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So much bad news it’s hard to even pick up a paper or turn on the TV or radio! It’s almost like the media has one goal and one goal only – create a nation of discouraged and depressed people.

However, the news I picked up and read this morning came from my Bible. “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

It may be true that we are in for a rough ride but God is in the boat keeping us afloat. Our most important task is to be the encourager in a discouraging world. Keep on praying, keep on witnessing and keep on clinging to the One is truly in control.

God is honest enough to warn us there will be trouble (John 16:33) but kind enough to remind us He will be our guard and guide through it. (Psalm 119:105) He is wise enough to know our situation before it happens (Psalm 139) and merciful enough to carry us through the hard parts. (Isaiah 46:4)

So get up, show up and stand up. Take that motion sickness pill and strap on the life jacket. You are going to get wet. You are going to get cold. You are going to get shaken about for a while. The political and social battles going on today guarantee it.

But never forget – “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:39-41

I did something very courageous this week – I submitted a proposal to Leafwood Publishers. I’ve been working on the book for two years. Pushing that submit button was like putting my heart and soul on an airplane and sending it off into the unknown.

There is a lot to preparing a book proposal. In fact, for this one, there were more than ten sections that needed to be filled out carefully and thoughtfully before even inserting the sample chapters for review. Much of the preliminary work had do do with social media – what was my platform, how many followers, how do I publicize my work, how will I market my book if it gets published, and so on.

All of that was daunting. I’m not a tech nerd. I really just dabble in the social media stuff. In fact, I struggled just figuring out how to see how many followers I have. Once I did I realized I don’t have a crowd of followers and I almost quit. But as I prayed over whether to keep going I discovered something.

I don’t have a crowd, I have a precious circle. I shared the first chapter of the book with my circle for feedback and it was heart lifting. Here is what I discovered – the thrill of having a book published will never come close to the joy of touching the heart of one sister in Christ. To get the feedback from this small circle of women and know that the writing touched them, felt personal to them, spoke to them and helped them in a time of hurt or brokenness is the greatest compliment I could ever hope to receive.

I don’t write to get famous. I write because God puts things on my heart to share. He wants to use my gift for His glory and there is no greater privilege or purpose.

I’m glad I put my book out there for the publisher to consider. It took courage and commitment. But I’m at peace with however God wants my words circulated – be it to my small circle or a wider audience. If one woman’s heart starts healing because of what I’ve shared, it is enough.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t help for you to “like”, “share” and especially “follow” my page, ladies. If nothing else, it would boost my confidence to see those stats grow a bit.

It’s kind of like pulling a scripture and sharing it with you. God gets a “like” and a “share” and hopefully a “follow” as a result.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26

May I continue to serve You, Lord, through the sharing of Your Word, and of the words You put on my heart. Amen

Oh Glorious Day!

Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. This was the week Jesus completed the work He came to do. I can’t help but reflect on the path I will walk my last week on earth.

Will I willingly choose to go into a place where I know I will suffer but where I also know I can have great impact? Jesus did. He entered Jerusalem fully knowing the crowd that welcomed Him would soon turn against Him. Hatred would soon permeate the air, and in the midst of that Jesus would perform the greatest act of love in history.

Will I take to time to stand up for what is right, for what matters? Jesus did. He entered the Temple and saw unrighteousness happening in that holy place. He took a stand that was unpopular and added more reason for the religious leaders to despise Him. He did it anyway because the honor of His Father was greater than any consequence.

Will I continue to witness and minister even when if I’m scorned and accused and questioned about my authority? Jesus did. He went back to the leaders who refused to accept Him and continued to teach them about the Messiah who was standing in their midst. He taught about love to those who hated. He warned about hypocrisy to the hypocrites. He cautioned, He predicted, He urged understanding. He used every minute He had left to make sure they understood His Father’s plan.

Will I make time for those most precious to me? Jesus did. He shared the Passover meal with His disciples and made memories they would need to carry on.

Will I make peace with my enemies? Jesus did. He gently and carefully washed the feet of His betrayer, Judas. He forgave before there was anything to forgive.

Will I accept what comes my way even if it’s unfair and cruel? Will I stay as close to my God as I possibly can? Will I speak healing words even as I face death? Jesus did. He prayed. He shared His agony with His disciples and let them see Him lay it all at His Father’s feet. He healed the soldier injured in the fight to capture Him.

Will I make sure my last words are ones that change the world? Jesus did. “Father forgive them …” Every heart in the crowd that witnessed His crucifixion witnessed His grace. The one who delivered the most brutal blows, the one who shouted angry words the loudest, the one who spit on Him – each received the same message – forgiveness.

To say the last week of Jesus was as glorious and impactful as the week of His birth is an understatement. I pray that I can set my soul on the same goal. Let me go out in a blaze of glory – doing what God has called me to do no matter how hard, unrewarding or painful. I long to hear my Master’s words:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23

Spring Cleaning

Funny how the minute March/April arrives the magazines on the newsstands start boasting articles titled – Organize Everything, or Spring Cleaning Is a Breeze.  There is just something about the promise of spring that makes us want to clear out the clutter of winter and breathe in the freshness of open spaces and tidy shelves.

The problem with spring cleaning is – you get into it, you are going gangbusters and then you come across something you forgot you’d kept, or something that brings up a flash from the past – and cleaning comes to a screeching halt. 

You look it over and you remember.  Might be a box of pictures and you have to sit down and thumb through them. Maybe it’s letters you kept and you find yourself reading them again. It could be a baby blanket or child’s artwork and you find yourself standing there with a tear in your eye, reliving a moment in the past.

Memory is a gift even though there are some things we’d prefer to forget – like hard times or mistakes we’ve made or times we’ve acted inappropriately and hurt someone we loved.   

I would imagine the disciples wished they could have forgotten the time they abandoned Christ in His hour of greatest need.  I guarantee that Peter would have loved to have lost forever the memory of denying his dear friend.  But if we remember only the good things – life would be shallow for us.

How could Mary Magdeline have truly embraced the miracle of complete cleansing if she had not first experienced the filth of her previous life?  How could Paul have recognized the miracle of his ministry had he not had a clear memory of his part in the persecution of those he now ached to reach for Christ?

The truth is we must never forget where we came from so that we can glory in where we are.

The story of Christ’s crucifixion, brutal and painful and horrible – that’s where we came from. 

The story of His resurrection – of rising from the ashes, of forgiveness and mercy and love – that’s where we are.

Our sin stood at the cross of Calvary, but our Savior stood in our place,

We were condemned, but He is the one who pled guilty,

We deserved punishment; He gave us a great reward. 

Soon, we will celebrate the exciting, triumphant memory of His resurrection.

 It will only have full meaning for us if we make ourselves dwell between now and then on the memory of his death. 

Open your Bibles this week and read again the tragic story of an innocent man climbing a hill called Calvary to suffer and die for those He loved.  Let yourself be sad and sorry.  Only then will you be in the right frame of mind to be jubilant and joyful on Easter Sunday.

Revelation 1:17b-18a: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and Last. I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever!”

Where I Am Today

Here I am, almost three years since my last post, pondering where I am today.

To say the road has been a bit winding would be an understatement. I’ve navigated the pandemic, watched grandkids dance, play, compete, graduate and start new careers and unfortunately, battle cancer. I’ve gotten good at coordinating my mask with my outfit of the day since I work in a healthcare facility. I have had some ups and downs spiritually, stayed ahead of the game physically and kept my sense of humor and positive attitude. Seasons have come and gone leaving their mark on all of us.

Today I’m considering retirement and that is a scary thing for me. I have let my identity become wrapped around my job and it’s nearly impossible to consider anything different. But – something tells me it’s time. I am praying for peace about this but so far, it’s been illusive.

Here are my biggest questions: What will I do when I’m not coming to work every day? Should I cut back hours or go the whole route? What will be my motivation to get up early and face a new day? How will togetherness with my spouse work when it’s 24 hours a day? And yes – even this one – what will they do without me? (The fear is they will do just fine!)

I would love thoughts and encouragement from those of you who’ve been there. I have been part of the workforce for 50 years. Is there life after retirement? How do you “set the date”? How do you fill your time? How do you still feel like a vital part of society? How do you keep from getting bored? How do you keep from overscheduling yourself because you are afraid you will be bored? How do you find those one or two things that keep you passionate, energized and at peace with your place in life?

Looking for answers, suggestions, tips! And prayers – always prayers.

The 4th book in the Prince Warriors series, this was probably the best. My 14 year old granddaughter has loved them all. A great read with a spiritual warfare theme. Lessons on following God are interwoven and it’s refreshing to find a clean, meaningful, well written series of books that I can offer young people and feel safe in my recommendation. I know my granddaughter will be watching for a 5th in the series. Would make a great movie.

Lifeway provided me with this picture book, The Marvelous Mud House by April Granley, for an honest review.

All I can say is Yes! This is the perfect time of year for gifting this book to a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other child who needs a Mud Housemessage on abundance.  Beautifully written, it is the story of the hungry household where there is a constant want for more and the contented family in the marvelous mud house. It’s about discovery and joy and looking beyond yourself to see a greater need.

Not only is the story well done, but I was captivated by the illustrations – rich colors and appealing designs.  Children will love discovering all of the interesting things on each page that point to the different cultures. And the song the mother and her son in Kenya sing declaring their great wealth (though they have little compared to the hungry household) is beautiful.

The ending is perfect.  “Two houses that night rang with laughter and dance, one marvelous mud house on a mountain, and one happy house on a ranch!” 

What a beautiful story to teach the value of fullness and joy.  I highly recommend this book be placed under every Christmas tree, in every church nursery and on every grandparent’s bookshelf.  It is sure to become a classic read.

As a worship leader this book spoke to me. The reinforcement given that singing is a vital part of the Christian life, the church and the soul was refreshing. Keith and Kristyn Getty have so thoroughly defined the premise behind why we sing our praises. It’s broken down into chapters that discuss how we are created, commanded and compelled to sing. That singing is personal but also a spiritual gift for bonding the family and for unifying the church. As you read through the book you realize why you are spurred to singing in the shower and at the top of your lungs in the car. Even the one who thinks they can’t carry a tune in a bucket will be inspired by this book and will be willing to step out and let their voice be heard. I’ve shared so many snippets from the book with my congregation and I would recommend it to every pastor and worship team as required reading.

Seasons

As autumn sweeps over the valley I call home I can’t help but marvel at the beauty and wonder that in all actuality signals the death of summer and warns us that winter is just around the corner. I am a warm weather lover. I don’t shed my jacket until the air hits at least 75 degrees, 80 is better and 85 is perfect. I want to be out in it, inhaling sunshine. But as soon as that pre-winter chill hits, I’m the sit by the fire and read girl, a quilt over my legs and a hot beverage in my hand.

Still – autumn captures me. I love russet maples. I love the sight of trees that rain down gold and yellow. I love the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet and I smile when one lands lightly on my hair or floats past close enough to brush my cheek. Logically I know they are dying. But spiritually, I sense them dancing.

They have accomplished their mission in life, to bud and unfurl and shine lush green, giving shelter to birds and squirrels and frisky house cats. They have dressed the branches in a vibrant veil of life and given the breeze something to tickle. They’ve provided shade for the summer lover, a cool spot to sit and watch bees and butterflies do their thing.

And now that their virile days are over, they don’t go out without making a statement. Oh no – nothing quiet about their golden age. They transform. They get out their catchiest outfits, they wear red, they laugh in rusty tones, they twirl and float and settle soft.
They know the secret. They know that while others might see their purpose at an end, they have much more to offer. Children will love to jump and play in them, friends will enjoy walking through them, couples will grasp hands for warmth and share special moments taking in the beauty they add to the landscape.

Winter will come, snow will cover them until the world forgets they were ever there. But they will still be doing their work, mulching the earth to provide nourishment for the new growth that comes with the spring.

Never forget that like the leaves, God has a purpose and a plan for us at every age. Our mission is to listen, follow His leading, and embrace our value in our current season. Don’t lament the fertile green we once wore when you can dress in a ball gown of autumn colors. Don’t regret the day you find you must rest at the root of the tree when you can treasure the memory of the journey that brought you there and the rich heritage you leave for the new growth that is nourished by it.

“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” . Psalm 71:18

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