Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference

May 17 - Time to catch my flight for Asheville, NC. I had worked hard to complete my manuscript and proposal for agents at Blue Ridge writer's conference. The last few weeks before leaving, I prayed the conference would be a spiritual retreat as well as help my writing. Since February, my spirit had rolled and tumbled with storms of anger, disappointment and a strong sense of powerlessness.
When the conference opened with worship Sunday night, God began to talk to me with Angie Hunt's keynote address about God's leading in her life. Monday morning's service reinforced God's message when Eva Marie Everson gave her testimony of God's faithfulness through her husband's disability, her daughter's illness and bankfuptcy including the threat of taking her copyrights. The fear that clutched her heart could be felt by every writer there. Cec Murphey told us he quit writing three times. He testified of being wooed to Christ through a story in a Sunday school take-home paper. God whispered to me, "See, if you never write anything else but short stories for Sunday school papers, it is enough if I bless it."
Time and time again the Lord led my path to one particular person, then another whose story I needed to hear. I learned from agents, multi-published authors and newbies. Often, only one place was left for me to sit @ dinner, but I sat beside who God ordained for me. Sometimes I needed to encourage. More often, I was on the receiving end.
I returned from my trip late Thursday evening, though dead-tired physically, but refreshed and renewed mentally and spiritually. God's peace reigns in my heart.
Thank you, Jesus, for showing yourself faithful once more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God's Safe-guarding and Splendor

On Thursday, April 16, we planned on a trip to Fredericksburg, Texas taking our travel trailer. Friends with their trailer would go with us. My husband and I are camping novices. Twice, we ventured to a nearby lake for a weekend excursion, but this would be our longest trip.

The weather report claimed strong storms would move across the area on Thursday night and into Friday morning, but clear by afternoon. We postponed the trip from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning. We didn't get the storms in Wichita Falls. We left Friday at nine in the morning.

An hour away from home, high winds and blinding rain hit. No picnic areas or pull-off places appeared. We had no option but to push forward. Charles and I watched our friend's fifth wheeler lift off the ground, and we feared it would roll, but it came to rest once more on the road. Both trailers snaked along the highway. Both couples prayed. The men held tight to the steering wheels and inched along. I gripped the side as if it would help the steering.

One other time between Marble Falls, TX. and Stonewall, TX. we fought blinding rain. My mother always said, "God takes care of children and fools." I guess I know our classification. Praise be to God for keeping us safe and bringing us to our destination albeit tensed and exhausted.

While at Fredericksburg in central Texas, we beheld God's glory in spring's wildflowers, rivers, and majestic hills of granite. No work of art can outdo God's paintbrush.

Thank you, Lord for your safe-guarding and splendor.

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.