Thursday, October 30, 2008

And now, a word from the author - Part Two

Arizona Christian Worldview Institute's new division, ACW Publications, has released its first book, Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations [learn more about it and read an excerpt here]. Here's Part Two of an interview I did with Heather via email. [Read Part One here].

Just Enough Grace is divided into three sections - sort of three phases of your life. The second section is "Just Enough Grace for Cancer." Any favorite entries from this section?

Um, NO.

Okay, yes. :-) I like "Shock and Awe” (p. 89). I loved the fact that, in the middle of some of the worst circumstances of my life to date, God showed Himself in a very tangible way. He didn't take away the situation, but he constantly reminded me of his love. HIS goodness didn't change, despite my upheaval.
As you've re-read this section now, several months after the events, is it difficult to read?

Absolutely. I think all of us (we're all co-survivors at the Nations' house) have experienced a bit of post-traumatic stress. Dave and I were so busy trying to keep all of our plates spinning that we often didn't take vital couple time during my treatment, and many things were left unsaid that we're just starting to scratch the surface of now.

I'm also amazed at how much I chose NOT to write during that time. Some people considered me to be relentlessly upbeat--I wasn't. I was aware that my daughter follows my blog, and I didn't want to deal with the topics like my humiliation at being bald, or my fear–not of dying, but of leaving my children and husband alone.
What are a couple of things that God taught you during this phase of your life?

--True friends and family stick with you, even when things are scary or ugly. We saw amazingly loving responses from family and friends who literally dropped everything to serve us during this difficult season. However, you have to be willing to let people help you, even if it means appearing vulnerable.

--It's important to leave a legacy. It comforted me to know that there was a record of this time for my children. If I didn't survive, they would have something tangible to read about how much their mom loved them, and hopefully they would take away that I was at peace with God's will, even if it meant dying.

--Humor is a gift. If I could laugh at myself, it was a good day. Blessedly, I was surrounded by people who loved to laugh as well.
Have your relationships or priorities changed as a result of your trip through "Cancerland"? If so, how?

I think I've become a person who is more willing to extend grace to others. I also try to keep a long-range perspective on what's truly important...having crunchy carpet or fingerprinted windows doesn't set me on edge the way it would have at one time.

I heard recently that life's crises can make us "bitter or better.” I do think that our perspective becomes more focused--either on ourselves or on God. My prayer is that my focus stays on Him--not just through cancer, but in everything.
What's the latest update on your health?

So far, no news is good news. I have CT scans every four months and the last one (August 11) was clean. I return for a checkup on December 15.

Recovery from the amount of chemo I had has been interesting. Physically, I consider myself to be at 80% of my pre-surgical/treatment energy, pain, and stamina-- and I hear that this is actually ahead of the healing curve! I have some short and long term memory issues, but most of the time they're more humorous than concerning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And now, a word from the author - Part One

By now you've heard that our new division, ACW Publications has released its first book, Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations [learn more about it and read an excerpt here]. Over the next week or so we'll be posting an interview I did with Heather via email. Here's Part One:

First, tell us a little about yourself & your family.

While I've dabbled in many things (occupational therapist, doula (a birthing coach), part time medical school teaching assistant/proctor), my full time job for the past 13 years or so has been homemaker and mom (or mommy, depending on the child). Dave and I have been married for sixteen years and have four children, ages 13, 11, 8, and 3.

With the exception of the 8 year old (she's a gymnastics girl) we're a serious soccer family. Most Saturdays will find us on the fields or traveling. In between we shuttle to practices or to school games.

Dave and I have always had a heart for family ministry and for worship. We've recently become partners in and enjoy serving at Celebration Community Church, in Kissimmee, FL.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Honestly, I can't say I ever wanted to be a writer. *I* always wanted to be a doctor. Writing has always come naturally to me, and I've actually had friends tell me over the years that I'd write a book "someday." What is so amazing to me about this whole process is that God's hand is so evident in it. Truly, it's not Heather's book — it's His.
So why did you start writing in the first place?

Shortly after the birth of my fourth child, I was feeling lonely and disillusioned. My long time homeschooling gal pals were sending their children to public school and returning to school and/or the workforce. Their lives seemed to be moving on, and mine seemed to be stuck--mostly at home with an infant who was chronically needy. A friend of mine had started a "mommy blog" and I enjoyed reading it (while rocking the baby). I thought, "Maybe I can do this, too..." Blogging became a way to process what was going on in my life; not quite as personal as a journal, but very encouraging as I could get feedback in the form of comments.
What kinds of responses to the book have you gotten so far - excluding from your family, who simply LOVE it, of course!

The responses I've heard have been overwhelmingly positive. My favorite comments have been women who have shared that God has used the book to encourage them, or that it's "just like you were sitting next to me, talking."

Another favorite came from a person at my church. We'd worked together extensively, but never quite "clicked" relationally. After a book signing she shared that reading my book was like taking a peek inside my heart (!). Our relationship has improved tremendously since then.
Just Enough Grace is divided into three sections - sort of three phases of your life. Let's take each section one at a time. The first section is "Just Enough Grace for Children." What's one of your favorite entries from this section?

I love "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall" (p.16). It talks about how Christian women (including me) have a bad habit of placing our identity in the choices we make rather than in the One who saved us! It's just SO easy to fall back on a works-based mentality, or to think I'm more worthy of God's love if I...keep a perfect house, serve on this committee, or whatever.
What are a couple of things that God taught you during this phase of your life?

In a word, humility.

Some children are harder to raise than others! I thought I had the baby thing down until my youngest came along. He's STILL shaking things up at our house three years later. Seriously, I learned that I needed to extend grace to myself and to others who were struggling with not particularly enjoying a season of their lives. Let's face it; the early days of motherhood with a high need/special needs child are not the blissful time that baby product ads would lead us to believe!

That season of my life also set me up to be okay with not being able to be the "Super Everymom"--the image that I had formerly projected. I learned to let things that didn't matter go a little. This was a lesson I really needed to learn before my cancer treatment began.
What are your kids teaching you these days?

Time management! My husband is working about 75 miles from home these days and is gone most of the time, so I'm the one coordinating all of the schedules for speech therapy, preschool, gymnastics, soccer, math club, drama, etc.

We're also testing new parenting waters--we have a teenager as of last week. I'm learning to transition my parenting from the authoritative mode that I have to use for my younger children to the more relationally-governed mode that has to use with tweens and teens. It's quite a juggling act.

More of this interview with author Heather Nations in a later post. Remember: you can read an excerpt of Just Enough Grace on ACW Publications' website. It's also available for purchase directly from us or through

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Wounded Healer

To my friend Earth-Alien:

Forgive my intrusion; it has been sometime since I have read the comments of a victim of a crime, in this case murder. I must say that I have a lump in my throat as I read your blog. Your friend is the survivor-victim upfront and personal and you are a victim because of your compassion for your friend, because you realize the senseless evil and you realize that “you get it”.

I have never talked with a crime victim or survivor who inwardly was not saying, “My life has been changed forever.” This I am sure is going on your friend’s life as well as yours. This senseless murder changed lives for ever and reaches out further than imagined.
It is not an easy task to minister to folks like your friend or any crime victim. I know what it is”to get it” and then deal with the “craziness” of the situation. I thought sometimes I would come out of my skin. “Even as a believer in the ultimate sovereignty of God, I sometimes get lost in the trappings of flesh.” Carrie Baird

There is no panacea that I might offer to comfort your feelings, thoughts and want to do’s. You and our God will work it out. Your advantage and mine is “we get it.” Ministering to others is the challenge.

There is an old story in the Talmud which suggests a beginning to this “craziness”.
“Rabbi Joshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the entrance Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave. He asked, “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied, “Go ask him yourself.” “Where is he and how shall I know him?” He is sitting with the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind all the wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, “Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must be ready so as not to delay for a moment.”

“As the Messiah, we are both the wounded minister and the wounded healer.” Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Your friend,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have thine own way, Lord?

Even as believer in the the ultimate sovereignty of God, I sometimes get lost in the trappings of flesh.

A friend and classmate of mine has just experienced the horrifying murder of her husband. The story of his death is all over the news. This highly publicized tragedy has already made it public that this girl has a two year old and is newly pregnant. Even so, no one has mentioned that she also has cystic fibrosis and tremendous medical bills. Even in the midst of all the junk she's going through, she actually showed up to class this week. She is eternally upbeat and honest to a fault. In the few months I've known her, she has had more of an impact on my life than people I have known for years. In short, she's amazing. She's amazing and her husband was just killed for no good reason. No honor, no purpose, no story, nothing. I've been a Christian for years and several times in my life, Christ in me has been that support for people in times of crisis. Even so, I have to be honest and say that this situation is tearing me to pieces-and not because I don't "get it." Its because I "get it" that I'm going crazy. I know and believe with all of my being that God can and should do whatever he pleases with whomever he pleases at any given time. I know that God, in all his sovereignty is Creator and Sustain-er of the universe and that all things in it are His. I know and believe this with my whole heart and still I can't stop asking, "Why?!" All I know is as much as I hate the way my friend must feel right now, I'm thanking God for my husband and my life and for the fact that I am His. Maybe that's all I'm supposed to know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Proposition 102 Poll

For any who are interested, I just became aware of a VERY INFORMAL AND UNOFFICIAL poll re: Proposition 102, the Marriage Amendment.

It's a simple 1-question poll. I'd encourage you to take 2 minutes and answer it. As of late Wed. night (10-15-08), the results are as follows:

Will you vote in favor of Proposition 102?

  • Yes, I think it should be part of Arizona's Constitution.
    60% (2280)
  • No, marriage is already defined in Arizona as one man, one woman and the voters already rejected this in 2006.
    39% (1504)

Total Votes: 3784

The poll is here; I'll be curious to see the results as we get closer to election day.

And remember to vote for real on November 4th!


As of late Tues. night (10-21-08), the results are as follows:
Will you vote in favor of Proposition 102?
  • Yes, I think it should be part of Arizona's Constitution. 59% (2772)
  • No, marriage is already defined in Arizona as one man, one woman and the voters already rejected this in 2006. 40% (1882)
Total Votes: 4654

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Motive and Deed

Gen 2:23. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."

The bond of marriage is essentially an attitude with a constant renewal. The idea that my spouse is “bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh”, directs my thoughts to be aimed at not just my motives, but my deeds. As a young husband I found it inspiring to be physically directed to my wife in my passion for her and the desired to have children and to assist her in enhancing my grand objectives. Surely this is what God indicates in Adam’s statement.

I did not see another very important principle in this Scripture, it does not just apply to passion and procreating, it applies to the very essential fact that I, as a husband, am responsible to the care of her bone and flesh. (I am not excluding her soul.)

I suppose that this idea of caring for bone and flesh my not be something we give thought, but I assure you it is immediate and a husband’s obligation.

For me that very act of caring for my wife in sickness has caused the “gas prices”, “government buyout” and “National election” to be minutiae. It has caused me to re-examine my attitude of the past and to regret my slothfulness.

There are uncountable idiosyncrasies that each spouse possesses and we do not even recognize them. At least that is my opinion, as I discover how my wife washes her face or washes her hair. I should say, how I now wash her face or wash her hair.

I am not being confessional, I am becoming enlightened.

One of the things I have been enlightened about is that I am keeping my wife alive and giving confidence. Just being in her presence presents a confidence and strength. I did not know this, she told me. As she heals and gathers physical strength, it is my obligation to help her gather psychological and spiritual strength.

A last thought, my care of my wife adds to the security of our home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"From each according to his abilities" OR "Give a man a fish?"

You may have heard the following phrase:

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

Some have quoted this phrase as an incentive for those of us with the means to do so to willingly give to the needy, offer our services to the poor, etc.

In other words, for those of us in the west to help those in poor countries; for those of us in the middle and upper-middle class to help the poor in our own country.

A 1987 poll on the US Constitution by the Boston Globe magazine claimed that almost half the population of the United States believe that the U.S. Constitution is the source of [the] phrase, "so obviously right does the sentiment seem.”
Adapted from,_to_each_according_to_his_need

However, that's not what it means at all.

The phrase is usually attributed to Karl Marx. He wrote the phrase in his Critique of the Gotha Program (1875).

The Critique is also notable for elucidating the principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" as the basis for a communist society. The phrase summarizes the principles that, under a communist system, every person should contribute to society to the best of their ability and consume from society in proportion to their needs, regardless of how much they have contributed.,_to_each_according_to_his_need

In fact, Marx was actually quoting from an earlier historian & socialist politician, (but Spanish-born) Louis Blanc (1811-1882). In his 1839 (or 1840) essay, The Organization of Work, Blanc

demanded the equalization of wages, and the merging of personal interests in the common good-- "à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." This was to be affected by the establishment of "social workshops," a sort of combined co-operative society and trade-union, where the workmen in each trade were to unite their efforts for their common benefit.

And if there’s any question in your mind that Karl Marx was out of touch with reality - and human nature - and that communism is based on a utopian and unrealistic view of human nature:

Marx delineated the specific conditions under which such a creed would be
applicable - a society where technology and social organization had
substantially eliminated the need for physical labor in the production of
things, where "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want."
Marx explained his belief that, in such a society, each person would be
motivated to work for the good of society despite the absence of a social
mechanism compelling them to work, because work would have become a pleasurable
and creative activity. Marx intended the initial part of his slogan, "from each
according to his ability" to suggest not merely that each person should work as
hard as they can, but that each person should best develop their particular

I guess Marx had never heard of total depravity.

Friday, October 10, 2008


As a writer, one of my biggest areas of struggle and frustration is the opening lines of whatever I write. I've heard it said in my English courses in college that if you cannot grab the attention of your reader in your first couple of lines, they will not continue on with your piece of writing. That being said, my introduction is difficult to write because of the weight of what I am going to write about because of the tears of joy and sadness that have come forth from my eyes about this subject.

Three years ago, I was a nineteen year old boy who was working full time at a certain coffee shop named after a character in Moby Dick in order to help out my family during a financial crisis that had come our way. My older sister was off studying at L'Abri in Switzerland and we had just celebrated our one year anniversary of becoming members of a local church in Gilbert. I, along with many Americans watched the news of the twin hurricanes that had come and destroyed New Orleans. I watched the news with a certain level of interest because two years previously, I had gone to Louisiana to teach a TeenPact state class. Upon returning to Arizona, I had told my family that I would love to return to this state because the people there had given me a level of comfort that I had not experienced anywhere, including my own state. This sense of community will stick with me for the rest of my life.

The Sunday following the news of Katrina's destruction, our pastor had announced that our church was going to partner with another church to assist with the relief efforts down south. He further announced that we would be having a meeting to discus more specific roles after the service on Sunday and to pray and speak with your family before attending. Since I was the lone representative of my family, I didn't have anyone to consult; I quickly made my way to the meeting and noticed that I was a boy among men. We received details about the trip, our pastor reminded us again that we should pray and consult our wives before embarking on this adventure. Originally, I had received this time off from work due to a previous engagement, but when I mentioned my new plans to my mother, my manager and the director of the other engagement, I was given yes's across the board like judges on American Idol. The weeks went by very quickly leading up to my departure, but on October 1st, 2005, I left my home in Chandler, onto a plane, into an adventure that would stick with me for the rest of my life. As I tried to fall asleep on the airplane, I scribbled down a few thoughts before falling asleep:
It feels like for the last few hours, I’ve tried to sleep but to avail. the mobsters around me, keep talking out loud, thank you Lord for allowing me to have a row to myself. Right now it has been announced that we're starting our decline in height towards our destination of Detroit, Michigan.

Earlier in the flight, I was able to roughly see the stars God put the sky. I say roughly because my eye condition and the dark blanket of the cabin lights. My gaze was interrupted due to the pain that lies within my stomach.

This medication the flight attendant gave me tastes like the stuff at dentist offices, they make you gargle for endless centuries - or at least your toleration of it continues. Oh well, its done its duty and my stomach feels better, but my mind is unable to shut down at the moment.

As the airplane continues its decent, a sermon by Mark Driscoll is ringing in my head. He mentions in the sermon that young boys and young men are fascinated with sporting events but older men are fascinated with war. This is what my mind begins to mediate on while the pink pill is swirling around in my stomach. This journey that brings me back to Louisiana, this part of the state that hurricanes have caused destruction and chaos, visually has been compared to the aftermath of a war. Because of the danger of the trip, I’ve been advised not to partake in assistance because it’s someone else's job.

However, the question still lingers, why did I enlist to assist complete strangers in a state far from my own?
Could it be for approval from my peers?
Women? (I know that isn't a possibly, I hope)

The only answer that puts my mind at ease as we begin to taxi the airport, is this. In times of tribulation, everything I hold dearly in life, I count as lost. So that I might follow the Saviour without any distractions this world tries to entice me with. this world has everything for me yet this world has nothing for me.
Because where He calls me to follow, I will go.
During my week in New Orleans, I saw many things, homes destroyed, personal possessions lost, friendships built and hope displayed. I remember being in amazement at the fact that these families had lost so much but yet their faith in Christ was unshaken. One family stood out to me because even though they had lost the only home that they had known (it was the father's childhood home), because they still had each other and they still had Jesus, they were not shaken. This made an impact on my young life, as one who held his possessions in high regard.

Now three years later, the church in Louisiana that I came and served is going to be moving into a new building at the beginning of November. I was fortunate to see many of the families I had helped this past February as my sister gave me a surprised birthday trip out there. However, in these last three years, I look back and see this trip as one that was used for making me more mature and more Christ-like. That is because there have been many storms coming to test my faith and see if I truly believe that Christ is over every situation either seen or unseen. That’s the beauty of having storms come into our lives, they are meant to mold and shape us, some might be destructive like failed relationships and battles with depression or smaller ones like moving out of my parents home or juggling full time work and full time school. In all these storms, it is helpful to look back and see the steadfast love of our Lord. It is difficult to see His Hand in them, but with confidence I acknowledge that they and many more have been used to remind my soul that it is on the solid rock which is Christ, I stand and all other pursuits are shifting sands. It was difficult to come home three years ago because I didn’t feel that God was using me in my situation, but God brought up storms to mature me and mold me into the image of His Son. I mentioned at the beginning of this I was a boy, I truly believe that this experience was one that shaped me into a man. Yet, through my time in Louisiana, the Lord used it to remind me of the following verse and how it rings it true, no matter what storm comes our way:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."---Lamentations 3:22-24

(If you are interested in reading my initial entry of how the trip three years ago went, I divided it up into three parts: (coming home, my first thoughts) (part one with pictures) (part two with no pictures, sort of scattered because I was at a loss of words

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

FINALLY! The Book is Here!

If you remember reserving a book at the local library because it was checked out by someone else. . . and waiting until they returned it . . . and then finally getting to check it out. . .


If you're a parent - or a grandparent - and you've anxiously awaited those nine long months - waiting for a new bundle of joy to arrive and grace your family with new life. . .

then you know something of our joy as we announce:

Our first book is finally here!

Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations

is now available!

You can order it directly from us via email here or from Amazon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Someone said that “wisdom is knowledge with capacity.” I find this comment interesting in light of the great pressure that is upon me as well as many others as we try to discern, “Who should be the leader of our Republic?” I need wisdom!

Job 28:12. "But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
Yes, another person asking the question on my mind. And yet, an answer, Job 28:28, “And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' “

“The fear of the Lord”, does this mean that our Lord God is the source of wisdom?
James, the Lord Jesus brother presents just that fact. James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. “ The giving God, the source of our wisdom and we are the direct object of God’s giving. And notice God, “gives to all liberally and without reproach”. The words here are with out reserve and because we ask, He expects us to ask again and again and He will not “through it”, wisdom, “in our teeth”. He will give us wisdom again and again and again.

The above presents a very comforting fact to me and should to all believers of the Christ, the Son of the living God.

God bless us as we make our choice.

Let the conversation continue.