Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas Y'all

My cup of activity fills to overflowing this time of year. I find it harder than usual to hold on to uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord. Yet, conversation with God is what's needed more than anything to keep my serenity and sanity.
As my heart brims with gratitude for my blessings, I wish peace and love for each of you, resources which can only be found in the Christ of Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL. (I am from Texas, after all.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time for Thanks

Recently, I finished a Beth Moore series on "Esther." Very interesting and very unusual study. All through the ten lessons, we spotted God's obvious hand in everything, yet not once, in the book of Esther, was the name of God mentioned. The last lesson on Tuesday talked about the party at the end of the book. Not only did they rejoice that day, but every day at that time of year, the Jewish people met for feasts, gave gifts to each other and celebrated what they called Purim to remember God's protection during that time. Our Jewish friends still honor Purim today.
We also have holidays set up to remind us of God's blessing and protection. How many can you name--Easter, Christmas, Independence Day? This month we celebrate Thanksgiving, one of my favorites. On Thanksgiving we prepare a feast and invite family and friends to rejoice together and take time to be thankful.
Our family tradition is, before we eat, each one says what they're thankful for that year. One year my middle daughter and her husband thanked God for His blessing though they had lost a beautiful daughter three months before. One year, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter had moved fifteen hundred miles away, and my mother had passed away both shortly before the holiday. This year hurt feelings and unkind words hinder part of our family's rejoicing. Nevertheless, God is faithful through all seasons of life.
As we close our Esther study, I thought of how many times I'd taken a prayer request to God only to forget later to thank Him for the answer. Now, at thanksgiving time, I resolve to remember to praise more than I petition. From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for my readers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Lessons We Learn in Trying Times

Wouldn't it be nice if we learned about God's nature when life was pleasing, when no major problems interrupted? Alas, that's not the way it usually works. When life knocks us down and kicks us in the side, we look up to see Jesus gently cleansing our wounds and wiping our tears.
Once again this last month, I've had occasion to reach up searching for God in my misery. On Sept. 29 I had surgery. My doctor said I'd be a "little sore" and at least two friends said they were up and going in a week after their procedure. The reality of pain and problems hit me like an intruder standing over me beating with a baseball bat (my daughter's favorite weapon.).
Friends and family ministered with flowers, cards, calls and most of all, prayers. One of my daughters visited. Ten days into my convalescence, when I thought I might live, my husband, my caregiver, fell ill. For several days, we were a troublesome twosome.
During this time, God again demonstrated his love and concern. Friends can't always be there, but God doesn't get a virrus, and you don't mind him seeing you at your worst (He already has.). His tender loving care bathes the feverish brow and calms the painful cramps. In the midst of hurt, I could call out, and He arrived--every time--not always like I thought, but He came.
With my calendar cleared, God had me where He wanted me--slowed to listen and learn. We become observers of life seeing needs we'd forgotten to pray for, or feeling compassion for those we forgot. Looking from the perspective now of coming out on the other side with the worst behind me, I see God's hand in the bad days.
I prefer not having trying times again, but when they come, and I know they will, I can look forward to special communion with my Savior.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Letting Go brings freedom

Sixteen years ago, the Lord gave me an emotional healing. For years, I fought low self esteem, food addiction and suicidal thoughts. I learned the strong will power and determination I used to help myself could, as easily, turn on me and fuel the fire of my emotional upheaval. As many people who have gone through Alcoholics Anonymous or any of the twelve-step programs, I learned that letting go brings freedom.
I wish I could say that I learned that lesson and have never forgotten it, but this summer, my mind dropped it from its memory bank. I drifted into my old ways. My resentments drove me into a poor-me syndrome making me snippy and unpleasant to be around, and I ate myself sick.
A few weeks ago, I prayed for God's healing, again. He answered me. After all, Jesus stands beside us wherever we go, whatever we do, waiting for us to look up and call on Him. How soon we forget that.
I let go of my need to control, to fix things. I repeated "I can't do it anymore. Please do it for me." After he healed new resentments and guided me into His knowledge, He worked in my eating and gave me peace of mind.
When I thought about what my blog should be this month, these thoughts kept running though my mind. The enigma of having freedom by giving up our wills still amazes me, but it worked sixteen years ago and it works today. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blogs and now Facebook

Technology forces us all into its mold. I've dragged my feet, but finally went kicking and screaming into the age of instant access everywhere, at anytime. Four years ago, I didn't know how to do e-mail. Since then, to help my writing career, I've self-taught or family or friend-taught many aspects of the electronic world. I now know widows and orphans aren't just people without husbands or parents, and if I copy and paste, I don't need Elmer's glue.
Two years ago I joined in on blogging on writing craft books with three friends. It's called www.bookstowriteby.blogspot.com. What was a girl to do but start an individual blog then, so I could write whatever I wanted. There's something freeing about getting on the keyboard and pounding out what's on my mind this month.
Blogs and loops aren't enough. Now, I'm on facebook, so I post a sentence and it's read everywhere. How scary is that? Right off, I told my "friend" I was leaving for vacation and was told, "Don't say that on facebook. Some thief might rob you." Now, I have to be careful. Never thought about that before.
Well, this week I'm taking a day's computer class. Is there more to learn? Yikes, I'm scared to death of what I don't know. I will never learn to tweet. Unless, of course, I'm pushed. I think I'd eat a cookie, but I understand in tech language, those aren't edible.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Inspiration in the Mountains

We returned today from cool mountain air. For the last week, my husband and I camped in our travel trailer on top of a mountain north of Ruidosa, New Mexico. We enjoyed an unobstructed view of the next mountain range. Each morning after breakfast I pulled out my lap top and wrote with the view of the mountains out my window. Nothing like God's natural beauty to inspire creativity.
If you're bogged down with the cares of life, changing your view can help whether you, like me, like to write or if you paint, or even if you need new ideas for your business growth or for a new business.
Out in God's world, our minds free up, and new thoughts and ideas flash into our consciousness. There we find the answers to our conflicts, and there our creativity unleashes.
However, I will say it's good to come home. When we came back to Wichita Falls, Texas, summer heat blasted us, but we found beauty in our back yard and renewed peace to trudge on another mile. After all, is that not the purpose of vacations?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Writing as Ministry

At a writing conference in May, I took a course from my dear friend, well-known author, DiAnn Mills. She calls the workshop "Writing as Ministry." She was one of the first people to impress on me that writing can be a ministry not unlike teaching a group of girls or calling first time visitors at church. A group of us started a new church here in Wichita Falls, Texas about eight years ago. The first time we called a pastor, we sat in meetings to determine our mission statement. DiAnn suggested our writing ministry needed a mission statement. I've worked on and prayed about that since then.
God gave me "Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." Jeremiah 30:2 KJV. God didn't say write the words and send them to everyone you think might need to read them. He merely said, "write the words."
When I become discouraged over the slowness of getting my fiction published, I remember the published short stories in Sunday school take-home papers, and I pray they'll touch someone's heart. The longer fiction I write may be meant to minister to my daughter, my critique partners, or perhaps just myself. When my writing is needed by someone else, God will bring it forth. He told me to "write all the words He spoke to me." God's job is to send it to the person or people that need those words.
Recently, I found a book written by an old friend who passed away. Read about it on www.bookstowriteby.blogspot.com. Lou Gatlin's book "Take Cover" reminded me that our written words live on after we're gone.
What is the ministry God has laid on my heart? Writing. Each moment I sit at my computer and type, I worship the Lord.

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?