Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burning Bones

My life is lived on Easy Street and yet, there was a time I ignored God's call to me because I wasn't comfortable with what I felt He wanted me to do. Even now, I feel overwhelmed and under qualified, and wish I could crawl under a rock and whistle a ditty to tune out God calling to me. If I were to do that (and I'm speaking from personal experience here, unfortunately), I'd be thoroughly miserable.

But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it. ~Jeremiah 20:9


The task God called Jeremiah to do was not an easy one. It completely changed his life and made him 'stick out' from the general population—something that makes so many of us cringe. Not only that, but the job God called him to do put his life in danger and caused him great physical pain. Is it any wonder that Jeremiah says he would walk away if he could?

How many times have we thought about walking away? How many times have we tried to walk away, even though our lives are lived on Easy Street? Was it a happy time full of peace and contentment? Not even close! It was miserable.

That's what Jeremiah is talking about. When God calls us to a task, He puts a fire within us, one that will burn us if we try to keep it within ourselves and not act on God's call. We become miserable. I love how Jeremiah put it, 'I am weary of holding it in'.

Are you growing weary of holding something in? If God has called you to a task, He will enable you to do it. Does that mean it will be easy? No. Will you have to work at it—study, practice, conquer fear, and countless other things so you can obey that call? Yes. Very likely, you'll have to step far outside your comfort zone to obey. But just because you're outside that comfy, cozy little box you had all padded and decorated, doesn't mean that you'll be alone.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!
Do not tremble or be dismayed,
for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.
~Joshua 1:9

Go in this your strength...Have I not sent you?
~Judges 6:14


Where is the better place to be—in your comfy, cozy, decorated box, or outside the box, free and with God? The quick and easy answer is a no-brainer: free and with God. But when it comes to action, it's much easier said than done. It's hard leaving our comfort zones! But all too often those comfort zones are actually jail cells, padded and decorated to give us the illusion of comfort. There's not much freedom in them to move around, and sometimes no freedom to do things God asks us to.

If your bones are burning, and you're weary of holding things in, cling to God and step outside your comfort zone. That's where you'll encounter true freedom and peace.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Wine or Whine?

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Whining in the Wine Press is finally up at Patterings for Kids




Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ivy to Alfalfa

I had to give Ivy a haircut.
He went from being beautiful, wrapped in a wreath of healthy ivy leaves that completely hid his pot, to looking like Alfalfa, sitting in a pot too big for him. His poor health and haircut were the consequences of my negligence.

Plants need water to live, and I kept putting off watering. I'd tip my water glass into him every now and then--whenever I happened to see he was wilting, but it was never enough. Yesterday I noticed that he was almost completely dried up. I'd waited too long to water him.

Sin, and its consequences, work the same way. My sin affects others. There have been many times that I've messed up, and my family paid. It wasn't just me getting the haircut. It wasn't just me that was left looking like Alfalfa. The fact that they were so affected hurt me more than my own personal consequences—those I could accept and deal with—but knowing they were suffering because of me, was like constantly cracking open a scab that was trying to heal.



Don't put off doing what you know needs to be done. It may take awhile, but the evidence of neglect will eventually become visible, and when it does it's ugly! That's when the shears come out and the dead gets cut off. If it doesn't get cut off, it just causes a much bigger mess as time progresses, on top of being ugly. Don't delay! Get rid of the dead, gather the living 'round about you, and move on. Sure, you may look like Alfalfa, but it will only be for a time. Water yourself with the Living Water and new growth appear, hopefully thicker and healthier than before.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Joyful Chorus: Fiction Friday


Welcome to Fiction Friday! This week Joanne is hosting at An Open Book--that's where you'll find Mr. Linky. See ya there!



The Joyful Chorus

I am a croaker. Ok, so maybe I don't quite croak, but I am a charter member of the Joyful Chorus, as we call ourselves. To be one of us you cannot sing in tune, but you have to love--and I do mean love--singing. We're the people you see hanging around the choir, but never in the choir.

Thankfully, our church is large enough to have a wonderful choir and still have lots of people in the congregation to camouflage our bad voices. I am so glad for that because it means that I get to really sing. One of the few times I feel free to sing loud, so I do.

“Kelly, why aren't you up there singing with them?” one of our senior men asked one night as choir practice ended.

I smiled. “Because when you're a member of the Joyful Chorus you can't be in choir.”

His brow wrinkled some more. “The Joyful Chorus?”

“Yes, as in 'Make a joyful noise unto the Lord',” * I said, winking at him.

I could tell the moment he understood what I was saying because his eyes lit with merriment. “And here I thought you had a beautiful soprano voice.”

Soprano? No way! When I get to heaven I'm going to have one of those velvety, rich alto voices and I'm really gonna belt it out then. Man, I can't wait! But what I said to that dear man was, “Oh no, when I get to heaven I'm going to sing alto.” I was very demure and I smiled prettily for him—maybe that's why he thought I sing soprano, because he only sees the polished outside me and not my wild, sassy side.

Later that evening, during the service, my heart filled as we sang one worship song after another and I felt like I'd been set free after a week of solitary confinement. I'd kept up with my daily Bible reading and time with God, and it was wonderful, but this--this was better than a hot fudge sundae could ever hope to be. My soul craved this time of worshiping with my brothers and sisters, being able to sing out to God, and to actually sound good while singing.

Without interrupting the flow, the musicians moved into “How Great Is Our God”** and I could feel it moving into me, lifting me higher and threatening to burst out of me. Lord, I can't wait to sing praises to you in heaven. If worship is this good here, what's it gonna be like singing with that great crowd of believers? And the angels, Lord—I'm gonna get to sing with the angels. I can't imagine how good it's gonna be. Thank You, Father... My heart overflowed.

“...Age to age he stands
And time is in His Hands
Beginning and the End,
Beginning and the End
The Godhead, Three in one
Father, Spirit, Son
The Lion and the Lamb,
The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God,
sing with me
How great is our God,
all will see
How great, How great
Is our God.”**


As the music built one voice soared above the congregation—Elijah's. Elijah is happiest when he's singing and I didn't have to turn around and look to know that he, too, was caught up in worship--I could tell by the joy flowing through his voice. His clear tenor took the high road as we sang the melody. I'm not one to usually get goose-bumps in church, but I had them at that moment. The truth of what we were singing flooded me, lifting me higher than I'd ever been.

Father, God, I prayed at the end of the song, thank You for allowing me to be here, worshiping with my brothers and sisters. Heaven will be incredible. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the older man I'd talked to at the end of choir practice. And Lord, thank You for blessing Elijah with the voice You have. What he added to that song was beautiful. Do you think I could sing tenor like Elijah sometimes? Until then, Lord, I'll be in the Joyful Chorus, enjoying every chance I get to sing, even if it's only joyful sounding.


* Psalm 100:1
** “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin
~~~~~~~~~~

This story is now a tribute to Gary Menees, who died late this spring, many months after I wrote this. During Christmas choir practice one night, he asked me this question and thought I would sing soprano. Unfortunately, I didn't think to tell him that I was part of the Joyful Chorus--he would've gotten a kick out of it. Also, for this story, I made him into a much older man, but in reality he wasn't. He might have been 64 or 65. We miss him greatly!

Also since writing this, Elijah has married and moved, so I only get to sing tenor when Nathan or Mark are belting it out, which they do occasionally. But that's okay because when we get to heaven, I'll get my new singing voice and I can't wait to use it! Gary and I just might sing a duet sometime.

Don't forget to join us at An Open Book links to some great fiction!


PS--Next week Betsy is hosting over at Just Another Clay Pot.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Hat Rack





Have you sat down recently and counted the number of hats you're juggling? When I did, I decided I needed a hat rack to help me keep them organized and in good shape.



Here's what's hanging on my rack:
My 'real work' visor.
I'm responsible for the office and financial book work for our remodeling business.




I teach in our children's ministry on Wednesday nights, and although I love the kids dearly, many times I feel like I'm wrangling.
Wrangling what? Rowdy kids, of course!




If you knew how many times I've felt like I was wearing this dunce hat, you'd laugh yourself silly! When I sit down to write, I have to consciously remove it and put on my daring, but always fun to wear, thinking cap. Oh, the places I go while wearing this victorian touring hat! I just wish I had the guts to buy and wear one some time!




Homeschooling means that there are time I have to wear a hat to maintain law and order, but thankfully I can switch it out for something more suited to me, a comfy, all purpose straw hat.


I'm a wife. My husband, Jim, and I have been married for 19 years. We've been through ups and downs and many struggles, but I'm so glad he's my husband. I'd marry him all over again!




I'm a child of God, a daughter of the King of Kings, and that's the greatest, and most important hat I wear! Not only am I an heir with Christ, but I'm gathering crowns to lay at His feet when I finally get to heaven. Just think how beautiful that hat rack will be!
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
~James 1:12

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Two Brooms

In my broom closet we have two brooms, a shop broom with a wide head and soft bristles, and a smaller, normal house broom. The shop broom does a great job on 85% of our tile floor, but for the other 15% we need to use the smaller broom.

A lot of dirt gets tracked into our home and I often have one of the kids grab the big broom and do a quick sweep so we aren't crunching with every step and tracking it onto the carpet. But those quick sweeps with the big broom don't eliminate the need for a thorough sweep, complete with using the smaller broom along the edges and under the kitchen cabinets. When life gets real busy, I settle for quick sweeping jobs, but just as soon as we can, we get out the smaller broom.

My spiritual life is similar. A lot of dirt is tracked into my life just simply by being human and living. Many times I reach for the equivalent of my big broom--I'll read a shorter Bible passage and pray as I go, but I leave the more detailed Bible study and in depth prayer for another time.

My goal for a quick sweep is to keep the grungies and crunchies away until we can do a more thorough sweep, and the same is true when I do a quick sweep spiritually. It's to keep the grungies and crunchies away. But it doesn't eliminate my need for that in-depth time of Bible study. Time spent with my Bible and a pen--studying, not just reading.

The unfolding of Thy words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
~Psalm 119:130

When you walk about they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk to you.
For the commandment is a lamp,
and the teaching a light;
~Proverbs 6:22-23


Don't just settle for a quick buzz through the Scriptures. Make time—yes, make the time by rearranging things in your life if you have to, to study and linger in, and on, God's Word. It will sweep the grungies and crunchies out of the corners and from around the edges of your life, leaving you clean, refreshed, and full of light.

Monday, September 22, 2008

100 Days Left

Today starts the last 100 days of 2008. Some of us are real good about setting New Year's Resolutions, and some of us have given up on that because by February 1st we've long since forgotten about them. I happen to be one that does not make New Year's Resolutions, and especially not this last New Year's! (We were battling the flu, and if you've never been in a house with seven icky feeling people, flu kind of icks no less, then you've really missed out! Which is how we welcomed this year. Eeeeww!!) But that does not mean that I don't have goals for this year! I do! See, God has given me a tremendous gift and her name is Joanne, the owner of the biggest wet noodles you've ever seen! It reaches all the way from her house to mine and it's quite effective! She's used it to whip me several times, so I know what I'm talking about! (btw: thank you, JoDear! I'd probably still be moaning and groaning in my mud puddle if it weren't for you!)

So, today is the start of the 100 day countdown to the end of the year. I, personally, want to finish this year strong—much stronger than I started it. That means that I have some work to do. The finish line is in sight and I'm ready to pour on the power and get things wrapped up.

How about you? Do you have loose ends that are flapping in the breeze? Do you want to finish strong and tie up those loose ends? If you do, jump in and join me in this 100 day challenge. We can encourage each other and cheer each other on.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Summer's End

Well, summer is officially coming to an end for me. The hummingbirds are migrating south and we're hosting a batch of them as they stop and tank up before continuing their journey. Every year at this time we have a feeding frenzy and it's amazing to watch. I was just standing out there, listening to the whirring of their wings as they zoomed past me and fought over the feeder. We had 6-8 hummers at one time perched and eating—after they had worked out their differences. LoL.

I love seeing the hummers. They're some of God's coolest creations, at least in my book, and I hate seeing them leave. All summer I enjoy watching them, and I miss them all winter and wait for them all spring, cheering when I spot the first ones.

The hummers know when to move on, and they do. What about me? Am I tuned in to God so I can feel the change and know when to move on? I want to be. I don't want to stubbornly stay and end up shivering and shaking through a cold night I was never meant to be in.

Lord, help me know when to spread my wings and fly, and lead me in the path You have for me. Please, give me courage and help me to follow Your prompting and trust in You. Thank You for being my refuge. I love You, Lord...in Your Son's name, amen.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
Psalm 91:1-4

Friday, September 19, 2008

From These Ashes --Fiction Friday


This is a story that is near and dear to my heart because the setting is where I consider home--Ecuador. This is fiction, but things like this happen.
********

They're too weak to bear this, Lord. Jared slumped against the mud courtyard wall and looked at the church. Pieces of jagged glass clung to charred window frames, bearing testimony of the destruction within the cinder block walls. Tendrils of smoke curled out from the smoldering heap that was once a pulpit and simple wooden pews.

Jared raised his eyes to the roof of the building. Even the cross Marco made, Lord, it's gone. And the new Bibles and hymnbooks. Oh, Lord, I wish I hadn't brought them over last night. His eyes slid closed as his chin dropped onto his chest.

At the squeal of the gate Jared looked up. Marco stepped in and stood surveying the damage the vandals had done. Looking up at the roof, his eyes narrowed and his jaw set, but he said nothing. He turned and looked around the courtyard at the garbage that had been dumped and strewn around. Shaking his head, he walked back out the gate without looking back.

Jared's head fell back against the wall and his eyes burned from more than just smoke. Lord, Marco is leaving--the man I thought could someday be the pastor here.

Jared heard the gate clanking, but didn't open his eyes. He didn't want to see any one else turn away. After a moment, a scraping noise grated on his ears and he raised his head.

“Marco. What are you doing?” he asked.

Marco leaned on the handle of his shovel. “We have a service here in 30 minutes and I thought it'd be more pleasant if we didn't have to stand amidst the garbage.”

“I don't know that it will make a difference.”

Marco looked down, scraping the sole of his worn shoe on the shovel. Scratching his trimmed, black beard he looked at Jared. “That's just a building, Pastor,” he said. “The people, the true church, will still be here in 30 minutes.”

Will they come, though?

The gate squealed again and a group of women entered, each carrying a broom. Their hushed talk ceased as they stood in the courtyard.

Tears rolled down Carmen's face as she looked at the destruction. “Those men who did this are fighting against God. They think that burning the church will put an end to God pursuing them, but they're wrong. We need to pray even harder for them now.”

Jared rose to his feet, emotion filling his throat as he reached for the extra shovel Marco had brought. Here I was, thinking they weren't strong enough to handle this, Lord, and they're praying for the ones who did it. Forgive me, Father, and help me learn from them. Give me the wisdom to handle this correctly. Please, use this for Your glory.

Garbage quickly gave way to people as they trickled in, each whispering about the men who they suspected of destroying the church. Each week two or three men had been across the street, scoffing as people came and went from church. They were the star players of the towns' soccer team and were influential with the men of the town. Many church people had been praying specifically for their salvation. This morning they were nowhere to be found.

Jared wiped his hands on a rag as he looked around at the group gathered in the courtyard. Father, they're all here. Not one is missing.

Marco stood beside him, grinning. “This is the church, Pastor.”

Jared smiled, struggling to find his voice. “How did you become so wise, my friend?”

“You taught me that, just as you taught me that good can come from these ashes.”

Lord, bring beauty from these ashes...

Jared raised his hands, and in a clear, strong voice he led his flock. “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow...”

When the last notes faded away Jared raised his voice again. “Jesus asked Peter an important question one time. He asked, 'Who do you say that I am?' and Peter answered, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus' response was, 'and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.'*” Jared turned and reached for his Bible.

Pray for the men who did this, Jared.

Now, Lord?

Now.


Jared turned back to the group without his Bible. “Pray with me. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for those that did this. Let them see that burning a church will not put an end to You pursuing them. Don't let go of them until they stop fighting against You and completely surrender to You. Open their hearts to Your love and forgiveness. Please, Lord, do not let go of them; draw them to Yourself and make them one of Your beloved children. In the name of Jesus, Your resurrected Son, I pray, amen.”

Hiding in the shadows of the alley, a man who reeked of whiskey, wood smoke and garbage wrapped his arms around himself as his head dropped and his shoulders shook.


* Matthew 16:15-18 (NASB)
********

Thanks so much for joining us for Fiction Friday! If you're joining us in posting, add your name and url to Mr. Linky and enjoy the other fiction. If you're reading, be sure to follow the links--there's some great stories this week!
Happy Friday, everyone!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Diligence In Sounding Out

My youngest has been reading to me lately, and it's been a learning experience. Many times I've had to tap the word and even remind him to look at the word he was sounding out. I asked him, “How can you know what the word is unless you look at it?”

God's special neon 'Duh' sign flashed at me.

It was as if He was asking me how I planned on knowing what His will for me was unless I kept my eye focused on Him and sought it out. Just like my son can't sound out a word he isn't looking at, I can't sound out or decipher a plan I don't have my eyes on. I'm as bad as my little boy. I'll look at the word, then at the picture, then fiddle with the corner of the page and wonder what's on the next page, then scratch my ear and rub my nose, all before I even realize that my attention has wandered from the direction from God that I'm trying to seek out. I need to constantly refocus and remind myself to seek God in this matter, not just be content with my wandering thoughts and wandering life.

For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~Proverbs 2:3-6

Lord, help me to focus on You and seek diligently what it is You want me to be doing. I want to do Your will, please help me to fix my eyes on You and seek it. I love You, Father, in Your name I pray, amen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hollowed

Editorial Note: Please understand that this is not about our poor, silly old truck but rather about what I learned from the tree. My heart is heavy for those who had their lives rearranged by Ike, and my prayers are with them.


When Hurricane Ike blew through Illinois yesterday, he left his calling card. It was the last storm for one of our three ancient tress in the fence row, and when it went down it had a slightly softer landing than we would've liked. The topmost branches took out the windshield and hood of old Sugar Pile—that old truck that I drove through downtown Chicago. But God was so good! The tree landed between the shed and the barn, only left a couple minor dents and scrapes on Jim's work van, and did no damage to the tractor that we use far more often than ol' Sugar Pile.

With insides hollowed out by rot, great trees snap, destroying anything in their path and showing those around exactly what was on the inside, hidden and covered by the bark of a good, solid life. From a distance, the tree looked fine. Rough, but seemingly healthy. Only those who were close enough, and were looking, would have seen the spot where the rot began, and the extent of the decay. That's why the Bible says:
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; ~Hebrews12:15

That root of bitterness will hollow out our insides just as surely as rot hollows an oak. When we're hollowed by bitterness, we'll eventually snap in a storm, too, leaving all our bitterness and rottenness exposed for any and all to see. It's not a pretty sight.

What happens to the trees once they're down? They're cut up and burned. Usually the ones that have snapped are not usable for anything beyond firewood, and even then, some of it doesn't even burn well.

If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. ~I Corinthians 3:15

That's not what I want for my life. I want my life to gather crowns so I have something to lay at the feet of Jesus. That means I need to dig out any root of bitterness before it eats away my insides, leaving me hollow and weak.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm 100!

...in post counts, that is.

I went to post today's blog and just happened to need to sign in to Blogger, which took me to my dashboard and my eye just happened to catch '99 posts' as I clicked the new post button. This is unusually because this is only the second time I've noticed how many posts I've made! And the last time was months ago! So, I decided I'd save today's post for tomorrow and do a fun 100th post for today to celebrate!

To celebrate, I took a walk down memory lane, like I hope to do when I actually turn 100...hopefully I'll remember where my brain is by then! LoL

My favorite posts are:
~A Sheep in Mules Clothes
~Cuttings
~Reading the Words

The most reprinted posts are:
~The Small Things
~Prayer Through the Night
~A Namaan Complex
~Weedy Deeds

The hardest blog to post:
~My Other Boys

The one that still makes me snicker:
~Bird Butts



It's also pretty cool that I received a blog award this award. It's the 'I Love Your Blog Award' and I received it from Julie, the Surrendered Scribe and Joanne of An Open Book. Thank you so much ladies! You're both wonderful!

I'm passing this award on to The Herd. She's just recently moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, and I've loved following her along her journey.

Thanks again, Julie and Joanne! You've made my day even more special!


Happy 100th post, everbody! You've made blogging a truly wonderful thing for me! Huggles all around!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fiction Friday: The Ride of Your Life


Today's Fiction Friday is being hosted by Julie, The Surrendered Scribe. Join us there for links to more great fiction.

The Ride of Your Life

The cage jerked and began moving. Cindy's heart pounded. “Lord, what have I gotten myself into?”

Across from her, Heather laughed nervously and Gram patted her hand. “Did I ever tell you that your grandfather wanted to propose on a ferris wheel but was afraid he'd drop the ring? Even after 45 years, he's a romantic at heart.”

The cage rocked gently as it rose higher and higher, and Cindy's knuckles grew whiter and whiter. When they were at the highest point her fingernails were chalk white and she was quietly gasping for breath. Below her she could see people walking around with their cotton candy, but that was all she had time to see before her stomach started rolling and twisting. Panic was beginning to set in.

A squeak from her daughter drew her attention. Heather was white as a ghost. The mother in Cindy kicked in. She focused on what her mother said. “I never knew that, Mom.”

“Gramp and I have always loved ferris wheels, but when he saw his idea wouldn't work he took me to the lookout point. It was the highest point we could get to.” Gram smiled nostalgically but Cindy hardly noticed, as she was too relieved to be on the way down. The lower they went the more color seeped back into her knuckles and once they were near the bottom she pulled each finger from its stranglehold on the seat. She shook them out and rested them in her lap, but that only lasted until they began going up again. When they were half way to the top her hands were clamped back on the seat.

“It's crazy to be this scared,” Cindy said. “I know I'm safe, so why am I so afraid?”

Her mother laughed. “Did you forget you're afraid of heights? Oh, not little heights, only the big ones, like this.” She waved her fingers around her head. “Looking far in the distance helps. Heather, do you think we can see Kincaid's barn from up here?” Heather frantically looked for it and as she did she seemed to relax a little, even though they were just past the highest point.

Cindy, who sat facing them, had her eyes fixed on the parking lot she could see in the distance. She noted the kind of trees that surrounded it and the trolley winding through the rows of cars. The farther out she looked, the less her heart raced.

“You know, riding a ferris wheel is a lot like trusting God.” Gram said as they slowly went down. “Oh look, there's Millie Hunter, from church. Wave, girls, maybe she'll see us.” They managed small waves and Gram beamed when Millie waved back.

“How is riding a ferris wheel like trusting God, Mom?” Cindy's heart was speeding up again and she was thankful for the distraction.

“Well, like you said, you're safe on here, even though you don't feel safe. It kind of feels like you're hanging out in the middle of nowhere, doesn't it?” Their faces turned whiter. “But you really aren't,” Gram hastened to add. “There's plenty of safety features on these things and they inspect them every day. Oh, look, Heather!” Gram pointed. “There's Kincaid's barn! Can you see it?”

“Yeah, I see it! It's even big from up here, Mom. Next to that big barn, their house sure is small!” In her excitement Heather had forgotten to be scared as they rounded the top.

“There. You see? When you get your eyes off where you are, and look around, you can see so much. Fear blinds you to the really wonderful things in life.” Gram reached over and gave Heather a squeeze.

Cindy sighed in relief as they went lower. “But, Mom, how is this like trusting God?”

“Oh dear, did I forget that part?” Gram laughed. “If you're safe on a ferris wheel, don't you think you're even safer tucked in God's hand? You might as well just relax, trust God and look around, knowing He's got it all under control. Don't let fear blind you and you'll see the most spectacular things. You'll see God working and then you'll see where you can jump in and work with Him. You may end up in places you never thought you'd go to, and do things you thought you couldn't, but with God holding you you'll be safe with Him. Trusting God really is the ride of your life.”

“...He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.”
~Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (NIV)

~~~~~~~~~~

Just two weeks ago we were at the State Fair, and it reminded me of this story that I wrote shortly after going on a ferris wheel at California Adventure Land. I was the one with clamped fingers. I have to admit that I'm curious to know if I'll be as scared the next time I go on one--I hope not.

Don't forget to go to join us at The Surrendered Scribe! She has more than just great fiction there! (Thank you, Julie!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Covered Peep Holes

My laptop sits right beside my dining room windows, making it so I can do all that I need to do in a day: keep track of, and be available to kids, home school, and my computer work. I love my windows, they're my peep holes to the world, but earlier this summer a small stone was thrown from the mower. It was just a tiny stone, but it's had a lasting impression on my poor window. Cardboard now covers a third of the bottom pane of glass, effectively cutting off my view as I sit and work. If I lean a foot to the right I can see the hummingbird feeder through another side of the window, but the cardboard prevents me from watching out of the corner of my eye.

This time of the year it's a feeding frenzy as the hummers stop and refuel on their migration South. They are incredible to watch and I'm missing out on many of their antics because of that cardboard.

There are things in my life that are doing the same thing as the cardboard on my window--they're blocking my view of all that God has for me to see. It's hard to do things that you don't even know need doing, so not only am I not seeing things, I'm also not doing the things God wants me to do.

What is hindering, or even preventing us from obeying God? We need to remove the obstruction and press on.
...let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...
~Hebrews 12:1-2

There may be things in our lives, possibly even good things, that are blocking the blessings of God's best. We may be serving in the nursery, which is a very good and needed service, but maybe God has a Sunday School that we should be teaching instead. Maybe He's given us talents and gifts that we could be using for Him and we don't see them because we're busy doing other things. We need to search out the specific things He wants us to do, and then clear the path to doing them.

The cardboard patch on my window is only a temporary patch, but it's been there for weeks now. What temporary things in my life have I allowed to linger and that are now causing problems for me? Sometimes a temporary, short term commitment we made stretches out and takes up residence in our life. We need to stop and examine things and search out whether those have outlived their purpose or if they're things that God wants us doing.

We need to remove the things blocking and hindering us and pursue those things God has laid out for us. Sometimes that means making repairs, other times it's getting rid of, and still other times it's getting up and moving. Whatever it is, it will be more than worthwhile as we fully see what God wants us to see.

Our blessings and joy will multiply as we fix our eyes on Christ and do what He has for us to do.




Monday, September 08, 2008

More Than Abundant

Join us at Exemplified for more of Monday Manna, a monthly meme mulling over a Scripture. You're sure to be blessed!

I don't know about you, but I love sitting down to a table so full of food that I don't have to worry about there being enough to go around. I like knowing that there's enough for everyone to tank up on and still have leftovers. Now, in my house, that means a lot of food! An abundant amount. And on those special days when I'm putting out the full spread (Thanksgiving, Christmas) I cook enough to feed us for several meals. I go for the 'more than abundant' quantity.

Our God, the One True God, is a more than abundant God, too.

And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
~ 1 Timothy 1:14


WoWzers! What a verse! This is one that I can hear Pastor Mike reading and saying, 'Somebody oughta stand up and shout!' because that's exactly what I felt like doing when I reread it. God's grace was more than abundant! How cool is that?!

The grace of God isn't just enough to scrape and squeeze us through Heaven's gates, it's more than abundant. He didn't save us just a little, He overwhelming saved us by His abundant grace. And how much faith and love are found in Christ Jesus? All faith and all love. This is one of those verses that, after I stand up and shout, I fall on my face in praise and awe of our great Redeemer.



How great,
How great is our God!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Half Baked

As a mom who greatly dislikes cooking, I've found it takes the sting out of the drudgery if my family notices how good supper smells. It gives me at least a few moments of pleasure for the work I've put in.

Have you ever noticed that the things that smell the best are the ones that have been cooked or baked? The ingredients, in and of themselves, don't smell good, and even when they're all mixed together, they still don't necessarily smell inviting, depending on what you're making. The things that smell the best are the things that have been cooked or baked.

Could it be that we're food in God's kitchen? Maybe we're God's cakes and cookies? That sounds nice doesn't it? Something tasty that brings smiles and enjoyment. But think about a cookie recipe, or about any other recipe you might find on the dinner table. Many of those dishes and desserts have something in common: going through heat, either on the stove top or through the oven. If we were to skip that step many things would inedible.

So many times in my life I've done my best to escape the heat. That 'Get me outta here!' panic button is one of my favorite buttons to use. In fact, it's usually the first one I run for. But when I do get out of the heat, I find myself half baked and not ready for the next step in my life, and basically, inedible. That heat phase (whether on the stove top or in the oven) is often necessary for my well being. Besides that, the Bible is full of references talking about offerings that were a soothing and pleasing aroma to God. Now, since God never changes, He still delights in pleasing aromas.

Don't hit the 'Get me outta here!' panic button, and don't bail out before your cooking and baking process is done. If you do, you'll be a half baked lump of goo that just might be inedible and destined for the compost pile. Trust God to know just how much heat you need to make you not just edible, but tasty.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6


Going through the heat releases and increases the delicious aroma, and we all know what it's like to walk into a house that has a busy kitchen--the fragrance draws everyone straight to the kitchen.

May we draw people straight to the throne room of God.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Fiction Friday: Hidden Talents


Karen looked out the window and chuckled to herself. Ever since Rachel had read a book about an artist that was all she had talked about. Today she had taken it a step farther. She was out in the yard with a tablet of paper and her coloring pencils, intently working on drawing something.

“Hey, Mom!” Ron her older son called out as he came into the kitchen. “What’s Rach doing out there? She didn’t even wave when I pulled in, and that’s not like her!” He reached into the fridge for a soda on his way to the window to see if his little sister was still sitting in the yard, “Is she feeling ok?”

“Well, I think she’s wanting to be a great artist for God, like that biography she just read.”

Ron just about choked on his soda, “She can’t draw a stick man, and she wants to be an artist?”

“Don’t you dare say that to her, Ronald! You would crush her with that thoughtless comment, and you know it.”

“Aww, Mom, I’d never say that to her, even if it is true! I might be an ox, but I’m not a dumb ox.”

His crooked grin and the truth of his statement made Karen back down, “True. But sometimes you talk first and think later.” Karen shook her head when she saw Ron spread his hand on his chest as if to say, “Me?”

“She been out there long?”

Karen glanced at the clock, “Probably two or three hours.”

“I’ll take her a soda,” Ron volunteered. “What’s her favorite this week?”

“Ginger ale. I meant what I said, Ron.”

“Relax, Mom, I’m gonna get that ‘How to Draw’ book you gave me for my birthday the year I decided I was gonna be a great artist and become a cartoonist.” Karen could hear the laughter in his voice as he went down the hall to his room, soda in hand.

An hour later Rachel came in and tossed a handful of papers into the garbage can. “Hi, Mom! Can I bake some cookies this afternoon?”

Karen looked up from the ironing she was doing, “Cookies, as in comfort food? Did the drawing not go too well?”

Rachel laughed, “Oh the drawing went real well, but I’ve decided to let art be one of my hidden talents. Very well hidden!” She was snickering as she pulled out the mixing bowl.

“Oh? Why’s that? You’ve only worked on it for a little bit, maybe if you practiced and did some studying you…”

“Mom!” Rachel interrupted her, laughingly, “It’s ok, Mom. I have zero talent in the art department, but I do have other talents. God can use me in plenty of other ways. I don’t mind. Really!”

Karen was really confused now. “Soooo, what happened that you decided not to be an artist?” Her daughter had never responded like this to disappointment before, and she didn’t act like Ron had hurt her feelings. What on earth was going on?

“Ron told me about his great cartoon episode.” Rachel was still snickering, so there must have been something funny, but Karen didn’t know what it might be. “He also told me that I have a natural talent in the kitchen, and that he would gladly be my personal guinea pig and taste tester on any recipe I wanted to try, even if I made up the recipe myself.”

The pleasure in her voice said more than her words did and Karen silently congratulated her son. Ah, that’s why she’s snickering. They don’t think I have much talent in the kitchen. Karen had to laugh, too, her kitchen talents left much to be desired. “That sounds like a good deal to me! Does that mean you’d rather I didn’t do any more experimenting?”

“Well, Mom,” Rachel said, picking her words carefully, “you’re better in the kitchen than I am at drawing, but…”

Both laughed, “In that case, I’ll join your taste tester club, and leave the experimenting to you!” Karen hugged Rachel and made a mental note to give Ron a big one, too, as soon as she saw him that afternoon. Maybe cooking could become one her hidden talents now.
**********


This is another one of my early stories. LoL, one of my very early stories--and like the mom in here, I'm not one that enjoys (or is good at) cooking! My daughter is much better than I am--at least I can claim teaching her the basics...but not much else. LoL.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, click on the names and it will take you to another story. Enjoy!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!
Now, who's volunteering to host next? (seriously! email me if you'd like to host Ficiton Friday!) Happy Friday, everyone!




Thursday, September 04, 2008

Eight Random Things

Since this week has NOT gone according to plan (but really, when do they?!) I'm gonna kick back and have some fun...because I need some!

My dear friend Dee at My Heart's Dee-Light tagged me for 8 Random things, so here they are, in random order.

1.I'm addicted to smiley faces.

2.I hate noise, so I have three cats (well, four if you count the stray that we feed but don't claim), one touched-in-the-head dog, and five kids—all of whom love loud music, just like their dear dad. One of the best gifts Jim has ever given me was an mp3 player. I can put in my ear buds turn on Mozart and tune out the lunacy around me.

3.People live inside my head—making it very noisy in there, too! (waaaaaaa!)

4.I always have a secret junk food stash near at hand ...and it needs constant replenishing.

5.Once I translated a testimony into a history of my tormentor's, er, friend's love life. He turned three shades of red when he finally realized it was pay-back time for all the jokes he'd pulled on me. (but in my defense: I DID go back and translate correctly.)

6.I keep old shoe laces because we once tied together a Bronco's universal joint with my shoe lace...and made it up the mountain and safely home.

7.I learned to drive (yanno, real-life driving, not driver's ed driving) in a one-ton pick-up in down-town Chicago—complete with parking garages designed for compact cars. My truck's name was Burnt Sugar Pile 'cuz it was primer brown and very ugly—and it still is! (And that's her right there! -->)

8.I'm actually toying with the idea of sky diving. Operative words: toying with the idea.


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