ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Friday, December 3, 2010

Over-Stimulated Teens

The amount of words and ideas that I am unable to use due to over-sexualized boys this yeaR IS AMAZING. Story Topics like "My favorite Toy" (Okay it was dumb to have on a list -- one I procured from another school) in a list of 50 ideas, resulted in the disruption of 30 students for several minutes. I am appalled at the lack of parental supervision, at the lack of control over these children.

For 25 years I've taught public school adolescents and have never had a group this reactionary. It makes teaching tantamount to walking on eggs. I can't even remember what previous triggers have been this year; they are many and diverse. The entire English language is mostly off-limits to these little boys who have been subjected to an adult-oriented world that I can only guess at. They listen to music that contains vocabulary and innuendo that I neither know nor want to know. They watch the trashiest of TV programs and apparently believe that the world does or should operate on such lurid devices and with total lack of principle.

How does one teach common civility to such ill-bred children? How does one even have conversation, much less encourage them to explore memory and imagination when such as been contaminated by the basest and vilest that American media can offer?

I'm not ready to give up, nor am I ready to blame the victim, for I do see them as victims as much as little girls whoa re treated as sexual objects by perverted family members, other adults, or even by the same adolescent boys.

How does one go about rescuing the most vulnerable among us from the vile filth to be found online, in media and very possibly in their own homes?

Indeed, it seems as though this year will be spent putting Band-Aids on damaged psyches. However, at the same time, I must encourage them to find a healthy outlet for natural energy to be expected in adolescents and find some manner of helping them drain off the disgusting putrification that has collected due to damaging experiences.

Heven help us all! No wonder I'm exhausted on a regular basis. It's a battlefield out there. Pray for teachers!! Pray for Students!!! Pray for parents!!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm Just Sayin'

"Best of" programs will be run on "I'm Just Sayin'" through November and December. My interview with Dan Willis will be run again on 12/1/2010.

Just go to TCT/TV on demand. Program list. "I'm just Sayin'" is now in the right hand column about half way down the list. Click. And after Dec 1, it will be there for three weeks.

When it shows, I'll post a direct link.

AND...."I'm Just Sayin'" was also nominated for an EMMY!!! Congratulations to Dan Willis and all the staff at "I'm Just Sayin'" Great Job!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"   Isaiah 40:29-31  (NIV)

Recently a friend was rejoicing that some promises God had made to her has come to pass in her life.   At the same time, she was able to see that something that she had wanted with all her heart would have turned out badly.  Sometimes God allows us to see things like that.   But what about those times when we can't see?

I think the prophet is talking about those times.  Times when the view is dismal; times when our vision is blurred; times when it seems all is about to be lost.   

But those who HOPE in the Lord.   King James expresses it as those who WAIT on the Lord.   When we can lift our eyes beyond the present, beyond the daily grind, beyond the fear of failure, THEN we can see HIM.    When the view, the vision, the daily grind, and the present moment contain HIM, we are able to HOPE, to BELIEVE, to WAIT on the promises of God.

Last evening, I had another one of those moments, a time when God whispered "that's will be yours.  This will come to pass."   My strength has been faltering, my hope waning.  Just one whisper from God and I believe I can make it through.  I will soar on wings like eagles; I will run and not grow weary; I will walk and not be faint. 

Psalm 121:1-2 (The message)   I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?   No, my strength comes from God who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

We were having a quiet work time during science class.   A girl raises her hand and asks, "Mrs. Huerta what does "Grenade" mean? "  

I tried the standard answers:  a small hand held explosive..

"No.  When talking about a person.  What does it mean to call a person a grenade."

I don't think I've ever heard it.   Metaphorically, someone who explodes, as in a volley ball player who really gets into the game?

"No!  It was a girl on the sidelines."

Smeone who gets angry easily?

"no. She was like...a girl with long blond hai."

Long blond hair doesn't have anything to do with a grenade.   I turned to the young college student who happened to be  observing that day and raised my eyebrow??

Embarrassed, she stuttered, "I think it means an ugly girl"   Then in a whisper.  "It's used on Jersey Shore that way."

The student was satisfied with "Ugly girl".   HOWEVER, a couple of tables of boys who had stopped working to listen to the interchange, were giggling in that manner that all teachers know.  You just can see when 13 year old boys are thinking about ....  uh.... well, whenever the testosterone is flowing.  They were giggling like third graders, heads together, glancing over their shoulder, giggling more.   

So I walked to my computer and but in Urban Dictionary:  Joisee Shoor  (If you know what I mean).   And...a grenade is indeed an ugly girl in a group of "hotties" and in order for males to gain entree to the "group" someone must "throw himself" on the grenade in order for them to get action in the group if you know what I mean.

I was aghast.  First of all, that a term exists for that.   Secondly that my 13-year old students know the word and what it means!!  Apparently, more than the 20 year-old college student!  I called her over to show her the explanation on my computer and she had an aha moment.

Then she asked, "How old are these kids?"    

And we shared a moment of consternation in silence, staring at the students who were once again studying with heads bent over their books.

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked.  But bad taste and degradation never fail to amaze me.   I
realize that one cop-out would be that it is an expose' to demonstrate just how amazingly stupid certain groups can act.   but it isn't.   

It's a chance for decent people to live vicariously, live a life of degradation with all the cheap thrills that unlimited liquor consumption and unbridled human passion could provide while remaining safe on the living room sofa without the danger of STD's, the emotional, legal and physical danger that abandonment to the darker side would incur.  

But it's also a chance for young teenagers to find heroes and role-models who lead them to believe that fun and freedom is found in that same unlimited liquor consumption and the release of unbridled human passion.   It provides the opportunity for these children to learn from a dangerous source values that should be found in the classroom, in the family, in religious education.   

Unfortunately, the parents of most of my children are busy working two and three jobs, and are unavailable or unable to block such programs from their tv's.  

I respect the freedom of press, freedom of artistic expression.  But there's also something within me that asks:  "Isn't there a way to protect our children?   All of our children!!!"   And those students of mine?   If they are not able to find values and grounding somewhere, they WILL become a problem for ALL of us!!!  You can take that to the bank!  Or back to MTV!

And this very senior teacher has learned something new today.   I must ever be diligent to discover what my children may be absorbing from those forces out to subvert American culture.  

There are days when I know that I am getting too old for this!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Provide (comfort) for those who grieve in Zion

The story had me in tears.   Yet I noticed that the Grandmothers (grannies) there were rejoicing!  Rejoicing that their grandchildren though stricken with AIDS and rendered parent-less, had food to eat and clothes to wear.   Although I did note that some of the little tee-shirts had huge holes!  In addition the ministry assists young girls to get out of the sex trade and acquire an education.

Uganda.  I think of Idi Amin and his reign of terror during the 1970's.  Today Uganda is 207 (out of 227) in per capita income.   It is certainly not a prosperous place, but they are working on providing employment and income for their people.  The per capita income is averaged at $1,200.   (Makes me cringe...even if I did grow my own vegetables.)   That doesn't pay for much education and health care.  It is 14th in the world with the most people living with HIV/AIDS.   Most of them children.  Most of those orphaned.

I'm thinking I may be headed to Uganda this summer.     But in the meantime, if you hit the "donate" button on the website, you can fund a child's education for a paltry $30.00 per month.   I'm gonna take the leap on that one -- today!!!   Who will join me??

 Two ex-sex workers with a volunteer.
 Children from the orphanage and nursery lined up for lunch.
A Canadian medical doctor dances with the "Grannies".   The grannies take care of their orphaned grandchildren in the village, but are assisted either through no cost loans, or donations of animals, etc. to raise their standard of living.   "Teach a grannie to fish" is the idea!!

Like I said, I'm helping out today!!!

Pastor Phylis


Monday, October 11, 2010

Good News To the Poor

Isaiah 63:1  "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor."

We are engaged in an interesting activity this week.   During Tuesday night Bible Study, each participant was given a $20-bill with instructions to give it away this week and report back on Tuesday what happened.  We were to get out of our usual patterns of interaction and look for someone that would be blessed.
Bob and went out tonight to a 1/2 price night at a resale shop not that far from where we live.   I met someone I used to know and felt the urging of God to give mine to her with a blessing from me and the church and a promise of prayer. 

Bob went into the resale store and found a 3-member, 3-generational family sorting clothes in a basket.   He introduced himself, "Our church is doing a project.  We are to bless someone this week.  Would it offend you if I gave you $20 as a blessing from God."
The grandma promptly responded, "Offend us?  It would save us!  We're trying to decide which of these clothes we can buy for my grandson.   He needs some warm clothes."

We chatted for a few minutes, and gave them a church card.    As we were walking away, I heard the child ask, "What did they do."   

Grandma, "They gave us $20."

"$20???" He asked in the incredible voice I might have used if someone had handed me a week's salary.

Sometimes the good news to the poor is a tangible evidence that God loves them!!!    No matter who you are, or what your circumstance, God loves YOU!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Headed toward a Goal

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."  

Phil 3:14 (KJV)

I noted an interesting phenomena this week.   Our core (110 kids; 4 teachers) had a series of field trips.  We're studying the history of our town.   Each student went to the local Historical Society museum, took a walking tour of the historical district, spent 2 hours to begin research, and watched a movie.    Each teacher accompanied one group to the museum and on the walk.    My group visited the museum on the first day.  It should have been a 30 minute walk, but we made it in 20 minutes.    And I was exhausted.   They were excited to go to the museum and afterward wanted to get back for lunch, so they were booking!!   The students took the lead; I walked at the rear of the pack.   My colleague who took kids on the walk that morning said her kids were so slow that she had to keep reminding them to speed up.   

  Today, my group did the walk.   And...they were slow.   They sat or lay down at every opportunity--whenever a tiny patch of grass or a concrete step presented itself while the  tour guide was explaining something.   I was amazed at the difference in energy levels.

     However, as soon as they realized we had turned back toward the school, they picked up the pace and walked quickly again, leaving me in the dust.  

     I checked with my colleague again.    Those slow students took 35 minutes to arrive at the museum (didn't particularly want to go), when on the way back to school, they made it in 20 minutes.   The teacher was huffing and puffing. 

     I started thinking:  What caused this drastic change in behavior?    When they were they goal directed, they walked quickly.  When they had to follow the guide and didn't know where the next stop would be, didn't know the next turn, they were slow.  They also used the energy for annoying behavior.   When they knew where they were headed, they headed straight there.   Happy as little larks.

    And the lesson??   For me as a Christian, when I know where I'm headed, when I keep an eternal perspective, I can stroll happily through life.   Tired?  Yes.   Working hard?   Yes.  But walking briskly and cheerfully toward the goal.    

     When I forget the goal, when I believe that I'm only putting one foot in front of the other to just keep moving anywhere, it's slow laborious work.   It's exhausting.  I lack motivation.

     " I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."  Phil 3:14  (New Living Translation)  

     But I have a goal.   I'm moving quickly, briskly, happily toward the heavenly prize!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm Just Sayin'

I'm Just Sayin' 

Watching the Interview with Pastor Dan Willis on "I'm Just Sayin" I began thinking...a dangerous thing.   For me, retirement from teaching is just around the corner.  Sometimes closer than I like to think about.   But while in the studio, I realized that I have ahead of me more freedom than I've had before.  Freedom for ministry.  I'm excited to see what doors God will open for me in the next few years.    Yet I must take advantage of the opportunities God is giving me in the here and now!  There are students under my care every day.  Hurting kids.  For many of them no one has time to give the extra attention they so much crave.   So I shall redouble my efforts to make a difference where I am now, but at the same time keep an eye on what doors God will open for me.

The interview on TCT's "I'm Just Sayin" aired last night.   The direct link is below:

Or you can check out all of TCT's programming at:  For "I'm Just Sayin"  scroll down to the sixth icon in the middle and click on "I'm Just Sayin'" -- your viewing and clicks do make a difference!   (When the windows appear, scroll to the left....I'm the lady in purple) 
2.) If you like it, drop a brief email to, call the network at 618-997-4700 or write a note to

PO Box 1010
Marion, IL 62959
When you watch it, do comment!!  I'd love to hear from you!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


For any new readers, in order to focus my blog, I'm in the process of transferring posts.  This blog will be for spiritual encouragement and will have the story of my liver donation, cancer surgery and chemotherapy.    That's why there is a huge gap of time between blogs....hope to finish soon!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The next step

I'm Just Sayin'

What a marvelous day!!!   Was it only Thursday??   Pastor Dan Willis was his usual effervescent self; the staff was kind and gracious; the crew efficient and on-task. . . when they weren't playing practical jokes on the host!!  I was initiated into the world of television production.   And I loved it.  Such a high-energy group of people!   Thank you all so much for a lovely day.

Will let you know when the show is to air.   Keep an eye on this spot!

--Pastor Phylis

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Road Home
a modern retelling of Ruth's Ancient Story
by Tommy Tenney & Mark Andrew Olsen

I did it again!!! I read and entire book in a day. I'm amazed at the healing that has taken place. For anyone new to my blog, nearly a year of chemotherapy preceded by a year of two major surgeries and several lesser procedures had left me without the ability to focus long enough to read an entire book, much less in one day. So I'm thanking God for healing and restoration.

And this book is about healing and restoration. There are any number of quotable quotes in the book, reminiscent of the author's father and the Tenney ability to turn a phrase! The story chronicles a prodigal's return to her roots (Naomi), and a lost child who finally finds a home (Ruth) told by a superb storyteller. Told as a modern take on the story of Ruth and Naomi, it brings to light the possibilities of redemption in a modern world. Spanning geography from Las Vegas, Nevada to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania it also provides a vista on the variety and beauty of Americana in the autumn. With characters complex enough to care about, it is an unforgettable story about forgiveness and repentance, well worth the day's effort to finish!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reviewing my posts from chemotherapy days, I found this scripture posted. It was one of the scriptures that sustained my hope and courage during those dark days when illness reigned supreme and fatigue loomed eternal.
THE MEN IN MY LIFE: The Huerta Hombres!!
Psalm 61
(The Bible in Basic English)
1 Let my cry come to you, O God; let your ears be open to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I send up my cry to you, when my heart is overcome: take me to the rock which is over-high for me. 3 For you have been my secret place, and my high tower from those who made war on me. 4 I will make your tent my resting-place for ever: I will keep myself under the cover of your wings.

My family lightened my days with humor! They joined me in crazy headdresses.

When I looked like a cartoon dog with big loopy ears.
The hat was to cover my bald pate. The "Ears" belonged to the ice pack tucked up under the hat to cool me down during those episodes of intense hot flashes due to the allergic reactions.Never mind that it was 10 below zero outside and about 65 in the house.

My hands and feet were also swollen and red. I couldn't open presents by myself so Bob helped me

Brad's laughter bubbled out looking at the card I gave them -- and forgot to write anything!!! Not even my name or his!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Same Kind of Different As Me
by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

It must be my month for book reviews. This one is a "must read" for anyone who attempts ministry in a multicultural setting. It's written from the alternating point of view of two men. One of them is an white upper middle class Art Dealer whose customers are the movers and shakers of this world. The other is a black, homeless man who says that living in alleys and under bridges in Houston was a step up in life for him. They become friends due to the insistence of Ron's wife and by overcoming the objections that Denver has about relationships and people in general.

The resultant story is gripping, not sweet and syrupy, but real and hard-hitting. While Ron shows Denver what life is like in Middle Class America, Ron learns about that world, his point of view and his God from Denver. He is able to see the world through different eyes.
“God gives each person on the earth a set of keys, keys to live this life down here on the earth. Now in this set, there is one key you can use to unlock prison doors and set captives free.”
Denver turned his head just slightly so that the right side of his face was closer to me than the left. He leaned in with his right shoulder and narrowed his eyes even farther. “Mr. Ron, I was captive in the devil’s prison. That was easy for Miss Debbie to see. But I got to tell you: Many folks had seen me behind the bars in that prison for more than thirty years, and they just walked on by. Kept their keys in their pocket and left me locked up. Now I ain’t tryin to run them other folks down, ’cause I was not a nice fella – dangerous – and prob’ly just as happy to stay in prison. But Miss Debbie was different – she seen me behind them bars and reached way down in her pocket and pulled out the keys God gave her and used one to unlock the prison door and set me free."
I highly recommend the book. In fact, I'm just starting the sequel (recently published) What difference do it make? by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent.

Pastor Phylis

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Bangs Look Good
and other Lies I tell Myself

Confessions of a Tired Supergirl
by Susanna Foth Aughtmon

I laughed and cried my way through this entire book today...and that was while attending my granddaughters' soccer games (in 40 degree weather, I might add), making preparations for Mother's Day at church tomorrow and interview candidates for nursery teacher. I haven't been that engrossed in a book in a long time.

I don't think I can explain the premise except from the back of the book: "Discover the real truth about yourself--and God". It's all about the lies we tell ourselves about God. Things like "God is disappointed in me" (He isn't...or at least not for those reasons), "God can't Change me" (He will; it's me who's resistant to change" or "I need to protect myself from getting hurt" and many more.

This is one of those books that has to soak in. In fact, I'm going back through it and doing the study questions in the back of the book. Since this is the book ladies are receiving for Mother's Day tomorrow, maybe we'll do a group study. We'll see. But I have to get some of this just a little deeper in my heart!

Do rush out and get the book. (I'm not paid to say this!!! I won't even get a free copy of the book -- the church purchased the one I borrowed today -- just 24 hours before it will be given to me!!! (Click here for the website)

God loves you!!! You don't have to be good so that He will love you!!! And You ARE NOT stuck in your present circumstances!!

Believe it!!! 

Pastor Phylis

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Is there anything more miraculous than the way golden light changes thing? The light was perfect this afternoon, giving a golden glow to all of nature. God's light gilding man's creations to works of perfection! 

Pastor Phylis