Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prayer and Road Hazards

Lately my prayer partner and I have been beginning our day by praying over our daily needs. I have noticed, however, that the very things for which I pray are the very things that seem attacked throughout the day. It’s almost like I have given Satan a list that reads “Here’s where you need to attack me today-be creative and sneaky so I don’t even recognize it and get me right where you know I will fall for it.”

My main concern recently has been productivity; lately I have had a more intense schedule that I haven’t quite tweaked yet. Inevitably something comes along and jackknifes my plans, throws me for a loop, or gets me off task. I need divine intervention to proceed in my day in the most productive way.

I liken my life to driving down a road where Satan is throwing things in front of my car. Some of them cause me swerve to avoid them, while others make me pull over and take a look at them for awhile. When I am not focused on the goal, looking straight down the road ahead of me, I am easily distracted from my course. Unfortunately, he knows exactly what tantalizing tidbit will throw me off course: a gorgeous day that begs me to go for a hike, a coupon that just shows up out of nowhere announcing a big sale. . .that ends today. . . Even a seemingly “good” distraction, like helping a friend in need, can throw me off if that act of service was not intended for me to do.

In the most severe instances, Satan throws things under my wheels that poke holes in my tires and leave me wasting the day on the side of the road waiting for help.

This morning I was reading 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. Verse 8-9 says “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” From this passage I see that I can expect to be hard pressed with obligations, opportunities and tempting distractions. I can expect to have to make some difficult decisions that perplex me. But in all of this, I have with me a power that will not allow me to be crushed, left in despair or be destroyed. That power comes from keeping my eyes on the prize and keeping focused on the one who has my journey to that prize mapped out.

And in all of this “. . .we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what in unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

The question I need to ask myself and God is this, “Is the profit derived from this distraction more valuable than what has been planned for me this day?” Too often the answer is, “no“. He will help you decide. . .if you remember to take the time to ask. Stick close to Him, not as one riding with blinders on, but a one open to hear His directions over those that bombard you daily to turn away from the plan He has for you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Moving Reflectins

I've been away from the computer for awhile due to another moving day. My Mom has been in a nursing home for almost a year and am moving into her house to help pay the bills there.

Moving is always a reflective time. You pack up your whole life into cardboard boxes salvaged from the grocery store, throw them into a truck and cart them to a new place to be unpacked. If you are organized, you get to view your life as a pile of boxes sitting idly there waiting for their future-your future. Your life is reduced to a pile of stuff.

One of the friends who helped me move had become a minimalist a few years ago. After a divorce he lived at a bed and breakfast for a year owning only his clothes and car. . .it's all he needed. No boxes of photos (yes, I used to print and hence have to store large quantities of them), no collected holiday decorations, no Pampered Chef utensils that he "just couldn't live without", no boxes of miscelaneous papers: clothes and a car.

I thought about how much easier my life would be with less stuff to pack, arrange, store, care for, worry about, account for, and beg people to move. I thought about how freeeing it would be to be able to fit my whole life into my car and go-where ever and when ever God called me to go.

Mostly, though, I thought about time; stuff demands your time. As a writer I look at the opportunity to live alone in my own home as a chance for uninterrupted days of writing. Time is essential to a writer. But as I sit at my desk to write I can not ignore the encroaching boxes. Instead of writing, I find myself sorting through my stuff, my Mom's, my aunt's, and the stuff of many deceased relatives. Too often it isn't worth the time. Even the time spent selling it is so often not worth it-because, after all, it's time that I need. Money can't buy me time. Every hour I spend sorting or selling is an hour I am not spending writing.

Then again, I can't just throw it away-it's my life, my history, my heritage. I have to weigh the cost of keeping it all, "What am I giving up keeping it-in regards to time. . .and sanity?" I am called to be a writer. When I am, what is essentially wasting time, caring for this debris, I am not fulfilling this mission. Who suffers when I waste this time? The very people who I am supposed to be reaching-that's a real price I am paying.

Wrestling with this subject forced me to look at Matthew 6:19-20 in a whole different way, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." I am admittedly spending time storing up junk which will be destroyed, and choosing to do this as opposed to doing something with my time that will last. I think it's easy to justify "good" things we do in our lives that eat up our time (even if they are not the things we are called to do-the best things), but how often are we taking time holding onto pure junk?

I guess you'll know how I resolve this issue if you don't hear from me next week. I pray that I will be able to keep the cost in mind and save the sorting for a big bout of writers block. . .or the next move. Don't worry Dena, Robb and Ian, I'm getting movers next time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fruitless Studies Become Fruitful

I've been thinking a lot lately about Bible studies. For years I attended them faithfully, completed my homework, shared in class and agreed with the other women about particular points that "really touched my heart". But did the homework, attendance, faithfulness or tears of conviction result in a change in my life? Yes, I learned more about scripture. . .and that's good. Yes, I learned how we are "supposed" to be, live, react, love and the like. . .but did this knowledge prompt me to actually be, live, react, and love more like Christ? I can't say that it often did; at least for long. Worse yet, did the lack of implementation in my own life set my accusing finger lose to legalistically point out the faults of others while my own life remained stagnant?

I must admit-guilty on all accounts.

The last study I participated in was different, however. It was a revised version of one that I had completed several years ago. The difference this time, I believe, was in the conviction that the study didn't "work" the first time. After all, if it doesn't "work", I am just wasting my time. . .for a second time in this case.

I began to approach the study as "all about me" (yes, it can be all about you): my change, my growth, my heart seeking to be one with God's. Lasting change began deep within. It "worked". And since the change occurred within my heart, I can now help others in their journey, not as an accuser or a fixer, but as a humble soul who has traversed the road and come out at the other end, able to share how God changed my life.

I pray that you will allow God access to the deepest places in your heart. And when you overcome something that has held you back, that you will freely share with others and see them set free too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Glory in Oregon

I've been away for the better part of two weeks driving without a plan in beautiful Oregon. For days on end we were beset with an endless stream of majestic waterfalls that crashed into wild and scenic rivers raging to the delight of fisherman and outdoorsmen alike. Turbulent ocean waves pounded the rugged coastline while sea lions barked loudly and lounged lazily as grey whales spouted unpredictably to the delight of eager onlookers. Rose and white starfish clung patiently along side pale green anemone at the base of oceanside monoliths for the tide to come in and bring them food and water. Mountains spilled their dark green forests onto miles of seemingly endless sand dunes that ran into the ocean. Beaches sat wide and long at the base of sheer cliffs inviting beach goers, donned in sweatshirts, to build rock fortress wind shields and sunset fires on their fine sand. I took 835 pictures. . .and that was just with my own camera. Frankly, after about a week, my eyes almost hurt from the pristine beauty and I hoped for a break from saying "this is so gorgeous". It was too much of God's glory. He picked this place to show off and the people of Oregon chose to respect it and keep it beautiful. Thank you.

It made me think of the many other ways God manifests His glory. In my life it was an impossible-to-earn, last-minute, full-ride college scholarship awarded, a perfect little baby nephew adopted after many failed attempts, my first article published, (fast and nontraditionally), and a down payment, and the payments for the entire first year, for a new car paid for by "baby sitting", for an 18, 22 and 24-year-old.

In the lives of others I have seen His glory in marriages restored after repeated infidelity: healed to better than could ever have been imagined. I've witnessed insecurity conquered by finding significance in Christ. I've seen tests passed, pain redeemed and the lost returned down to something seemingly insignificant like an out of print book discovered at a flea market on a dreary Saturday morning.

Finding His glory in our lives requires that we look for it. It's realizing that we are not solely responsible for our successes and blessings and not taking such credit for ourselves, but, instead, giving the credit, the glory, back to Him.

It's giving Him the glory by casting our crowns at His feet: it gives us the opportunity to humbly offer His blessing back to Him. Brag on him with this faithfulness and the glory will be multiplied-his name given renown. You, being shown worthy, will be further blessed.

Look for His glory in your life today. If you don't know where to look, ask Him to show you. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7) He loves to give good gifts to His children who ask.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Transparency and Love

Have you ever been entrenched in a life-situation and find yourself saying, "This is so not me! how did I get involved in this?" A relatively new friend and I shared two such situations yesterday.

I shared my story (long periods of unemployment due to lay offs, a condemned apartment and a resulting less-than-desirable living arrangement) as a way to lay it all on the table and say, "for better or for worse, this is where I came from."

He shared his story, more recent, if not current, as a way to let me know what I could be getting into and. . .quite frankly, if it was too much for me, to give me the chance to run. Instead of scaring me, his honesty and caring transparency actually endeared me more to him. He shared out of love with the potential for loss.

Don't get me wrong, I am by no means saying that we should bare our hearts to everyone we meet, but, perhaps we should be working toward that type of honesty in our inner circle. How much we would grow if we could only be in a place in our established relationships where our hearts were receptive to people: where we could share with transparency instead of holding back for fear of judgement or rejection and loss.

I pray that being transparent in a relationship could bring you closer to someone: help you know, understand, appreciate, direct your prayers for, and, ultimately, love them more and better. Without sacrifice do we really have love? Love is patient and kind, not envious or boastful. Love is not proud, rude or self seeking. It's not easily angered or grudgeful. Love rejoices in the truth. It protects, trusts , hopes and perseveres. . .always. (from 1 Corinthians 13) Are we willing to share and hear the truth? And after sharing and hearing, are we willing to protect, trust, hope and persevere. . .willing to love?

Monday, August 9, 2010

What are your intentions?

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart. John Bunyan

This quote appeared in a book I am working through Give Me 40 Days by Freeda Bowers, a forty day journal focusing on praying for others. The focus scripture for today was Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way thourgh, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of man's heart. Verse 13 adds, there is nothing that can be hidden from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves. GNE

I think I had always studied the first part of verse 12, never giving much thought to the last sentence about judging the desires and thoughts of our hearts. Freeda Bowers writes about checking our heart to ensure we are praying out of the right motives. Her example is praying for a son who is on drugs: are you praying simply because he is an embarrassemnt to you? Another example is of a woman praying for the salvation of her mother. "Why?, Freeda asked her. "So she won't go to hell." Bowers felt prompted to tell her that "everything done in the earth is to be done solely for the purpose of bringing glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31.) That even means salvation."

It made me think about some of my prayer requests. As I'm praying for Daniel and Jason to become men of God, am I praying this to avoid the complications and my own heartache should they choose another path? When I am praying for health and healing in my relationships is it just so I can be comfortable in my life?

How are your intentions in relation to prayers?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Deep South Magazine

For more information about tubing in Helen, Georgia and all the rest there is to do there, check out my article that was published yesterday in Deep South Magazine at

Helen is a great multi-season destination four couples and families alike. I had friends who got engaged there twenty years ago (can it really be that long?) and it is even better than I remember it from back then.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tubing and Trust

I recently returned from a trip to beautiful Helen, Georgia, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Running through the middle of town is the Chattahoochee River where on a summer Sunday over 10,000 people float lazily down the river to relax and refresh in the cold mountain water. It made me think about tubing. You tube because it is restful-you don't have to do anything but lay there and float. Occasionally your rest may be disturbed by running into something or someone, but basically, it is just laying back and letting the water and the tube connect to get you where you are going.

I think that is the same way God wants his relationship with us to be. He wants us to lay back in his caring, capable arms for rest and refreshment. Sure, we may hit an incidental rock, or run into another person-but He's got things covered. Our job is to trust in him, rest, and end up at the end of our journey refreshed, having spent the journey in His all-knowing arms.

It's nice to know something in life can be simple; simple, I said, too often though, not, easy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I attended a praise, prayer and healing service tonight. The woman who prayed for me, among other things, said I had to forgive. She gave me her method of telling the offenses to God, on paper if necessary, going to the word and speaking it over the hurts and, when Satan brings it up again, telling him to get lost, "I've already given this to God."

I started to think more deeply about forgiveness. It's not just big, obvious infractions we need to forgive. We need to forgive people for acting selfishly toward us. For things that hurt us that the other person might not have even meant maliciously. We need to forgive people who just don't know any better. Instead of judging their ignorance, we need to look at ourselves as being in an excellent position to pray for them to gain wisdom, and healing for the area that is broken. We need to look at it as if we were put there by God "for such a time as this."

We so often are told to look for the good in the pain--for once we can be a part of the good to come through such prayers. In the long run, we can be on the side of our "offender" where we can meet in the name of victory through healing. I feel a little better already.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ready for Summer

Wow, it's snowing. . .I said again for the nth time this month. It is pretty but quite frankly, I've taken enough pictures and would gladly look back at them rather than cancel another night out, day at the Y, dinner with friends. . .

And as a writer I guess this could be good--being trapped in the house and all, but lo and behold, I have 4 laptops that refuse to do what I need them to do (print, get onto the internet, run a word processing program and, of course the one with all of my info on it, turn on.) Isn't technology wonderful. This computer seems to skip every few letters so I can assure you that this will be a quick blog.

I'm not frustrated--which is not like me. Wouldn't you think that God might work on my character AND let me accomplish something for Him? I am confused. I recognize attack, yes, but when do we get to the part where our side wins? How about the part where our team gets a tiny little bit ahead. That would be nice too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nothing else TO do

I never thought the reason for writing is that I have nothing ELSE to do. Having gotten two feet of snow Friday to Saturday and having a few more inches dumped atop of that Tuesday to Wednesday we have seemingly been trapped inside the house. Now don't get me wrong, we have gotten out, but the whold air about it has been less than encouraging. Perhaps it's that the kids have been off of school all week. . .did I mention all week.

Last week the phrase God gave me was "battle for it". He said it in so many ways "are you battling?", "You are going to have to fight for this", and "What you are doing is important and hence opposed-so you know that it is not going to come easy". On one hand, yes, I was happy for a word. On the other hand, however, THIS WORD?

The word has come to fruition. I had planned to get serious about writing (again) and make it an unchangable part of my schedule. If I had to change it, like was already happening for an endocrine appointment for my mom and a biopsy for myself, I would have to reschedule it just like any other appointment. I started on the weekend by attempting to back up my data files on a disc and my photos on a brand new portable hard drive. Neither of these worked. Yes, I used the snow days to try to be productive, yes it ended up being another waste of time.

Tuesday I had Joe run virus software. It was an all day project. By Wednesday, my computer wouldn't even turn on. I am not furious, dejected, deflated or anything similar. Hmmmm, what's that all about? I have peace about it. I had hard copies of the data and he was able to copy the photos. But what is this peace? Where is this nagging feeling coming from that wants to say, "Now you can't do anything". Sometimes, I admit, I don't get it. Is God saying "Rest and enjoy this beautiful time?" I don't think so. Actually, right now I am so bored I want to write--of course I will be doing it with a pen and paper.

And this is how I recognize the attack, the battle. Decide you are going to get on a schedule and write-the enemy counters with a week of school cancellations. Take time out to back up your documents-counter, you don't even have that computer where everything was saved anymore. Make a fire and try to read for awhile-the neighbor boy shows up for a live cowboy and indians show in the same room. Blow off the fire and go to whip off a quick blog enroute to closing yourself in your quiet bedroom with pen and paper-it's instantly silent downstairs. . .the boys are upstairs. Is this peace or just the emotion that oozes out from "you can't get anywhere, why even try?" This is the battle.

All I can gain from this is that what I am doing must be important-or the enemy wouldn't waste so much effort trying to stop me. Unfortunately, this doesn't put the fire under me that it should. What is the missing link to that fire?

The boys are back downstairs and it is quiet--I better run!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Resolutions. . .and February

After finding last years unaccomplished resolutions and realizing that they were the exact same as this years, I knew I had to make a change. I started evaluating how I spend my days and although I do all "good" stuff, it is not the best stuff I could be doing--ie, not in line with the goals I have set for myself. As 2 Corinthians says, I want to be compelled by Christ's love. That is my prayer, that I will accomplish what He has set before me to do compelled by His love. How a simple desire or calling becomes a passion to get something done I do not know. Hopefully, though, I will have an answer to share on that soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


It was bound to happen-I joined this century! OK, not fully, I don't text-why don't people just CALL? So in that I will remain old fashioned. . .until I get my new phone in May.

I have been meaning to set up a blog since . . .well, for a long time. I don't know exactly how I ended up doing it today except that I was on the Lifeway web site trying to get into an online Beth Moore Bible study and the next thing I knew I had a blog.

Normally I would make a big project out of this -which is why things take so long with me-I want everything to be a little perfect and in order the first time. Had I not set this up today I would have spent months picking the perfect name, format, photos etc. and ended up with nothing. This is one of those times I just went for it - Wow I finished something. Sometimes finishing something is just STARTING it.