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Mow Me Down

I looked at the Psalm for the day and snickered at the appropriateness. He shall come down like rain upon the mowed field, like showers that water the earth.”  Psalm 72:6

This week I felt as if a giant lawn mower had plowed over me. My publisher gave official notice it would be closing. That meant all of my books published with it would now be as if they did not exist. I’d been an author with this company for four years and produced seven fictional works, with two more in the works.

If I wanted to self-publish these works or seek a new publisher I could buy the edited, proofed and formatted manuscript, and also the cover design– for a very fair price.  But, the two others I had under contract would not ever come to fruition. The two after that I’d queried in hopes of contracting…poof.

lawn-1812944_640Like a mowed field…

The editor in chief said she’d prayed about it and felt God calling her to close the doors, even though she knew our hearts would tear as much as her own. But she went ahead and put it into motion. We all prayed mightily for her future and our own.

God took that obedience, that freshly mowed to the roots field, and showered it with a new blessing. One that will make this publishing company, and our books, grow and flourish. Had she not made public its closing, it never would have been snatched up by a well-renown publishing house.  All of our books and contracts are in tact, and will have much more exposure to the reading public. All because she agreed to let the company she’d grown from tiny seeds be mowed down, and trusted God had a plan.

My father always rushed to mow the lawn before a thunderstorm. He said it actually would help the grass grow more lush and strong after the rains came.

DSCF8863Sometimes, does not out precious Lord do the same for us? This week, a group of authors were mowed down – now we will be more lush and perhaps a bit stronger in our faith. I know soon we will all blossom in ways we never imagined.

Replay

solitaireI downloaded a solitaire card game onto my computer. Each day it has a “win-able” hand you can choose to play. But often times, there are multiple choices. Move the card to the wrong stack or the wrong stack to a blank space and you might get stuck. Then a message pops up. “This is a winning hand. Do you want to replay or be shown how to win?” Most times, I choose replay. I want to figure it out for myself. A few times, I have ended up exasperated enough that I let the computer show me how to win.

Describes my life. A few wrong choices and I get stuck. I want a replay button. A “Do-over.”  I might even try to backtrack and correct some of the moves that got me where I am.  However, we live in a linear existence. It is very hard to go back.

That is about the time I give up, fall to my knees and ask the Master Game Designer to show me how.  I whisper what David wrote.  Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4 And He is faithful to do so.

The wonderful thing? Like my computer game, there is a new hand every morning. I can try to solve it on my own, or turn to Him and let my Lord show me how to proceed. Now, I admit, there are times He tells me to pray about it, then choose the next play myself. He understands humans want to be “hands-on.” He gave us free will. And, truth be told, we learn from our mistakes. However, every game has rules. In playing this game called life, we need to know those rules. The Bible provides that, step by step.

Even more wonderful? Because I claim Jesus as my Savior, I can hit replay. It is called forgiveness and grace. He will replayovercome evil with good (Romans 12:21). His mercy is newly provided every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) He will restore my life. (Psalm 17:20).

All I have to do is ask.  And yet…I can slip back into thinking my life is a game of solitaire. Lord, teach me anew, every morning, that I never walk alone. Show me your ways.

 

What “R” You?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????One letter can make all the difference. Today, while playing Word with Friends, I noticed two words with total opposite meanings separated by one small letter – “R”.

Fiend   –  Friend.

What turns a fiend into a friend?  The “R” can stand for:

RESPECT – Show proper respect to everyoneI Peter 2:17a   When we begin to look at people as worthy of our attention instead of ignoring them, or worse shunning them, our attitude shifts 180 degrees.  Even if your political, religious or lifestyle choices are different than mine, you and I have one thing in common: we are human.We are precious in God’s eyes. We are created by a caring God and have a purpose.  We both share the same oxygen for a reason.

And Christ died on the cross for us equally.  I am no better than you and vice versa. Whether we may have made horrid mistakes in our lives or have lived a good, sheltered and honorable one without so much as a speeding ticket, we are both flawed by sin and are in need of a Savior.

RELATIONSHIP –  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5  It is hard to view another human being as a non-entity once we take the chance and begin a relationship. People are often friendlier in small towns because everyone knows each other, and are somewhat dependent on each other. In large metropolises, people become more anonymous. Neighbors may barely identify each other in a crowd, much less know each other’s name. People pass each other on the street without eye contact. They covet their private space. If you aren’t known by them, you are invisible. You are a faceless number. But not to our Lord. How many faceless people have passed by you today? How many did you make eye contact with and smile?

REGARD – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  2 Corinthians 5:16  If I do not care about you, then I can’t call you a friend. But if I see you for the potential you can be, as Christ sees you, then suddenly your good points outweigh your flaws.  Not that I can change you, that’s God’s job. But I can change my attitude towards you. I can put on the spectacles of  godly love and see you differently than the world sees you.

When asked,  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

lay handsAn old hymn sings of what a friend we have in Jesus. He wants us to take the “r” into our world so we can respect, regard and then develop relationships with our fellow human beings for one purpose:  so we can lead others to another “r” – redemption. That way, we will become eternally friends.

Webbed Anchors

From my dear sister – I found God today in her email to me, and this story she shared:

spider-web-with-water-beads-921039_640I read something this morning that reminded me so much of you I had just to let you know. The reading was about a woman who watched a spider build its web while she was sitting on the porch. The spider’s web  was reflected by the sunlight. The web had three strong anchors: one to the top of the railing and two attached to the side rails. As she rested and read, she watched the little spider spin its web.
Then one night a terrible wind storm hit. While others worried about the electricity going out or damage to the house, she worried about the little spider’s web. When the wind was over and the sun came out, she saw that the web had sustained damage to its center but that the strong anchor strands had held it fast and the little spider, who had held fast to the anchor strands, was back at work building a new center to his web.

A life storm hit me out of nowhere this past month. No warning. Wham. She knew about it. But like Peter, I have kept my eyes on Jesus and so far I am not sinking.  I’m clinging to His promises. Her postscript meant the world to me:
I thought of you  and how the strength of your faith gives you something to hold onto and keeps you steady even when life rips a big chunk out of your carefully woven web.  Never doubt that the way you live your life is a powerful testament to the faith that inspires and sustains you!
Although I so wish that storms would stay away from you, I know you will get through whatever comes.
Good luck with your new web! Can’t wait to see how it glitters in the sun.

My friend, may her words inspire you as well. In the web of your life, whatever patterns take shape and whatever storms hammer it, anchor it in faith, hope network-586177_640and love. Hunker down into God’s mighty grace and you, too, will glisten. And what a witness it will be.

God is our refuge and our strength. Our very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

Dearest sister- you are one of the anchors God has put in my life. Thanks.

Is flesh selfish?

Is flesh – selfish?   Both contain the same letters. Go ahead, check it out. I’ll wait….

I love word puzzles, and sometimes I find His Word in them. Like “selfish” and “is flesh”.

There seems to be a lot of posts on social media today about self-esteem building. You are special, you are beautiful, you a worth something. You are strong inside. You can do it. You go, girl!

It reminds me of the maid in the movie The Help who whispered positive reinforcements over and over to the small girl who was ignored and emotionally nay-sayed by her mother. Great intentions. The child needed to hear those things to offset the negativity that fogged her home.

imagescael7vryBut I worry if we are not swinging the pendulum too far the other way in this me-orientated society?  Just check out the number of selfies as you scroll down the posts on Facebook.

Esteem shouldn’t stem from the mantras I tell myself in the mirror to pump myself up.  Instead, it should come from the fact I am created and put on this earth for a reason by a God who loves me more than I can ever imagine. He gives my life purpose. He equips me for the tasks He call me to do. His death on the cross paid to make me worthy…not anything I have done or anything I tell myself over and over in the mirror.

Don’t misunderstand. As a victim of severe bullying from 4th-9th grade, I know what low self-esteem is like. I bear the scars on my psyche. They gouge deeply into my personality.  I battle it daily, even now. But healing doesn’t come from me puffing myself up.  It came from me bending to my knees.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm  29:11

Do I look to myself or to the mountains from where my strength comes. (Psalm 121:1) When I am dipping into the pity-pool, the best way to lift myself out is to praise God, not my own attributes. Doing something to help someone else helps to get the focus off of me, and that is the best remedy for the down-in-the-dumps.  Christ is my strength, my rock and redeemer. Not the mirror.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Do I bolster myself,  or humble myself so He can lift me up? (James 4:10) The mirror emphasizes my flesh- not just skin and bones, but “me.” It is all about self.

Mirroring Christ who humbled himself to obedience,garden of geth even on a cross (Philippians 2:8) reveals an eternal spirit. It is all about Him who is greater in me than anything in the world.

Flesh is – selfish, and temporary.  But selflessness is the essence of spiritual wholeness.

Pray, vote, love

Pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.                  1 Timothy 2:2 NIV

vote-1319435__180I always took the first part of the passage as an action. In my church, each Sunday we pray for the president, governor, Congress, city council and mayor. Over my life there have been times I gritted my teeth, but prayed anyway, out of obedience. After all, that is what Scripture tells us to do, right?

But God brought the second half of the verse into focus for me today. Perhaps because of the anxiety people are feeling over the presidential election in a few weeks.

So how we can live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness…not at the elected officials’ hands, but in assurance we have placed them in God’s hand, our ultimate authority.

We cannot totally depend on humans to handle or solve our national, state or local problems, no matter what they promise.God Bless America  But we can act out what our coinage states and place our elected officials and this nation’s people under God’s care, trusting in Him.  In other words, pray for them.  We may not see a change in their attitudes or beliefs, but we may see one in us.  Our hearts may become more palatable to loving our neighbors and our enemies. Our anxieties or frustrations may minimize. Hope may bubble up a bit more in our souls.

Then and only then will we find peace and quiet, godly living and His holiness.

 

 

 

Low Battery

low-batteryMy tablet gave me a soft beep-beep. A warning came on the screen. Low battery. Time to plug it into the charger. If only our spirits came with such a warning…perhaps they do.

I hate for my phone or my tablet’s battery to get low. What if it dies just when I need it most? So I have made a habit of plugging them in when I get home each night. Usually. I forgot last night, and got the warning signal today. Oops.

Like my tablet, there are signs that indicate when I am running low on faith.  Perhaps I just don’t feel a s forgiving of others today, or as tolerant of their behavior. Personalities rub me wrong, like a towel dried without softener.  Frustration bubbles into my throat and a sense of anxiety nibbles at my psyche. I find my teeth keep clenching.

Faith, like energy, needs to be replenished. It is used all the time, sometimes more days than others if we are honest,  and I think it can run out if it is not continually renewed. Of course we have an initial faith in God, which prompted us to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, and that I am sure it never runs completely dry once we have the Holy Spirit alive in us.

Am I as diligent about plugging into God as I am plugging in my phone?

I know there are times, like my tablet or phone, I have felt as if I was running on empty.  Dragging through my emptyday, zombie-like, and not due to lack of sleep, I felt drained of energy.  At times like these, I can almost hear a small beep-beep sounding in my soul. “Come back to the charger. Return to my Word. Fill up on my promises and love. Renew your strength. Pray.”

God taps my shoulder in many ways. If you have been reading this blog a while, or have read my book, Experiencing the Present of His Presence, you know His message can come to me in something I’ve spotted in nature, in a household item, a verse in Scripture, words to a hymn…His ways to communicate with us are endless.  I have learned those taps are like the beeps on my tablet. Time to plug back in to the Source. I need God’s power to fill me up again and fuel my faith. Through prayer and study of Scripture, I need to reconnect to the Almighty.

You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! Psalm 68:35

Prudence dictates I should never let my faith run low, because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I made need all of the spiritual energy I have inside to make it through that day. But God knows.  As He prompted Joseph in Egypt to store up grain, before the famine hits in the form of an unforeseen tragedy, illness or stressful event, I need to store up my spiritual energy and keep it full, day by day. That comes through reading His Word and prayer.

the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel…   Colossians 1:5

If you are run down, anxious, easily irritated, or short tempered as of late, perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting you to re-connect to the Word of God. Maybe you need more prayer time to refuel your faith and energize your spiritual life.

After dedicating several hours of God-and-me time to read, reflect and pray in order to to fill you up,  you can stay full if you return to the charger each day. As little as a half hour a day can help to keep that indicator near full.

So go ahead. Plug in.

 

 

 

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