Monday, April 30, 2007

You Light Up My Life

Have you ever seen a light box?

I first saw one when I went to work at a small weekly newspaper. It was a large wooden box with an opaque glass top. Inside the box, a bright light bulb illuminated the glass surface, allowing a person to trace designs or make accurate cuts between small lines of newsprint.

The box was portable, usually placed on top of a regular rectangular table and the top of the light box was angled like a draftsman's table to make it easier for a person to work on it. Knowing it would make a good addition to my paper crafting tools, I purchased a plastic version of a light box several years ago.

I frequently use it to dry emboss designs on the cards I create. By taping a brass stencil to the lighted top of the box and placing my sheet of card stock on top of it, the light underneath shines through the design on the stencil. Using a stylus, I am able to trace the shapes on the card stock, creating a raised design. It also works to copy patterns or pictures for a focal point on my cards.

It is the light within the box that allows the design to be seen more clearly through a second sheet of paper. Without that light, I frequently struggled to make copies. Plain and simple, as Christians, it is God's light within us that allows others to see His design in our lives. That light shines from the inside out, illuminating the intricate lines of His design to shine through so others might "copy" the pattern for themselves.

God, Light up my life so your glory and good works may be seen in me! (Matthew 5:16.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Meatloaf is Meatloaf, isn't it?

I never realized how bland my cooking was until my daughter and daughter-in-law moved in with me. Now that we share the cooking duties, we also bring our different styles of cooking to the table.

Even meatloaf isn't just plain old meatloaf anymore. Last night Julie cooked a wonderful meatloaf. She started with the basics that I use - hamburger, bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. I would have stopped there. molding it into a loaf pan and slathering it with ketchup on top (I got that from my mother-in-law because my husband likes it that way).

But Julie didn't use a loaf pan - she used a deep cookie sheet, one of those air bake kinds and spread the loaf out about an inch-inch and a half thick. Then she placed a brown sugar rub on top before baking. It was really good and I think my husband has a new favorite meatloaf (after 34 years...).

Of course, Julie loves to cook with garlic. She went out and bought a garlic press when she first arrived here because I never owned one and hers was buried in a box somewhere. Since then we've had fresh garlic in almost everything - except dessert.

My daughter, on the other hand has lived in the south for the past ten years and her cooking reflects those tastes and styles. She has copied some of my recipes, like how to cook a turkey, but has also adapted recipes from the women of their churches in North Carolina. I never had "sweet tea" until my daughter started making it.

The point is, our lives would be incredibly "bland" without the seasoning influence of others around us. Each of us is a unique individual with different experiences, talents and stories to share. Our faith is enriched each time we listen to a missionary share about the life experiences of the people they minister to. Our spiritual experience grows each time we share our experience.

Variety truly is the spice of life!

Lord help me savor the flavor of the lives around me and to add a little spice of my own to the mix!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm Having A Caterpillar Moment...

Today is one of those days - I'm having a caterpillar moment, standing here at the edge of my nice safe green leaf, contemplating the idea of leaping off into the unknown.

True, as a writer, I've shed my old wrinkled caterpillar skin and taken my first risk by stretching my wings and leaping into the world of full time writing. But I had a little help making that decision since physical difficulties with arthritis in my knees mandated a career change last year.

For the last week though, I've been prayerfully considering purchasing the software and redesigning my website to create and sell my own e-books. That's a huge leap for one who almost crawled under her desk 10 years ago after starting to write for a small weekly paper and realizing EVERYBODY in that small community would read her stories.

So here I stand, feeling the wind in my face, wondering if these filmy butterfly wings I've developed are strong enough to leap off my leaf and risk flying. I see my Creator's hand encouraging me on. Friends and family have also been supportive. All that's left to do is to jump...

I know my caterpillar nature. Threads of that old cocoon of insecurity still bind me at times. Eventually though, I'll gather enough courage to take that flying leap after stewing about it for awhile.

Thank God, He's patient with caterpillars who've morphed into butterflies. He knows we don't always shed our caterpillar attitudes along with our skin. So He stands there waiting for us to take that gulp of breath and leap, His hands invisible just under the leaf, waiting to catch us and support us in the wind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Of Burdens and Blessings

2 Chronicles 35:3 Then he (King Josiah) said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the Lord: "Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and His people Israel."

In the 18th year of his reign, King Josiah celebrated the most impressive passover feast Israel had ever seen. He instructed the Levites to place the Ark of the Covenant in the temple built by Solomon which was to be its permanent home.

In their wilderness wanderings, the Levites carried the Ark on two poles whenever the people moved their camp. Later after the Israelites occupied the promised land, the ark remained in the Tabernacle at Shiloh (with the exception of the time it was captured by the Philistines - and later brought back to Israel.)

Solomon built the first permanent Temple in Jerusalem to house the Ark, but during the ensuing years, Israel strayed from God and Judah had an on-again-off-again relationship with God. The temple was pillaged and lay in ill repair during the reign of the evil kings and was repaired again during the reign of the good ones.

Josiah was instrumental in calling the people back to God once more, repairing the temple and placing the Ark back in its place so it would no longer be a burden on the shoulders of the Levites.

That phrase struck me because the Israelites were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 additional years because of disbelief. Then during the reign of the evil kings the Levites were once again forced to bear the burden of the Ark to keep it safe. As long as God's people were serving Him, His presence with them was not a burden! It was only when they were disobedient and willful, that His presence became a burden to them.

How many times do we become lax in our Christian lives and begin to feel pressured by the should's and ought-to's of our faith. The rules become burdensome and we chafe under the everyday mundaneness of our lives.

But when we come into His presence and begin to know Him in intimate relationship, our faith is no longer a "burden" to us, but rather a wonderful blessing.

Lord, help me dwell in your presence always and to have a deep and abiding RELATIONSHIP with You!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spell Check, please...

This week's quote is:
"Busyness is not a spiritual gift."
From an interview with ~ Lisa Harper ~

At age 12, Jesus possessed more wisdom than I can ever hope to gain.

His parents visited Jerusalem for the Passover feast, then began their journey back to Nazareth, thinking that Jesus was among the crowd they traveled with. Much later they discovered He was missing and began a frantic search for Him, ending up back in the Temple in Jerusalem. They found him sitting among the stodgy old teachers of the Law, confounding them by His knowledge of God's word.

When questioned about it by His parents, He replied, "Don't you know I must be about my Father's business?"

How often I mistake the busyness of the day for doing my Father's business. As a pastor's wife, I found it was easy to get over involved in church activities because important things needed to be done. but no one else wanted to do them.

All those activities were good - part of the work I did for God. But every time I became more focused on doing for Him rather than being His, the business of serving God became mere busyness. My heart wasn't really in it -I grumbled and complained about the work I was doing. Busyness became an excuse to avoid the personal, intimate, spiritual nurturing time I desperately needed.

He wants to work with each of us until we become the unique creations He wants us to be. When I focus on Him, I am able to discover my spiritual gifts and their intended uses. I manage my time and energies as a god steward. My bus"i"ness is His work and not mere busy work.

If you would like to join us on: Tuesday, April 24th you are invited to post your thoughts about the quote on your blog, then visit Christine at "Fruit in Season" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.


Friday, April 20, 2007

God of the Details

Ahhhhh! It's so quiet here. Tonight I'm sitting in my friend's computer room just enjoying the quiet.I'm on a mini vacation from my hectic household. Sometimes it's just nice to be reminded that even though they miss you, they can function without you!

Of course, I do have to pay for this solitude - I will be speaking for both services on Sunday at my friend's church. But until Sunday, I can enjoy the slower pace and shop till I drop with my former college roommate and best buddy.

I love how the Lord confirms His will through hundreds of little things each day. As Kathy and I sat at lunch, she was talking about being a visual learner - sharing words of scripture by using word pictures and stories that help her create pictures in her mind.

During the drive here, I prayed about the choice of a message for Sunday evening - wondering how the people in her church would respond because it painted vivid word pictures of Christ in relationship to us. Yet, after our conversation, I knew it was God's confirmation of the right choice.

How often when I have questions or concerns, He will bring a song, a person with words of comfort or some other confirmation that He is there and cares about my unspoken needs. He is a God who is concerned about the minute details of our lives - we just have to be alert to the messages He leaves all around us.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The fragrance is in the bruising...

Whew, what a week! I've filled in at my old job as a florist for several days, completed my income tax returns as well as my parents (yes, I'm a procrastinator!) and been sick in bed with a miserable cold. But, Thank God, I'm feeling better and back at the keyboard again.

Sunday, I'm scheduled to speak at my friend's church in Hagerstown, MD. God woke me up early this morning before all the grandkids got up to help me finish up the preparations for the morning message.

The theme for the service is the story in Luke 7 of the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with perfumed oil from the alabaster box. I've heard many messages on this passage, mostly dealing with the expense of the perfume, the love of this woman for Jesus in her selfless offering, etc.

As I prayed about what I could say that was different, I was struck by the idea that it wasn't only about the perfume or the act of anointing His feet she performed. She had broken down the walls of fear, anger and bitterness that kept Him out and was offering Him the crushed and bruised parts of herself.

He processed her offering, transforming her life into something beautiful and fragrant as He offered Her the forgiveness and acceptance she desperately needed from Him.

What a wonderful God we serve!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who me - skydiving?

I usually don't remember the dreams I have at night, but this morning, I woke up with a vivid snatch of a dream rolling around in my brain.

For some reason my husband and I were at a ministerial couple's retreat and we went skydiving. I remember jumping out of the plane, feeling the wind in my face and laughing as we descended holding hands. There was no sensation of falling or fear, I just remember watching the scenery until we made a soft landing on the grass below.

While I don't always ascribe a spiritual meaning to my dreams, this one seemed significant since Dan and I are both embarking on new ventures in our lives. Dan has been studying Intentional Interim Ministry courses and materials for the last year and a half. He's the only one we know of in our denomination in our area with this kind of training and it seems God is leading him into a consulting /training type position.

For me, my writing has taken an unexpected turn and I am now considering getting set up to publish my own e-books and offering them on my website. It's a step I never would have considered a year ago.

Wow! At 54 I never would consider sky diving. But then I never would consider making the life changes we are making as a couple, either. It really is taking a risk on God and jumping into the wind, prayerfully trusting Hm for the outcome. The neat thing is that we can sense His hand supporting us along the way in the process. God is so good!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

She's 107 years old today!

The grandmother of one of our church members turns 107 years old today! She was born in 1900 and has lived here in western MD all her life. Up until her stroke last year, she lived alone in her own home and even went grocery shopping each week to buy her own food.

Imagine all the changes she has experienced in her lifetime. The invention of the Model T Ford to today's sport coupes; electricity in every home; hand-cranked telephones morphing into today's hi-tech camera cell phones; the advent of radio giving way to television, movies and now digital media; large main-frame computers, now with information storage so compact you can carry an entire library in the palm of your hand; space travel to the moon and beyond and the list goes on.

When I think of all those things happening in one person's lifetime, it reminds me of those large coin collectors at the mall - you put your coin in a slot and it begins rolling around and around the edge of a giant funnel-like platform. Gradually the coin rolls faster in smaller and smaller circles toward the center of the funnel until it drops into the large bin underneath.

It seems the world is moving at a faster and faster pace each day - surely we are nearing the center of the funnel when life as we know it will change forever. For those who don't know the Lord, the end will be like dropping into the abyss at the end of the funnel. Those who are prepared to meet Him will see the culmination of our hopes and desires - to live with Him eternally.

I doubt I will ever see age 107, but I sure am looking forward to seeing Him!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sharing The Ancient Words...

This week "In 'Other' Words" is hosted by Loni over at Joy in the Morning. Loni has chosen a quote about her favorite topic--the Bible. It's an excerpt from the contemporary hymn, "Ancient Words" by Lynn DeShazo...You are invited to blog about your take on the quote on your site and post your URL at Loni's site.

This week's quote is:

"Ancient Words, ever true Changing me and changing you We have come with open hearts O let the ancient words impart." ~ Lynn DeShazo~

(new quotes will be posted here every Friday)

The Power of Stories…

(To illustrate my thoughts on this week’s quote about the Ancient Words, I’ve chosen a short excerpt from my novel, Daughter of Lot – a scene between Naomi and Ruth the Moabitess after Ruth’s marriage to Mahlon.)

“There are so many new things to learn! I think your God must have a law for everything.” Ruth laughed as she asked Naomi for the third time how to prepare the stew meat. “It seems I’ll never learn it all. Why is your God so hard to please?”

“Child, He is not so hard to please. He gives us these laws because He knows what is good for us, better than we do ourselves.” Naomi patted Ruth’s arm in a loving gesture. “Me? I try to remember His love. That makes the laws easier to abide.”

Ruth completed the preparation of the meat and began methodically grinding the corn for bread in the doorway of the cooking tent. “Mother, the idea that a God can love His people seems strange to me. My country’s gods demand sacrifice and groveling. They always seemed to be scorning me with their ugly faces.”

“Haven’t you heard any of the old stories about the God of Abraham, Ruth?”

“No, Mother. I know the story of our Father Lot, and a little of Abraham because he was Lot’s uncle. But none of the other Hebrew stories are familiar to me.”

“We Hebrews hold our stories dear to our hearts. From the time our babies suckle at our breasts, mothers tell them the old tales so they may learn of God’s care for His people.” Naomi’s face took on a dreamy look as she began to recite the tale of creation as her own mother had told her as a child. “At the beginning of time, God made the heavens and the earth…”

Ruth lost herself in the tale and soon realized to her chagrin that she had stopped grinding the corn to listen. When Naomi finished, Ruth laughed aloud. “The tale was so new to me, I forgot to grind my corn.”

Naomi laughed with her. “I’m hearing the tale again for the first time when I see the wonder in your face, Ruth. So much like a child. You’re good for me. You help me to remember the important things in life.”


The old stories have always had power to change life, to instruct, to illuminate and to heal. They destroy the power of the enemy because they light up his dark, secret strongholds with the Truth and light of God.

When we as women of God share the story of our walk with the Lord, our journey to wholeness, we never know who it will touch – but as we yield to Him, He carries it to those who need it most. He spreads the light from one heart to another just as a candle lights another candle until all the darkness in the room is banished.

As we share His message from our hearts, we can change the world.

If you would like to join us on: Tuesday, April 10th

Visit "Joy in the Morning" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, April 9, 2007

She who has the most fabric wins...

Like the men in my life who love their big "toys" (i.e. snow blowers, lawn tractors, tools, etc,) I must confess, I love craft supplies - especially fabric.

When my children were small, I sewed clothes and toys for them, but it was really only an excuse to buy fabric. I loved to visit the mainline fabric stores and purchase supplies, but my favorite places were those out of the way fabric shops which were jumbled from floor to ceiling with ends of bolts, remnants and scrap fabric.

I could walk into one of those places and get lost for hours (you know the kind of store I mean - where you need to leave a trail of bread crumbs to find your way out again...) I loved shopping in Altoona with my mother-in-law at Roaring River Mills outlet. There was another place near us when we lived in Sweet Valley, PA.

Recently I discovered another such place in our little community. The woman who owns it goes south every winter and closes up shop from November to May. When she returns, she's only open one day a week, but it's a busy day for her. Her store is in an old restored barn and you can wander from area to area just gawking at all the cloth treasures.

This year it will be more fun than ever to visit her shop as I take my daughter, grand daughters and daughter-in-law in to see all the wondrous goodies she has - everything from real lamb's wool and spinning wheels to the more common bolts and ends of fabric I've come to love.

It's a good thing we have lots of room in our house or I may get lost wandering around our fabric stashes, lamenting the fact that I have no bread crumbs...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Ahhhh. I can breathe a little easier now, our children's Easter program went well this morning. Actually the whole morning went well, with the exception of the snow which forced us to move our egg hunt indoors.

The children explored the question, "What is Easter all about?" No it's not about chocolate Cadbury eggs, or rabbits, or Easter hats and dresses/ It's not going off on trips or spending time at home with your family. It's not even about ham dinners...

Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus - a time when Mercy Came Running to meet us all, I'm so proud of our children's' group. they memorized their lines and did their parts so well.

After their song, you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room so strongly,m Pastor had to give an altar call right then.

We had 22 children under age 12 , a record for our small church since we've been here. Today, the little children led the church in the Gospel Message and what a blessing! Jesus was right when he said we must become as little children in order to see the kingdom of heaven - innocent, enthusiastic and in love with Him!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Of battles lost and wars won...

Tuesday's quote still rings in my heart as I sit here early this morning.

"At the heart of the story stands the cross of Christ where evil did its worst and met its match." John Wenham

It seems, the enemy has never stops throwing his worst at the child of God. He thinks by leveling low blows at us, he will be able to take us out - to steal our joy, to kill our faith and ultimately to destroy our souls.

But what he fails to realize is that though the things of life may hurt us, causing our hearts to ache, that's when the Spirit of God draws near. When things are going well and life is hunky-dory, we don't look to Christ.

In some ways, Satan does us a favor by coming against us - because in those moments, we realize our frailties and neediness and we call out to the Shepherd who comes and sits with us, holding us and loving us.

We are so often like little children - we wiggle and squirm, wanting to get down and run off on our own, but in trouble or pain, we know where to run! We can run to our Lord who holds us in His strong right hand and helps us.

I will say it again - in the heart of the believer is the Christ of the cross Who has the final word by bringing beauty out of ashes.

Though my heart is reeling with hurt this morning over what feels like a betrayal and abandonment by a dear friend and mentor; my Friend and Mentor, Christ, has encouraged me. I feel His strong arms around me and hear Him whispering encouragement. I believe He has already begun to overturn what the enemy sees as a battle won into a glorious victory just as He did all those years ago on Golgotha. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

He's Gotten The Victory!

In "Other" Words
This week's quote is:
"At the heart of the story stands the crossof Christ where evil didits worst and met its match."~ John Wenham ~

A survey question asked of a group of ministers’ wives, “If you could live your life over would you make the same life choices again?

Would I choose to marry a man who became a pastor and walk down the difficult, sometimes heart-breaking path of the minister’s wife?

Hmm. I had to think about that question with all its ramifications. In the ministry we have seen the worst the enemy can throw at people –in the lives of the lost, in the lives of our church family and in our own family.

We’ve sat at the bedside of those suffering as they died. We’ve seen the angry look in the eyes of teenagers who are hooked on drugs, but refuse to accept Christ because of hurts and judgments Christians have heaped on them. We’ve seen the hopelessness in the eyes of the mentally ill, wondering if Jesus could possibly love them in their state of mind. So much evil in the world that causes so much pain. And the list goes on.

Yet, in the heart of the believer is the Christ of the cross Who has the final word by bringing beauty out of the ashes. The cross made way for the resurrection. Death gave way to life; but not just life – it gave way to abundant life!

In spite of all the tears I’ve cried in the ministry over the evil; in spite of all the times I felt crushed because evil won a particular battle, I’ve seen Him rise out of the ashes and do amazing things. I’ve experienced an amazing joy!

Many times, I’ve seen death become a celebration of life as believers passed on, yet rather than mourning, their families celebrated life and hope. I’ve seen miracles and answers to prayer up close and personal. But there’s no greater joy and victory than rejoicing with the angels over one soul that finds new life in Jesus.

For me personally, what Satan meant for evil, Jesus has used in such a marvelous way, I can stand before Him with a thankful heart. Today I am able to minister to women who’ve been hurt by their past. Together, my husband and I minister to those young pastors and wives who’ve suffered painful experiences in ministry and are on the verge of giving up. We wouldn’t have those ministries if the enemy hadn’t thrown his worst at us.

If I had it to do over again, would I make the same life choices? Would I choose ministry as a career path? I would have to answer, “YES!” Because in spite of everything, “He’s gotten the victory. Hurrah!” (Hinds Feet In High Places)

If you would like to join us on: Tuesday, April 3rd
Visit "Sting My Heart" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Seeing ourselves through God's eyes

A young man I know has four years of Bible College education and has almost finished his first Master's degree - and within one more year will finish his second. For the last two years he has been in a difficult pastorate, dealing with conflict and learning the ropes - the hard way.

He has been married for 10 years and has worked through marriage conflict to create a stable home. For most of those 10 years he has juggled school, a full time job, being a good husband and child rearing - successfully. Over the last 11 years that I've known him, God has been preparing him for one thing - ministry. And he is great at it!

But as he stands at a life-changing crossroad to determine whether he will remain in ministry or move back into the blue collar nine-to-five world, he finds himself having to change the way he thinks about many things. At first, he wasn't looking at ministry career opportunities because he kept hearing the old "Timothy tapes" in his head.

"You're too young to be a pastor." (He's 30 with a wife and 4 kids!) "You don't have enough education or experience to be in ministry."(People actually told him that recently!!!) He had difficulty seeing how much God has invested in this him, through life experience and seminary training.

I'm happy to say that in this transition time, he is working hard to turn off those lying internal mantras. He is beginning to look for ministry-related opportunities and is beginning to see himself as a capable, God-called young man.

What can I say? I think he's great - he's my son-in-law. But even more than that, looking at him through the eyes of a veteran in ministry, I see such a wealth of potential in his life to affect the hearts of people. It would be a tragic loss to all if he settled for less than God intends for him.

So pray for my son-in-law that God will open up just the right door where his unique gifts and talents may be used to their fullest.

And pray for your pastor (and his wife) today - that God will bless and help them in whatever struggles they are going through. Thanks and God bless you today!