Monday, December 19, 2011

GOD HOLDS OUT HIS CHRISTMAS GIFT, BUT WE MUST MAKE IT OURS


My three grandchildren make out lists of things they want for Christmas. Their two aunts and uncles and myself and my husband try to pick items from their lists to "surprise" them with. Yet, these gifts, no matter how much we spend, will fall apart or drop in the forgotten category in a few years, or maybe even months. Hopefully, we can give them the true gift of Christmas that never disintegrates or loses its value--the Christ Child Himself.

One year, my oldest grandson acted as if he appreciated the gift we gave him at Christmas, but when the family left for home, he left his present at our house. We gave him a gift, but he didn't accept it. So it is with us. God offers us valuable presents, but we must take them into our lives.

With God's sending His only Son, other gifts came our way. Jesus brings salvation, peace, joy, love and healing. Most of all, I'm grateful for Jesus' gift of hope for our future in this world and beyond. He holds out his gift of great value to each of us. Have you made it yours?

That's the true message of Christmas. God's gift/our blessing. My daughter sent this e-mail story to me. Many of you may also have received it, but it so touched my heart during this time that I wanted to repost in case some of you hadn't read it. See below.

Remember, whatever is going on in your life right now, God is in control. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing happens by chance. God is all we need.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned
to their first ministry, to reopen a church
In suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October
Excited about their opportunities. When they saw
Their church, it was very run down and needed
Much work. They set a goal to have everything
Done in time to have their first service
On Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls,
Painting, etc, and on December 18
Were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving
Rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had
Leaked, causing a large area of plaster about
20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall
Of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit,
Beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor,
and not knowing what else to do but postpone
the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was
Having a flea market type sale for charity, so he
stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful,
Handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth
With exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross
Embroidered right in the center. It was just
The right size to cover the hole in the front
Wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older
Woman running from the opposite direction was
trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor
Invited her to wait in the warm church for
The next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor
While he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put
Up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor
Could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and
It covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center
aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor,"
She asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check
The lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into It there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had
Made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria .

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor
Told how he had just gotten "The Tablecloth". The
Woman explained that before the war she and
Her husband were well-to-do people in Austria .

When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.
Her husband was going to follow her the next week.
He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her
Husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth;
But she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home. That
Was the least he could do. She lived on the other
Side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn
For the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas
Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the
Spirit were great. At the end of the service, the
Pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door
And many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized
From the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the
Pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he
wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on
The front wall because it was identical to one
That his wife had made years ago when
They lived in Austria before the war and how
Could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he
Forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was
Supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and
Put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home
Again all the 35 years between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to
take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten
Island and to the same house where the pastor
Had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of
stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on
the door and he saw the greatest Christmas
reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
who says God does work in mysterious ways.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Visit with Pam Thibodeaux

I am excited to be part of my very first blog tour. Feel free to comment if I'm not doing this right. Ha! Please comment to enter a contest. See below.

With great pleasure, I wish to introduce a special person and wonderful writer, Pam Thibodeaux. She writes what she calls "inspirational with an edge." A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Pam moved to my part of the country in north Texas where I've been fortunate enough to visit with her and attend one of her classes. This award winning author co-founded and is a lifetime member of Bayou Writer's Group. Besides women's fiction, she writes inspirational romance and creative non-fiction. Even with her busy schedule as author and speaker, I found her eager and willing to help new writers like myself.



Her new release is entitled "The Visionary." I highly recommend it. Pam's writing was new to me, so I read this new book with no expectations, just curiosity. Truthfully, few people could handle the delicate topic of childhood sexual abuse resulting in murder. This book demonstrates the breadth of God's grace. The tender way which Ms. Thibodeaux illustrates hope over a dark, untalked-about subject is unrivaled.


EXCERPT:
Trevor hovered in the place between wakefulness and sleep, darkness and light, heaven and hell. He could hear his sister’s voice, but he couldn’t see her, couldn’t find her in the darkness, and couldn’t reach her in the red haze of pain and fear. He was hot, so hot. He burned with anger and shame and shook with the fear that kept him bound, unable to get to her. He felt trapped, helpless. She called to him again, but it was the sound of a little girl whimpering. He mumbled her name, assured her he was there, that he’d save and protect her. It wouldn’t happen again, he promised and struggled to jerk his hands from their restraints, to break through the darkness and rescue her.

Question: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Answer: The hardest part of writing The Visionary was depicting the gruesome abuse the twins suffered as children and then realistically portraying the healing available through the awesome power of God's love and their struggle for relief from a past too horrendous to live with any longer.


Question: What do you like about your publisher?
Answer: They are author-friendly, patient in helping new authors understand their rules without making them feel ashamed or embarrased.

Question: What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Answer: The biggest challenge I face is not having my work accepted by the “Christian” publishers. As one reviewer said, “though undeniably Christian, it is never dogmatic or insular; offering faith rather than religion.” (Review of Tempered Dreams by Elizabeth Burton for Blue Iris Journal) My books deal with issues in a way that is unacceptable in the traditional CBA market. Now that is not saying that my books are better than those published through traditional CBA publishers, only different. As I’ve said many times, everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com
Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com
Bayou Writers Group: http://bayouwritersgroup.com

BUY LINKS:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/n8as1b
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/o3YrMq

Anyone commenting on my blog will automatically be entered in a drawing for 4 lucky winners of an autographed copy of "The Visionary." Also, go back to any of the other blogs and comment for extra chances in the drawing. My post is the last stop of Ms. Thibodeaux's blog tour. Here is the list of those who've previously posted about "The Visionary" in case you're interested in going back, reading those reviews and commenting on them:

Nov 16th: Amber Stockton: http://amberstockton.blogspot.com/

Nov 17th: Karen Kelly http://www.authorkarenkelley.com/blog.html

Nov 18th: Author Expressions http://authorexpressions.blogspot.com/

Nov 19th: Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com

Nov. 20th: Jessica Ferguson http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com

Nov. 21st: Guest @ LASR http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/

Nov 22nd: Robin Bayne http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com/

Nov. 23rd: Clare Revell http://telscha.blogspot.com/

NOV 24TH - THANKSGIVING DAY - http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Nov 25th: Tanya Hanson http://www.tanyahanson.com/Blog.html

Nov. 26th: Delia Latham http://delialatham.blogspot.com

Nov 27th: BWG Blog http://bayouwritersgroup.blogspot.com

Nov 28th: Raquel Byrnes http://nitewriter6.blogspot.com/

Nov 29th: Marianne Evans www.marianneevans.blogspot.com

Nov 30th: Shawna Williams http://inspirationalebooks.blogspot.com/

Dec 1st: Jan Rider Newman janridernewman.blogspot.com

Dec 2nd: Vicki Cain http://www.victoriapitts-caine.blogspot.com/

Dec 3rd: Justin Lugbill http://christian-book-review.com;

Dec 4th: Curt Iles http://creekbank.net

Dec 5th: Dana Pratola www.danapratola.webs.com

Dec 6th: Sylvia Ney http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

Dec 7th: Shonell Bacon http://chicklitgurrl.blogspot.com/

Dec 8th: Joanne Troppello http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/blog.html

Dec 9th: Nona Cross http://winonacross.blogspot.com

Dec. 10th: JoAnn Carter http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site/

Dec 11th: Donna Basinow http://donnabsnow.blogspot.com/

Dec 12th: Guest @ Edgy Inspirational Romance www.edgyinspirationalromance.com

Dec 13th: Michelle Sutton http://edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com/

Dec 14th: Guest @ PenTalk Community http://pentalkcommunity.blogspot.com/

Dec. 15th: Judy Leger: http://judithleger.blogspot.com/

Dec 16th: Janet K Brown

Good luck to all.
Thank you, Ms. Thibodeaux, for trusting me to review your book. I enjoyed it. God bless.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thank God for an Overeating Compulsion

“Always giving thanks to God, the Father, for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 NIV.”


Everything? Really, God. Think of all the terrible things that come in our lives.

A stroke victim, who is a dear friend, worries every day over simple movements. I ask her “Are you angry with God?” Her answer was “Why would I be angry with God when He saved my life, helped me walk and sent me a husband who stayed by my side?” I wonder if I would be as gracious.

In my own pit of depression, I cried out “Why did I have to be cursed with an inability to control food?” I believed life was unfair. Even today, after God has healed my emotional imbalance and helped me lose a lot of weight, I often fight compulsions to binge.

Yet, through this journey to healing, my compassion for the lost and the addicted grew. God sometimes used me to encourage others with all kinds of addictions. I experienced God's love through facing trials with His victory. Would this have happened if the curse of compulsive overeating had not burdened my life?

God desires what’s best for His children. We must trust this even when our minds see only negative. God wants us to be thankful in everything, even the plague of compulsion.

Thank you, Lord, for the journey. Help be face those ahead without the griping and complaining.




Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reformation Fire Must Fall

    With a line of other children, I marched into church for the convening of Vacation Bible School feeling as if I’d enlisted in God’s army. We studied Bible warriors Joshua and David. We learned the strong stands of Daniel and Ezekiel. Teachers armed us with the necessary weaponry. Each child including me yearned to fight for Christ.
     Song leaders in our church peppered our Sunday music with militant Christian melodies. The titles of our hymns included A Mighty Fortress is our God, Onward Christian Soldiers and Stand Up for Jesus, Ye Soldiers of the Cross. Who could forget the Christian song that became a theme of the civil war, The Battle Hymn of the Republic?

The spirit of reformation framed previous congregations as a mighty fighting force. I think in America, where life is too easy for some, we’ve lost some of that vigilance. As a recovering compulsive overeater, I must remain alert and prepared for battle. Just because I’ve succeeded for years doesn’t mean the devil will leave me alone. Like an Army general does, Satan plans a new strategy or a new direction for attack.

To follow Christ, I must keep the spirit of the militant, triumphant church of old and march into battle daily.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life; whereunto thou are also called and have professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Tim. 6:12.” 


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Too Busy to Stop Quiet Time

Have you ever felt as if you were too busy for time alone with God? When I worked a full time job, I had to set the alarm early to have any prayer and meditation. Now that I'm retired, normally, I can give the first minutes after breakfast to quiet time with the Lord. But, sometimes, I mess up.
I learned long ago that the busier I get, the more I need that quiet place of prayer. Without it, I can't write, I can't be the wife or friend I need to be, and I sure won't be eating according to God's will.

“He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Ecclesiastes 10:8.” These words were penned by the wisest man who ever lived--King Solomon under God's inspiration.

Not doing what we know we must do = digging a pit.

Skipping several days without waiting on God = breaking up the hedge He put around us.

Yesterday, I ended five days with grandkids and two days of returning to normal. I did no writing, no reading and no quiet time with God. That doesn’t work. I must have time away every day, even if I have grandkids or fill in the blanks ___ (whatever hinders you).
The ironic thing is I can keep under God’s protection and strength for awhile and don’t even realize I’m growing weaker. All the time I camped and played with the kids, I ate healthy and light and of course, got plenty of activity.
Still, weakness crept into my mind, sneaky as in all of Satan’s devices. I’m going on the steam power gleaned a few days ago, oblivious that it’s nearly expired—not unlike taking medicine that heals me but being blinded that the last pill has been taken.
When the hindrance is behind me, my mind turns to mush with no creative juices flowing. I eat everything in the kitchen not nailed down. Depression covers me like an old blanket. My medicine bottle (my spirit) is empty.

Answer to failure:
Stop where you are. Remedy what you messed up. Go to Jesus NOW.
The best lesson I’ve ever learned is I can change course on Saturday and not wait until Monday, or 4 p.m. and not wait until the next day. DO IT NOW.


Prayer: Lord, thank you for once again giving me a reminder of why I need You, and picking me up from the ditch immediately.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is This Your Time?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1”


Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

I learned this saying in Weight Watchers. It remains one of my favorites to remember and quote. A friend of mine changed it to say, "Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels."

King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, spoke the above words from life observation. My time for weight loss came at last. Maybe I took that long to learn to let God move in my life. Who knows? Can we hasten the season for us? I believe so.

Another saying I really like comes from Franklin F. Adams.

Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year.

When we improve our health, regardless of our season in life, a new world opens. Because we spend less time worrying about what we’ll eat next, we have more time to create. Since we don’t use as much time stopping for food and snacking, we expand our horizons. When my brain got off sugar, ideas popped like new adventures. Health makes any season the best time of all.

Could it be that this is your season for a new venture?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weight Loss Isn't a Day Trip

“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. II Thes.3:3.”


How many times have I gone on a diet to lose weight for a particular time or event? Too often I reached a low time and tried the latest diet fad? I looked at weight loss as a temporary period in my life. If I lost thirty pounds or sixty pounds, then my life would improve and I could return to eating “normal.”

I looked at a diet like I do a day trip.

An hour away from my home town is a national wildlife refuge. Surrounded by flat plains, mountains reach for the sky giving magnificent views. Buffaloes, long horns and deer roam free. My husband and I take an occasional day trip to Oklahoma's Wichita Mountains to enjoy God’s wonderland. We leave home in the morning and hike while it’s cool. We stop for lunch at a favorite landmark. We wade in the creek. We take pictures and visit the museum. In the afternoon, we return to our starting place and go back to normal life.

With a weight loss journey, we never return to normal. God’s path to healing isn’t a day trip but a lifetime endeavor. God establishes us day by day and keeps us from unhealthy practices until He takes us home to heaven.

Rid yourself of the notion of “going on a diet” and returning to a better way of eating. We must never stop. Instead, we must turn and do a one, eighty life change.


Prayer: Lord, guide me every day of my life. Show me a new way of eating.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Different Tallow Trees

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them to all men. 1 Cor. 12:4-6 NIV.”


In our back yard, about ten years ago, my husband planted two Chinese tallow trees.

One grew more quickly and gave good shade within two years, and in the fall, its leaves provided brilliant color before dropping. The other was scrawny and sparse, but also gave nice colors.

Through their life span so far, they have differed. The bigger one stopped growing and gave little color, but the berries thickened on its branches. The smaller one grew slowly, but little by little, it became the larger, fuller one of the pair and gave the most brilliant colors.

Now, ten years later, one remains small, lots of berries, and nice, though muted, color, then sheds all its leaves at the first freeze or hard cold wind.

Though it grew more slowly, the other tree became good sized and shades our patio swing in the summer. But, it never turns colors, it never sheds leaves until the new growth in the spring.

Different, but equally of value. One for its color, the other for its shade.

God made us the same way. To lose weight and gain self value, I had to praise God for who He made me—different but equally of value to Him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011- a Year of Consistency and Kind Conversation - I hope

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22,23 NIV.”

This is a time for new years resolutions. In 2011, I wish to harness in my inconsistency and my words.

In the area of food addiction, inconsistency marked my choices for years, keeping me on a roller coaster of emotional upheaval. For a week, a month, maybe even six months, I would maintain white-knuckled devotion to a diet plan. I counted and measured every bite. Nothing went between my lips that wasn’t on my list. Then, it happened. Because of a certain circumstance, I’d eat something wrong. Discouragement then brought me to my knees. My thoughts went like this:

I messed up.
What did it matter anyway?
I can’t take this anymore.
I’ve already blown it, so I might as well eat something I really want.

Though an overeating compulsion has been a big challenge in my life, I also see this same attitude in other areas. For awhile I love everybody. I remind myself no one is perfect. They're human. I'm human. I need to turn it over to God. Then, someone says or does something that hurts my feelings, and here's my thought patterns:

I'm worthless.
Who cares?
I'll never speak to them again.
I don't fit in there, so I'll leave the group.

Next thing I know I'm looking for a new church, or new group, or new friend, or I'm holing up at home nursing my wounds. The devil wins a victory because I cease to be useful to God until I forgive and move on.

Last week, I started a Joyce Meyer course at church about our conversation to ourselves, to others and to God. Wow, I was reminded of the importance of our words, even our words to ourselves. According to Meyer, if we insult ourselves, we insult God, our creator. I also was convicted of my words to God. I apologize to my Heavenly Father for such language as "My life is unfair." "Don't you love me, God?" "I prayed, and things got worse." In this, I show my mistrust of God.

God showers us with new compassion every day. He never fails, and He’s always there. He’s the God of spring after winter, of newborn babies in the face of the death of the elderly, of new years and new songs. He’s all we need, fresh every morning.

Oh, Lord, I could use to lose ten more pounds in 2011, too.