Friday, December 26, 2014

Has It Been A Wonderful Life?

The classic movie has been a tradition at Christmas for as long as I can remember, and for just as long as I can remember its premise has haunted me for days afterward. If I had not been born, would anyone's life be affected? I agree with Clarence, very few can truthfully answer that question beyond immediate friends and family. Even then, would their lives be affected that much?

I haven't found the cure to any disease or instigated the end to any injustices. I haven't written a book worthy of the Pulitzer, or done any deed that warranted the Nobel. In fact, those closest to me would say the opposite is more likely. St. Paul had it right. Why do I do the evil which I wish not and not do the good that I wish?

And yet, if God will bless someone like me with His miracles, love and compassion, then everyone in the whole world has an equal chance.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Less Than Perfect Christmas

TV and movies depict the epitome of Christmas: the perfect tree with piles of presents, mom and dad smiling and loving, siblings being kind and respectful to each other and their parents. At least that was what Holywood used to portray, and what everyone wanted. Now? I don't know. I haven't watched family sitcoms in a long time and don't know what kind of family life they portray. I suspect it isn't the Cleavers.

Most families fall short of the ideal family - if there is such a thing - and the holidays can be very stressful when old wounds (and new ones) can't be laid aside. My family is no different.

We were close once, at least I thought so. However, recent events indicate I wore rose colored glasses and didn't see the truth - until now. My own pain has opened my eyes and I  can now recognize, and empathize, with other families coping with dysfunction and the holidays. I don't have any solutions or any suggestions on how to fix what is broken. But, God offered me His opinion on the matter.

While praying over my family situation, this scripture came to mind: "Do not think that I came to send peace upon the earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household." Matthew 10: 34-37.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Three Christmas Miracles


Photo byChris Sharp at "FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In the first part of my faith life, God had to shout in order to be heard over the din of my worry, fear and impatience. As I learned to trust, His voice softened and yet it still held surprises, such as the unexpected appearance of a rainbow or particular scripture. Psalm 37 is one of these.  In the past the appearance of this scripture was a forerunner to major miracles, like meeting and marrying my husband.

This past week, a friend posted a video titled, A Letter from God.  The music and the scripture verses were beautiful, but it was late and I was tired. I decided to save the post and watch it later. However, an internal voice urged me to take the extra few minutes and listen.

Psalm 37: 3 -5 was one of the listed scriptures. "Trust in the Lord and do good and dwell in the land, and thou shalt be fed with its riches. Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. Commit thy way to the Lord, and trust in him and he will do it".

Which desires of my heart was He referring to?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What If It Snows?

By Evgeni Dinev "FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
I have managed not to worry about global warming, being murdered in my bed, tornados or hurricanes. (I know, we don't have the last two in Idaho, but I worried about them anyway.) In other words, I have managed to stop worrying about things I have no control over ―  mostly. However, other worries have replaced them. Why do I do that?

Every weekday morning, I utilize every possible second to write, read my devotions, and keep up on some social sites. Mixed in of course is time to shower, dress, fix my lunch, have breakfast, exercise and get on the road in time to be at work twenty miles away by eight in the morning.

That’s a lot to accomplish. If I was smart, I wouldn’t try to cram so much in, but I can't let go of any of it and thus starts the worry chain. What if it snows and I have to leave earlier? Well, guess what? It did snow.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bitter Places

By Ambro"FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
“Even in unpleasant confrontations let there be honesty, kindness, and restraint.”
 Good Morning, Lord. Joseph T. Sullivan.

That is tough. It takes extreme self-control to respond to hateful words with kindness and restraint. I manage at first, but if the situation draws out over time, my resolve erodes under the barrage, my hackles raise and I respond. Not necessarily with hateful words, but entreaty for the confrontation to stop – loss of restraint.

I was in an abusive relationship for seven years. After ten years of therapy to overcome the fear, the panic attacks and the nightmares, I vowed I would never allow anyone to abuse or manipulate me again and I will go to great lengths to avoid a confrontation - until boxed in a corner. At that point I come out fighting.

A professional situation has me in that corner. Although I did not say unkind words, I did lose my restraint and plead with the person involved to stop the barrage. Of course it didn't work.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I See Trouble, Lord, I See Trouble


Image courtesy of  Naypong, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
The world is terrified of ISIS and their cruelty, and that is justified. However terror is close to home as well in the form of our own brothers and sisters in Christ. Have you witnessed the animosity Christians have against each other? I am not talking about the Spanish Inquisition or the religious persecutions in England where Christians burned other Christians at the stake. I am talking right here, right now, in our own time, our own country, our own neighborhood and church.

I've seen different sects go after each other’s throats over differences in dogma, even small differences in service preferences. I've witnessed heated debates over trivial interpretations of scripture, one word verses another, while the original meaning remains intact in both translations. One church believes they are right and everyone else is wrong, and some are willing to go beyond verbal abuse to physical violence, even to the point of killing. All in the name of Christianity. One woman confessed to me that just seeing a cross caused her to weep with fear. How far from Jesus’ example we have fallen? He must be weeping right along with this poor woman.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rejoice - Always?

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
Habakkuk 3:17–18

Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"

Right. How do you rejoice during crisis or disaster? It doesn't sound ethical or proper to rejoice during tribulations, especially after the loss of a loved one. Rejoice? I can’t imagine it.

Solomon said, "For the happy heart, life is a continual feast" (Proverbs 15:15, NLT). 

Okay, I can see how a happy heart would see a joyful feast, when there is a reason to be happy, but the above mentioned circumstances seem a far cry from any happy feelings.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Divine Orchestration

 Image courtesy of [nuttakit] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
They say, never borrow trouble from tomorrow, today has more than enough. I believe that, yet sometimes the prospect of things in the not-so-distant future can add to today’s burdens, regardless of my efforts not to add to my bank account of worry.

One of these issues is writing. It’s a tough business. Writing is hard work and then not everyone will like what I write. I am fortunate not to have any negative reviews of my first book – yet.  I know it isn’t perfect, but could I go back and improve it? Of course. Should I? I don’t know. 

One reader suggested it could be more powerful if I revised it. But, is it good enough as it stands? As Kristen Lamb said, “You will never write the perfect book.” All I can think to do is pray for discernment on whether to revisit that work now, or after I launch my next book, or just let it lie.

Another issue is actually this blog. The day job keeps me away from home eleven hours a day, and doesn't leave much time for anything, let alone writing or spending quality time with my husband. A few of my followers contacted me recently. They comment how much they looked forward to my posts – and miss them. After some reflection, I realized I missed writing them.

These are my meditations on divine subjects, among other things, and are often a reiteration of His encouragement and promises. I haven’t been spending as much time with Him as I should. Yet, how do I balance this with writing novels? As I have stated in Lions, Why I Write, I need to write. But, how?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mud and Rainbows

God knows what I need long before I need it.
        A kind gesture.
        A hug.
        A comforting word.
        A glimpse of heaven.

He also gives me what I need but seldom want.
        A difficulty.
        A crisis.
        A tragedy.
        A test of faith.

Through these he gives me the former, strengthening my character, my faith and perfecting my patience. Ah, patience, the ability to remain calm while waiting to be delivered from suffering, or granted a heart’s desire.

I still find this to be one of the most difficult virtues to practice. I want the suffering to end and I want the miracle or gift now. The gift I am now impatiently waiting for is retirement. I admit, as I've aged, particularly this year, I tire much easier and the hour long commute to work takes it's toll, both in energy and time. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Merry Go Round

Courtesy of  freedigitalphotos.net
Regardless of my good intentions I seem to stay on the merry go round of the same routine, the same issues and the same responses. The rude driver still elicits irritation and a sense of self righteous affliction. How dare he/she insinuate I am a slow, incompetent driver. And let’s not forget the Slow Sally going ten miles or more under the speed limit. I am ashamed to admit I become the rude driver and barrel around them, just to prove my point. Why?

Add an issue at work and the merry go round gains speed and I find myself locked in place by centrifugal force.

I tried using mediation CD's during my commute, soothing music or nature sounds. It sort of worked. What would work is a change of attitude, a change in my thought patterns. Nothing new there, yet why is it so hard to implement and then stick to it? I found the answer in my devotions. No surprise there.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Ugly Tree


Our new home is beautifully landscaped with an unending display of flowers, shrubs and trees. All my favorites are here: the Japanese maple, roses, daisies, petunias, snapdragons, flowering vines, iris, daffodils, several varieties of flowering ground cover, columbine, lilies and more I have yet to identify. The tapestry of texture and color is ever changing and breathtaking to behold. All except one.

On the corner of the house is a weeping evergreen which reminds me of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Well, perhaps a bit fuller than that as it at least has leaves, but it is still skimpy compared to the divine silver spruce in the back yard.

My husband and I began plotting this tree's demise the moment we bought the house and have been pouring over gardening books looking for a replacement. 

This morning, however, I've had a change of heart regarding this less than perfect tree. Well, let's say God changed my heart.

For reasons I cannot fathom, birds love this tree. I'm not sure what the attraction is as its branches are not full enough to offer much in the way of protection. There are many other trees in the neighborhood, of all shapes and sizes a virtual wonderland of foliage for feathered friends, and yet this thin little tree is one of their favorites. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Choices

It's been another tough week personally and professionally. Traffic during my commute was horrendous and drivers were rude, work was challenging and disappointing, and my personal life took a nosedive as well.

 I wanted to stand on the street corner and scream, "Why? Where is the peace you promised? Where is the justice?"

As expected, God answered.

First, I read a quote by J.C. Ryle: "Better to confess to Christ a thousand times now than be disowned by Christ before God on judgment day."

It seemed irrelevant to my situation. I wasn't a prophet or a martyr for my faith. I may not be the most popular co-worker or member of my family, but I did not feel persecuted. Yet, it was there.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What Really Matters

While many authors will never win a Pulitzer for literature (particularly yours truly), we all aspire to that coveted list: the NY Times Best Sellers. It is akin to winning the literary lottery and the idea that success means huge sales and a large bank account sucks you in the moment your book goes on sale. I know better, and yet the siren still calls.

Of course, all authors write in order to have their book read, but for the Christian author their audience is dictated by their genre and ultimately by God. A wonderful book just released by Terry Burns and my friend, Linda Yezak, Writing in Obedience, confirmed this insight. In Lions and Other Things (Why I Write), I explain how I came to write this particular book, And Then Came a Lion. Terry and Linda validated that experience. I am not alone in this regard, as their book clearly illustrates. I have joined the ranks of thousands called to write for the Christian market. Some receive a calling while others offer their work to Him. Both are following His will.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Comedy Routine

They say haste makes waste and that is true. Haste, in my case, leads directly to an unscripted comedy routine and it starts with a few diabolical distractions.

I get up early, at least two hours before I need to start getting ready for work. These are the only hours in the day I have to sit alone in the quiet. I use that time to read my devotions, enjoy a cup of coffee (sometimes two) and write. Yet, this is also when I get into the most trouble.

Distractions, like rabbit trails, lead me further and further into the forest and farther away from what I should be focusing on - getting ready for work. In one heartbeat, I have two hours to putter. In the next I have less than a half hour to pack my lunch, shower, dry my hair, put on my make up and figure out what in the heck to wear that day. Breakfast? Well now that will have to be toast and peanut butter in the car. I bet you can see where this was going a lot faster than I did.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It Began With the Blind

Bill and I stood in the backyard of our beautiful new home and stared at the street lamp. 

I looked at Bill. "Why would anyone put duct tape on the backside of the light?"

"I don't know. It'd be a lot prettier without the tape."

"Yes, it would. Maybe after we are unpacked we can climb up there and pull that ratty tape off."

Shaking our heads at such insanity, we went back to unloading the U-haul.

Several grueling hours later, we crawled into bed. I rolled over and snuggled into my pillow. It was then the significance of the duct tape on the street lamp became apparent.

The Master Suite door, the one with the large glass window that led out to the back deck, was in a direct line with the street lamp. Due to that alignment, a shaft of of bright amber light seeped through a two-inch gap between the door and the blind, marched down the wall above the bed, continued across my pillow and slammed into my eyes.