The Ten Commandments: Murder in a Small Town

It’s always nice to find a corresponding news item that can be coupled with whatever the topic of a post is.  Except for this week.  If you follow this blog, then you know I just didn’t pull this particular scripture out of thin air because I’ve been writing on the Ten Commandments every Wednesday for the past four weeks.  How my heart broke on Monday when I heard about the shooting in Chardon, Ohio.

Chardon is a small town with a population of about 5,100 people that is located about thirty miles from Cleveland, Ohio.  The high school is approximately the same size as the high school my daughter, Claire, attends.  In the fall of 2011, there was a shooting at Claire’s high school, too.  The news of the shooting in Chardon brought back all the memories of how I felt when I learned what had happened at Cape Fear High School.  I can tell you that the last thing on the minds of mothers and fathers in Chardon on Monday morning was that their children would be put in harm’s way by the end of the school day and that three students would die while two others would be wounded.  It’s just not something that you wake up and ponder…until it happens to you.

I was going to write about the reasons that human beings kill each other (greed, jealousy, so-called “honor killings,” abortion, as well as killing for no apparent reason at all) but today I realized that it doesn’t matter why the human race commits murder.  God says that it’s wrong.  Before He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, God said it was wrong.  God severely punished Cain for the murder of his brother, Abel.

But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!  Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”  Genesis 4:10-12 (NLT)

It’s not just a suggestion from the Author and Creator of life for His creation to hold the life that He gives as a sacred gift.  Life is not something that we can callously disregard.

By all accounts, T. J. Lane (the shooter) was a quiet student who excelled in school and was called “an average kind of kid” by neighbors who knew him.  When Lane was arraigned in court yesterday, the prosecutor said that the shooting wasn’t about drugs and alcohol or being bullied.  Lane didn’t even personally know the victims.  He never gave off odd vibes.  He never acted in any way that might alert someone that something might be wrong.  We may never know exactly why he murdered and wounded his classmates.  All we know for sure is that he took his grandfather’s gun to school and did just that.

So, instead of listing all the reasons why this may have happened, I’m just going to ask that you pray.  Please remember the wounded survivors in your prayers.  Eighteen-year-old Joy Rickers was released from the hospital yesterday but another student, Nick Walczak, remains in the hospital in serious condition but is expected to make a full recovery.  Remember the student body that is left to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy.  Remember the shooter, T. J. Lane, his sister, and his grandparents.

Most of all, please remember the families of the slain students in your prayers:

Daniel Parmertor, age 16

Russell King, Jr., age 17

Demetrius Hewlin, age 16

Ohio School Shooting

Students Gather for Prayer & a Candlelight Vigil outside of St. Mary‘s of Chardon on February 28, 2012

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Photo Credit:  Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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How Can I Keep From Singing: His Strength is Perfect

I stepped on the scales the morning for the first time in a long time and let me just say this:  it wasn’t pretty.  I was tempted to go to the cupboard and pull out a box of Little Debbie Caramel Bars (my current cookie obsession) and eat my way through the entire thing.  The only thing that kept me from doing this was the fact that I had an obligated myself to take my mother to the doctor.  Ever so briefly, I considered taking the box along with me and munching in the waiting room, but I would’ve been too embarrassed.

So, I picked up my copy of Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore and headed out on this dreary, rainy day.  The waiting room was packed with sick people waiting to be seen.  In fact, it was so crowded that my mother and I couldn’t find two seats together.  So, I found one in the corner and opened my book at the bookmark and saw chapter seven’s topic, “Overcoming Addiction.”  Great, I thought.  I sat for almost ten minutes as I volleyed back and forth between “read the book” and “sit and sulk.”  If sitting and sulking hadn’t been such an unattractive alternative, I’d have chosen it.  (I already needed to lose weight and get a haircut and color, so I decided to spare everyone and read.)  As I read, I felt God‘s Spirit inside me saying, “I had her write this chapter just for you.”

For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

I finished the chapter and came to this conclusion:  I am addicted to food.   It’s not like I haven’t known that I’m over-weight.  I’ve just never used the term “addiction” to describe my relationship with food before.  Food and I go back a loooooong way.  I use it for comfort when I’m sad.  I use it as an activity when I’m bored.  I use it to reward myself for success.  I use food for every reason under the sun when I should be using it simply as nourishment.  I know about good nutrition, portion control, and weight loss.  It’s not as if I’ve never done it before.  (Just call me “Yo-Yo.”)  Something about being in the doctor’s office and reading that particular chapter in a book I’ve so enjoyed reading set off a cacophony of bells and whistles.  And this was the verse that immediately popped into my mind:

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.  1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT)

My temple needs a makeover — a lifestyle makeover.  I want to live a long life.  I want to keep my cholesterol in check.  I don’t want diabetes.  I don’t want heart disease.  And let’s face it —  I want to look good when I walk down the aisle for our vow renewal in October.  So, I’m putting myself out there.  I’m going to be accountable to God for my weight-loss and going public with this decision will help keep me motivated.  I want to be truthful with everyone, including myself, because I’ve spent the last ten years covering up with bulky tops, yoga pants, and excuses.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.  Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)

There are no shortcuts, so I’ve mapped out a five-step plan that I feel I can stick to:

  1. Eat breakfast daily.  I know from past experiences that this keeps me from over-indulging later in the day.
  2. Set short, simple goals.  I need to lose about fifty pounds in all, but that’s just too much to think about at one time.  So, my first goal is to lose 10 pounds by Easter.  (That’s about 1.5 pounds a week, which is healthy and do-able.)  I’ll be doing some research to find where I can substitute lower calorie items for their high-calorie counterparts.  An article I read in the doctor’s office this afternoon suggested low-calorie substitutions such as a slice of avocado instead of mayo or leaving cheese off a sandwich, switching to turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, or having a square of dark chocolate instead of a whole candy bar.
  3. Exercise with a friend.  We have this great walking track near my house.  I already have friends and family that go there to walk.  If I make a point to exercise with someone else, then I’ll be less likely to blow off exercising.  (I’ve found I have no problem blowing off exercise when the only person I answer to is me.)
  4. Stop eating junk.  A good way to eliminate junk from my diet would be just not to have it in my house.  And that doesn’t mean to eat it all tonight to get rid of it!  I love fruit, cheese, yogurt, and cereal.  In moderation, those are all good snacks.  I’ve also decide that there will be no snacking after 8:00pm at night.  Nothing good can come from it.
  5. Pray.  A lot.  Not just prayer for self-control but seeking God about everything.  I want this journey to lead me closer to the cross and finding what God is purposing in my life.  More time spent talking to God and searching for ways to know Him better will satisfy me in ways a half-gallon of Breyer’s Pralines ‘n’ Caramel ice cream never can.

I’ve always loved the song I’ve chosen to share with you today and it perfectly complements this post.  God’s strength is the only way I can accomplish anything — even losing weight.

“His Strength is Perfect” (Steven Curtis Chapman) “

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Video Credit:  Amanda Boutchia

What Will You Do with Jesus?

What Will You Do With Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?

Will you give Him your soul today,

And ask Him to forgive you,

As you kneel to Him and pray?

What will you do with Jesus?

Will you trust Him and believe,

That He has stored for you in Heaven,

His richest blessings to receive?

What will you do with Jesus?

Will it be victory or loss?

Will you let Him live inside your heart,

Or leave Him at the cross?

What will you do with Jesus?

Let Him open your eyes to see,

That the most important question He longs to hear is,

Lord, what can You do through me?”

–Sandra Hall Rosser (c)2012

For you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Philippians 1:5-6 (NLT)

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The Ten Commandments: Honoring Your Parents

Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you.  Exodus 20:12 (Amplified Bible)

I have written poetry all my life.  Right after Christmas in 1986, I began writing a series of poems about and for my mother.  I was able to write ten poems, bind them, and present them as her Mother’s Day gift.  I have written her a poem for Mother’s Day nearly every year since.  Two years later, I gave my father a similar book of poems for Father’s Day 1988.

I want to share one poem from my Mama’s book and two poems from my Daddy’s book in this post to show how much I love and honor my parents.  Of course, there will never be enough words to say how much I owe them and how much their contributions (physically, mentally, and spiritually) shaped me into the person I am.  I am nearly fifty and I still want to please them and make them proud of me.  And as long as I draw breath, I will give whatever help they ask for, even if it means completely taking care of them when they can no longer take care of themselves.  I firmly believe that goes along with the promise that’s attached to this commandment — to live a long life on this earth.

If you love your parents and want to honor them, please leave a comment to this post about who they are/were and what they’ve meant in your life.  I can’t wait to read your comments.


 His Choice

God chose for me to be your seed,

A part of you, yet separate too.

Protected by your warmth and care,

He let me grow inside of you.

He joined the cells that gave me life,

And formed me by design,

A tiny bit from you and Daddy,

Was crafted in His will Divine.

You carried me and gave me birth,

And that was the beginning,

Of a lifetime filled with learning, hurting, healing,

And a love that’s never-ending.

It was God Who gave me that spark of life,

But it was in His plan, right from the start,

That you would teach me how to live that life.

He chose you to mold my heart.

And I may never understand how such mysteries unfold,

Or just how we two came to be;

But one thing I’m sure of,

As God reigns in His Heaven above,

You were the best choice for me.

–Sandra Hall Rosser (c)1990


It is said that a man has an unwritten creed

That he lives every day, in word and deed.

And the worth of a man is the unmeasured part

Of the faith in his soul and the love in his heart.

–Sandra Hall Rosser (c)1988

Haiku for Daddy

Strong hands reaching out,

Daddy holds me in his arms.

I’m his little girl.

–Sandra Hall Rosser (c)1988

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How Can I Keep From Singing: I’ll Fly Away

Albert E. Brumley wrote “I’ll Fly Away” in 1932. For eighty years, this song has been covered by many noted musicians.  The fact that this song still elicits emotion and memories for so many people speaks to its undeniable place in Southern Gospel music history.

When I was doing research for this post, I ran across a great website,  The “I’ll Fly Away” Foundation (IFAF) was established by Betsy Brumley and others to honor her grandfather and raise funds for preserving our American musical heritage.  It provides scholarships for those who want to be professional musicians.  IFAF visits classrooms and gives demonstrations tours to help educate future generations about preserving the roots and traditions of American music.  If you visit the site, you can learn about the programs and people involved in IFAF.

My Granddaddy Raeford had the most beautiful bass voice.  One of the earliest memories I have is him singing and playing the guitar.  He sang in the church choir.  He sang in quartets that delivered four-part Southern Gospel music at its finest.  He loved “I’ll Fly Away,” among so many other hymns and songs.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.  Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 1 Corinthians 3:6-10 (NLT)

If you read the lyrics of “I’ll Fly Away,” it’s evident that Albert Brumley was a part of laying God’s foundation.  He wrote of going to heaven as only a man who loved God and knew Jesus could.  Every time we sing his song, we become part of the “Builders Association,” laying the foundations for future believers.  I’m so glad that the Brumley family started the IFAF.  I dearly love Contemporary Christian music, but I will always remember the songs that I first learned in church — the hymns of Southern Gospel music.

There were so many videos to choose from when I looked for “I’ll Fly Away.”  I chose this version because Johnny Cash sounds an awful lot like my granddaddy.  After you enjoy Johnny’s version of “I’ll Fly Away,”  please visit the IFAF site.  If you love Southern Gospel music, you will want these folks to reach their goals.  And if Southern Gospel music helped lead you to the cross, then you just might want to make a donation to say “Thank you.”

I’ll Fly Away (Johnny Cash) “

Are You Ready for a Miracle?


God’s still doing miracles.  God’s still doing miracles.  God’s still doing miracles. Let Him do a miracle for you.  (Words by Flo Price)

Twenty-five years ago today, we had one of the biggest snowstorms we’ve ever seen in Fayetteville and eastern North Carolina.  On top of two feet of snow, we had about three inches of ice added just for good measure.  Businesses and government offices were closed.  Our school system was closed for nine days.  Lots of folks were without power.  And it was in this wintry world that God brought me to my knees about a situation in which I had purposely and defiantly ignored Him.

Kelly and I had only begun dating in January of 1987.  I gave up choosing dates for myself and God sent a lifelong friend, Kelly, into my world.  Almost immediately, God started showing me that when I followed His will, circumstances were always different, and assuredly, better.  Kelly began courting me — something I’d never experienced before.  He called when he said he would.  When he wasn’t working as a paramedic in Charlotte, NC, he was with me in Fayetteville.  He began to be a part of my life in all the ways that counted — family, friends, and church.

The first inkling that I might be falling in love with him caught me completely by surprise at the beginning of February.  My good friend and fellow teacher, Linda Trudeau Wise, and I had many conversations about exactly where this “thing” was headed.  Kelly sent me a bouquet of roses with the sweetest note:  “I’m glad I have an excuse to visit Fayetteville more often.”  I tried to downplay how I was feeling.  Linda jokingly said, “Well if you don’t want him, you can certainly send him my way.”  Immediately, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I thought, Kelly Rosser belongs to me!  This thought was completely out of left field and it scared me.

The wedding of my friends Phyllis and Butch Jasper took place on February 7, 1987.  It was small and intimate. Not only was I the maid of honor, but my mom and I were helping with the reception.  Kelly was my date and my savior that night, making the trek from Hope Mills back to our home to pick up the punch we’d left in the freezer.  My mother watched Kelly pull away from the reception on his mission and whispered, “That boy is falling in love with you — nobody makes a thirty-mile round trip to get punch for nothing.”  He was my “knight in shining armor” that night and I was petrified.

The approaching Valentine’s Day scared me that much more.  He took me out to dinner and gave me the perfect pair of diamond earrings.  I knew in my heart that he was going to tell me that he loved me.  I almost let the words pass his lips…until I said, “I’m just not ready to hear this now.  Maybe sometime in the future, but not now.”  Like the gentleman he was, he smiled and said he understood.

That night, and into the next morning, I could not sleep.  For the first couple of hours, I thought of all the ways I could end the relationship.  Then, God presented me with a thousand reasons why I was ready to love or be loved.  I just couldn’t imagine that this good, wonderful, godly man could be mine.  I certainly didn’t think I deserved such happiness.  All night, God kept showing me Kelly’s face over and over while reminding me of the promises in His Word.

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it — what God has arranged for those who love him.  1 Corinthians 2:9 (The Message)

About four o’clock in the morning, I noticed that it was snowing.  I couldn’t remember ever seeing as much snow and ice fall before.  It encased everything around us and no one was going anywhere.  A certain school teacher wasn’t teaching that day and a certain paramedic in Fayetteville for Valentine’s Day wasn’t driving back to Charlotte.  Amazingly enough, Kelly found a way to drive the five miles between his parents’ house and my parents’ house without finding himself in a ditch.  We watched movies and played games.  We talked about everything we were feeling.  We bonded as a couple and with my family.  It continued to snow and ice sporadically for the next two days.  God used those two days to open my mind and my heart.  I knew that Kelly Rosser was the person God had been preparing for me since the day I was born.

When it stopped snowing and icing, we ventured out into the woods beside my house.  I could hear our footsteps and the creaking of tree limbs as they bent under the weight of frozen precipitation.   There was a silence that crackled with energy.  It was an alabaster world among the pines and live oaks.  He looked at me and said, “I love you.”  His cheeks and nose had turned pink in the cold.

“I love you, too,” I replied.  Tears that I could not cry in the anger of my past burst forth.  And we sealed it with hugs and kisses — red, runny noses and all.  Some people describe moments such as this like “the firing of a huge display of fireworks” or “a hundred marching bands playing Stars and Stripes Forever.”  It was neither for me.  It was a quiet, welcoming of two spirits who’d once been lost but now were found.  It felt like coming home after I’d been away on a long, fruitless journey.  Kelly has been my “home” ever since.

Do I think that God sent the snow and ice just for me?  Maybe.  I don’t know the mind of God,  but I do believe He used the weather conditions as an opportunity to give me another chance to take the gift that He had so lovingly “arranged” for me.

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?  To be out of your sight?  If I climb to the sky, you’re there!  If I go underground, you’re there!  If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute.  You’re already there waiting!  Psalm 139:7-10 (The Message)

What is God arranging for you that you simply cannot fathom?  Whatever it is, you can bet that He will be relentless until you give in.  Wherever you go, He will follow.  He loves you so much, He will chase you for the rest of your life.  He has a plan for your life that is more spectacular than you can imagine.  He is the God of miracles.  Are you ready for a miracle?  Just believe Him and say, “Yes!”

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Lyric credit:  Flo Price, from the Christmas musical A Miracle Happened at Christmas

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The Song We Were Singing: Unfailing Love

Today, my good friend and sister-in-Christ Jodie Bailey ( agreed to be my guest blogger.  I thank her for giving me the inspiration to post about music that makes a difference in my life.  Without her “The Song We Were Singing” Mondays, there would be no “How Can I Keep From Singing?” Mondays for this blog.  Please check out her website and blog to be truly blessed.  Grace & Peace, Sandy

I APOLOGIZE!  This was not published on Monday as it should have been.  I am still new to this blogging thing, so it’s probably my fault.  But I don’t want you to miss what she has to tell you.  Enjoy…and again, I apologize!



Aren’t there some days when it’s just good to know that God loves you?  Sometimes, in the hustle and craziness of life, it’s easy to dash into prayer time and dash out again without really looking for God’s face.  “Here’s my stuff, God.  Thanks for listening.  You have a good day now, okay?”

It’s good to slow down, though.  To shut our mouths, rest our heads in His lap, and let Him run His hand over our hair.  Oh, it’s in those times when I feel God’s love the most, when I lay my head down and let Him love me.  I don’t say anything, I just get into His presence and let Him talk to me.  Sometimes He says nothing.  He’s just there.  In a way, those are the best times, the ones that bring tears to my eyes because there’s no agenda, it’s just me and my Abba, being together. He likes to do that to me at the beach.  We stand together, staring out over the water.  There’s no dazzling insight, no amazing bolt from the blue, just us, hanging out.  I just know there is a crystal sea in heaven simply so we can stand there together.  That is what I look forward to the most!

The God whose words spoke everything into existence likes to sit still with me.  Do we realize how incredible that is?  If you’ve got a minute, sit with Him now and let Chris Tomlin’s “Unfailing Love” get you into that moment with God


“Unfailing Love” (Christ Tomlin) “

Video Credit: FireThundertv

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