Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wichita Mountains

Most of us have a small tourist treasure near our homes. When Charles and I visited New York City, we found people who lived and worked there, but had never toured the Statue of Liberty, while we Texans couldn't wait to do that very thing. Even in the north Texas plains, we have one of those places people would drive miles to see, yet often we forget to take advantage.
Less than an hour's drive from Wichita Falls terrain changes. A small mountain chain in southwestern Oklahoma provides refuge to buffalo, elk, deer and longhorn cattle. Our government set it aside for a wildlife preserve in 1901. Boulders enchant rock climbing enthusiasts. Charon Wilderness provides backpacking hikes. Overlooking Lake Lawtonka, the chain's highest peak, Mt. Scott, rises 2464 feet over the plains. Another draw to the area is the Holy City of the Wichitas where an annual Easter pageant is presented, and tranquility is offered daily.
When we make a days' trip to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, we include the historic town of Meers, Oklahoma for a Meers burger designed for enormous appetites. Of course, hiking in the park enlarges our hunger, so we eat every bite.
As we near spring break when we'll play host to grandchildren, we're thankful for this beautiful tourist spot which gives us beauty, recreation, peace and food.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I am strong in Christ

2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV ".....For when I am weak, then I am strong."

My post this month will be short. I'm rather in overload right now. I returned yesterday from a 3 day writer's plotting camp in beautiful Quartz Mountain State Park in southwestern Oklahoma. I learned a lot, but came home exhausted. My husband and I have a wonderful vacation planned in a few days, so have work to do to get ready for that.

On top of these trips, we've been dealing with a family crisis for about a week. My eyes are permanently red and puffy. Last night, as I went to bed, gulping and crying, I felt powerless. I was out of options. There was nothing I could do to make matters better. At the moment I gave up trying to control or micro-manage, God whispered in my ear, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Wow! My pulse calmed. My breathing slowed. My hands stilled. God took over. I fell asleep with that verse in my mind, and I woke up with that verse still echoing. Praise God. We find His power, when we take our hands off the problem.

Nothing has changed in the situation, but everything has changed in me. I will take a needed vacation leaving God in control. How much better Him, than me? Praise be to the Lord. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Amazing Grace

"My chains have gone. I've been set free." Those words still bring joy to my heart. Once, binge eating and depression kept me prisoner, but God's amazing grace set me free.

This week, God's grace has echoed in my mind over and over. Wednesday night's Bible class at church taught me about the awesome love of God. The closest thing in real life to help me understand that love is my three grandchildren. I know they're not perfect. Sometimes, they're real messes, but just thinking about them warms my heart. To watch them play or talk about something that interets them brings a glow like no other for me. To think God loves me that way brings tears to my eyes. Because he loves me, his grace is unending.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound." Words from a familiar hymn reminds every Christian that no sin is too great for God. I heard it said this week that God went with a lady while she used drugs. She grieved the Holy Spirit, but He wouldn't leave her, in case she stopped and asked for His forgiveness. What kind of love is that? Myself, I can't imagine it, but I stand in awe.

As I deliberated about what I should blog today, I went to a Bible study on Revelation.

My pastor said, "Aren't we lucky to be living in the age of grace? Sometimes, I think we take it for granted."

I was taking notes, but at that point, my hand stopped in mid air. My mouth flew open. Yes, we do take it for granted, the most wonderful gift of any since time began.

Lord, help me never to be guilty of not praising your name and thanking you daily for your amazing grace. Without it, where would I be?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Priority List

On Friday before Thanksgiving, I stopped at the grocery store to buy my weekly portion. Crowds thronged into the cashier's lines. Holiday temporary workers offered samples at the end of every shelf. Tears stung my eyes. You see I was already fighting burn-out, and an overwhelmed feeling. "I can't take on this next month," I cried silently, so no one could hear. I swiped the tears wetting my cheeks.
When I arrived home, my husband gave me a lecture about setting my priorities and clearing some items from my to-do list. The next morning my quiet time focused on "Lord, what will Thou have me do, and what should I leave out?" I read a beautiful devotion about putting God first at this busy time of year from Kathy Macias.
I listed twenty-three things taking varying amounts of my time. I wrote "delay until January" beside three items. One item would end soon. My finger skimmed the remaining list putting numbers beside each one. Going through this process was an eye-opener for me in many ways.
Things I learned included:
1. My number one priority was my quiet time with the Lord every morning, but, last week I had skipped four mornings. Going to a Bible study shouldn't take the place of personal time with God.
2. Second on my list was time with my husband. Guilt reddened my face as I remembered desperately trying to catch up e-mails the night before while my husband read in the den by himself. He would never complain, but did it bother him? I spent one night away this week teaching a class which didn't include him.
3. This one is probably not a shocker. After family (which includes kids, grandkids and mother-in-law) and attending church, my next item was writing (NOT E-MAILS OR SCIMMING WEB SITES)--writing).
I am thankful God led me to set my priorities as we began the holiday season. In doing so, I've coped with the extra pressures much better. Every morning when I sit in my usual chair and talk with God, I see my priority list and realign my day with my list and with God's will for me.
Christmas should be a happy time, not one where we're stressed and burdened with too many things to do. Yet, too often that's what we remember.
I pray for you a good priority list, a merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Failure

Failure tastes rancid
As a life chapter closes.
Disquiet and uncertainty
Life now discloses.

God isn't the author
Of an unsound mind.
Yet He leads through a maze
of trouble aligned.

I taste bitterness now.
What's that ingredient?
Submission to God makes
Giving-in expedient.

I search for the reason
I plead with my God
Did I misread your direction
Is it the wrong road I've trod?

No, my child He explains
You cannot understand my thought
They're higher than yours
So don't be distraught.

Dessert will come later
I view the whole meal.
Stay in the kitchen
Pray for the yield.

How say you, you've failed
When the dinner's not ready.
The yeast is still rising
Now hold fast and steady.

On my Thanksgiving feast
I'll sound the alert
We'll gather round the table
You'll be surprised at your worth.

You haven't failed.
I stuck a gold star
On the list I am keeping
That no man can mar.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You Never Know What a Day Will Hold

Every few years or months something happens that reminds me of the uncertainty of our lives. I'm a planner or plotter as we call it in the writing world. Recently one of my writing groups discussed online how they came up with a book's characters and action. Many sit down and plot out the entire book including detailed character sketches before they ever write the first sentence of the manuscript. Others get a good idea, and begin to write without any knowledge of how it will end. Once thing both groups had in common, however, were they never could know for sure how their characters would act. With people, like with book characters, life happens. Things change, we change regardless of plans.
Friday, October 10, I had my plans all set out. After the Lord and I had our daily visit, I would write for a couple hours, go walk at the mall with my husband, go to a Weight Watcher meeting, eat lunch, then have my hair fixed. None of those things got done. With an early phone call we learned the paramedics were loading my father-in-law to take to a hospital in Greenville, near where they live, and my husband and I packed and dashed out the door in half hour's time not knowing what we faced or how long we'd be gone. In this case, we did lose that precious man. He's been bedfast for two and a half years, but now he's dancing in heaven.
I've had days like this before when all my plans flew out the window. Life changes the best-laid plans. Occassionally it happens as a happy thing, an unexpected visit from someone you haven't seen in awhile or the birth of your child or grandchild. All too often, it's a difficult twist to our journeys- an accident, a death, a tragic event.
My organized mind screams for planning, but I realize the most important plan I must make is keeping things right between the Lord and myself. Who knows when God might call me home or that trumpet might sound for all our lives to change for eternity? Be prepared. Be prayed up and ready.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Love God with all Your Mind

God defines sin as disobedience to Him. In 1 Samuel 15:22...."Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Man, on the other hand, defines sin as murder, theft, adultery, homosexuality and such things as anger, envy, resentment, negative thinking, worry as human frailties.
When asked what was the most important commandment God gave to man, Jesus stated in Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and with all they strength, this is the first commandment."
Recently I began a new Weight Recovery class at our church. This is a topic I've studied and lived for fifteen years now, and a needful topic for many of us in the Chrisitan realm. Giving up all worldly vices, we cling to overeating as a lifeboat to survive the cruel world.
I speak for myself, though I doubt I'm the only culprit. I love God with all my heart and soul. I long to please Him, to serve Him and to tell others about His love, His salvation. My strength belongs to the Lord. I work in my church and in other ways to further the gospel of Christ. But, when I read that verse in Mark, I skip over that little "with all thy mind" business. Of course, I give Him my mind. I pray, I read His Word, I often think of Him and talk about Him.
During my class, we talked about why we overeat, why we're willing to sacrifice everything in life to binge on our favorite foods knowing how depressed, guilty and inept we become when we do. Being overweight most of your life, eating more than you intend despite your determined efforts to diet represents only a symptom of a larger problem. As fever tells a person there's an internal problem in your body, fat tells a person there's an internal problem in your mind.
As we begin to eat healthier, leaving off such drags as sugar, fats, white flour, God brings to the forfront our resentments, our anger. If we're angry with ourselves for overeating, we can't focus on the envy we feel when another worker gets more attention or commendation than we do. We eat better and all of sudden, we're faced with our envy. We fall on our knees in repentance at our "sin."
Since starting this class, the devil has battled my mind harder than he's done in fifteen years. He prefers I don't help others learn to give their minds to God. He'd lose a big battle with God for everyone who learns that lesson. God gives faith, not worry. He gives love, not resentment. When we're thinking clearly and positively, conviction comes to us at the first sign of anger toward our parent, child, friend. This is the walk of faith that God desires for us to have.
But, when I binge on sugar, I don't think right. I suppress any other bad feelings with guilt and low self-esttem. The devil has won.
With food, I am powerless. But when I love God with all my mind, He guides me and lifts my feet over the pitfalls even if only day by day. After all, is that not what faith is all about?