Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Doodles on Discipline

Discipline. Don't you just love it? Me neither, but it is a must if we're ever going to get anything done.

This morning it was all I could do to stay in that chair to type those entries on my paper. Suddenly, doing the laundry looked more appealing, oh, and sucking the lint off the coils in back of my fridge--a must-do, right? 

  Discipline has never been a strength of mine. How about you? No, anytime I've been disciplined, it had a little sweat on it. I guess that's what discipline is, something you work at until it becomes a part of you. 

  Someone I know who seems to have been disciplined all her life talked about what got her there. She said, "You just do it. Don't think about it, or you'll talk yourself out of it. Just get moving. Just do it."

I've been in "just do it mode" before. My legs would swing over the side of the bed, ignoring the pleas to sleep just five more minutes. Sometimes I remind myself what shape I'm in and it motivates me to go walking. I am not in that mode with exercise right now. I want to get back to that place in that part of my life. What about you? Where do you want to build a habit? Your prayer life? Exercise? Making time for relationships instead of always putting them off? 
What part do you believe God plays in forming a habit? Do you think He leaves that part of our lives up to us? 

I think we can always ask Him to help us have the mindset we need to get disciplined. We can get so bogged in the trying that we forget the why. There has to be a why or it's just tedious and boring! Am I right?

 Ok, so think now of your area that's in need of discipline. Got it? Now answer the why question. In other words, what is the point? What benefits will you get if you discipline yourself?

Here is the clincher: how badly do you want the result?  This colors every aspect of it. What you are aiming to accomplish has to mean more to you than all you have to go through to get it. 

I have a quote on my wall that says it in a nutshell. Muhammad Ali said, " I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"

Could it be we need to go ahead and admit that some things just aren't worth what it takes to get them? No shame, just getting honest with ourselves. A muffin top is not so bad if it means giving up sweating and grunting and "all like-o'-that" as my  mom-in-law says. 

Some things don't mean what they should to us. For those, we call on God to change our perspective. Do you believe He will? It beats all the squirming in guilt, I think. 

One last thing on this topic. I think the biggest enemy of discipline is perfectionism. We set out with the goal of licking a problem definitively and for all time, amen. 


We defeat ourselves from the get-go. Oh, we say nobody is perfect, but in our minds we aim for it anyway. Then, we get discouraged because the exquisite portrait we painted in our heads is poorly reflected in the lopsided- stick-man, colored-outside-the lines that is our reality. God has been saying to me for quite sometime, "Don't look at Me. That portrait in your head is one of YOUR making. I called you to something better than perfection. I called you to walk in step with Me--even with your stumbling and missteps. I said to take up my yoke and LEARN of Me. I don't need your perfection and you don't either. " 

Chew on that, my friends, and share with me your thoughts. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Hard Day

Somebody hurt my feelings today.

No use trying not to think about it. It's all I can think about. You know, sometimes you're not ready to be made to feel better. Sometimes you want to be given time to get to wanting help to feel better, don't you?

It was a remark that took me by surprise. I never trusted this person completely anyway, but just when I let my guard down and acted  like it might be a normal relationship after all, WHAM!

 No more. 

I don't think God wants us to be fools who keep going back for a bloody nose. 
This remark was a jab at a weak spot I can't do anything about. No, not a weak spot, just a step below their step. This remark revealed what I've suspected all along. It's kind of like when you walk and your slip peeks out every few steps. 

Anyway, I can spiritualize this and come up with a happy ending, but I'm too tired for that. 
It's late and I'll likely be over it tomorrow when you read this post.

Thanks, Folks, for stopping by like you do! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Enjoy God's Forgiveness!

Guilt. There is no feeling like it. It's a nasty feeling like when I skip a day taking a shower..except the feeling is on the inside. For me, it starts like piercing in the middle  of my chest. Then that dirty feeling hops a ride through every vein in my body and spreads the news, " She did it again! How could she? How many times is she gonna do this? I thought we were at least done with THIS sin." 

My spirit cowers because it agrees with everything that's said.

I know forgiveness is available for the asking, but my sense of unworthiness says, " No, don't ask for it just yet. You don't deserve a quick forgiveness. You should suffer a little before you go plunge in the cleansing flood."  Anyone been there too?
So,  on your weaker days, you stay a while outside the Pool, lingering long enough to let the guilt get in a few extra punches before you jump in. 

You may stay away from your Bible awhile because the guilt is already intense and you're afraid if you read, you'll feel even worse, and you don't know if you can take it. Maybe you even stay away from church, waiting for the sting to wear off so you can stand to face everyone. Friend, your guilt has morphed into shame! 

This is exactly what the enemy wanted. Don't give him the satisfaction!

I remember as a child, along with other kids on the free lunch program at school, being shamed out of  going inside to get the meal being offered. I allowed those bullies to keep me hungry all day because I tried to act like I wasn't hungry.  I can hear you saying it now, "But you WERE hungry, and that's what the lunch program was for!" 

Same with forgiveness. We ARE guilty and that's what the blood of Christ is for. Don't allow the bully of shame to make you stand outside and go without what God provided. Guilt is what forgiveness is for! Don't go hungry for His forgiveness. He WANTS you to take it.

No more lingering outside to self-flog or let the enemy get in an extra lick either. Jesus already took all the licks you need. Your taking a few extra is disrespectful of what He did. He meant it when He said, "It is finished," so let it be finished. 

So what do you do with that sense of indebtedness you feel at receiving something so wonderful and undeserved? You just wanna pay Him back, don't you? Pay it in the currency that God accepts: show that same forgiveness to somebody else. Despite your anger with them, you are more undeserving of God's forgiveness than you feel they are of yours. This forgiveness stuff becomes less between you and your offender and more between you and God. You owe God the forgiving of your offender. 

Friend, this is good news! Step in, receive that wonderful, undeserved, unfair forgiveness then turn around and give it to someone else.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Test of Faith

Remember when I told you that the Lord had given permission to not borrow money to go to school but to trust Him to provide?

Well, one semester something went wrong. I can’t remember what it was, but there was no money for that semester’s classes. What to do?

I can still see it in my mind’s eye; sitting in my car in the parking lot of the school wrestling with what? My vow? Myself? God? Whoever was in the ring with me was not getting any rest. See, the school had a program where you could fill out a form (it was on blue paper) if you were having trouble with tuition. I hated those forms because they seemed to ask everything from what your income was to what color underwear your grandmother was wearing when Kennedy was killed. I tried to fill it out, but I kept getting stuck. There was this nagging voice (not audible) that kept frustrating the process. The interchange went something like this:

Voice: Not speaking but going tap…tap…tap…tap on my conscience.

Me: Ignore…fidget…squirm…try to concentrate on filling out the form.

Voice: Nudge…nudge… poke…. “I thought we had an agreement.”

Me: SIGH….stare straight ahead. Clearing my throat.

Voice: “Remember? No taking out loans.”

Me: “This is not a loan. They will pay my tuition up front and then over the semester I will pay the money…back.”

Voice: Not saying a word…just letting my eyes land on the top of the page of the form where it read “Loan Application for Student Aid”

That was it. I tore it up right there in the car.

So how was I supposed to pay for classes?

Oh! I remember now why I had no school money: the scholarship awards were split. I had already received the first half, and the new term had begun long before the second half of the award was due me.

You have to know me to understand why all of this was such a big deal. I am a rule follower. I am unassuming. Nobody owes me anything and I do not ask people to bend the rules for me. It simply isn’t done. God has a way of challenging our trumped-up principles. We can piece together a rule-book that God has no intention of signing off on. I had no choice. I needed to call the head of the scholarship committee and ask for an advance on the money I was due to have next semester.

He was very kind but said he would have to call a meeting to get approval for this to happen. I felt this was highly irregular. I don’t like asking people to do highly irregular stuff for me. I envisioned the committee all in their beds when their telephones rang and they each got out of bed and walked to the other side of the room on a cold floor to answer a call about me.  It was humbling.

You know what, though? God is in the business of doing highly irregular things when His children find themselves in highly irregular circumstances! How about that time when the Israelites needed a little more daylight to finish their fighting? No problem, God kindly made the sun stand still at Joshua’s highly unusual request (Joshua 10:12-13).

The Syrophonecian woman, in essence, got told by the Son of God that it would be highly irregular for Him to heal her demon-possessed son since technically only the house of Israel was on His current agenda.  She was not so easily put off.  Her faith found a tiny loophole, if you will, and she got the healing she needed for her child (Mark 7:24-29).

My need was nothing compared to these examples, but I serve the same God they did. You do too!

Back to the story.

If you know anything about church committees, you know nothing happens quickly.

By now you’re probably not surprised that the leader called the next day and said he’d contacted enough people to make the move on my behalf and the check was in the mail.

That’s it. That’s my story.

Fear dogged my every step, but in the end, by God’s grace and my taking Him at His word, she lost! 

How about you? Is Fear reigning in your life or are you drop-kicking her ne step of faith at a time?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Fear and Faith Journey

Here is the rest of the story, Friends.

Let me back up a little. One of the requirements for acceptance into the school was a letter from my pastor. I was one of 30,000 members and my pastor didn’t know me from Adam’s horsefly. I had to go to the pastoral office for an interview. I’ll never forget it. I was so nervous!  I was working in the church nursery at the time, and I asked a group of friends to pray the interview would go well. I get to the pastoral office and the lay-pastor says, “Georgia, your reputation precedes you.” Huh? What reputation? He said, “As I was walking to my office for this interview, I ran into _______________.   She said,  'You are about to interview Georgia today and ….” I don’t even remember what was said but when I got out of that interview, my heart was so full! I had never felt the urge to shout until that day. I never felt the urge to dance and raise my hands like I did that day. I'm not a shouter or dancer and  I was not in a place where that sort of behavior would be understood,. So, I went to the church library, waaaay behind the back shelves where nobody could see me, and I raised my hands, waved them in a way that God would hear “HALLELUJAH” from my heart. I didn’t dare speak. Tears stung my eyes. I was not the crying type. I paced the floor with glory-to-God---there-is-NOBODY-like-You,-Lord energy! My God, your God, our Way-Maker had caused the path of the nursery supervisor and lay-pastor to intersect at just the right moment on behalf of little old me.

He’ll do it for you, too, My Friend. I know He already has for many of you, but right now you may be facing a new challenge and the terrain looks like nowhere your feet have been before. That’s alright. If the Father has called you there, He’s already got cleats, sandals, snowshoes, hiking boots---whatever kind of shoe you need to get across that terrain. I have learned that it’s ok if your legs are trembling so long as the feet attached are stepping out in faith. Are you going to go or not?

OK, now for the tuition part.

I had a little money saved for my first class that summer. Earlier that spring, I heard a voice say, “Loan that money to ___________.” I pretended He was talking to someone else. I reasoned that it was the devil trying to trip me up. I rationalized that it was my overactive conscience and that I should ignore it. The impression would not go away. Ya’ll, I went to the mat on that one! How did I know I would get the money back in time? You already know what happened. I loaned the money through tight fists and gritted teeth, and the money was returned in time.

My church had a scholarship program for students back then. Fear said, “That money is for young people trying to pay for college, not old heads like you.” I think I may have talked to a friend about it, and she encouraged me to apply anyway. The amount of money I got determined how many classes I could take. I started out with one class. The next semester, I went to pay for one class. 

“Ma’am, your class has already been paid for.” 

The tears came before I could compose myself. The lady looked a little embarrassed at such emotion. I couldn’t help it. Why would anyone want to pay my way? Who was I? I was able to take a second class that semester with the money I had from the scholarship program.

Over time, I noticed that the checks got smaller each scholarship season.  One time I got called to the office. That feeling was like going to the principal’s office.
“Someone has donated $1,000 in scholarship money-an anonymous donor.” Another student was in the office with me and was receiving the same amount. I remember we both sat in stunned silence and got our lips to move at the same time when we said, “Oh my gosh!” Apparently, that sort of thing happened all the time because one office lady said to the other, “I thought I’d let you have the experience this time.” Imagine what it’s like to be on her side of things; having the joy of sharing exciting news of money falling from heaven to needy students. God bless whoever it was who gave!
I now have a notebook with letters I got in the mail during those years of anonymous donors giving $100 and $500, but that’s not all.

I fear I’ve made this post too long so I will save the rest for tomorrow.
Know this: this is not a story about me. I hope you see, I’m nothing special. I have all the same doubts and fears as any of you. No, this is the story of one regular person’s experience with an extraordinary God. You have stories too! I’d love to hear them!  You may email me: ordinerrygirl@yahoo.com.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Fight With Fear

I was reading the account of the Israelites when they saw the Egyptian soldiers coming after them. God had just delivered them from 400 years of bondage and they’d witnessed the amazing feats the Lord performed through the ten plagues. Listen to what they said as they saw the clouds of dust from the chariots and horses feverishly advancing toward them: “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:11-12)

They were lying through their chattering teeth! They were getting out of Egypt as fast as they could when the time came. Fear will do that to you. It will rewrite your history.  Fear will make the bondage you came out of shine with a glow it NEVER possessed-- all because the blank screen of the future is unclear.  You have to pull yourself together, Girl! Don’t swallow the lies your fake friend Fear tells you. “I’m only trying to protect you from harm and from looking like a fool,” she says. Fear has a vivid imagination. She paints in detail all the things that will go wrong if you trust God. She makes “safe” look like a beautiful, cushy place when in reality it is ugly with disobedience, unbelief, and boredom!

I recall MANY times when fear tried all of the above on me. (She has me on speed-dial. You too?) Her best tactic with me is, “There’s no money for that.” She used it to try to keep me out of seminary. Keith and I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, and I was at home full time homeschooling our three children. I’ll tell you some other time how the Lord called me to go back to school, but God made it plain He wanted me to go. None of it made sense. What about the children? Keith worked days so how was all of that going to work out? Online was not an option for the schools I wanted to attend. Ladies, when all of those questions come up that you don’t have an answer for, you gotta pass the buck to God! He can handle it!

I applied for seminary and was accepted, but I still didn’t know how I would pay for it.

God led me to the biography of a man named George Mueller. I consider him the prince of faith in God. God led George Mueller to start I don’t know how many orphanages with not ONE fundraiser or request of ANY kind to anyone but Him. You heard me right. He only went to God in prayer and every. single.  time., God showed up. For example, one day they had run out of food. Mueller had all the children get up that morning and sit at the table as usual. They prayed for God to provide breakfast. Then came the knock at the door. It was the milk man. His truck had broken down, and he wondered if they could use the milk. Then came the baker. God had awakened him early and impressed upon him to bake enough bread to take to the orphanage. Stuff like that happened all the time with Mueller.

With this story burning a hole in my heart, I asked God if I could trust Him like that. “Lord, may I get Your permission to commit to not take out any student loans to pay for school for me?” Our Daddy granted permission and then the games began!! Was I scared? Yes. Did I have times when I wished I’d done it like normal people and took out loans? Sadly, yes, but if I had gone that route, I would have missed out on all God did in those years.

I gotta get ready for work, so I will continue this tomorrow. Just let me leave you with this. Fear is a thief of godly adventure. She is always telling lies on God and trying to kidnap you from your purpose. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 12;6).  So, Girls, let’s get to “faithin’”!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Free Writing: Day 12

Back to the story I began yesterday . I wanted to share what I learned in hopes it will encourage you.

First, I learned that what I want God to do and what God wants to do may not be the same. I cried out earnestly to Him about this problem, and it seemed He was silent. Didn't He care that I was suffering? I assumed that He wanted me out of my predicament as much as I did. That may be true, but the difference was WHEN! Extended time in God's waiting room turns the walls into mirrors where we see ourselves in ways we otherwise might not. Sometimes those mirrors reveal fat rolls of entitlement, and a sagging commitment to trust Him though He slay us (Job 13:15). We discover that we've pieced together a theology that is not in God's size and color. It fits the god we assumed He is, and we must make adjustments. Also, long waits can bring out the spoiled brat we didn't know lived inside. Mine got spanked. It's what happens with a loving Father (Hebrews 12:6). 

The second lesson was more a reminder than a fresh truth:  Convictions are nonnegotiable- so anytime you're negotiating, you have taken a wrong turn. Get back to right as quickly as possible. 

Finally, there is a subtle decay that happens when we start down the road of compromise. This I find so scary. Like I mentioned yesterday, you're not aware anything is happening for a while. You may even be enjoying the time away. Outwardly, you're looking more powerful; however, underneath your heart is growing colder toward God, your spiritual ears are getting more hard of hearing, your soul is getting lean, and you are missing out on your purpose and His presence. It's not worth it! 

Well, that's what I learned through that last storm. I'm not proud of how I handled it, but if YOU learn something from the journey, it takes the sting out just a little. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Free Writing: Day 11

Waiting is hard, isn’t it? There seem to be seasons where waiting is the only thing happening. Waiting for the check in the mail, waiting for the mechanic to call to say your car is ready, waiting for an apology or for someone to change.

God has brought me through a terrible season of waiting. It was so difficult and frustrating. Some waiting seasons are so long you quit praying for what you want to happen and just try to get through them with your wits intact.

After this last waiting storm, my spirit was tattered and there was a sizeable hole in a place that had once been air-tight. In order to be as vague as possible, let’s just say I let my convictions slip. Something I had always been careful not to do became a heart-habit. Some soul-searching in hindsight has yielded the following: I became angry with God and got tired of all of that waiting. I had prayed and begged and tried to be patient, but my patience ran out. It didn’t run out in one gush; it was a slow leak and before I realized, I began morphing a clear-cut conviction into a gray area. Do you get what I am saying? My spirit was angry with God so I figured, “Why should I be so meticulous in areas where others seem to have no problem slacking off. Maybe I’ve been too uptight about ___________.” It all sounded so logical at the time. Anger has that way about it. It fuels what your sinful nature wants to do anyway. It leaves the door unlocked so that ugly things can walk in. Believe me, they WILL walk in and have a seat, eat your food, sleep in your bed, steal your joy, and leave you messed up!

This reminds me of the Bible’s account of Samson and Delilah. Remember? Delilah asked Samson the secret to killing his amazing strength. When he finally told her, the Bible says he got up that next morning like always and didn’t know the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:20) Chilling!

That’s how compromise will do you. You rationalize here, side-step there, and ride the fence in another place until you are far away from where you once were, and you don’t even know it.

This is where I found myself. Until Wednesday night. I was at Bible study and the Holy Spirit, with a gentleness that makes me want to hug Him if I could, spoke to me: “Daughter, you’ve got to get back to center.” Then He mentioned that heart-habit. “Remember when this was not a part of your life?” When God shows you stuff, sometimes it makes you gasp. He gives you a glimpse of that spot you used to occupy in the secret place of the Most High…in the shadow of the Almighty. Then He shows how huge the gap is to the desert place where you wound up.

“Repent and come back to Me,” He said, as He patted that place on His lap. That place where I had leaned on His holy chest and cried because I was frustrated with Him in my waiting.

I am so thankful for His grace that called me back. I have confessed and that sin is out of my life. His forgiveness is so sweet and so undeserved.

What about you, My Friend? Are you angry with God? Have you pulled away from Him? Have your convictions in certain areas slipped? Come back.

Tomorrow I will share about some lessons this storm has taught me. In the meantime, I invite you to  bow before Him in repentance, and recommit yourself  to Him. Climb back into His lap and enjoy renewed fellowship with our heavenly Daddy. There’s nothing like it!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Free Writing: Day 10

You would be proud of me. I plugged along at work today and then after work, I went to a place with free wi-fi and worked on my paper. Yes, the BIG paper!

This whole dissertation thing is teaching me some incredibly important life lessons.  First, even if you think something is impossible for you to achieve, try it and prove yourself a liar. If others have done it, then you can't rightly call it impossible, can you? I remember a long while back telling God, "I want to attempt something that's really hard and DO it!" I recall the burn and ache in my heart when I said it. I don't think I had anything specific in mind when I prayed it. Well, maybe I did, but even if the doing wasn't what I had in mind, I wanted to do SOMETHING that fit that description. I wanted to do something I could call to mind on my deathbed that I could look back with pride and say, "I know what it's like to face a challenge and get through to the other side of it. I was not one who only knows what it's like to quit."  I have quit some things that still sting when I think about them. No big deal. Everybody has at least one of them in their closet. I just want to see something beautiful hanging next to it. Something with sweat on it and maybe some scars and scratches. Something hard won. This degree is that to me. The thought of it overwhelms me at times. It has taken working like a dog at a second job and coming home dead tired with aching feet. It has taken out of me what others needed from me.

Still, I have entertained the idea of calling it off. I have made some pretty good arguments for why quitting made logical sense, but my heart won't let me.
I've learned that you get to a point where you've invested too much in a thing to not finish it. Even if the original idea has lost it's luster, it'll dull all the more if you just leave it to die on the side of the road.

  Know what else? When you undertake something hard, you don't do it alone. Even if your feet are the only ones moving, others are traveling with you in their hearts. It's the most amazing thing. Humbling, too. You look up and discover people are cheering you on, wanting you to make it, offering help to get you to the finish line. For a girl who often feels it's all up to her, this has been a beautiful discovery. There is a cloud of witnesses that somehow take on the challenge with you and seem delighted to be a part of it. My heart squeezes with something I can't describe when I think of it. It feels like gratitude mixed with awe mixed with the kind of tears that come before you realize it.

 One more life lesson: You have to think of mountain climbing in steps. If you look at the whole thing at one time it'll paralyze you, but anybody can do steps. Today as I sat at that table, my goal was to work on just one case study. Whether I finished it out in that sitting or not was not the point. I had an itch that could only be scratched with progress, any sort of progress.
What are you facing today that is too big to look fully in the face? A project at home? Raising a child? Finding a job? Forgiving someone for a big hurt? Peel away at it a layer at a time. You'll get there, and we both can celebrate by planting a flag on Mount It Was Hard, But I Did It.

Are you with me?

See you at the top!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Musings of a Mother With an Empty Nest

I am sad and I don't feel like writing. My last child moved out last night. I knew this day would come, and I am happy for him. I am sad for me. 

I will eventually see the bright side, but not right now. This event marks a milestone and milestones say things about your life even if you're not ready to hear them. This one is saying, "You are getting older."

 I answer back, "Shut up!"

Milestone keeps on talking, "Your kids are all grown up, and they don't need you like they did when they were little." I raise my hand to slap Milestone, but he says, " How will you ever have grandchildren if your children never grow up?" I smile a little.  Milestone keeps talking because my hand has lowered but is still high enough to hit him in the mouth. "Your life is not over, it's just transitioning. You are still needed in other ways, and God has plans for you that you don't even know about yet." My hands meet at my chest in silent hope and delight. 
I sigh. 

This is good news.

My heart still pinches a little as I watch my 6'2" baby walk out the door. I remember bringing him home from the hospital. Scenes flash through my mind: him sitting on my lap as I taught him to read, him sitting on the bench in his adorable Little League outfit, and before I knew it, he was lanking across the stage in a cap and gown. Now he works a real job and has an outlook on life that makes me proud. 

Sigh. Smile. 

  "It's gonna be alright," Milestone and I say in unison. 

Then I go to sleep so I can stop thinking about it all, thankful that the sun will come up tomorrow and remind me to keep rolling and living and transitioning. It's the way of every mother.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Free Writing: Day 8

Today I read about our sister Jochabed, mother of Moses. I love peeling back the pages of the Bible and digging between the lines. There is great theology hiding in those spots! 

First, imagine how stressful it must have been to be pregnant while knowing the government has put a hit out on your baby if he is a boy. I wonder how many premies were born in those communities from that stress. There had to be some amped-up prayer lives as well--prayers to birth a girl instead of a boy, prayers for a quiet baby if he was a boy, and prayer for a reversal of that wicked edict. 

Our times are no different. A new president who said some reckless things during his campaign is enough to make us pray. Will he tick off the wrong country? Can we really trust him? How will his behavior reflect on us on the world stage? These are stressful times. Politics birth a lot of prayers.

Jochabed kept her baby hidden for three months. How did she do it? Babies sleep a lot in those first few weeks, but what did she do to keep him quiet after that? Did Moses have a favorite chew toy? Did Big Sister Miriam learn some tricks to keep him entertained? Did Jochabed teach Miriam to pray  for Moses' quietness when she tucked her in each night? 

It couldn't have been easy seeing her friends racked with grief over their own babies' deaths by crocodile and drowning. What if one of them grew jealous of her getting to keep her boy-child and reported her? 

 How did she know to prepare a waterproof basket on just the right bath day of Pharaoh's daughter? You I believe God spoke to her in whatever way he spoke to people back then. We can ask her when we get to Heaven, but I'm almost certain prayer was an ingredient in the mix of all of it. 

Then that day when Moses was found--don't you know Mom told Miriam to keep watch and that she coached her on what to say to the Princess? 

I love that Jochabed got paid to nurse her own baby. You already know she held her face extra close to him and as he drank her milk, her spirit deeply drank in every cherished moment that wasn't supposed to be. Something about looking in the face of a miracle that makes you want to shout and rejoice. You realize you are a character in a flipped script Whose Director and Producer is God. What are you living that is the result of a flipped script? Are you a cancer survivor? A recovering addict? A survivor of a financial crisis that would have made others jump from a building? Are you simply glad to be in your right mind after grief tried to run you out of it? What's your story of God's divine doings that are marvelous in your eyes? 

Finally, after Jochabed weaned her sweet Moses, she had to let him go. Don't tell me she didn't cry as he was taken away. I wonder what keepsake she handmade for him to take to the palace to remember her by? She had to comfort herself, "Cheer up. At least he isn't dead. You may never see him again, but you know where he is." Sometimes we have to choose to focus on the good that IS even when it's far from what we wanted. We must find joy where we can and hold on until the Lord sets all things right. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Free Writing: Day 7

Have you ever had one of those days that felt like the brakes didn’t work? Yesterday was like that for me. I got up determined to do something good that would make me proud of myself if nothing else got done: I walked for thirty minutes while listening to peppy music. Then I cleared away the last bit of Christmas stuff in the shed and burned some things that were too big to fit into the trash can. I love living out in the country where I can do that. I could have gone on burning things for a while but knew I had other more pressing things to do like buy food.

Off to the grocery store I went. I was starving when I got there, and I knew better than to shop while ravenous. I bought a delicious toasted egg white sub with jalapenos and devoured it without washing it down with anything (I am on a savings kick and decided I could do without the purchase of a beverage). My leg started doing strange things while I walked around (so THIS is how old age creeps up on you!) and I made a note to never wear a certain pair of boots ever again lest I lame myself for life.

Grocery shopping done, I unloaded, showered, and headed off to a lunch date with a dear friend. I love her! She always feeds me and gives me glimpses into her life that give me hope for mine. She has struggled with things I am facing now, and God has brought her through. She also makes me feel like a kid sister. The older you get, the more you come to appreciate that.  She told me I am still young and that I have a lot ahead of me.

Next, I stopped by Walmart (I can never get everything in one trip without forgetting something. Even when I do the list thing, I forget the list or manage to forget something while looking right at it on the list. SIGH, the way of the perfectionist is hard!) I dashed off to see another friend and remained there until time to pick up hubby from work since one of our cars is down.

 I got home so tired my skull was numb. I dosed off thinking how I would not have a blog post for the real Day 7.

Can any of you relate to any of this?

This morning Hubby and I went to church, and it was so encouraging! Oftentimes, I feel I am just a hair away from falling off the wagon altogether and then I get to church and my pastor says something to help me to keep going a little while longer. God was smart when He said not to forsake getting together. He knew we would need constant doses of encouragement and that others would need it from us!  I got home roasted (tired). Took a delicious nap and then God did a merciful thing for me: He got me to sit my behind down in front of my computer and WRITE! It’s not as easy as you think, especially when you are looking at Mount Dissertation and everything in you is saying to go find stuff to burn. Praise God, I made strides.

That is all.  Please share: How did you spend your weekend?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Writing: Day 6

Dear Hurting Friend,

I know that the pain you feel right now seems like it will last forever. The shock has worn off and all of your emotional nerve endings seem twice as sensitive.

Do not despair. God is still there. Though you can’t see Him, know that He is touched with your suffering. Refuse to turn to anyone or anything else for what only He can give you. Don’t close yourself off from friends and family either. Solitude is the devil’s interrogation room where he hurls questions at you that you are too weak to answer right now. One word is all you need for now—one name, the Name: Jesus. It will send him running. He hates that name.

Don’t do anything rash, don’t make any important decisions while you are in this state of mind. You cannot be trusted to see clearly because you are feeling so deeply. Tread water for now.

Maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Maybe you are disillusioned with someone who was supposed to be there but wasn’t. You may be boiling someone in the oil of your anger. You may just be sick and tired of yourself. No matter your cell block, allow the Lord to come sit with you in it.


Open your Bible and read it. It’s OK if you are too upset to believe it will do any good. Even if you have to read through eyes blurred by tears or through eyes slitted with anger, I dare you to READ! I cannot explain how it works, but it does. It has to do with positioning yourself in the presence of God. even when you are mad at Him, it’s a way of saying in the language of the heart, “I am here. Help me. I am not sure all You said in the light is true in this dark place, but I am willing to let you show me.” Sometimes it’s not the reading of the words that bring healing, but where the thoughts of those words lead. Give God a chance to show Himself to you. Don’t rush it either. Stay there until He blesses you. Sometimes you come away with an answer, sometimes with a resolve to not give up just yet, sometimes with the reminder that although the clouds may be blocking the sun, the sun in still there! Either way, it’s hope!

Another path of breadcrumbs that will lead you out of the valley is to sing. If your heart is too heavy to move your lips, let the song hitch a ride on the cadence of your breathing. Pick any God-song and sing it. Music has a way of reaching crevices in the heart that words alone cannot. I’ve been there. The memory of His love for me that my emotions try to tell me isn’t there comes flooding back. Sometimes the sweetness of it sizzling against my hot anger, sorrow, or frustration emits an aroma that takes me back to my first love. Yours too.

The point is this: reach out to God when everything in you wants to pull away. It’s a decision you have to make. In response, He will take your hand and your heart and lead you in the way everlasting. Bless His name!

Free Writing: Day 5

Today I saw the movie, “Hidden Figures,” about three black women who played key roles in the United States space program in the 1960’s. When I saw the previews earlier last year, I couldn’t wait to see it.

I was so proud of those women, especially the brilliant mathematician. It reminded me of the day I taught our boys how God got the last laugh against racial prejudice when Jesse Owens won the gold for our county in the Olympics and Hitler would not shake Owens’ hand. God is in the business of breaking stereotypes and making fools of people who erect them.

As an African-American woman, I was especially proud because, according to society, I have two strikes against me: my color and my gender. I am thankful my parents made us girls aware that people think that way, but that it had nothing to do with what we could achieve.

Allow me to ramble a moment. I have noticed that in some circles of the black community, there is a defeatist mentality. There is the expectation that the answer will be no before even posing the question. There is the idea that whatever one is trying to attain, there is a loophole designed to disqualify them. I have seen people outside that mentality get mad at people inside it. They roll their eyes and shake their heads and accuse the insiders of being lazy or unwilling to try for whatever negative reason. May I suggest that sometimes, many times that negative mentality is attained honestly? One can get so used to being turned down that it is self-preservation to expect it so as to soften the blow. Those who have not experienced the no as many times assume it’s just in the insiders’ heads. It’s not—at least not all the time it isn’t.

I am thankful that my parents were believers that we could be achievers. Whether one is an insider or outsider, he or she can choose to look to their Creator to carve out a path that fits their feet. God can open a door no man can shut. This belief can make a body brave and encouraged to venture out against the odds. That goes for you, too, Dear Reader. Whatever you feel your disadvantage is, God already has an app for it. Your background, your insecurities, your shortcomings, your age, your credit score, lack of experience or education or any other lack--stack them all up on the scale together, put the God Who is for you on the other side and you win EVERY time!

One part of the story in the movie was intriguing to me. A Caucasian woman in authority told one of the characters that she really had nothing against “them” to which the black lady replied, “Yes, I am sure you believe that.” I, too, have run into people who pride themselves in being open-minded and unbiased, but they’re not. It does no good to point that out to them unless they are ready to change it . I believe they have a blind spot that was given to them by their parents and others who didn’t know any better or didn’t care to change it if they did know. Nobody is as pure in thought or motives as he believes. It’s an area that needs growth like any other part of our character.

I believe I am in a unique position. I am an African-American woman who has spent most of her life with white friends and church members. I understand things that the average black person doesn’t about white people. And vice-versa. The hackles and defenses are up on both sides and only a genuine desire to see things from the other side’s perspective will yield significant results. It’s happening in some pockets of the world, but it needs to be more widespread.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Free Writing: Day 4

Today’s writing prompt is to write about writing. What do I love about it? What do I hate? Where do I struggle?

Here goes:

I love writing because it is a world in which I feel understood. When I am writing, I am initially writing to myself. I always understand exactly what I mean. It is my home turf, a place where I feel I belong and am always welcomed. It’s a canvas on which there is no wrong color to paint. Even if those words are ugly or selfish, they are what I feel at that moment and so no judging is appropriate. The attitude or emotion behind the words may be wrong, but the words themselves are honest and are not asking for anybody’s opinion. They are mine.
I love writing because it is the stage God provided for me as a young girl to express myself on when speaking my feelings were not allowed or were too scary to say aloud. I could write and vent and hide those words so nobody could see them. There was no scolding or chiding or ridiculing when I wrote. It was an outlet that was God’s way of letting me relieve the pressure of anger, frustration, fear, or even the overwhelming infatuation I had for a ninth-grade boy who didn’t know this seventh-grade girl thought he looked like a Greek god as his lanky figure floated to his locker each day.

I love writing because it gave me a sense of worth before I had time to learn Who Jesus is. My seventh-grade creative writing notebook always had an A+ along with a “Good job” or “excellent,” or “very imaginative,” or some other word of encouragement. In my world where I was daily reminded I didn’t fit in, writing was the one thing that made me feel special-that I could actually do something well.

I love writing because it is an opportunity for the wind of the Spirit to blow and a tune with colors that are uniquely mine grace the mind. I can show His workmanship by just being who He created me to be in Christ Jesus or out.
I love writing because it is a wonderful chance to be of help to somebody I may never meet or to someone I love or anyone who needs encouragement. It’s a chance to kiss a soul without their feeling violated. My dream is to write something that will scratch an itch that many have; to meet a need that God has chosen me to meet.
What do I not like about writing? That there are “higher ups” who have to use red pens to judge what I write. That there are rules for writing that I find confining and send me into hiding sometimes, most of the time. I gotta get over that if I am ever going to publish.
 I don’t like that the journey to publishing has to be so long and arduous and can, if I don’t fight it, suck the fun right out of writing.
 My struggles with writing? Feeling alone like nobody cares or has time to read what I have to write. It is their prerogative, I know, to read or not, but I struggle with feeling I should lighten up and know people are busy and don’t have or want time to read what I write. Writing has a way of revealing insecurities I have and lies I believe. Uncomfortable, but good for me—like spinach and exercise!
But I am thankful, though, for the gift of writing God has given me. It’s my friend that I neglect too often. I love it and pray God puts it in front of the eyes of people who would be encouraged, inspired, comforted, challenged, and moved to consider and love and know God better.

Free Writing:Day 3

Somewhere in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, I awoke with a single word on my mind: diligence. I choose to believe it was God’s challenge to me for the year. There are several projects I need to finish that I have lagged in my enthusiasm to complete. I have been asking God to do some things in my life, and I sense Him saying He won’t answer those prayers until I complete what He has already told me to do. 
I had a word another year that I forgot before the year was over. I did not want that to happen this time, so I had a friend make some reminders to display in key places at my house and job. 
An interesting thing started happening in my endeavor to be diligent. While I felt God’s favor in the efforts He had spoken regarding the things I must complete first before He gave further direction, I sensed Him shaking His head, “No,” at other things I thought He wanted. In a way only He can, He showed me I had made inaccurate assumptions about what He deemed worthy of my diligence. I thought working toward a spotless home was surely part of His call to diligence, but I felt Him gently say, “That's not something I want you pouring excessive energy into. Instead, exert more energy into intentionally  praying for the lost people in your life. Open your eyes to the needs of people in your circle of influence and devote energy to meeting them according to My promptings.” Now, you know God is not saying to keep a dirty house. He values cleanliness, but He knows that any effort can be done to excess to the neglect of more important pursuits. 
What about you? Where is God calling you to de-emphasize? Could it be in the area of keeping up outer appearances at the expense of spiritual calisthenics? Perhaps rushing through everything is your weakness. When we rush, we miss platinum opportunities to change someone’s day or even their life. Maybe it’s a call to cease the draining exercise of trying to please everybody or of pretending to feel or to be something that is not real or true. 
For years now, Jesus has been opening my eyes to the fact that what a successful life looks like can be much less draining than the one I thought He wanted of me. I am increasingly aware that the enemy is a hard slave driver. He keeps adding to the list while brow-beating me “in the name of Jesus” for not  being good enough in what I am already doing. That is nothing like the way of my Meek-and- Lowly-in-Heart Jesus Who said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 
Diligence has become my friend and in just these few days of this new year, I am discovering a different pitch and tone of love in God’s voice I never knew was there. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Free Writing: Day 1

Hello Friends,
Some days I think it's time to pull the plug on this blog. Other days, it's the thrill of my day to publish something. I really do love to write, I just wish I was disciplined enough to do it regularly.
I have joined an online writing group that encourages its members to write at least 500 words a day by following writing prompts. It's been great!
Know what I discovered? I make writing harder than it needs to be. I am a perfectionist and the desire to polish every sentence and deliberate over word choices has kept my postings meager.
So for the remainder of this month, I beg your indulgence as I send out less-than-perfect posts. Don't judge me if I miss a day or two. Also, know that my topics may be random, but that's why it's called free writing, right? (That last sentence was for my benefit. The struggle is real, people! )
Thanks in advance for taking the time.
Most sincerely,