Posted by: Taylor | April 12, 2017

The Gift of Forgiveness

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

~ Mark 11:25 ~

Common…has God’s forgiveness become common to you?  Three mornings later Jesus would plead, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Was that common?  No…it was anything but common.  It was a gift of immeasurable worth.  A gift intended to be received and then given again.

Forgiveness finds its completion in forgiving.  Being forgiven is not the end, but a beginning.  It is a beginning of a new way of life unknown to us prior to God’s forgiveness.

God’s gift of forgiving us attains its fulfillment in us forgiving others.  Quite simply put, it is impossible for us to forgive another without God first having forgiven us.

Imagine the predicament we would be in if it were impossible to forgive another.  Hating, holding grudges, living with constant remembrances of all the wrongs done to us.

But we don’t have to live this way.  Jesus died for our sins and offered us forgiveness, and we in turn can now offer forgiveness.

We were once trapped by our sin and our inability to forgive another.  Now, because we have received forgiveness, we can do the impossible.  We can forgive too.

God’s forgiveness is an amazing gift, but we will never experience the fulness of this gift until we become like our Father and forgive others as He has forgiven us.

Who do you need to forgive? 

Trust…God will give you the strength you need to forgive.  Remember…God is able to heal your heart and broken spirit.  Receive…the gift of God’s forgiveness, both for you and the one who has injured you.

As you talk with God today, consider these passages of scripture.

Isaiah 43:25

25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Isaiah 1:18

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:  though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Ephesians 4:32

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

In His grace,

Taylor

Posted by: Taylor | March 23, 2017

Psalm 67 – A New Perspective on God’s Blessing

Psalm 67

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.

I often hear the expression, “I’m blessed” or “God has blessed me” or “Blessed to be a blessing!”  But, what does this mean?  Why and how are we blessed?

Genesis 1:28 records God’s first blessing to Adam and Eve.  In that blessing, God installs man as the ruler, keeper, and steward of creation.  God intended for Adam and Eve to care for and bless His creation with their conservatorship.  God blessed them so that they might bless others.

In Genesis 12:1-3, we again see God blessing an individual family, Abraham’s family.  God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants.  Further, He promises to bless those who bless Abraham, and curse those who curse Abraham.

Finally, God states, “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Again, we see here God’s design for blessing a people is for them to share God’s blessing with others.

But, what does the blessing of God look like?  Look at our passage above.  The psalmist asks for God to be gracious and “make His face shine upon us.”

This expression, “make His face shine upon us,” speaks of acceptance and community.  To be blessed by God means that God has accepted us and welcomed us into community with Himself.  Wow!  Now that’s what I call a blessing!

What then is the purpose of God’s blessing?  Look again at verse 2.

 2 that your way may be known on earth,

    your saving power among all nations.

God blesses us so that He might be known on the earth, and that His saving power would be known among all the nations.  God blesses us so that we might bless others with the knowledge of God and His salvation.  Allow me to state this again,

God blesses us so that we might bless others 

with the knowledge of God and His salvation.

God’s blessing is not for our private enjoyment.  It is meant to be shared.  It is not for our individual advancement.  He has extravagantly blessed us so that we might use every physical, material, financial, and spiritual blessing to make Him and His salvation known among the nations.

Read the rest of Psalm 67.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy as they hear of God’s excellent beauty, majesty, and grace!  Let all the peoples of the earth praise the Lord!  Praise His name!

Be a blessing today and make God and His salvation known.

SDG,

Taylor

Where would you be without God?

Do you contemplate this question?  How often?  When?

So often in our lives, our thoughts are better reflected in another thought, “God, if only You had…”

But, in this thought we forget God’s grace, mercy, and continual presence.  We overlook where we would be without God.

Read Psalm 124 and reflect on God’s presence in you life.

(English Standard Version)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

124 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Where would you be without God today?  Take time today and contemplate the goodness of God’s presence in your life, and say with the Israelites of old, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”

Let God be praised in your life and the life of your family.  Put yourself in the Psalm this week and pray these words of praise back to God for all He has done.

SDG,

Taylor

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 
~ John 11:5-6 ~

Why did Jesus wait two days before leaving to check on Lazarus?  This is a reasonable question.  According to John 11:5-6, Jesus stayed two more days because He loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Look at these verses again.  It plainly states that Jesus loved this family, and because of His love for them, He waited two more days.

Why?  How is waiting two more days loving?  How is someone dying loving?  How is prolonged suffering loving?

It was loving because what Jesus had planned for this family was so much better than what they wanted.

They wanted immediate and temporary healing.  But Jesus gave them a glimpse of eternal life.  They wanted Jesus their friend.  But Jesus allowed them to see the face of God.  They wanted to escape death.  But Jesus conquered death.

Martha and Mary wanted Jesus to come and heal Lazarus so he would not die.  But because Jesus loved them, He waited two more days.  Waiting was the loving thing to do.  If He had healed Lazarus instead of waiting, they would have never seen or experienced the Living God.

Count yourself blessed when God trusts you with pain and suffering.  It means He wants you to know Him more…

Posted by: Taylor | December 16, 2016

BreakoutEdu – Where is Agent Steven Hill? Debriefing

The video that got us started…

Congratulations on breaking out of my game!  Now take a few moments to learn more about the tech behind the game.  Below, I have shared the tools I used and how I used them.  I used the free version of all these apps.  Investigate them, try them out, and see if any might be worth using in your work setting.

BreakoutEdu – http://www.breakoutedu.com/digital is an amazing resource with plenty of ideas and how to videos to help you create your own digital breakout

Wevideo – I used this online video editing tool to put together my introductory video.

PowerPoint – PowerPoint is an amazingly powerful presentation tool which I was able to use to create all the beautiful dossier slides for my video.

Publisher – I used Publisher to edit and create PNG images used throughout my game.

Google Forms – Google Forms is a powerful tool which can be utilized in so many amazing ways.  It ended up being the main platform for our game.

Google Slides – PowerPoint is a great tool, but Slides is equally handy.  I used Slides for a few quick clues.

Google Drawings – Wow, what can I say about this tool.  I saved my when I was in need of linking an image to a clue.  Very easy and user friendly.

Thinglink – I used this on Steven Hill’s apartment diagram to add hot spots which helped to kick start our game.  Very powerful tool, even more so if you get the paid version.

Piktochart- Really enjoyed using this to create my infographic on Cord Cutting.  Beautiful design and easy.

Aurasma – How did you like finding something hid within Steven’s portrait?  Fun huh?  I love this tool, and definitely plan to use it over and over again.

bit.ly – I just discovered this very useful site.  Great for shortening those long web addresses and then customizing them to your specific needs.

Screencastify – I am still getting the hang of talking to a screen, but I love this tool.  Nothing like making a quick video to show other how easy something is.  Showing is so much easier than telling sometimes.

QR code generator – I used this to generate the QR code for the jigsaw puzzle.  This like screencastify is a Google extension downloaded right into the Chrome browser.  Love this tool.  Easy to use, and I can’t wait to use it again soon.

Jigsawplanet.com – Hope you enjoyed the puzzle.  I thought this was a cool idea to have a clue be a clue.

Word Search Creator – http://www.word-search-world.griddler.co.uk/Word-Search-Generator.aspx – very easy to use.  I created the word search downloaded the image and then uploaded to the jigsaw page.

Google Translate – How about that Klingon?  Love this.  All of Google’s tools work so well and are intuitive.

Google Sites – I’m new to Google Sites, and I am still getting use to it.  But, the more I use it the more I like it.  I can honestly say that I only had to fight with it for a few moments.

And last, but not least, WordPress – I’ve used WordPress for a long time.  I would not change.  It is user friendly and reliable.

I hope these help.  Thanks for playing!  Blessings and peace out!

 

Posted by: Taylor | November 22, 2016

3 Years & Counting!!!

Yesterday, was an amazing day.  Three years…

Three years of hope…three years not promised…three years of memories…three years of joy…Thank you Father God for these three years and all the many gifts of joy, too many to even begin to express.

Bethany2013-11-20 19.04.04 is in the kitchen singing as she works to help our family get ready for thanksgiving.  It is the most beautiful thing in all the earth to hear.  It is joy in the morning, it is joy at the noon day, it is joy in the evening.  It is joy!

 

 

2013-11-20 19.03.45

Three years ago, we were here…waiting…waiting for hope…waiting for life…waiting for a special gift which could only come at a tremendous loss for another family, a cost too high to pay, but not too much to give.

 

 

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:24

Our prayers continue to be with Bethany’s donor’s family.  Your gift has provided life for ours, and it continues to bear much fruit.  To our family and friends, you are amazing.  You have prayed for us, you have sat with us, and you have sacrificed for us.  Thank you a thousand times over.  Thank you for continuing to walk this long journey alongside us.  We love you and wish you an amazing Thanksgiving!

 

2015-07-07 13.26.45I created this blog in September, 2006, as a place to share my writings, passions, devotionals, and in general my thoughts about the world around me.  For the past eight years, much of my content has been related to my daughter, Bethany, and her ongoing health issues.  Today, Bethany’ health is much improved after surviving a liver transplant, a re-sectioning of the liver, multiple rejections, five separate bouts of septic shock, cancer, and having tubes placed into her liver allowing the bile to drain and to help widen her bile ducts because they were closing up from scar tissue.

These past eight years have been the most difficult of our family’s life.  Loss, sacrifice, weariness, and anxiety remained our daily companion.  Don’t get me wrong, we still experienced joy, hope, and love, much love.  But once death has spent the night with you, camped at your door, attempted to make a home in your life, it is difficult not to sense his constant presence, see his effect, and feel his cold breath upon the one you love.  In an effort to ward him off, no obstacle has been too big, no sacrifice too great to insure the health of the one we love.

For our family, this meant many sacrifices.  My wife returned to work as an engineer providing better medical insurance for us, and I left work to become a stay-at-home dad.  It took Angela from the joy of being a stay-at-home mom to the corporate world, and it took me from being a senior pastor to a healthcare provider and home school teacher.    This past August marked two years for Bethany being cancer free, and this November Bethany will celebrate her third anniversary since her liver transplant.  Amazing to think about, and even more amazing to celebrate and praise God for all He has done and continues to do.

What happens now after so long of an effort?  How do you pick up the pieces of a life, dreams, and a future?  In the movie The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King, Frodo has a voice over at the end of the movie which I deeply identify with.

Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey… we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend… some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold.~ Frodo, Return of the the King (Movie, 2003)

These thoughts weigh heavy upon my own heart.  Some hurts do go too deep.  They do take hold…and it will be okay, but they must take hold.  They must dig deep, and we must never be the same.  God has unseen purposes in our sorrows, and it is for our good and His glory.

When I began this blog, I named it Things Not Seen:  Perspectives on the Unseen World Around You.  This was based on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

What we see, feel, taste, and touch are transient, but those things unseen, unfelt, untasted, and untouched are eternal.  Through all our family has endured, we have attempted to look for what is unseen, for what is eternal, because we know that God is preparing us for the eternal weight of glory.  Furthermore, we know that God has put eternity into the hearts of humanity.  Therefore, we know that God desires our light and momentary troubles to be a means to share and prepare others for eternity too.  Finally, in this new season, God has given our family a new scripture for guidance.

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

What does this mean?  It means new beginnings with new purposes.  God is doing a new thing!  He is making a way in the wilderness and a river in the desert.  We definitely have been in a wilderness and a desert, but we are now making a new beginning, traveling new roads, and drinking from new rivers of life.

One of these new roads for me is a new career.  I have not given up on ministry.  I continue to lead in many ministry areas at our church.  Instead, God has directed me to a new way of doing ministry.  He has graciously granted me the opportunity to combine two of my loves, teaching and technology, into a new career field called Instructional Design and Technology.  This past September I began working on a Masters of Education of Science in Instructional Design and Technology at Samford University.  This new training will equip me to create and collaborate in the creation of online learning curriculum.  Imagine the possibilities of bringing distant learning and the gospel to the most remote and distant places on the globe.

So, as this blog’s purpose has evolved over the years, it is evolving once again.  I imagine I will occasionally still post a musing, poem, devotion, or update on Bethany, but for the time being, Things Not Seen will now serve as my electronic journal about what I am learning in my masters program.  Expect to continue seeing projects, articles about multimedia,Instructional Design, and online/e-learning.  Imagine and dream with me.  Consider what God is doing all around you to prepare you for the eternal weight of glory, and see if He might be doing a new thing in your life, creating a way in the wilderness and a river in the desert!

Blessings, Taylor

P.S. – Allow me to share a quick hack regarding the use of multimedia in your blog entries to kick off the new purpose of Things Not Seen.

Inserting images and video into a presentation these days has become extremely easy.  Often it requires only dragging and dropping the image or video into your blog or presentation.  The image above of our family I add through a simple insert tool which WordPress provides.  You simply upload your image and then select it for insert.  You can place the image anywhere in your post and then select it and choose how you wish to orient it (center, left, or right).

The video from the Lord of the Rings was even easier to insert since I chose to grab it from YouTube.  All I had to do was fine the video I wanted to use, select the share button below the video which then provided me a short url link, copy the link, return to my blog, select the insert location, and paste the short url link into my blog post.  WordPress did the rest.  As soon as the url was inserted, my video appeared ready to view.

Using images, audios, and videos in any presentation can add interest to your presentation, but you must follow one simple rule when using multimedia in your presentation.  It must serve a purpose.  It must add to your presentation and not distract from it.  You can’t just insert media which has no clear connection to the content of your presentation.  Below I have inserted two videos.  One is a music video by Mark Schlutz titled He’s My Son.  It has to do with a parent’s prayer for their sick child.  The second video is a project I recently did about being your child’s healthcare advocate.  Both have relevance to my above blog entry.

Here’s how I could have presented and insert these videos as a part of the end of my above blog entry.

Before you go, take a moment to watch and listen to this song by Mark Schultz.  It’s titled He’s My Son.  This song speaks deeply to any parent who has had to sit by helplessly and watch their child suffer.  Below it I have posted one of my first IDTE projects.  In it, I provide a few quick ways on how to be a medical advocate for a child or loved one.

Posted by: Taylor | September 24, 2016

We Go Together…Stop Motion Grad Project

Posted by: Taylor | September 17, 2016

Back to school – Animation Project

Check out my animation project I just completed. It’s okay. The subject matter is close to my heart.

Enjoy!

Posted by: Taylor | November 12, 2015

Home Again & All is Well!

Bethany and I were able to return home late Tuesday.  She did great with her colonoscopy and endoscopy, and the results showed no lymphoma, no inflammation, and no active ulcerative colitis.  Praise God!

Thank you for all your prayers and concern for her.  Please keep praying.  We are still just five months out from the removal of her biliary tubes, and we are continuing to monitor and adjust her medications to reach the correct balance.  The Epstein Bar Virus (EBV) continues to be active in her system, but those virus levels have dropped.

Bethany’s low hemoglobin levels seem to have been caused by the constant lab work we have needed to perform.  We are adding an iron supplement, and we hope to soon reduce the frequency of blood draws.  Bethany’s other symptoms (fatigue, stomach pain/pressure, and diarrhea) are possibly related to her elevated EBV numbers, but they also could be attributed several other possibilities.

Ultimately, Dr. Romero was thrilled with all of Bethany’s results.  This is the best news.  In his words, “Go home, enjoy the holidays!”

Those are good words.  We are so thankful and appreciative.  Thank you for your constant concern for our family and prayers for Bethany.  You are our blessing!

As we enter the holiday season, and especially as Thanksgiving is just weeks away, allow me to encourage each of you to take a moment to breathe in the deep good air of life, love, friends, and family.  Life is about many things, but the word that floats around our home most days is the word “perspective.”

Occasionally, we all lose our perspective.  But, with reflection, gratefulness, and taking stock of our lives, goals, and priorities, perspective can be regained.  Do that now.  Regain what you might have lost.  Don’t wait until the opportunity passes.  Enjoy the many blessings now.  Later might not come.  Besides, a life well lived is a life which has been reflected upon and treasured moment by moment.

Treasure this moment now.

In His grace,
Taylor

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