 

I ordered the BLT

I wanted to choose the most exotic pizza on the list but this pizza had me at the word marmalade. The crust, like every pizza this awesome establishment makes, is crispy and isn’t the kind you leave behind when you’ve eaten all the goody. This light crust is covered in some type of creamy balsamic-like bacon marmalade. Goat cheese and thick bacon are the middle layer in this fine pie. Cherry tomatoes and fresh arugula are piled on top. This BLT is the roof-of-mouth burning culprit. And I’m not sorry to say I still love it. 

These pizzas run from about nine to twenty dollars. The twenty-two dollar pizza is topped with frog legs. If you try it, or have tried it…let me know. Also make us aware of any of the other must-try pizzas on the menu. They have salads and desserts too, both of which, we were too distracted to try. We were on a pizza mission today. Mission accomplished. 


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A Thursday for Your Thoughts; My Sister Kelli

A few weeks ago my cousin Angela shared how she’s learned to praise God in the good times and bad. She’s had her share of storms and testified that God has been with her through each one. Today she is telling you her sister’s story…Kelli’s story. Kelli is part of my story too. Her life is a reminder that sorrow and beauty and wonder are strangely intertwined. Her life is a reminder that our days are few, but never too few to be without great purpose. 

Psalm 90:12  Teach us to number our days,

    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

A Guest Post by Angela Dorris

My sister Kelli

Where do I begin? 

 There is so much to tell. The first thing I really remember after she was born is that soon after coming home from the hospital, it was discovered that she had a blue color to her. It didn’t take long to find out that my beautiful sister had a heart problem.

 This was only the beginning to the troubles she would encounter. Kelli was born in 1983. From the beginning she loved life and everything about it. 

 She had an open heart surgery before she was even 1 year old. That surgery actually helped her. As time went on, she would require another heart surgery. 

 Little did we, or the doctor know, that Kelli knew that surgery wouldn’t be successful. I have never heard of anyone waking up during a surgery until Kelli came along. She woke up during her surgery, sat up on the table and told the doctor to stop because it wasn’t going to work. They had to put her back under anesthesia and proceed with the surgery.

 Kelli would be correct in saying the surgery wouldn’t be successful.

 During her time in the hospital, the Christmas holidays came along. I remember staying at the Ronald Mc Donald house in Ft. Worth. Staying there was such a blessing. They made sure that all of us had the best Christmas possible. 

 They gave Kelli, my sister and I a Cabbage Patch Doll. Kelli’s doll was named Nia Gale and the doll went through everything with Kelli, including the IV’s that Kelli had. The nurses would put IV’s on Kelli’s doll also to make her feel better. All of this happened such a long time ago and I will do my best to put everything into order.   


During Kelli’s brief moments at home, she would cling to my brother Shawn. She loved swinging with him. Kelli somehow knew that she was very different from other kids, even though she didn’t look any different. She knew she would never run and play like the other kids. How do you explain that to a child under 5 years old? We didn’t have to explain to her, she just knew.  

I remember being in the choir at Early First Baptist Church and we did a program with the Kids Praise songs and I had my grandmother purchase the cassette tape with those songs. Kelli learned every one of those songs but her favorite was IN HIS TIME...

 In His time, in His time

He makes all things beautiful in His time. 

 Her other favorite song was Jesus Name Above All Names. My dad made a video of Kelli, my sister Holly, my cousin Kristi and I singing those songs. That memory will always come to mind when I hear those two songs. I truly believe that Kelli understood exactly what those songs meant.  

You see, Kelli at that time was on a heart transplant waiting list. She knew she didn’t have much time left here on this Earth. She would however get the opportunity to attend school for a very short period of time. I was told that Kelli even communicated with a boy in her class that couldn’t talk or walk. When Kelli was picked up from school that dad, she told her mom Tammy that the boy she communicated with was going to walk one day. About 6 months after Kellie passed, Tammy found out that the boy in Kelli’s class had a surgery that enabled him to walk. Kelli was very gifted.

Soon after she wasn’t able to go to school due to her health declining rapidly, she attended Vacation Bible School at Early First Baptist Church. During that week, the best week of her life, she learned that Jesus was her friend and understood that Jesus died on the cross for her sins. 


Kelli (far right) at Vacation Bible School
 I later learned that Kelli didn’t even sleep at night during that week of Vacation Bible School. Kelli loved Jesus so much that she wanted to make sure everyone had Jesus as their friend. She was very adamant about Holly accepting Jesus as her friend, but Holly didn’t make this decision until some time after Kelli passed away.

There would be times right before Kelli passed away that she would see a hearse and say “that’s my car”. She knew her time was coming quickly.  

How can someone with such a short life span make such a huge impact on others lives? It seems impossible and Kelli made it happen. I’m so blessed that God gave her to me and the rest of our family.  

As she was taking her last breath on Earth, she was reaching up toward Heaven.

This only makes us realize how much of our time here on Earth is wasted and not focused on what we have in front of us. Our most important task is to love God, seek God and spread the Word about Him to others. 

 What can you do differently today?

You’ll notice social media is peppered with thankful posts and pictures. It’s November! Most times our thankfulness can’t be summed up in a sentence or two. If you have a story that expresses your gratitude and you’d like to share it on this website, please send it in an email to kristiburden@gmail.com


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How a Hotdog with Mustard Changed My Life

A hotdog with mustard changed my life nineteen years ago. 


Late  in October, after fifteen hours of labor, I decided to defy the laws of logic by feeding my (already in turmoil) stomach a hotdog with mustard. I didn’t even like mustard. But more, I didn’t like having to wait for you for another minute. I’d been waiting for you since I’d found out about you the beginning of March. Really, I’d been waiting for you most of my life, as do all girls with dreams of motherhood. 

 That hotdog changed things. My piddly do-nothing contractions accepted my challenge. I didn’t know they were piddly until the real pains came on…after the mustard. I battled pains for seventeen more hours before you arrived the next morning. I believe it was on a Friday. 

Funny how, when they brought you up close to my face and I talked to you, both our terrors ceased.  We knew each other already. 

Within days, memory of life before you was fuzzy. 

Your dad and I had no idea what we were doing even though we had taken birthing classes. I’d practiced diapering and soothing my fussy nieces and nephews but this was different. Your dad told his two friends who were afraid to hold you, to hold you like a football. He also called for your nurse at the first surprising diaper no one had warned us about. 

Those first days were terrifying and wonderful. 

I’ve gotten used to both of those emotions. Parenthood can easily be compared to a rollercoaster ride, but there’s still an important difference. I’ve ridden “The Judge Roy Scream” at Six Flags more than twenty times. At this point I can handle when the coaster goes careening down those steep rickety tracks. I know what happens. With the ones you love, life continues in unexpected twists and turns. 

Life with you has had a steady element of surprise and thrill (with still a little bit of terror). This has been especially true as you’ve traveled off to college. You’re making your own decisions.  You’re buying your own gas and getting yourself up for class without me there to remind you to not forget your notebook. I’m not there to tell you to fix the left side of your hair seeing it looks like clown hair because you took a shower and then went back to bed and fell asleep on it. 

But there’s also still wonderful. There’s a new kind of wonderful. Texts and phone calls aren’t taken for granted. You won’t find me telling you that “hugs shouldn’t hurt” like I did when you were four and your hard (and sometimes out of nowhere) hugs seized my breath and near cracked my ribs. 

I anticipate hearing about each new exciting thing you’re doing like writing articles for “The Houstonian”, the school paper. I’m still working up the nerve to ask you to send me a picture of you or your new friends every once in a while but I’ve held on to that weirdness so far. 

This new chapter has been trying to say the least. But in all the newness and sadness and through the frightening, I know what happens. 

 I can look back through every year and see how wonderful God’s plan has been so far and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that His plan is in a most exciting stage for you now. I can see how He is “working for the good” in your life; you’ve been called according to His purpose. I’m a grateful spectator who’s hanging on to her mom-powered binoculars. 

This is your first birthday away from home. I’ll spend today wondering what you’re doing, limiting my texts to let you enjoy a little bit of it. I’ll spend the day thinking over just how thankful I am for your humor and your love of deep conversation. 

Your dad and I are proud of you. We love you like we did so many October 30 mornings ago. But we love you different. Deeper. 

Thankful for that hotdog with mustard that precipitated your coming nineteen years ago. 

Happy birthday Hayden

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Facebook; The 21st Century Front Porch

About a year after Jason and I got married we bought an old house that qualified for a historical marker had we pursued the paperwork. 

My favorite thing about this old house was the porch. It extended around the part of the house that jutted out in front. It faced our little street on the edge of town; a town so small that it was just made up of edges, no middle. 

Our porch had a white-painted wooden swing and two squeaky screen doors whose trim Jason’s Papa painted the prettiest plum color. 

We spent nice afternoons on that porch, though looking back, I wish we’d spent more time there. 

We love the house we live in now, seventeen years later. This house lacks a proper spot for a porch swing; primarily because there’s little porch at all. There’s a covered spot leading to the entrance with a doormat and two sickly plants. There’s just enough room for three people (tops) to squeeze in if its raining.  

There’s no room for rocking chairs or coffee talk (not that I’m a coffee drinker). 

I wonder if we had our old porch back if I’d perch myself there in the evening hour watching the sun finish its final leg to the horizon. Would I be there waiting when neighbors walked by on brisk mornings with an eager wave that said “How’s it going?”? 

We were busy back then. We were working jobs and caring for a toddler. We had family two to ten miles in nearly every direction whom we were going to see with hopes of bumming dinner most nights. We spent little time at home, much less on the porch. 

We’re even busier now; still with jobs and with three kids. Our family and friends are scattered…and they’re many. (And they’re busy too). 

Had we a front porch now like we did in Iredell, we wouldn’t have much time for sitting on it. Calendar-wise and square-footage wise, there’s not enough space for that kind of front porch living in this season. 

I regret that this is the case, but it is the case, for us at least. We limit our kids activities. We’re learning to say no to some things because there are ceaseless things to do and places to be. Still, our time is spent traveling from red light to red light and speeding through green ones.  We scurry like mice trying to get even our limited list completed. 

Having time to enjoy our surroundings and spend a quantity of time with people is difficult in this high speed age. We have blips of time. We must use them wisely. I like to think I put some of those blips to good use on Facebook. 

Facebook has become a new front porch. 

Before you do a face palm at such a statement, hear me out.

 Certainly Facebook doesn’t substitute for face-to-face interaction. Facebook interaction, on its own, is superficial. We scroll, we like. Some times we click on comments and type in the “prayer hands” or “heart” emoji. If we’re really touched, we tap out encouragement on the keys…a thirty word sentiment to cheer you on. 

 It doesn’t have to stop there. Facebook is a setting, where sometimes, otherwise impossible friendships are forged. Just don’t let Facebook be the whole of it. 

The front porch is where you wave. It’s where you say to the person in passing…”It’s a beautiful day!” or “Is your family well?” Most waved to from the porch will keep on going, glad for greeting. Some will mozy on over to where you are to engage in more meaningful conversation, especially if you invite them. 

I don’t believe I’ll ever say anything on Facebook that will have much effect on anyone’s day, much less their life. But just like the old front porch in Iredell, Facebook is a place where a greeting or an encouraging comment can lead to so much more. 

I’ve had Facebook interaction that has led to meals with laughter. My engagement on Facebook has led to partnering in prayer with people, which does have the possibility of changing lives. I have developed friendships with several people I’ve never met; people with whom I have important things in common, people with which I can relate. I have plans to meet one lady in the next year whom I’ve prayed with for more than a year. She lives out of state, but we message each other frequently in hopes of encouraging one another. 

Facebook is a front porch with boundless possibility. Unlike the five-foot by five-foot slab out side my door, my electronic porch has grand dimensions. It reaches across oceans. Sure relationships aren’t made of “likes” and emojis, but it can be a good start.
Purposeful relationships are for the taking and building, starting with your fingertips. 

Because even good things should be in moderation, I’m working on a post that includes smart Facebook guidelines. What would you include?

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