Saturday, December 31, 2005
After a four hour struggle with this blog yesterday I nearly threw up my hands and gave it up. Thank goodness I have a son who is in computer animation. SOOO, he helped me out. I wish the technical end of this thing were something I was better versed in -- It looks like this old dog will have to learn a new trick or two.
It's hard to believe it's New Year's Eve. Shesh. The year has flown by. It seems as a child it takes FOREVER to get from January to December and once you're over thirty...it only takes thirty days to pass through 365 days. Life becomes a blurr.
I suppose the best place to start is to let you know what I plan to do with Mountain Breeze. 2006 will bring the Blue Ridge Writer's Conference and I plan to have a manuscript of devotions ready to pitch to editors at the conference. God has blessed me this year. He has taught me that I can start something and actually finish it. The first thirty days worth of devotions were all I was looking for, however, I am ready to choose 90 days from the 270+ devotions that I have logged. If I am fortunate and God sees fit, perhaps this 90 devotions will be published under the name "Baking the Bread of Life -- 90 Days of Recipes". This book can be marketed to women and then under the same idea "Serving the Bread of Life - 90 days of Devotions for Men" -- so we'll what God has in store.
I will attempt to move the ministry into a direction where readers can post favorite scriptures, happenings and prayer requests/praises. But that will take your help. So, I hope you'll participate. And for my writer friends -- this is a place of rest and recovery. I hope you will come here and share your thoughts on rest.
I wish for you all is that the New Year will bring you joy, peace, and a Christ-like attitude. May you have all you dream of. Happy New Year.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
There's nothing that brings greater relaxation to me than a hot tub. Crawl in, sink up to your ears in simmering water, take a deep breath in....hold it....exhale slowly, now sigh. AHHHH! You can just feel your worries float away.
I have a spiffy friend who constantly makes me laugh. I told her I needed a trip to the hot tub. She laughed and remarked, "You can't afford a hot tub!"
"No, not a hot tub...you know a hot tub?" I tried to explain.
"Don't be ridiculous. You don't have a place in your house to fit a hot tub."
"Stop being goofy. You know I don't mean a hot tub."
She began to laugh hysterically. "I could see them trying to put a hot tub through your downstairs window."
"What are you talking about?" I asked. "I'm referring to the tub in my bathroom. You know...turn on the hot water and fill the tub. A HOT TUB!"
Needless to say, the worthless and pointless sense of humor continued for sometime. However, when all was said and done, she agreed that there is nothing like a hot tub of water to soothe what ails you. It's as if you loose all track of time for awhile. Your muscles relax, the stress eases and you can think clearly for a few moments.
We all find peace in rest in some arena. My husband reads, my friend exercises (what a torture!) and I like a hot tub. Ultimately for serious rest, I find myself retreating into the Father. I'm always amazed at the peace I am continually offered through Him. God can seep into your heart, circle throughout your body like a whiff of warm steam, clearing out the cobwebs and steam cleaning the interrior. Talk about a sigh of relief. Now, there's a restful sigh.
For the physical rest, I still enjoy a hot tub....not a hot tub, but a hot tub...you know -- a hot tub!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I suppose that title caught your eye - huh? For some who've read the devotional, you'll probably be a little tired of this thought. But for me, it's become somewhat profound. Let me fill you in.
I received an email from a wonderful friend. It was a "getting to know you better" kind of thing consisting of some regular questions like "what is your favorite color, food?" etc. And there were a few silly ones such as "What color pants do you have on?" However the question that tickled me was a question pertaining to a crayon. "If you were a CRAYON in a box, what color would you be?"
I have to admit. That one brought a smile to my face. First of all, who really cares and secondly, what kind of question is that anyway?
I returned the joke and said, "A broken purple crayon" primarily because I love purple and well, most people who know me, know I somewhat cracked...so a broken crayon seemed perfect to answer the question.
This sweet friend returned the puns in reply email but along the way there was a remark which has profoundly struck me. Her reply was this, "I guess today I'm a broken black crayon." First of all, it stunned the socks off of me. That goofy crayon question just became abundantly clear to me. There are thousands of personalities all lingering within certain colors. Some are red with anger, others blue with depression, some yellow with sunny dispositions, others PURPLE with happiness. Black and saddness just never crossed my mind.
I actually went to the store and bought a box of Crayola Crayons and set them by my computer just to remind me of the colors of thought. I popped open the box lid and fingered through the colors, pulled one or two out and eyed them, then replaced them. Though I am certainly no psycharist or therapist, I am certainly smart enough to see a collation.
Again I pulled out the crayons one by one and a sigh slipped from my mouth. Where do I find my rest? I've certainly felt all these colors at one time or another but where is my rest?
We have a prodigal son who has seperated himself from us for just over a year. My prayers have been that God would soften his heart and protect him, show him that regardless of the mistakes, he is still our son and we love him. Tough love has to be executed at times and those sending out the punishment receive equally the blow of the pain. This was a broken black crayon time for me.
Still I prayed and continue to seek rest in the purple of God. Then on Christmas day, the prodigal son returned home. What a joyous Christmas present. And though I am not tolerant of his actions of the past, I do love him dearly and I have missed him greatly. My heart has ached for his return. And truly when the door opened and he strolled through, my heart lept with joy. I sprang to my feet and ran to him, embracing him tightly, brushing my finger across the now grown up cheeks of the little boy I helped raise. For an instant, all that mattered was the yellow of joy and the purple of happiness. God, ONCE AGAIN, offered me rest. All in a box of crayons. Wow. Perhaps this little question has only profoundly effected me, still there is new meaning in a box of Crayola Crayons.
So for those who suffer with the brown of despire, the blacks of saddness and the blues of loneliness, there is great news. The crayon box is full of brighter colors. God made all the colors for a reason.
There is rest in a Crayon box. Choose a new color.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Being asked to serve in a leadership position of any church is a decision that should never be taken lightly. Just as being called into the ministry is a life changing decision, so is acting in the leadership roles of the church.
Congregations often take for granted the prayerful and sometimes agonizing deliberations that must take place behind the closed doors of a board meeting. Men are responsible for the stewardship of God’s money, the peace within the congregation, and the direction in which the people need to be led. When taken seriously, you can understand why Paul might have complained about having a thorn in the flesh (even though we aren’t exactly sure what his thorn was).
When things move smoothly through the church, and it is simply business as usual, we tend to become complacent – comfortable in the fact that things are worry free for the time. I think of this time of peace as a joy but at the same time one has to think of the robot from an the old television show, Lost in Space. Things would be peaceful for the Robinson family when suddenly that silly robot would start flailing his arms and shouting, “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”
Satan loves it when we become comfortable. In our comfort we allow things to run their course, never changing, never modifying or adjusting, never moving forward. Just staying the course. I suppose a certain amount of comfort is fine but when we allow it to prevent us from carrying out the commission Christ left us, it becomes detrimental.
1 Peter 5:2-3 gives us some insight on being a leader in the church. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be, not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
Shepherding is not the sole possession of the leadership either. The commission was given to us all as Christians. Using the excuse that churches are on every corner and that the people are evenly distributed just doesn’t cut it. I’m sorry. As shepherds of the church we all are responsible to grow our church. Everyone of us. That means laying aside the complacency and stepping into the dusty sandals of Christ. It means evangelizing, reaching out into the community, and understanding that if everyone spoken to doesn’t come through the door, that’s okay – and then rejoicing for the one who does.
Being a Christian carries responsibility and it’s one which belongs to us all. The next time you see a church leader, thank them for the burden they willingly carry, offer them support, do your part to end complacency – get your feet dusty. Do something.
Prayer: Precious Lord, we fall prey to the easiest tool of that Satan has to offer. We become satisfied that things are fine, when all the while, we need to press forward. Give us guidance Lord, strength and determination to overcome satisfaction.
But the children. What a joy. Our church went so many years without babies. I was beginning to wonder what would happen to us without little ones to follow in our footsteps. As Sunday school superintendent, I took the growth of our children's church very seriously. I began to pray daily that God would lead us to new children to minister to...Honestly, I when I prayed for new children I wasn't thinking in terms of procreation. However, God was. So, within one year we had five new babies born into our church. It was wonderful, too. Our congregation fell in love. Now our babies are 1 1/2 -2 yrs old and they performed their first Christmas play tonight.
I love to write children's stories and as I watched them on the stage, twisting and squirming, grinning and whinning, I found my heart at rest and my mind's wheels screeking. There was such pleasure and peace in seeing their tiny faces and knowing they are taking their first steps into knowing Christ.
Their little hands bent from side to side as they waved at momma. Actually, a few fingers found their way into little noses, too. But isn't that what makes them all so sweet? My husband and I sat back and laughed hysterically as their leader tried to shepherd them all into a huddle. I turned around at one point and looked back through our aging congregation and saw the faces of elder members - smiles beaming...and I knew right that moment. This a was moment provided to me for rest and contentment..
My own children are grown (all in their mid-20's), and for a few minutes memories rushed through my mind. We've certainly experienced our times of difficulites -- but what family is perfect? Right? Still, the majority of our times are joyful. Three of our four boys are excellent and our prodigal son -- well, he's finally making steps to find his way home. Life is good. Even at it's worst -- it's good.
I never want to find my joy in dwelling in the harsh things that have happened to us. Though my own self-confidence sags at times, I am forever a cheerleader to my family and friends. It's just my job.
I could lean back in the pew during the children's play and laugh at their antics. Suddenly, the laughter turned to tears. I felt so proud of my adult children -- nieces and nephews whose own babies stood on that stage. My heart was overwhelmed with emotion. Those precious babies are the babies of our babies - for our personal family.... 4 generations.
Tonight, I found a great peace and rest in the presence of God through His children.
So, I watched the kids, grined, giggled and laughed out loud...then promptly began to look for a kleenex...not to wipe my tears but to wipe the little fingers that found their way into tiny noses.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
So many people told me I couldn't keep up daily devotions. "You'll run out of ideas after awhile." Yeah, well so far, that hasn't happened. Scripture is pretty populated with BIZILLONS of verses and I'm certainly not so smart that I can go without study. So, the point of the devotions originally was to teach myself self-discipline and study. I needed to allow myself to know God better. Hence, the devotions. God has blessed me as a vessel.
Anyway, in my own desire to become a writer, I found I tired easily. The devotions have brought me a certain amount of restfulness. I suppose you could say, "rest in God's arms."
I hope others will add their insights and share where they find their rest. I'd like to make this a blog that will offer "REST" to the writer. Share your ideas and thoughts. How does God show you rest?
I love to enjoy the world around me. For instance, look at this snow. Talk about peaceful. Sure it's cold out but look at this beauty. Snow offers a certain type of warmth as well. It blankets the ground, the seeds, the bulbs and allows them to snuggle deep into the earth and sleep. It can look so untouched, soft and peaceful. The earth works hard in the spring and summer growing things. Winter is it's time of quiet rest.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Being raised in the church (and not as a preacher's kid), I ended up spending lots of summers in church camp as a couselor. That was a place I could go to write as well.
Down by the creek at the church camp...yep, it was awesome. I found myself slipping away during breaks with a pen and paper, high-tailing it into the woods, following the creek to a huge boulder in the middle of the water. You had to leap across three river rocks and a long to reach the boulder, but once you landed on the huge stone --you could stretch out and and enjoy the one ray of sunlight that warmed the upper edge of the rock.
The water bubbled and popped around you. I love lying there, closing my eyes and just listening. It was surround sound before the technology...God's technology of sorts. I simply remember I was so inspired. I thought out plots for stories that I can draw from to this day.
Anyway, Mountain Breeze was one of those thoughts that sounded cool but was never followed through with. I think I never followed through because I was afraid I'd fail. Just the same, by the time I hit mid-life, I finally figured out I could be servant of Christ without the worry of being sent to some third world country. I suppose I grossly under-estimated God. I was always afraid to ask God to use me because I was afraid he'd send me to some forsaken place in the world. I'm not the missionary type or at least that paticular type of missionary.
Finally one day, after the writer's conference, realized God uses us in the ways our talents will be best served. I needed to develop a good discipline of daily study and prayer and I thought the church congregation I attended could use the added training as well.
Then came those three words I'd avoided for years..."God use me." And He did. There, riding on the lawnmower, Mountain Breeze was born. I asked God to use me and to my surprise -- He said, "You got it baby." I figured if I could just do enough devotionals to get through one month then it would be enough to develop a habit of study.
Everyone kept saying, "Daily devotions are hard. After a while you run out of things to write on. You'll be lucky to get through thirty days."
Well, God proved them wrong and here we are, He and I, 261 meditations later and the well of living water has yet to run dry.
Giving birth to my children was probably easier because I was a willing participant from the get-go. This ministry was something I continued to put off for one reason or another. Now Mountain Breeze emails all over the country.
God agreed to use me and it's so cool. Now if He'll just help learn this blogging thing!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I began learning to build a web page and just as I'm figuring that out -- it's time to learn to Blog! (sigh) At any rate, one has to learn and change with the times in order to get and keep the printed word available at all times. So, I'm learning.
My dream, since I was a child, was to be a writer. When everyone else in school was running in clicks, I was filling books of thoughts, and poetry about the things that dwelled deep inside me. I've always wanted to have a book in the library -- but then, I guess lots of people want that as well.
My writing has always been my hideaway; the place I could go to say what I want to say, to whom ever I need to, without fear or conflict. That's where I've always felt the safest.
Then I attended the Blue Ridge Writer's Conference, in Black Mountain, NC. That was pretty eye-opening. That's where I heard Alton Gansky remark, "Sometimes being a writer doesn't mean you have a book in the store. It sometimes means writing something, that only a friend reads and knowing it has helped them. When you come to grips with that -- then you're a true writer."
I went home, hopped on the lawn mower (because you can really think on a riding lawn mower) and I opened my heart to God. I told God he knew my wants and my dreams bu that it might be best if I just write what He needs me to write. So, the devotions began -- first for our church members and then before I knew it, people all over the country were receiving the devotionals on a daily basis.
And what a blessing it's been. What a pleasure, what a fulfillment it's been. Just to flip on the computer and open the email, only to see a respsonse to the devotional God blessed me with the day before. Now, a book on the shelf would be great but for some reason, it's not the higher priority. That would be to allow God to use me through the devotionals. I finally learned, when I read a response to one of the devotionals the other day, "It's not about me. It's about God!" To read where someone was touched, or helped or even saved by one of my piddly devotions simply sealed the fact I wanted to be in print, but most importantly is that I might offer some soliace with those in need through these devotions.
So, I guess I'll learn the new technology. "It ain't easy." as we say in the south, but I guess it's time I move forward. To be a better writer, a successful writer, I need to write something that may never be in print, but will touch the heart of someone directly. Therefore, it's onward and upward. I shall learn to blog -- afterall, even a three year old can do it.