Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Once again I am amazed at how God weaves together the events of our lives. Looking at each incident separately, they are just events that fill our day-to-day lives. But looking at them as a whole - the picture is full of vibrant color, purpose and joy!

Through a business venture in the summer of 2005, I met Janet - a writer/publisher/fellow business owner. We became friends and I started writing for her online magazine, Reflections ( ).

Shortly thereafter, she became my writing coach through her online courses. Even though I had already published my first novel, I knew I had much to learn, especially about building a network of readers and marketing my work.

Recently, one of the writing assignments suggested joining online groups - social networking sites. One such site I found centered around pastor's wives. What a joy it has been to hear from pastor's wives and missionary wives around the country and the world. It has become a daily staple of encouragement and prayer for me.

But back to God's loom! He does all things well. I have been struggling with a new writing project for Janet- a digital devotional book which will be published in March. The title is Basking in the Son Room and it is geared toward those who need to take a spiritual step back from the stress of the world to regroup / heal/ and rejuvenate by spending intimate and intense time with Him.

I have a good outline and know what I want to write about, but it is a struggle getting the words down on paper. Last night one of the gals from the pastor's wives network suggested a beautiful web site at Curious, I visited and found comfort, rest and peace in the music of the site. It is truly music to "soak" your soul while praying.

I've been so immersed in writing about this type of soaking, I had forgotten to close my eyes and soak in His presence - the very essence of the project! Because of my "Martha" nature, I often get caught up in doing, rather than being. I'm so thankful He intertwines the threads of my life with others to accomplish His purposes - even in my mundane everyday life!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Called or Qualified?

"God doesn't call the qualified...He qualifies the called." (Author unknown - found circulating on the web)

I love this quote - it is a reminder that we all start out the same - tiny and naked! But it's what we allow God to do with our lives that makes the difference.

As we walk with God, He brings people, experiences and advice (from His word and from other sources) across our path to mentor us, guide and instruct us. Life is a great big Home-school classroom!

The things we learn from life prepares us to take yet another step toward what He envisions us to be. Talk about a loving Father! He knows our potential and never ceases to work to help us develop it, painstaking inch by inch - sometimes with us kicking and screaming the whole way.

The older I get, the more I recognize His work in my life to qualify me for the things God has planned. As a loving Father, He sent me off to college, even when my family said it was impossible. Like a loving Father, He provided a job as a proofreader and later as a writer at small weekly papers, knowing I'd someday need those skills.

He provided opportunities to develop people skills, writing and research skills. He encouraged and proved to me "you can do it" when I kept saying, "I can't." And He hasn't stopped yet - doors are still opening that I hesitate to walk through, because I feel inadequate. Yet, He takes me step by step in the direction of those doors until I can and do step through.

I haven't always enjoyed the experiences He has allowed - the pain and shame of abuse, the pain of the recovery process, embarrassment, pain, grief - those experiences some would consider negatives. Yet, even those things have worked good in my life.

Because each of us are unique, He has used unique experiences in each of us - real one-on-one instruction to move us to where we need to be. Only God can do that, working to qualify each of us for our one-of-a-kind position in His kingdom. Wow!

Monday, January 29, 2007

He's back...Hurricane Avery Strikes Again

My son and his wife visited again this weekend. Actually, we think Dave has found a job in a nearby community so they'll be moving here from upstate NY soon.

It's a good thing since I haven't had the opportunity to see my 2 year old grandson very much. Now I'll be able to do the Grandma things like babysit, drag my photo album everywhere and spoil the little guy!

Of course, while Dave and Julie were here, they left Avery with me for about an hour in order to go to our local WalMart for a few groceries and in that one hour, he dumped my birdseed on the floor, got into my daily journal and scribbled on a few pages and other little things - all while I tried to prepare supper.

Whew! needless to say, I was ecstatic when the kids returned. But to keep things in perspective, I reminded myself that he's not quite 2 years old yet and I had missed out on so much of his growing up so far because of the distance separating us. I'd much rather have him close by, than to miss watching him grow!

So much of our lives are about perspectives. If we look at things through a black cloud, everything looks dark and dingy. We may even become depressed and moody. But when we are able to look at things through the Spirit's eyes, things look totally different - often different than we ever expected. He sees things clearly - as they really are, not distorted by emotional filters or tunnel vision.

Things that aggravate and annoy us, may be "gifts" in disguise that draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. It's hard to see that while in the middle of struggles, but if we can slip on His lenses even for just a moment and see the situation from His perspective, it becomes easier to bear. Sometimes we just have to trust that God hasn't abandoned us and is working all things together for our good - a real toughie.

I may not like the annoyances of life or the hard things I have to go through, but I love my Heavenly Father. No matter what happens in life, I'd much rather have Him around, close to me, than to be far away from Him!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Bouquet for Jesus

It's difficult to be in the public eye. I've always been the type of person who would rather be invisible, working behind the scenes, but God had other plans.

As a pastor's wife, I must frequently organize programs, sing, speak and a host of other public things. At one point I worked as a news editor for a small town weekly paper and had to be "out there" and accessible. And now as a writer, I am once again "visible."

One of the things I've struggled with over the years is how to accept accolades and compliments that come to the "visible" people.

Some suggest a self-effacing approach - "Give the glory to God." The trouble with this is it may drive the pride under the surface until we become proud of how we always give the glory to Jesus.

One Christian psychologist suggested merely smiling and replying, "Thank you," when complimented. The trouble there is it's too easy to become proud of our accomplishments and begin to feel like we've done it.

The best way I've found to deal with this was shared by Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Holocaust survivor who later became an author. She suggested treating each compliment like a beautiful, fragrant rose. As it's handed to you, you may sniff it's fragrance and admire its beauty. Then she suggested handing the rose to the Lord, thanking Him for allowing you to share in it's beauty.

Thanks. Lord for roses along the way!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Breaking the Worry Syndrome

"Just give it to the Lord."

Huh? You expect me to give up my worry security blanket? What would I do if I couldn't worry a little?

It's almost as though by worrying I can make things happen or prevent them. It becomes an effort on my part to control the world around me rather than trusting God to take care of the situations. I try to do His job for Him because I somehow believe He can't do it alone.

The first step in relinquishing "control," even if it's only control in my own mind, is to trust. Since I'm a visual learner, I like to picture Jesus standing before me and imagine myself handing my problems, burdens and issues to Him.

The compassion and love in His eyes as He takes each one , promising to deal with it in His own way and time, soothes my discomfort. Then when I find myself worrying again, fretting because He hasn't done anything yet, I try to imagine that I've gone to Him and demanded them back.

When I use visual imagery it really helps me to see my lack of trust and willfulness in trying to handle my own problems. Understanding that I've been brazen enough to demand my burdens back helps me to apologize and break the cycle of worry.

Little by little He's working with me to change the way I handle my problems - my ways of coping with the world. He loves me enough that He will keep working with me. As one writer put it, His love is so deep he cannot stand a spot or wrinkle in His beloved. He is willing to work patiently with us until we become perfect in Him.

Thank You Lord for your patience, even when I'm not!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walking in their sandals...

Several years ago when I began writing more seriously, I made an important investment - a Bible!

No, not just any Bible - this one is a chronological Bible called The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible. It has increased my understanding of scripture immensely as I read through it day by day.

All of the chapters of Scripture are written in the chronological order in which they happened. It's a little disjointed, reading several Bible books at once when their content overlaps like Kings, Chronicles and the major and minor prophets; but it really helps put the whole Bible in perspective. I'm no longer reading individual books, but a more complete history, including maps and time lines.

Another neat feature of this Bible is the numerous cultural references which describe the various customs of the day, both in Israel and surrounding ethnic groups. References to customs like marriage, birth and even how they fought their battles are interspersed close by Bible passages that mention those issues.

There is an old saying that we shouldn't judge another until we have walked a mile in their moccasins . I think that's true for God's word too. In order to understand all of what God is saying to us today, we must be willing to walk in the sandals of those who walked before us - to see things from their perspective. It certainly does give richer hues and texture to the verbal pictures painted in God's word!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dynamite in Action!

The Bible promises us the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives - especially to help us witness, but it still amazes me whenever I sense Him at work in my own life! Perhaps it's because I still have a lingering sense of inadequacy - a residual effect from the issues of the past.

Last week, I accepted an invitation to write a devotional book from my publisher and friend. The book is to be one of a series geared toward people who want to spend an intensive week drawing closer to God - 6 days of devotions, morning, noon and evening. One reason I hesitated to come on board with the project was that it must be completed by early March - only 5 weeks away.

Yet, the opportunity was too important to turn down and I sensed the Spirit urging me to accept this assignment as I prayed about it. True to His promises, He even gave me the title and idea for the book.

The next step was to create the outline and define the focus of the book. Once again, following intensive prayer over the past few days, the Spirit has come alongside as I wrestled with the outline. It went out in my morning e-mails today.

There is much to do over the next few weeks as this labor of the Spirit and love grows to its completion. I believe it will be a tremendous blessing to me as the writer - even more than to the future readers as I labor alongside the Spirit to write His words.

I am thankful for His awesome power and His promise to come alongside as an advocate and adviser to help in this project. Though I've experienced the power of the Spirit numerous times before, this is a new experience for me - learning to rely on Him daily for the words.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Have you googled earth yet?

My daughter was very excited yesterday when she told me about a website she and her hubby visited.

They did a word search on Google and typed in the words Google earth. Within minutes they were visiting sites all over the earth via satellite like the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and my house!

According to Lis, they could see things very clearly - even people standing in line at the Eiffel Tower, waiting to ascend the structure! And she said if her Dad stood in the parking lot of the church, they would be able to see him standing there.

After we finished talking my husband and I decided when the grand kids' birthdays rolled around we would make a large banner and lay it in the parking lot with the words Happy Birthday and the name of the birthday boy or girl. Then we'll call them on the cell phone from the parking lot and have them go to the google earth site and look up our house. We plan to stand by the banner, look up into the sky and wave so they could see us!

It amazes me that a satellite we can't even see outside the earth's atmosphere can take photos of recognize able places and even people with a fair amount of clarity. There are still problems in mountainous or forested areas or places where the atmospheric conditions aren't right for clarity of vision, but for the most part, this is pretty fantastic technology.

It also makes me thankful that even though man has the technology to see what's going on halfway around the world day or night, God's vision is even more awesome. He can not only see us clearly, he can see what's inside our hearts and understand the thoughts we think. He is ever present and all knowing - watching over us and ready to help us when we call!

That's one awesome God!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bread, Anyone?

Cast your bread upon the waters , for you will find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1 NKJV)

I woke up with this verse in my head this morning. Since I didn't know the reference I had to look it up and was surprised to find it was in Ecclesiastes, a book I seldom read especially if I need comfort or guidance.

I wondered why God had reminded me of this particular verse, especially in light of my current indecision about my part time job. Going to my favorite online reference tool, , I looked it up in several commentaries. What I found amazed me!

The ancient Egyptians had a unique method of planting along the banks of the Nile and other marshy areas. During parts of the year, these waters overflowed their banks. The farmers would take a boat and toss the grain seed over the side into the flooded areas. When the waters receded, the outer hull of the seed had softened and readily sprouted in the moist soil along the river banks. Over the dry growing season, the grain developed to healthy, mature grain plants ready to be harvested before the next flood season.

Light bulb moment! I "got" what God was saying to me. For over two years, I have been serious in my writing. I published my first Bible novel and writing regularly for Reflections and a few other online magazines, gaining recognition as a writer but no payment. In July, I finally decided to take the leap of faith and write full time, leaving my floral arranging job.

God indicated He would begin to prosper me as a writer because of my trust in Him and my continued obedience to His call to write. A few speaking engagements opened up and I continued to write for online publications, but nothing else seemed to be happening. I compromised my decision and took a part-time job in December.

Though I felt unsettled in the job, I was unable to let it go. Until now. God showed me He does have plans for me as a writer, but I need to have patience to allow the seeds that have been tossed onto the waters to soften and become embedded in moist soil. They will sprout and be harvested in due time - His time.

I gave notice at the job this morning and feel a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. I'm ready to hold to my decision to write full time, casting the fruit of my labor, His words, onto the waters and see how He causes them to sprout, grow and come back to me in the harvest time. God is good!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Second Guessing God

I quit my job as a florist back in July after a bad arthritis flare up in my knees. At the time, I knew God was definitely speaking to me about a leap of faith into full time writing.

Though there was no question in my mind about my decision since God had been dealing with me about it for a long time, my husband didn't share my certainty. He was concerned about how the sudden loss of additional finances would affect our lives. But in the months that followed, God continued to provide amply, without my added income.

Then in October, a part time job dropped into my lap as a receptionist at a local nursing home. I wasn't looking for it - it just happened. It was only two evenings per week, Monday and Friday, alternating with Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

I prayed about the offer and didn't really get any answers about taking the job. I felt an unspoken pressure from my hubby that I should take it. Even my new employer repeatedly assured me I could bring my writing to work and do whatever I wanted when my other work was completed.

It turns out that there wasn't much to do at the nursing home. Between phone calls and light office work, there was plenty of time to write. Imagine! Getting paid to answer phones and write in between!

But there's something missing. There's no joy. Whenever it is time to go to work, I feel anxious. I've already missed several church functions as well as family things because of the schedule .
I assumed because I had no direct answer from God that this job was a gift from Him and I should take it. Now I'm not so sure. I get the feeling I somehow missed the mark by going back to work. Yes I have time to write, but at what cost?

They are training me to do more each week with plans to change my job title from receptionist to ward clerk. There will be less and less time to write. And what happens if I have an opportunity to speak somewhere that conflicts with the schedule?

What it all boils down to is that I may have jumped the gun...again. I tried to control my world without really listening to what God was saying (or not saying.) So I am back on my arthritic knees, seeking the face of God once more. The time is past for second guessing!

Dear Lord, once again I relinquish control of my life. No more second guessing what You have for me. I'm ready to hear and obey!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Taking A Step Back

There are times when all of us have to take a step back - when life becomes so overwhelming we need to take some time to regroup and recoup our spiritual resources.

Whether it's because of illness, confusion, a loss of some kind or a spiritual struggle that has left us weak and breathless, we need to sit back with the Lord and let Him minister to us.

I visited a dear friend yesterday who had just returned home from the hospital after having back surgery. She must remain in bed for 2 weeks, only allowed to get up for 15 minutes at a time for bathroom breaks or to eat. The remainder of the time, she must remain on her back or side to alleviate pressure on the repaired discs in her back.

The surgery was a success. When she recovers, she'll be able to do everything she did before without the constant hard pain, but as until she recovers, she has to take time out from all those activities.

Fifteen years ago, God began a healing work in my emotional life. Like my friend, I had to take time out during the healing process to rest in Him - away from the pressures and stress of life. As a pastor's wife, it meant giving up all the positions I held in church and becoming a "pew sitter." What a hard thing for a Martha personality like myself. The only things I continued were my part time job, caring for my family and therapy - my support during this difficult time.

But the purpose of stepping back from all the responsibilities wasn't to just to alleviate the stresses of life. It was to make time to spend with my "spiritual doctor", listening. learning and receiving strength from Him. I needed the time AND His presence for the healing to be complete.

It's been many years since that time when I had to step back so completely from everything. Occasionally I still need a breather, a brief respite from the stresses of life. But I've learned during those times to retreat to a quiet place and spend the time with Him. An hour, a day or a week with Him brings my life back into balance again, giving me the courage and motivation to go on.

Thank You Lord for that time spent with You and Your energizing, healing touch!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Never Stop Praying...

"If you begin an intercessor's group, make sure they know what could happen if they pray," said the young adult coordinator at a recent Christian Education meeting.

She was concerned because of a recent string of illnesses and problems throughout the church since several of us began interceding about various issues both inside and outside the church.

"Some people will jump on the prayer bandwagon without being prepared. We can't afford to lose them."

I understand her concern, especially after the latest incident - an early morning fire at one of the young adults homes. I breathed a prayer of thanks because everyone got out of the trailer safely.

Then the enemy crept up behind me and began whispering, "See...don't you think it's time to stop praying?"

Them's fightin' words! Stop praying? No way!

If anything, I need to pray harder for God to pour out His Spirit on our church and through my writing. I'm going to keep on praying for spiritual and emotional healing in the lives of hurting women. I'm going to pray harder against the conflict I see in so many churches and the hurts in the lives of ministerial families.

There's too much at stake to stop praying now. So join me if you dare! Let's lift up our hearts and hands to God - greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.

God will be victorious!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Basking in the Sonshine

It's amazing to me how a little bit of bright sunshine and blue sky can make such a difference in how I feel! Today it's bright and beautiful with a coating of pure white on the ground. Even though the kids are all back at their respective homes now, I feel content this morning, enjoying the solitude and my morning coffee.

Maybe some of it has to do with getting back into the routine too - being able to linger with the Word, savoring the message of my Beloved and communing with Him. It's a time to regroup following the merry mayhem of grandkids and hectic holiday activity.

Whatever the reason, I will rejoice in this time I have to spend with Him. I will bask in His presence and just ENJOY Him.

What an amazing concept - to be able to enjoy the presence of the God of the universe - to spend time with Him as I would my best earthly friend, sharing my hopes and dreams, listening as He shares His heart.

I know not every day will be bright and sunny like this one. I also know that I will not always be able to bask in His presence. There is much to be done out there - wounds to be healed, souls to win, hungry people to feed and unlovable people to draw to His love. But for today I will cherish my time with Him, storing up His warmth and sunshine so I'm ready for the tasks ahead.

Thank you God for today!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confessions of an anonymous author

Blogs are useful tools. I use mine to let people know what I'm doing with my writing and speaking, to organize my thoughts for projects and just as a place to record my thoughts each day - a kind of daily journal of where I'm at spiritually.

The neat thing about blogging is that these thoughts can be shared! It really cuts down on the sense of "aloneness" I feel as I read the blogs of other writers, other pastor's wives and friends. Many of them are going through the same things I am so it becomes a way to share our hearts and our stories. Usually, I stop and say a prayer for the authors of the blogs I read, especially if their blog seems to indicate a spiritual or emotional struggle.

I've been blogging for months now. When I set up my site, it had room for all kinds of neat stuff on it, like photos and hobby lists, a place for quotes and even neat templates for backgrounds. What I didn't realize is that the URL for my blog was incorrect! I kept giving out a URL which took readers to a text page of my blog without all the neat bells and whistles. It was so bad that unless they knew me, there was no way of knowing whose blog it was!

I could get upset for all the "wasted words", all the time and effort I put into it when no one really knew who the author was. But it reminds me of a story Christ told of two men who went into the temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee who thanked God he was not like the poor publican - a nobody in the world's eyes. His arrogant demeanor and need to prove to the world that he was a superhero in the religious world made Christ sick.

But the publican, a man who humbled himself, admitting his neediness and flawed nature to God was praised in Christ's story. He went away from his prayer time satisfied that God had heard and blessed him.

I constantly need to evaluate my spiritual life. Am I writing to prove I am a spiritual person? Am I puffing myself up in the world's eyes, but really making Christ ill because of my arrogance and pride? Or am I humble enough to believe He can use the offerings I bring - especially the ones I give behind the scenes - the ones where I remain anonymous?

Lord, move the capital "I" out of the way and let others see only You!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Doggie Time-Out

Oreo is a great dog. He stays close to the house when he has to go out and he lets me know if someone comes to the door. At night he sleeps nearby, allowing me to rest peacefully because I know if anything happened at night, Oreo would wake me.

But he is a very excitable dog. When my family started arriving this week, it was too much for him. My daughter and her husband arrived first with their four little ones. Poor Oreo, he got so excited, he couldn't calm down. He kept trying to herd the children into one area, knocking the two year old over and bumping the baby who is learning to crawl.

He tried to play with the oldest two, but became so exuberant, we decided enough was enough. Since my son and his wife and child were coming as well as my youngest daughter, there were just too many people here to keep Oreo home. We decided to board him at the vet while the family was here - for his stress levels as well as ours.

Like my excitable dog, God knows what I can handle each day. If I grow too stressed, He makes a place I can go to feel the calming peace of His presence. He leads me beside still waters where I can become refreshed and renewed. As I learn to rest in His presence, I learn to manage my inner anxieties so that I can once again walk and serve as I desire.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

There Be Grandkids Here!

G-minus 7 hours and counting! In case you were wondering that G stands for GRANDKIDS!!!

Though I talk to Allissa almost every day, I haven't seen her family since the beginning of November when we visited them at their house in North Carolina. Today they will arrive here in a little over 7 hours, depending on the time they left down there.
True it was only three months ago since we saw them, but Samuel is only 8 months old and changing every day. I feel like I've missed so much of his baby days. The same with Eve, Jack and Abby so I really am excited to see them.

Let's see, for the next four days I'll be playing games, baking cookies, reading stories, wiping smeared faces and loving every minute of it. (I will try to avoid making paper dolls if I can help it! ) There will be gifts to open, meals to cook and lots of good old fashioned visiting. God was so good - He even gave us snow so the kids can tobaggon on the miniature mountain (a.k.a. the dirt pile) in our back yard.

Tomorrow night their two-year old cousin Avery joins the mayhem with his Mom and Dad (my son). And on Friday morning my youngest daughter and her hubby will arrive. It will be a whirlwind visit - so much to do, so little time! But the next 4 days will make the memories I'll hold in my heart until the next visit, sometime later this spring.

I thank you Lord for fresh new memories to hide in my heart and pull out whenever I feel lonely or alone during the wintry days ahead. Thank you for family and happy times together. You are the giver of good gifts!