Tuesday, December 19, 2006
As best I recall, I was sitting on a cushy chair at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC -- It was my first writer's conference, I knew NO ONE, and I was nursing a severe case of poision ivy. In all honesty, I'd really hoped no one would notice me, however to my surprise this beautful young woman sat down next to me.
She leaned back in her chair and clasped her hands around her knees. Eyeing the obivious discomfort I felt with the poision ivy, she smiled a very coy smile and remarked, "I can see you were itching to get to this conference."
It took a minute for me to absorb her warped sense of humor, but when I dug through the serious look she offered me, I saw a sneaky little grin cross her lips. That was all it took. Within moments we'd become wonderful friends.
I was impressed with her intelligence and poise. She was confident, yet not the least bit cocky. Though she was fifteen years my youth, we began a friendship which stands tight despite the miles which divide us. She has served as my mentor in writing, a teacher, a critique partner and a guiding light.
GINA HOLMES is the creator of Novel Journey, a blog site set aside for the promotion of Christian Fiction authors. Gina runs the site, along with Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta. An aspiring writer herself, Gina pens some pretty awesome (and eerie) Christian suspense. Novel Journey is entering its third year of internet publication and it has raised the brows of top selling authors such as Frank Peretti and renowned agent/writer, Chip MacGregor. In its short lifetime, Novel Journey has hosted hundreds of well know authors and has more on the waiting list. If you're interested in knowing what's going on in Christian writing or what authors are hot, or if you're looking for guidance as a new or advanced writer, Gina is the gal to seek out.
Gina, we've been friends for three years. I've admired you from othe very beginning with your unique style and quality of writing. You've served as a wonderful mentor for me and you've been equally the same as a friend. Tell me how long you've been writing?
I realized in high school I had a talent for making up stories (just ask my parents!). I started getting serious about reaching publication in 2001. I started writing greeting cards, magazine articles and that sort of thing. I realized my real passion was in novel writing, I guess about 2003.
Where did you get your beginnings in Christian writing?
I didn't even know there was such a thing as "Christian" books or the CBA (Christian Bookseller's Association) until I was telling some friends at church I was writing a novel. I explained the premise of my story and several people compared what I wrote to Frank Peretti, who I'd never heard of. I went to the church library and realized there was a whole slew of Christian fiction. I wasn't sure where I'd fit into what seemed to me to be a lot of sweet romances...until I read Francine Rivers' Reedeeming Love. I finished that book, hugged it and said: I want to write like this. And I realized I could write -- not only write to entertain, but also to point to God.
I know Novel Journey began as a personal blog for readers to walk in the shoes of an aspiring writer, learn the in's and outs of the journey of publication from YOUR own bloody knees of experience. When did you decide to make Novel Journey a support system for the promotion of Christian authors?
In the early days, I had three readers and one of 'em was me. Ha! People weren't all that interested in one writer's journey to publication. Which usually is a very, long and tedious one. I'm all for hitting two birds with one stone, so I thought, why not promote other authors while I'm not really accomplishing anything else productive with this blog? I spent a lot of time on the internet googling for author interviews. I wanted to know how others before me accomplished the goal of publication and great writing. I figured if it interested me, it would interest others. I was right I guess, because we've grown bigger than I could have dreamed.
What prompted you to make Novel Journey a personal ministry?
I realized very quickly that God has His hand on Novel Journey. I mean, it just took off like wild fire when I took the focus off myself. It dawned on me that I had a unique opportunity to have influence over some things I feel strongly about: moral fiction, great writing and God. I guessed I wasn't the only one who didn't realize that there was a place to go to get great books that wouldn't try to pull me from my faith or make me slog through a stream of gratuitious sex and profanity.
It is amazing how God will use us once we hand ourselves over fully to Him. It's hard for us to do that. I think because so many of us don't see our personal examples or our interests as a "ministry." But once we truly hand it over, all the stops are pulled out and great things happen. You're obivously a prime example of just that.
Tell me how God uses you and Novel Journey to minister to others?
Novel Journey minsters to me in a huge way. The authors we interview have shared so much of themselves, so much of their hard earned knowledge. The open-hand model most of these authors live their lives by has shown me how generosity an investment that has a wonderful return. I've made so many good friends and have learned nothing is impossible. I never would have dreamed a couple of years ago, I'd be chatting with Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Noah Lukeman and all the other amazing writers I've gotten a chance to interview.
I'm not sure all the ways that Novel Journey ministers to others, but I hope that it does. I hope that writers are inspired to do better, to aim higher, to step outside their comfort zones and consider other's perspectives. There seems to be this tug of war within the CBA of those wanting to push the envelope and those who don't. I love stirring the pot a bit between these groups, not to cause division but to allow others to see another's perspective and to consider it. Neither point of view is completely wrong, or completely right. Keeping the dialogue wide open, in my opinion, is healthy if we want to grow, but keeping one another accountable as well.
I've followed Novel Journey from the beginning, (maybe I was one of the original three - smile) and I can honestly say the standard of forthrightness, generosityto share good reading, good information and promote others places you and Novel Journey at the top of the personal ministry list. You have the heart of a servant by giving so freely and expecting nothing in return.
What's the level of commitment to this blog site now?
Its gotten pretty huge. After a year or so on my own, it was too much and Jessica Dotta came aboard with her publicity expertise and Ane Mulligan with her scriptwriting and book reviewing expertise. We each put a lot into Novel Journey. Some days it can eat up all of daylight. Other days, just the time it takes to post and edit. There's a lot that goes on behind the scens that readers won't see.
I think it's important to let readers know there is no charge for what comes from Novel Journey. Any costs that may be incurred in the operation of the blogsite are taken on by you. It's a full time job with no salary other than the rewards of doing good.
Tell me how God has blessed you through this journey?
God has really worked on my sense of black and white. I was on fire for God and Istill am, but my faith has settled into a more accepting, more surefooted area that doesn't think everyone has to agree with me to be loved. They don't have to think the way I do to be right. And because they're right, doesn't necessarily make me wrong. God has really been working on my judgementalism and seeing His children the way He does a little more. He's been doing that through my writing, through my family, through every aspect of my life. It's been a painful refinement but thank God he loves me enough to turn up the heat.
What was your goal when you decided to make Novel Journey a ministry?
Our goal was and is to promote really great CBA fiction. That goal has changed a bit. After I read Leif Enger's Peace Like a River, which is NOT a CBA book, I decided that great fiction that points to bibical truths, whether CBA or ABA, was worthy to promote. We've recently started interviewing a lot of ABA (secular) novelists. The reason behind this is to draw the ABA readers who will hopefully then discover CBA authors. The crossover, of course, will work both ways and that's okay. There are a lot of great ABA authors out there who love the Lord as much as any CBA reader/author.
I agree completely with you. A meshing would be beneficial to everyone. Win -- Win.
Can you tell me some of the results professionally and personally you've seen through the blog?
Professionally, I was contacted through my blog to write for a premier issue of a woman's magazine. That was cool. Having a platform of thousands of readers a month doesn't look bad on a marketing plan. I've made so many more friends in the industry and we all know networking is important. All this however, is the icing on the cake. It's not my main motivation for the site.
Personally, I think I've touched on a lot of this earlier, but in addition to all that, the friends I've made in cyberspace have become some of my best. There is a community, a tight one, among CBA novelists and aspiring novelists. I love being part of that very cool, very edifying, gang.
Tell me about your daily response from the postings on the blog?
It's funny. We have between two and three hundred readers a day on average and get only a few comments. I wish folks would take the time to comment more often. It really does make the author's day (and mine). But the responses are generally positive, unless we run something controversial, like a certain publisher's interview or Mike Duran's thought provoking pieces which are meant to get people talking. We're very deliberate in the pieces that will get lots of comments. We know that ahead of time.
Those who comment are always encouraging. Robert Liparulo (Comes A Horseman) recently said that we at Novel Journey draw a kind hearted group and he's right. We do.
Now that's a nice compliment. You're a fruit of the spirit -- Kindness.
I know you're always on the cutting edge of internet technology and you've worked some with Pod Casts already. Can you tell us what lies ahead for Novel Journey?
We've messed around with podcasting, though after trying that out, I'm not sure we'll do too much of it. It's all about the reader. What do they want to see/hear? Podcats haven't gotten the most enthusiastic response.
We'd like to get into broadcasting, though we're considering our options there and laying down the groundwork. We'd like to, of course, continue to grow. Last year we almost trippled our readership. I'd like to continue along those lines. We're getting into some on-line critiquing of work and doing more commentary, which I really enjoy. Other than that, we're constantly considering our options, looking for ways to accomplish our purpose in a better way. Tomorrow, some great idea may strike Jess or Ane or I and we'll flesh it out and see if it works. If it does, great, if it doesn't, we're not afraid to toss it out and keep looking.
The sign of a great team is the strength to work together. Sounds like the three of you are insync. It takes a good friend to tell you if your endeavor is stinky and a bigger friend to smile and agree. (laughing) Novel Journey is the result of three women who know how to work as a team. The proof is in the pudding.
Finally Gina, many people never take time to look seriously at how and what God can do to direct their careers and their lives. What do you have in your prayers for the future with Novel Journey and as a writer, and tell us how you feel God is leading you?
Great questions, Cindy. God is always there, the pillar of fire, leading the way. I don't always follow. When I find myself off the path, I get back on. Usually on my own, sometimes because the pain is too great to stay off for long. The consequences for living outside God's will and all that. Interesting timing with this question. We're just now coming up with our mission statement for the site. We want to remain focused on the bigger picture and having a mission statement is a great way to do that. So, I've been thinking a lot about this question.
My prayer is that God will use it and show the three of us how He wants to use it, and when it's purpose is complete, that we won't hang on to it a second too long. So, I'm not real sure the future of Novel Journey. This has been a God thing all the way and so I'll let Him nudge me in the direction He wants. For now, our goal is to continue to bring the Christian and secular writing community together if we can, to promote great fiction that holds bibical truths and to encourage and help writers to do their best work.
Personally, with my writing, I'm in a comfortable spot writing my fourth novel, realizing that when God's ready for me, He'll open the door and until then, I'm to be faithful honing my craft, and seeking to bring Him glory with my words.
A special thank you to Gina Holmes for sharing her personal ministry with us at Mountain Breeze. I am a firm believer that God places us in the pathways of those who can minister appropriately to our needs. Gina has been the light in the darkness for me, guiding me to being a better writer, and encouraging my work with the Father on the daily devotions.
Our ministries are unique and personal to us each one. I encourage you to do some soul seaching and find your passion...then fall to your knees and say, "God, here I am, use me." You will be amazed at the growth and the rewards that are gained from sharing this personal one-on-one ministry. We don't have to be Bible College grads or stand from a pulpit to share a ministry.
Thanks to Gina Holmes for opening up her heart of a servant to us. Check out her blogsite, www.noveljourney.blogspot.com and see what is offered in the world of Christian fiction. And when you visit....leave a comment. Let her know what you think. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Some of us never grow up. Unfortunately, I believe I'm one of those who remains a child at heart. Our family made a trip to Disney World, Orlando last fall and we had a blast. It was great because the kids are adults now and there were no restrictions as to where and when we went. The frightening thing was, we found ourselves numerous times riding the Buzz Lightyear ride. Don't ask me the offical name because I don't know. I can only tell you when all four of us saw the flashing lights and space ships with laser guns we were suckered through the door more than once. We even purchased the pictures that Disney takes as you pass through the most intense part of the ride. Yes, we actually bought the pictures because we wanted people to see how intent we were on lasering those little green creatures.
My favorite saying from Buzz Lightyear is "From infinity and beyond..." It says so much about how we move forward -- grow in new and different directions. With each passing year I'm finding that my awareness of Christ in my life is becoming more and more evident. I seem to wear my "God ears" with a hearing aid, listening intently to see what the Father might whisper to me.
Having said that, I feel God is leading Mountain Breeze Ministries into new and uncharted waters. The devotional ministry is a personal ministry for me. Born from the desire to know the Father on a deeper level, I began to share them with the members of the my home church. From there, God launched the devotionals into a daily email ministry so that others could study along side me. This past May, God truly shook the rafters when He touched the heart of a community newspaper to print the devotions on a weekly basis, sending their distribution from a couple of hundred into the thousands. Now, as the year nears an end and I strengthen my prayers in asking God what is next for Mountain Breeze, I am finding He's leading me to seek out the hearts of His servants.
Exactly what does that mean for this blog? Well, that's still up in the air but I can say this, Mountain Breeze Writer will become the home for regular people who have the heart of a servant. I will begin to regularly post interviews with average people -- some professional and others not -- who find great joy in their personal and private ministries. They find peace in opening their hearts to do for others before they do for themselves.
There are so many who shine with the love of Christ, who find peace and rest within the moments they share His love. Those are the people from whom we can learn. They incorporate their Christ-like lives into everything they do and raise the bar for us who falter.
We'll see where God takes us. Every post will not be an interview but they'll be sprinkled along the way. I hope you'll check into the blog from time to to time and read through the "Crusaders for Christ" series. Perhaps you know someone who shares the love of Christ in a unique way or business. Let me know by responding to the posts.
So.......here we go. Stepping into yet another page of the book that God is writing through Mountain Breeze. Won't you step into our world and feel the mountain breeze?
Coming soon: Crusader for Christ - Gina Holmes and her blog Novel Journey. Are you ready? FROM INFINITY AND BEYOND!!!!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Spirit of God
Heaven parted the clouds one day, and an ever so tiny separation appeared. Yet through that small opening God sat on His throne and peered down. His eyes scanned the vastness of the universe taking in every star. His thoughts rearranged the heavens from night into day and the vision of His world came into view.
The Father gently sighed and His breath moved the leaves on the trees. A smile crossed His face as He glanced over the vast mountain ranges He'd created. Some filled and formed of rocks, while others were covered with the lush green from grass and trees. it was good.
As He moved across the earth, He spied a doe that had just given birth to a fawn. From His heavenly seat He extended His hand and with one finger gently lifted the fawn to its feet, supporting it momentarily until its balance was established. Again He smiled as the mother began to tenderly nuzzle her young.
His eyes soared across the oceans occasionally blinking to make the waves dance over the surface. The Father continued to expand His vision until the snow of the north fell into sight. He brushed across the white powder stirring up a gentle snow fall.
As the world he'd created spun softly in the universe, the Father checked every detail of His creation, when suddenly His attention was drawn to a small voice. Turning His view toward the voice, God focused on a child who was knelt by her bed.
"...and God bless mommy, and daddy, grandma and grandpa. And Spike, too. Even when he chews up my dolls, I can forgive him. God, please bless the world." she said as she climbed into bed.
The Father was touched by the child and His heart opened sending blessing after blessing across the earth in compliance with her request. As the girl closed her eyes to sleep, God leaned down from that tiny opening in the heavens and gingerly kissed her fofrehead. He watched as she snuggled beneath the covers, then He turned to the Son and said.
"She can forgive."
The Son returned His Father's smile and replied, "But with You there is forgiveness." (Psalm 130:4).
God stretched his arms toward the heavens as His angels sang praises. "All this I have given freely. By My hand the universe was created and by My love it was saved."
It only took the innocence of one child -- Christ, to form that tiny opening into heaven that allowed an abundance of fforgiveness to sprinkle upon us. And with the hand of God, it was distributed to all those who fall before the foot of the cross. To take on the innocence of a child and make the effort to forgive when we've been wronged demonstrates His ultimate love.
Zechariah 4:6 tells us, "...Not by might nor power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty." it is with His Spirit that forgiveness began, and it is with His Spirit it will conquer all.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Snatching his cane from the closet the man walked down the hospital hallway and out the front door. Not one person paid him any mind. He flagged a cab and handing the driver a crumpled piece of paper with the address, he slid into the seat and closed the door.
"This old place?" questioned the driver. "t's been closed for years."
"That's the place. First Christian Church of Mabrey Street," replied the old man with a smile. "That's the one."
"Whatever you say, old man." With that the driver twisted around in his seat and shifted the car into gear.
Once they arrived at the church the driver asked if he should wait.
"No need. Here's your money. I'll be fine. I've got someone coming to pick me up." The man ached as he climbed from the car and ambled up the walkway. It took him several minutes to climb the five steps to the front porch, but he made it. Short on breath, his head began to spin.
"Just a little further," he said as he shoved the door open with his cane.
As soon as the man could see inside the church, his senses went wild. He poked through the cobwebs and before his eyes the sanctuary began to transform. The dusty planked floor regained its brilliant luster, and the pews glowed with the look of fresh white paint. The windows sparkled as the sun shone through the yellow panes giving the room a soft warm color.
He walked to the front and stepped up to the pulpit, then rubbing his hands across the marble top, a tear dripped from his cheek. Glancing toward the piano he could hear old Mrs. Hutson banging away at When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder, and suddenly his ears tuned into the choir singing to the out-of-tune melody.
On the front row materialized Josh Henderson and his son Adam. Two rows back on the left, the Anderson sisters, and one row over, Mabel and Harry Martin. The pews overflowed with people as the man reminisced of a time when the church was filled to capacity.
He seated himself in the tall-backed chair behind the pulpit and pulled a pocket-sized New Testament from his coat. Flipping through the pages he found the scripture he'd longed to read aloud. The man tilted his head toward the ceiling and spied the cross which hung on the wall over the baptistery. A smilled parted his lips as he closed his eyes and lifted his arms.
"I've come home Lord. Your faithful servant has come home. I preached from this pulpit for forty-eight years. Now my body is old and fading. I'm home."
A breeze blew open the front door, rushing around him and caressing him as if the arms of Jesus had pulled him close. The preacher dropped his arms to his side and blew out his last breath.
"Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home."
Will you hear the words of Matthew 25:21? "The Master replied,'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"
Friday, September 08, 2006
My life has ultimately been blessed and overall, I truly can't complain. God is good even in the tough times. You know we all hate to be pruned, however occassionally God has seen fit to cut my limbs back a smidgen. Did it hurt? Ooohhhwweee, you bet ya. Still for the sudden and instant ouchie that occurred. I've been made better as a result.
Time does tick by unmercifully and unfortunately, it harbors no regrets...it simply remains focused and in a dead heat for who knows where. Which by the way, happens to be an excellent and thought provoking question. Where exactly DOES time go when it passes? And why it is in such a hurry? Ponder those issues -- would you?
All in all, through thick and thin, things have been wonderful. I pray daily that God will continue to see me through another day. I'm not so sure a perfect life would be all that great. I suppose it might appear somewhat boring at times. There's never a dull moment in my life. Sometimes I WISH THERE WERE, but no such luck. It all winds back up at the "time" issue. When there is quiet time, I feel like I ought to be doing something. HENCE, I'm taking TIME to learn to better use the TIME which flashes past.
You know...walk a little slower (intentionally - not because I'm getting older - don't assume anything!), breath a little deeper, exhale a tad slower, enjoy a bit more. These things are important. I think there's one other thing.
Rather than staring at the clock and watching time zip past, I think I'll wait awhile -- only check the clock when I think it's time to snack. (grin)
In all seriousness. It's amazing how we fill our days with STUFF. Overall unimportant stuff seems to overtake us in a rush. God has given us such a wonderful world to live in and enjoy. It's really a shame we let it pass us by without a second glance. When was the last time you sat down and really watched the sun set and then wait long enough to see the first stars peek out from behind their curtains of darkness? When, pray tell, was the last time you walked through a tree covered path and enjoyed the sun streaking through the branches just enough to cause you to raise your hand over your brow? Or when have you sat by the water and stretched out your legs, leaned your face toward the sun and took in its warmth? YOU SEE!
You're missing what time drags past as well.
Let's make a deal...Let's agree to stop at least once a day and enjoy something unique God has given us. It was a gift and it was meant to be used. Rest, relax -- just a teeny bit. Smile, laugh, hug someone. Just enjoy the life that God has given us.
I almost bet ya....time will slow just a bit.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Today, author Trisha Goyer, sent me an blog comment with BIG LETTERS that said, "YOU'VE BEEN TAGGED"
Okay, it's been quite a number of years since I played tag so my curosity rose to the surface. Tricia left instructions to go to her blogsite and read the instructions. Sooo, I did.
The instructions were to answer the following question: "If you could write a novel about subject - what would it be? Don't give away your plot idea."
Well, that certainly woke my sleeping brain up. Jolted me back into the world of writing in a REALLY BIG HURRY. I found myself a bit ashamed in the fact that I've allowed so much to draw me away from my writing this past month. They were all good reasons why I haved stretched the ole imagination -- work, illness, church...did I mention work. Oh and work. With the boss being out of town and some and one of my strongest co-workers on vacation -- the slack had to be filled. ANYWAY. It seems it took being tagged to shake me out of my work world and put me back into my fiction place.
Having said that, I can't go further without saying how easy it is for us as Christians to put our church life on the backback burner. Life just happens and when the priorities list comes up for re-evaluation, we tend to draw an arrow toward the bottom of the list for Sunday night or mid-week services. The fact is, we only give of ourselves an average of 6 hours a week for active church time. (That is if we go Sunday a.m. & p.m. and a mid-week service) Shish...God sure allots more time than that for us. Shame on us.
Though I haven't let my church attendance slip, my writing is truly one of the times I give of myself to Him. Everytime I sit down to put pen to paper (or keystrokes to screen - depending on how politically correct you insist on being), I offer myself into His guidance -- into His service -- to be used as a vessel. Therefore, when I allow my writing to slip to the side, even a tiny bit, I falter in the time I'd normally offer to God.
Hence, IT'S BACK TO THE WRITING. Okay, so I've been tagged. What would I write? Humm, two things.
(Works in progress would probably be the best thing to call them -- or for the non-writer...WIP's)
1) I'm a mountain girl. Born and raised in the Smokey Mts. I love my Appalachian heritage. So, my subject is based on mountain magic. I'm writing in true Appalachian voice about a man, who in his personal desire to provide for his family, looses sight of what's right. He sells his soul blindly to the devil and really doesn't realize what he's done. This is a battle between God and Satan over one mountain man's soul. What can a man do to make God want to reclaim his soul?
2) From a non-fiction standpoint, my WIP is "New Sheets - How Women Deal with Life's Frustrations" When I face great hardships and I crawl into bed at night -- there's nothing like BRAND NEW SHEETS. It sorta symbolizes that I've come to grips with whatever has caused the problem in my life. I buy new sheets. Crawling into a bed with nifty new sheets is like a clean slate. No wrinkles, they're not soft and squishy yet, broken in....instead they're a crisp new beginning. I want to write about how women deal with frustrating issues, like death, divorce - not once but twice or more, children, work, anger, bitterness, finances, ect.
There you have it. I've been tagged. Thanks Tricia...you woke me up! By the way...read Tricia's books -- check out the side bar on my blog and go see her books. NOW, I'm tagging author-friend
Blog Goddess and top notch Christian writer and author support queen - Gina Holmes
Review Wonder woman, Ane Mulligan
Now go girls. You're tagged.
Rules: Answer the question - what would you write about. Link back to the blogsite you learned about this and add a couple of friends. If you find something that might help your buddies develop their ideas...pass it along. See Tricia Goyer's blogsite in the side bar.
Friday, July 07, 2006
I'd like you to meet my newest writer friend, Tricia Goyer. Tricia has just had her fourth and final novel in her exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II published.
THE ARMS OF DELIVERANCE is the story of two friends, Mary and Lee, who land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war's outbreak, leading to them becoming competitors. Mary's coverage of a bombing raid over Germany leads to a plane wreck and and adventurous escape attempt from across enemy lines. When Lee hears of Mary's plight, she bravely heads to a war-torn Europe in an effort to help rescue her friend. Will there be enough time for diplomacy or will war get the best of everyone?
You'll have to read it to see! I highly recommend you begin, if you don't alreay, to support Christian writers. You may be pleasantly surprised at the variety of literature you'll be caught up in. Christian writers now span every aspect of the regular book world -- writing historicals, like Tricia's, to romance, inspirational, mystery, chick-lit...it's more than study Bibles. So check out Tricia's web site from under the "Links" in the sidebar. I guarantee you'll fall in love with these books.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I am amazed at how someone can look at pictures of our earth and vaguely question that there is a God. Really.....just look at this picture--->
My Dalmatian woke me the other night wanting outside. At fourteen, her bones creak and crack as she limps down the stairs. As I opened the door and swipped at my eyes, I realized what a beautiful bright night it was. The moon was full and it hung low in the sky. I almost felt like I could reach out and touch it.
I sat down on the front porch and leaned back on my elbows. As my eyes began to adjust to the night light one by one, stars came into view. It was like someone was walking from star to star pulling a light cord and clicking them on. For a few moments I was awestruck. How can anyone question that God is real? Mankind certainly couldn't create such a wonderous sight.
And to think...this entire universe moves, slowly, consistantly, continually. It takes my breath away. Man spends a lifetime trying to explain away the efforts of one blink of God's eyes and it's just not possible to understand every detail -- all the whys or how comes. We can only trust and have faith that one who is bigger had the vision to create such a magnificant world.
I've heard that there are times in history when the earth moved -- such catastrophic events have happened that shook the earth to its very core. But to me, it doesn't take something huge to know that the earth moves. I only have to gaze into the night sky in faith and watch as we gingerly move throughout our place in space.
Ahhh - sounds so deep, huh? Not really. What is deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians tells us, " I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, withall the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love ofChrist." (Ephesians 3:17, 18)
This love of God is so much more than we can ever imagine or begin to conceive. Yet some still question. I need no further proof than the night sky, or the vastness of a mountain range to make me believe that there is one mightier than anything else.
When the earth moves, it only verifies what I already believe.
Friday, June 23, 2006
It's a horrible feeling. The stomach retches, a wave of blood rushes to your face illuminating the cheeks to a bright red (which by the way, SCREAMS idiot lives inside this body!). Regardless, we've all done it.
One would think at my age, I'd be better versed. Not today. Today, I pulled the unthinkable. I told an author, whom I've read their works and loved, that I'd read their newest UNreleased book. (Just ask me how totally embarrassed I was..)As wonderful as email is...once you hit send, it's too late to correct the error of your ways. I was so embarrassed. I've read her work and I was reading about the newest book ready to hit the shelves, and that's the name of the book I wrote I'd read. Man.....talk about looking gooby! (See the picture above....that would be me!)
I immediately sent a second email and tried to explain I had my mind one direction and my typing fingers in another. But do you think that really mattered? I'D ALREADY HIT SEND.
Therefore, being the writer and believer I am, I thought there has to be good somewhere in this situation. So, I rolled my eyes and looked to the ceiling. "Father, I've completely emabarrassed myself -- tell me what good there is in that?"
I feel sure God must have rolled His own eyes and shook His head from side to side. But through all that, I know a grin parted his lips. That's when He said, "Uhh huh. You certainly did goof. And yes, there is good. It's called humility. 'Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.'" He said as he gently stroked away the reddness in my cheeks. "Slow down, pay attention, and humble yourself before others. Place the heart of the servant in the forefront and others will see."
Oh, all right. So He was right. It was a sensless blunder, one caused by my own excitement and lack of paying attention. I've had so many irons in the fire lately that I've become a jack of all trades and truly a master of none. I suppose God thought it was time to hook and anchor to the seat of by pants.
Often times we become so engrossed in the sheer number of activities the world throws at us, we lose ourselves and our direction -- our focus. We become somewhat blinded. God loves for us to have abundance, but He also loves for us to use our abundance of gifts and talents properly; not overdone or outdone.
I suppose I can count myself, disciplined in one swift press of the send button. It's time to slow down, come down, and maybe even lie down and rest. God needs workers for the fields, but He needs us on top of our games - sharpened and ready for what tasks lay ahead.
I did apologize. For what it's worth, the author probably thinks, "What a goof-ball." But hopefully they'll take the error as a compliment. When you're thrilled by someone special, it's easy to become tongue-tied. To that author -- and I'm sure they know who they are -- My apologies for not paying attention to my email. And to my Father in heaven, "Alright! You made your point. I get it."
Anyone for some crow???
Friday, June 16, 2006
For example: Heartbreak -- Your heart feels tight with emotion, that innate thing we only feel and yet can never really lay our hands on. It expands to the point you feel as if it's physically ripping in two. It beats harder not faster. (There's a difference.) Each thump of the muscle which lies inside your chest, pushes a rush of blood through your body, and the swish, swish, swish of the fluid can be heard inside your ears. Your breath is labored, leaving you with an urge of panic. What if I can't catch my breath? After a moment you take in a half breath, realizing it's not enough to live on. Your body longs for more oxygen. Your chest feels as though it will split in the middle. Right at the height of hysteria, you gasp, swallow, and allow your body to relax.
Does that accurately describe what we feel when our heart is breaking? This is where the writer searches for the right words -- the place that is lonely -- where emptiness dwells and peace is void. Intense, deep and hopeless.
Practically every person alive has remarked about a broken heart. We've used the term over and over again without great thought until we're suddenly blindsided by something that causes us great pain.
In the midst of our deepest heartbreak God allows us rescue. Psalm 34:18 tells us, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." isn't it a wonderful and peaceful thing to know? In the middles of what seems to be our worst turmoil, God is there to save our crushed spirits. He mends us gingerly with his needle and offers us a fraction of rest.
Through the brokenness He heals us completely, and from the reality of the situation we glean experience that will serve us or someone else at just the right time. Looking to Christ and asking Him to take the burden away, then allow Him to use the vessel in which it was housed is frightening. However, there is great relief within that first step of faith. There is hope.
When your heart breaks turn the broken pieces over to Jesus and don't take them back. Taking them back means He can't repair the shattered piece of pottery. Allow Him to work His miracle.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
That's actually the problem. I, like alot of others, tend to take on too much. Saying no becomes harder and harder as time passes. There's so much to be done and so few who bother to help.
It puts me in the mind of Jesus telling the people that the fields were ripe with harvest but the workers were few. It's not that I'm a control freak, it's that there is so much that needs to be done, especially within our churches, and Christians are just not stepping up to the plate. For those who are attempting to be faithful, the work load doubles.
It's really sorta sad. Our younger Christians with family simply don't see the need to help with the harvest....afterall," Little Joe has five baseball games this week and we couldn't possabily work in time for VBS and you know he'll be tired so we won't be a Sunday School on Sunday morning."
And then there's the ever complacent Christians who feel as if they've done their share to help the kingdom. They've served "their time" doing Sunday school, VBS and children's church, not to mention the nursery. "Let someone else. I've done my time."
The last time I checked out Christianity - it was a daily walk -- a neverending walk if you're serious about the relationship with Christ. It's time we get back to the basics. Back to the original ABC's of Church. We "require" our children to attend church, not offer it as an option. We change our priorities and begin to put God first again. Finally, we become active again. Become revived. Don't you miss that? Remember the hymn, "Revive Us Again?"
Get back to the basics of church. Attendance, Belief and Committment -- just for starters. The Kingdom will grow if we all participate. Look what 12 men did for Jesus?
Make a move to place Christ first in your life -- Not after the ballgame. Revaluate.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
About 3:00 I walked into the adjoining office, turned off the light and laid down on the couch rubbing my temples. MAN, my head hurts.
The longer I rested (which by the way, was only about 5 minutes) the worse the pressure behind my eyes pulsated. "Lord, I need ten minutes to just scream and release the tension." Well, what did my God ears hear? They heard the ever present still small voice echo, "There is always rest in me."
Well, of course there's rest in God. That's a given. I was just not taking advantage. I wasn't to the point that I offered the stress up to the one who was the true stress reliever. Only one more hour before I can go home. I took a deep breath and stood. Smile. I felt my lips stretch into a grin.
Walk. My feet begin to move. But if I was going to have to physically tell my body what to do, then I wasn't accomplishing "rest."
When the work day ended, I headed home. My eyes bulging with each pusle of my heart. My arms hurt, my neck was stiff. I was pretty much a helpless mess. I fell through the front door and landed on the couch. Still no rest...still no refuge from the headache. So, I climbed the stairs to the bedroom and stretched out on the bed. That's when my God ears started to burn. "There is always rest in me."
"Okay, I give. You win." The cat climbed up on my chest and began to purr. As I gently brushed the fur around his eyes, I found myself recounting the events of the day to God. I could have sworn I heard Him saying, "Huh huh, is that so?"
Suddenly, I heard the words again. "There is always rest in me. You simply have to come to me and seek refuge." Duhhh. Why do we insist on hanging onto the things that offer us pain and stress? Letting go is so much easier.
Rest...we all need rest. Rest for our bodies and rest for our souls, rest for our minds. All of that is found within the gentle listening Lord we call Abba God.
Hey....I...I....wow....I don't have it anymore. MY HEADACHE IS GONE. And I had the power to end it at 3. Shesh! A little hard headed - don't you think?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Alright, so I love to snuggle up with a pooch. Meet my sweet goddog, Skip. He doesn't belong to us but he visits us frequently when his mom and dad travel to visit the grandkids.
Let me share my Skippy story. You see, he was an eight month old puppy when a good friend of ours decided this boxer baby was quickly outgrowing his 3 yr old son. I worked for a vet at the time and I had just really made friends with the Mize's. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent - yeah, right?)
We had cared for their Cocker, "Chuck" for quite sometime and when the sweetie pie became ill it was devastating for all of us.
I had arrived at the vet early that morning and headed immediately to the ICU unit of the clinic to check on Chuck. Popping open the kennel, I laid my hand on his head only to see one eye strain to open. "Hey buddy. Sleep well?" I asked as I adjusted his iv line and began cleaning his kennel. He struggled to his feet and stepped out of the kennel. His eyes said, "Cindy, I want to go for a walk." So, I obliged.
He was weak but determined so I slipped a lead around him and pulled the bag of fluids off the stand flopping them over my shoulder. "Lead the way."
Chuck shook like he'd just climbed out of the tub then a with an unexpected spark in his step, he trotted toward the door. We walked around in the yard for several minutes and headed back into the office. I fed him and bedded him down into a couple of REALLY soft blankets, then leaned over and gave him a kiss. "That, little buddy, is for your mom & dad." I closed his kennel and headed out of the room.
I couldn't have been out of the ICU unit for more than ten minutes. When I came back with Chuck's meds he had snuggled down into the blankets and closed his eyes for eternity. I sat down in the floor and began to sob. After all, we'd grown to love him as much as his family did.
To fast forward...Our friends had a little Boxer puppy and he was becoming to much to handle with a three year old son...so, I recommended this really neat family for him. I called the Mize's and said, "Come see this neat puppy. You'll love him....he's screaming MIZE'S." Now the Mize dad is a very tall lanky man and the Mize mom is a teeny tiny lady. This 8 month old puppy landed somewhere in between the two. Mize mom's eyes nearly popped out of her head as she stuttered, "He, he, he's big."
"Just try him for the weekend. I know you'll fall in love." She did, and they did -- fall in love that is. It was a match made in heaven. Here we are eight years later and Skip still snuggles in my arms like the puppy did. The point to this novella is simple.
There's always a first time for everything and if we never venture out to try we'll never know what lies in wait for us. Mom Mize was very hesitant at the size of a Boxer...but she sweetly gave him a try. She trusted me to only offer her the safest and the best.
The same goes for our relationship with our Father in heaven. Sometimes we just have to trust -- sight unseen -- try something new and find what lies ahead is pretty nifty afterall.
The Mize's found their loss in Chuck could never be the same and they'll always harbor a special place in their hearts for that sweet Cocker. But, then Skip and his bounding personality came through the door and screamed, "I can't be Chuck but I can be me. There's a first time for everything...why not try a very unique, handsome, fun loving Boxer Boy?"
It was and still is a match made in heaven. But had it not been for the courage of a teeny lady, willing to try a big ball of fire on for size, the match would have never been struck.
There's a first time for everything....if you're willing to try. Match anyone?
Sunday, April 23, 2006
It all depends on your taste! Cooking is not one of my better atributes. I can do it satisfactorily, but what I prepare is definately not outstanding. One thing is for sure, I have learned to use a variety of spices in what I prepare. Something a bit more than salt and pepper.
The truth is...cooking requires a certain amount of patience. I tend to flip the control knob to high, slap on a pan and have at it....hoping what's in the pan is fortunate to make it to the table instead of the trash.
I have a wonderful friend who is a real cook. She's so good at it. When you walk into her kitchen there are shelves of cookbooks. Her refrigerator is bursting at the seams with delicious chewables. She's so well prepared that you could name off any dish and she's got the ingredients to make it. For her, the kitchen offers a quiet refuge from the day. She can mix and bake away any frustrations she may have had during the day. The great part about that is, there are goodies to be had as a result.
For me, the kitchen is a place to get in and out of. I like to cook but I don't love to do it. It's not restful for me because my creativity doesn't lie within the confines of a beautiful dish. I'm much happier putting pen to paper. Like I said, it's all in what your taste is.
This same friend is the one who taught me to use a mixture of spices. She taught me to take a plain piece of chicken and make it mouth watering all because of the spices. I was pretty much raised on good old salt and pepper.
Our lives need a little variety at times as well. Sometimes we need to step out from the boundries of our comforts and try something different. It's knocks off the "mundane" and brings a little zest into our hearts.
I often wonder if God gets tired of me being "the same ole me." He has stepped into my life frequently in the last twenty years and made some real changes. He knows where my fears lay and He's challenged me. One could say, "He's spiced me up a bit." However, God never lets me forget that beneath it all, I still need a little salt and pepper to give me good seasoning.
It's a good thing God keeps me well stirred. Just when I feel snuggled in and comfortable -- that's when everything breaks loose.
That's when it's time to walk outside and ponder awhile. Then flip open the grill! There's nothing like a good old fashioned hamburger with salt and pepper.
Somewhere along the way, I hope and pray I've been that seasoning for someone else. The Lord knows, He's used good friends to spice me up a bit. They've probably left my house shaking their heads in amazement....but, they've all left a little flavor behind.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
There are times I sit and stare into the clouds wondering how they could have been created so utterly beautiful. Every one is different and each holds a picture; only clear to its beholder.
The vastness that stems as far as the eye can see, could have only been made by someone of infinate greatness.
I can remember as a child, laying on the grass and gazing into the sky, trying to find animal shapes. It was always a challenge to search for the figures of my favorite pets. Even then, I was awed at how the clouds twisted, twirlled and formed the imprints which hid inside my head. Learning to use my imagination began right there -- cloud watching.
Now, in mid-life, I still find myself cloud watching...and still impressed at greatness of the world around me. Just to think that God, in all His infinate wisdom, simply "thought" things into existance.
I find it humorous as scientist try to figure the in's and out's of how creation happened. They just don't get it. But isn't that how most people are? They long for the why's and how's instead of accepting the do's and done's? Sometimes it shouldn't matter how something is made -- Just that it is!
Life is so rushed these days and I still find myself occassionally daydreaming into the clouds. It's a quiet way to think -- to rest and ponder. It's a great time to assess ourselves and all the decisions we make on a daily basis. Then, right in the middle of our thoughts the question of "what is greatness?" pops in.
How could all this have come into being in such a magnificiant and perfect way. Every intimate piece knitted together in seamless picture -- flawless until we take hold of it. Greatness is found within the majesty of the Creator who defined the picture. We can't imagine the how's or whys because God is GOD. There is greatness within the clouds that should do nothing more than offer proof of deity which longed for our company, created us, loves us and forgives us. That, my friend is greatness. Isn't it amazing?
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
We recently attended the wedding of our niece in Andrews, NC. Somewhere in the Smokie Mountains, in a part of the Cherokee National Park (or somewhere pretty close), we found the tiny town of Andrews. Primarily, there to host summer campers and whitewater rafters, there was sweet refuge in this little place.
Of course, it couldn't have been located in a more beautiful region and though the green of trees and the flowers had not yet sprouted toward the sun, there was a pleasant silence here.
I walked out on the deck of field house we were in and I noticed there was silence. Nothing. Well...let me clairify that. No cars, no trains, no ratrace -- only the breeze and in the distance, the river. Overall, silence. There was no one to ask me questions, no one to make me move, not a soul willing to interupt me at that moment.
I placed my hands on the railing and lifted my head toward the sky; a chill from the mountains touched my arms. My eyes were closed as I stretched my neck to feel the warmth of the afternoon sun. It was so restful. That's when I realized, God's "quiet" is a whole lot different from our daily run of the mill "quiet." My normal quiet time includes the dogs barking, or the phone ringing downstairs, the alarm clock or the tv in the background -- it mostly means, nobody's talking to me. But God's quiet -- wow, it was different.
It's no wonder He created places like this. He wanted a place He could sit down and truly enjoy the peace He made. I'm convinced there's no "real" silence in our world today, but there is certainly serenity. Here, in this tiny town of Andrews, I found that peace and serenity. One had to take in a deep, long breath and exhale ever so slowly, just to feel the stress drain out of your body.
Ah, the mountains. I was raised in the mountains, just not THIS deep into the mountains. I also probably wouldn't have trouble becoming a hermit of sorts, if I lived someplace like Andrews. In the thirty minutes I stood absorbing the restfullness of this place, I felt as if I'd rested for hours.
Take time to listen to the silence....God's silence.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
and touching; one that deserved to be shared, "for out of the mouths of
A father kissed his young daughter as he placed her in the car to leave.
"Give Dad a kiss." He said as he pulled her close for a peck on the cheek. Her tender lips pressed against his face and the love of a father bounded.
"Here Daddy. Take this." She pulled open his fingers and placed a quarter in his hand. "Read this everyday."
He smiled at the thought of her giving him her quarter, not really absorbing what her intent was.
"No, Daddy," the child insisted, "Read it over and over."
"It's a quarter, honey."
"I know, but read it, Daddy." He leaned over and kissed her once more, thanking for her for the coin and promising to read it frequently. He pushed the door closed and waved as the car left the driveway. His heart ached as he watched the car turn onto the highway. He already missed her. Walking up onto the porch, he sat down on the steps and slowly loosened his grip. It's a quarter. Still, the man kept his promise. Flipping the coin to its backside, he gasped. Tears welled in his eyes as he realized the words his daughter wanted him to continually read. "In God we trust."
Wow, what a powerful ministry from the mouth of a child. Isaiah 43:11 tells us, "I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior." If we would only believe those words, better yet -- if we would only follow the advice of a child. Children have a unique ability to blindly trust. They don't question the reasons why they should believe; they just wholeheartedly trust.
I later learned this dad taped the coin backside up, to his bathroom mirror and continued to faithfully read it daily. If we could trust like a child we would certainly be in better shape. God requires no explanation. He is who He is. He is what He is. -- almighty and awesome. He is God and Savior. Apart from Him, there is no other.
In the words of a child, wise beyond her years, "In God we trust."
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Within the realms of what we call earth lies some of the most breathtaking sights known to man.
A friend emailed this picture and I couldn't help but share it. Just look at the awesome watercolor God has painted.
Stare at the picture and let your imagination start to fly. Imagine walking through the pass at the foot of the mountains, lifting your eyes and following the emmense slant of the hills. The colors pop out, filling your senses with more than your mind can absorb.
You take in a deep breath, filling your lungs with a freshness found only in the hands of the creator. The scents from the flowers surround you with such an aroma that your mouth waters. And the sky -- the blue is crystal clear. Not a cloud in the sky. You drop to your knees then fall backwards into multicolored quilt which has been spread before you. Now, breathe out. The tension of the day fades into the clearness of the sky you are staring into. This is what it's all about.
You can loose yourself in this picture. It's truly a blessing to observe. (To whom ever shot this photo - congratulations and thank you for sharing it with everyone else.)
It's easy to loose ourselves in the creations God has whipped up. I am always amazed at His vastness, His continual abilties to re-create spring after spring, after spring. What a joyful renewal. It's wonderful to see the examples He sets in front us - simple to Him, complex to us. Still the meaning is the same. Within the arms of such a God, there must be peace and restfulness. Climb in!
Monday, March 20, 2006
I've come to the conclusion that regardless of their age...kids are always kids. Even as adults they're still kids. Of course, my own mother probably says that of me, but we all know "that's different."
My own children are all grown and still, through my eyes, I see the tiny tots they
once were. It didn't bother me to hit the middle aged 40's-- why it didn't even bother me when the kids graduated high school. What bothered me was the day my youngest, the baby, the least one, stood next to me and put his elbow on the top of my head. At 6'6 1/2, he now towers over me like a giant.
Still the inate desire to protect them is embedded deep within us. Regardless of their ages. I still can't bear the thoughts of one of the boys making a mistake similar to one I'd made as a youth. Especially knowing how it ended for me. So, I find myself trying to stay a step ahead. I pray for wisdom and open mindedness, but somehow I still mess up.
It's never an intentional thing -- messing up, that is. I have the best of intentions...but it's hard to let your adult children step into something you know holds nothing but heartache. When my first marriage ended I sat on the steps of a porch in Illinois. It was May and the snow was still up to my hips. I huddled with my 3 and 4 year old boys. Right there on the steps, I came face to face with the reality that it would be "me and the boys" from here on out. I can remember promising them I would never turn my back on them, that I'd always be there for them and I would never let them down. I trusted God would pull us through and He has. Still, over the years, I've goofed up.
I'm really not sure there is any rest in becoming a parent. We know there's not when they're babies. They're up every 3 hours, screaming for food and pooping. The they hit elementary school and you still don't rest. Primarily because they choose to share YOUR bed in the middle of the night and they can never lay still or straight in the bed. The good Lord knows I've suffered my share of bloody noses or lips where they manage to kick me in the fact as they flip yanny-wampling in the bed. They get to high school and there's really no rest. Thank goodness my boys were active in school activities that kept them safe and busy (i.e. the BAND). But there was the constant worry of would the obey us, would they come home when we told them to....would they drive safely. And of course....there's not a bit of rest in that.
College hits and if they've never been rebellious, suddenly they become late bloomers in that department. They search to define themselves, see with immature adult eyes (which is sometimes worse than the elementary school knock-outs). They start to make personal decisions and they begin to truly pay the consequence of whatever they choose to do. This is worse than the infant years. They still eat every 3 hours and they certainly never sleep.
The thing is...they're still my boys and I love them with all my heart. There in lies the problem. My heart gets smashed alot. Partically because they're boys, young adults...(sorry guys of the world...but clueless men when it comes to the sensitativty of females and their emotions. And oh....I still make mistakes.
It seems I make one after the other - -but they're out of love. You see, to my parents, I'm still a child that causes them a lack of sleep, just as my adult children do the same. The only thing is...they don't get it yet. They'll probably be in their 40's before it sinks in. Then they'll lean back in their chair and rub their forehead. The words, "Ohhhhh, now I see" will slip from their lips and maybe -- Just maybe at this point in their lives, I can get a little rest.
I'm blessed with wonderful children. And like any parent, I don't always agree with their decisions but they are adults. So, I pray...fervently, daily, relentlessly for them. My intentions are only meant to be good.
We sort of give up the rest privlege when we have babies. Was it worth it? Of course it is. So, tonight...I lay down knowing that I've raised them to the best of my ability, that I love them deeply and I really do trust them. I may sleep -- but I never really rest.
Monday, March 06, 2006
it did throw me for a loop. (or loopy - which
ever you deem the fittest.
Since this blogsite is meant to edify and help you find rest, I'd like to share the good and bad things about surgery. So kick back and relax. I think you may find this interesting.
First off, THIS IS NOT THE GORY DETAILS OF SURGERY (get real - even I don't want to know what REALLY was done.) However, I do want to show you the rest I found within the surgery suite.
I was a bit nervous until the anesthesiologist brought the wonder injection into the room. After thatI was history. So, the best part of surgery was waking up three days later feeling completely rested. Ahhhhh! Silly as it seems, I needed the rest. Between the worry of the surgery, the ever possibililty of surgical mishap (ie death), working my job up until the day of surgery, making sure all the "t's" were crossed and the i's dotted...I was tired.
Anesthesia knocks me for a loop anyway, so I suppose from the moment the medication hit my blood stream I went to la-la land, not to revisit the real world for a couple of days. Oh, I roused and got up, moved about some after surgery, HOWEVER, I really don't remember it. So, for three days, I rested completely.
It's amazing how stressed we get in the day to day activities of our lives. We forget what it's like to lean back and kick our feet up. You know, put your arms behind your head and take in a nice long deep breath -- exhale slowly...let your body fall limp. It's really sad that we don't take the time we used to take. Time enough to take in the laughter of our children, a good cup of chocolate ice cream, or to smell the freshness of a misty spring morning. We miss so much these days.
Surgery, I suppose, was a breeze. The healing is never as quick as we'd like but again, it's the rest our body requires to speed things along. That ought to tell us something...don't you think?
Yeah for the antheshia!! I got three good days of rest. BOOO for the post op pain. (there always has to be a price to pay....shucks)
One way or the other the real meaning of this entry is to encourage you TOOOOO rest before you have to resort to surgery and the wonders of modern chemical aids. Rest my friends. It's good for you.
Monday, February 13, 2006
One weekend the band attended a Marching festival in Virginia. Struggling to keep up with the band as they marched down the street, my son put his best foot forward. Another manager continued to scream at him to keep up. Before long we saw this big smile come across Chase's face as he did exactly what you see in this picture. We all laughed wondering what he could possibibly be doing. After the parade, a friend asked him, "Chase exactly what were you doing squishing your fingers together as you marched?" He grined and said, "I was pinching his head!" We just roared. In his mental retardation, he'd found the perfect way to "vent" his frustrations and remain as sweet and kind as ever.
We all become frustrated and tired at times. The world tends to overwhelm us when we least expect it. So finding a way to vent without hurting others verbally or physically is important. I have often found we've learned so much from our disabled son. His childlike wisdom amazes us, but he is right so much of the time.
When we find ourselves overcome with the daily rush of life we find ourselves leaning back in the recliner and pinching anything that fits between our fingers. It's not only good for a laugh (which by the way, is an amazing and restful thing), but it's a stress reliever as well.
Just another way to find rest when you're tired.
God blesses us -- even through our disablitiies. I hope I never grow to old to learn.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
His butt went straight into the air and the tail did 180's as he bounced around in circles. The cow never moved. She just batted those big eyes and flicked her ears. After a short time Jaws finally decided it was fruitless to bark so he nudged his way under the side of the cow. It was really kinda sweet. She must have been an experienced momma because she seemed to understand the playful antics of a puppy. Once Jaws had squirmed his way next to her, she lovingly leaned around and gave him a sloppy cow lick right across the face.
Jaws was content. He'd found a nice comfortable and safe place to lay. Nuzzeled next to this momma cow, he found comfort and security.
Upon occassion I love to nuzzle next to my mom. It seems we never outgrown the warm arms of our mothers. Regardless of our age, there is still a sense of calm, a place of comfort, an expression of peace that can only be found in a parents embrace.
I feel the same way about my heavenly Father. There are times when only His embrace can bring me rest. You feel it in the warmth of the spring sun, the gentleness of a soft breeze, in the smell of freshly cut grass, or in the scent of the ocean air. It's that moment when you know, without a shadow of a doubt, there is a greater power.
On those occassions, I can only say, mooove over world. There is peace to be found.
(Now, let credit be given where credit is due...Thanks to Karma Shuford for beautiful cow picture. Visit her blogspot at www.karmashuford.blogspot.com for some very UNIQUE photos.)
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I find myself taking in one long breath after the next, filling my lungs with a calmness only found in the sunset.
The colors range from bright orange to pale pinks and purples...what a sight. It makes me anxious to see what the night sky holds. So, I wait patiently for each star to open its eyes and look down at me. It kinda makes you wonder if the stars find rest in us.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Since this is a fairly new blog sight, news hasn't gotten out about the interactive portion. Until yesterday that is. I've had a few friends touch base with me and as the sight receives more attention, I'm sure God will use it.
However, yesterday, I received a comment from someone I've never met. I've tossed the idea back and forth as to whether to respond to him or let it slide. After all, this is the internet -- the place where people can pretend to be anyone they want to be and get away with. Still, the remark made by this blogger perplexed me.
He replied to the devotion "When I Feel Like A Failure." His remark was simple, yet very to the point.
He'd read the devotion and saw I'd guaranteed God would not forsake us, when he clicked on the comment button and asked...."What if I don't believe in gods?"
Well that took me back a few paces. Niave as I am at times, I still love my Christian bubble where everyone loves the Lord and serves Him. Suddenly, reality pokes a hole in my bubble and and it goes "bbbbbbbblllliiiiiiiiiiissssssssppppppppppphhhhhhhhhhfffffffffft ttttttt and hits the floor. I guess there are unbelievers out there aren't there?
So, I 's prefer not to directly respond to this blogger in order to not seem like a freak or a Christian fanatic. But, I do want to respond. Geepers, "What if I don't believe in gods?" Well, I suppose the first and most obvious response you'd expect is one of hell, fire and damnation. (Smile) though the obvious punishment is not open for debate, I will approach this question from a different stand point. A positive one.
We all understand there are consequences to decisions we may have made which were less than appropriate. I mean, if you steal...the consequence is being caught and punished. If you lie, likewise, the lie catches us and we pay the price for lie. The wonderful thing about believing in God is learning to trust. Scripture tells us, faith is believing in something we cannot see. We don't see God walking next to us dressed in cut-offs and a tee shirt, rather we see Him in His creation. We step out on faith and CHOOSE to believe in something we cannot phyically see. There is hope overflowing in that faith. Believing in something is so important. Believing in God is MEGA important.
Thank goodness this responder doesn't believe in gods. I'd hate to image what types of gods there would be for him to believe in. But, for me...there is only one God (capital G, little o, little d)
He has shown me miracles, provided for me and my family when we had nothing and no one standing in front of us to hand us a morsel. He has eased my pain, rested my mind, calmed my spirit and given me peace when I have needed it most. Would He have given this to me if I didn't believe? I'm sure He probably would but who would ever know if you chose not to believe?
I guess the next most obvious remark would be something snide, such as, "A garbage dump stands ready to accept anything thown into it" or "Even dead fish float down stream", but let it be known that's not how I feel.
For those who read the devotions, my hope is you'll find some peace there. You aren't forced to believe anything you don't want to believe. That's the next most wonderful thing about God. He stands ready to enter your heart as soon as you invite Him in. He doesn't force Himself on you, rather He patiently waits for us to recognize Him.
For me there is no hope without Christ. No desire without Him. No peace, no freedom, no encumberment, no nothing. The writer of Ecclesiates tells us, "It meaningless! Meaningless!" Unless we have God to offer us purpose.
I hope you will find peace and rest within the devotions, and I pray for a tiny hole in your heart....So that even one thought of the goodness of Christ can crawl in and nest -- slowly growing opening your soul up for the ride of a life time.....acceptance, obedience, forgiveness and eternity in heaven -- not hell.
Friday, January 27, 2006
None of us live a perfect life. We've all experienced failure at one time or another. However, it's how we handle the short comings that will make or break us. it's only natural for us to feel a great loss when we've worked exceptionally hard toward a goal and then missed the mark.
Dissappointment, hurt, frustration and sadness will all flood in at once when we realize we've lost the battle. There are times when we have no control over the failures which occur -- illness being number one on the list. We simply can't control some things. Then, we run into those incidents in which we play a part in the downfall -- goals, finances, divorce. This is when we learn to fall to our knees and ask God for the necessary forgiveness we need concerning our part of the failure.
1 Chronicles 28:20 tells us, "David also said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.'" This didn't mean God would forsake Solomon when the work was completed. it was only saying, not to be afraid during that difficult time -- God would not leave him.
In times such as dealing with prodigal children, divorce or even death, God never accepts failure. He is a constant staple in our lives reminding us He will not forsake us. When we feel as if we've let the world down, He is still leaning over to hug us.
When we fail we have to climb back to our feet and start the climb again. Just like a baby learning to walk, falling over and over again then climbing back to their feet. It's a minor set back. Trust in the Lord always and failure will become success. God is always with you.
Prayer: When I fail, Father, lift me back to my feet. Help me to find the confidence and peace to try again.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Let's take the ocean for example. It's rippling waves washing in and out from the shore offer us a certain amount of solitude. Each wave that crashes on the beach takes a worry and washes it away. Just the sound of the ocean sends a rush of relaxation over you that will almost take your breath. The breeze whips through your hair and the evening sun warms your skin. Wow, what a wonderful place to go to be revived.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I had an idea to create a second blogspot -- one that would link with this one and use it as a place for prayer requests and praises. WOW. I never dreamed so many would be interested. With the devotionals, people are always sending little notes asking for prayer and it's my pleasure to place them in my heart and pray. So, my hope is that God will lead me in the direction of the development of this additional site. We want everyone's hearts to be lifted to heaven. God sees and knows all.
I spent the past weekend with a BUNCH of my Mary Kay friends at a retreat. It's always wonderful to spend quality time with these women. There are two reasons I enjoy it. The first is a renewal of desire to continue my little side business. The second, is to be filled. And there is such inspiration among these women. 99% are God-fearing, God-inspired, God-loving, God-filled women. It's wonderful to hear them speak about their successes and their failures and have them give complete glory to God.
For me, this is especially restful. At times I feel so weighted by my own worries that to have an opportunity to hear how God blesses others FILLS MY CUP. I can lay down at night and close my eyes, knowing that God is awesome and amazing. It's restful and peaceful, it's pleasant and exciting.
The importance of spending time with others who believe in the same creator you do, to hear them sing His praises and be joyful in the growth He has given them...helps me to grow. It inspires me, it touches me and well, it just makes me happy.
I find a prayer a day helps us all. SO DO IT! You'll find great solitude and quiet in the arms of prayer. I hope you find people you can be lifted up with. I hope you have friends who offer you edification and teaching in the word. I hope....your cup is filled.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
I've come to the conclusion, the more I write the more I love to write. Every morning or evening, when I sit down to write a devotional, I ask, "Well, God. What's on your mind today?" And I find myself flipping through scripture, picking out the perfect one. Odd thing is, I really never know what will come first -- the idea for the content or the scripture. I'm still amazed at how inspiration works.
My husband and I went into the Bible bookstore last week and right in front of me were all these little tiny pictures of framed scripture. I grabbed a pen and started jotting down the scripture locations. There must have been twenty scriptures individually framed -- scripture I hadn't had a clue was there. The meditations God and I are writing are using less familiar scripture and seeing this list of wonderful one liners made my creative juices start to fly.
Anyone who knows me, knows one of my favorite scriptures is Phlippians 4:8. I raised my kids saying, "If you ever get in a situation where you are unsure what to do, Philippians 4:8 it. "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever, is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."
The perfect answer to any situation you are unsure of your actions. If it fits the critieria then you've made the right decision. So, I am forever mumbling beneath my breathe, "Philippians 4:8, Phillipians 4:8) Sometimes I'm in situations where I really have to grit my teeth and repeat that phrase. :) Still, it is a scripture with great wisdom attached.
As we moved through the bookstore, my husband picked up a card with a little broach attached. The pin was shaped in the forms of letters. GUESS WHAT THEY WERE? Yep, you got it. WHATEVER! He started laughing and handed me the pin. The cardboard piece that held "whatever" contained the scripture, PHILIPPIANS 4:8. Shesh...it took the industry long enough to realize I had something there! (laughing). I've taken that pin everywhere but I've left it attached to the card with the scripture. It's great. Once I've shown it to the world, then I'll start to wear it.
The fact remains, it's inspiration. God fed inspiration. What inspires you? I have a friend who publishes a wonderful BLOG. www.firstnoveljourney.blogspot.com. You can actually click on her name in the right margin and go there. (Gina Holmes)
Gina and I met two years ago at a writer's conference in North Carolina. I don't know why, we just connected. I'm very middle aged and she's very NOT but we found enjoyable common ground. Humor, passion for the same ideas, family...kids (we both have sons). We stayed in close touch. Gina has proven to be a wonderful mentor for me in the writing dept. She's honest and intelligent -- not to mention she has taught me volumes on writing. All of which she's done free of charge, and with a smile on her computer face. (I can't see her flesh face from my computer) God has given her a gift. Last year at the conference, we shared a room together where she informed me about this BLOG STUFF (gee, thanks Gina..I guess I appreciate you bringing me into the 21st century.)
Anyway, she has found God leading her into promoting authors...Christian authors. Her blog is wonderful so I encourage you to check it out. She has been a form of inspiration to me for two years, a blessing and a joy. She is serving God by being a support tool to published authors as she works to become one herself. Weekly Gina runs a contest with some pretty cool prizes. Now, I ask you,,,who in their right mind doesn't love a prize?
Visit Gina's personal ministry on the blog. Scroll down at the numbers of authors she's already interviewed. See their work, go to the book store and buy their books, jot them a note on the blog or to them personally for they are offering inspiration as well.
HERE, HERE! Raise your plastic sippie cups of milk to a woman on a mission. TO GINA! And Gina.....whatever!