Yay, God!

It’s funny, I’m a writer, and yet I don’t know exactly how to write what I’m going to attempt to write. So, I ask the Lord to help me brag on Him just a moment.

In 2007, I met a woman at a small writer’s conference here in Topeka who confessed to me that her greatest prayer was that God would turn the hearts of men back to their homes. That God would raise up men, young and old alike to take their place as God meant them. To be Godly leaders among their communities and within their homes. She was specifically talking about African American homes, but I saw the need in all homes! My heart cried out at the time, Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! May it be so!!!!

For decades, churches have been filled with women who have sought to lead a Christian life, who have sought to teach their children and raise them in the Lord the best they could, many attended without their husbands and then went home to a place where her husband (if she had one) was the authority, not God.

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe God set things up in a certain manner for Christian households. Actually, if you believe scripture is God breathed (2Timothing 3:16) then you should too. I’ll probably get a lot of flack for bringing this up, but it’s scripture. However, I will state right here and right now, that I do NOT believe God wants anyone to be in an abusive relationship.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)

As a woman this can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if said husband isn’t holding up the next verse, and let me tell you, I thank God for the Godly man He has yoked me with, but trust me my husband hasn’t always led the way I would have liked, or even in a Godly manner (another blog for another day), just as I have not always submitted to my husband.

Husbands, love your wives,  just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,cleansingher by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28 (NIV)

 

Wives, we are responsible for ourselves. If we believe God’s word then we are to submit to our husbands, but how are we to submit to an ungodly man when were are trying to live a Godly life? Not easy and I suppose you can imagine the chaos created within an unequally yoked household. A Godly woman trying to lead her family, but yet submitting to the authority of her husband, who may or may not believe in the Lord, but who isn’t cleansing his wife through the washing with water through the word, therefore leaving the wife frustrated and confused and the children in the middle.

What’s a woman to do? Pray and according to 1 Peter 3:1-6

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

And do you know what Abraham asked Sarah to do? Read Genesis 20 and see for yourself.

Anyway, ever since our little church closed it’s doors a few years ago we’ve been looking for the right place, and we both believe we’ve finally found our home. No, that’s not the Yay, God (well it is, but not the one I wanted to share). The Yay, God?— I have never seen a church, ever, filled with so many young adult men who are loving and rejoicing, dancing, clapping, praising the Lord the way these young men are doing. It’s such a sweet, sweet fragrance. I can hardly contain the emotion as I sit here typing. God is doing an amazing thing! Yay, God!!!!! Yay, God!!!!! Keep drawing them Lord.

Thank you, JD and Callie for being obedient to the calling God has put on your lives. Thank you to the prayer warriors and to the praise team. You are starting a rumble right here in the heart of America that will leach out into the corners of the world, a rumble of young people who will not settle for mediocrity, but will go forth and praise the Lord as He was meant to be praised; in truth and in spirit. May you send out mighty warriors.

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17 (NIV)

 

Happy New Year

Forty minutes before our midnight hour as I write this. Hubs is sound asleep, the children are all at their friends, the black-eyed peas are waiting to be cooked and I’m taking a break from writing for just a short moment.

I wanted to share with you that I have my word for 2014 FOCUS, and that is exactly what I’m trying to do. I have a manuscript due in a few short days. Alright, two weeks and one day, but the number of words left to write seems like a gigantic mountain hovering before me.

Yet, I know it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s completely doable as long as life cooperates and I shove procrastination out the door. And for the time turn off that internal editor that says everything must be absolutely perfect this first time through.

Is it an easy task, no. But it’s one I’m taking on with white knuckles. See, I’ll show you, a tagless dialogue–

“We won’t make port. We’ll stay the evening here and then leave at first light.”

“What of the repairs?”

“I have no other choice. Although the woman drives me mad and I was ready to throw her to the waves only moments ago, if what you say is true about Knosis, as I now believe it to be, I can’t leave her to such a fate. I’d rather endure another year of slavery myself.”

“Nicolaus, are you certain?”

“Ay.”

“I thought as much, ‘tis why I purchased more supplies. However, we’ll have to stop at Phaphos.”

“My thanks, my friend.”

 “What will you do when we make port at Rhodes? If Knosis has his men looking for you—”

“I have two days to consider my actions. Let us seek the will of the strangers among us. If they wish to stay in Joppa then so be it. However, if they are willing to voyage with us, they are welcome.”

See, published authors, well at least me, write crud too. So, here is my encouraging word for you, whether you are write your just living life. Sometimes you just have move forward, without that inner critic.

I’m off to write and pray, bringing in the New Year as I plan to proceed

Again, Happy New Year. May it be filled with the love of Christ and his infinite blessings.

 

Taking it Down

I hope y’all enjoyed the 24 Days of Christmas. I had so much fun reading all of the special memories from some of my favorite authors.And the pictures, I loved seeing pieces of their Christmas too. I can’t wait to do it again next year, Lord willing.

I used to get depressed during the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the sights and sounds, and the spirit of the season but I hated all of the hustle and bustle. For the last few years, I guess it started in 2006 when my mother-in-law had her stroke, I decided that I needed to slow down and do what I could and not try to please everyone. Five Christmases on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning, not including the opening of presents with our children, was a bit too much.

Yes, we enjoyed each one, but it came down to the fact that time isn’t guaranteed. When I was a kid we never went anywhere for Christmas, at least not during the holiday itself. And for a real good reason. As a kid my dad spent the holidays traveling with his parents. Knowing the difficulties of doing that, he chose that his family would celebrate at home, and I’m glad he did.

This Christmas, I didn’t rush around trying to buy a bunch of gifts for everyone. Okay, well there was that one day, but only because the one ‘big’ gift that my youngest daughter was to receive was back-ordered, which I didn’t find out until Saturday morning when I was supposed to pick it up. And I’ll admit I allowed a bit of depression to hit me. I mean she may not be our only child at home but she is the only non-adult child and I wanted her to at least have one thing she’d asked for Christmas under the tree.

But God is awesome (Yes, praise him in the small things, too!). DD#2 and I rushed out to the mall and in under an hour, maybe even thirty minutes, the last Saturday before Christmas, we hit three stores bought two pairs of jeans, a leather jacket (dd bought for hubs), a few shirts and a hoodie the youngest had wanted. Besides buying a pair of pajama pants, I was done! And a few days before Christmas Eve, now that is a miracle.

I’m going to rabbit trail here for a minute… Have you ever seen Coal Miner’s Daughter? It’s the story of country singer Loretta Lynn. There was a point in her career when she was just moving to fast and needed to slow down. She also suffered debilitating migraines. I’m thankful we have better ways of getting rid of migraines, real thankful, especially after suffering one for almost nine hours yesterday. Anyway, my career is moving forward, not too fast yet, as my goal has always been to be a full time writer. Currently, I’m under a tight deadline and while part of me is freaking out, the other part of me knows God is with me and will see me through this. He’s also nudging me that once this deadline is met, I need to slow down just a little and spend some time just hibernating in Him and focusing on my family. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that time isn’t guaranteed, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. However we do have a promise in Deut 3:16. God asks us to be strong and courageous. He goes with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

You see, in the last year (a little longer), I sold three books, which was a little scary with all the writing deadlines, edits, deadlines, proofing, edits, deadlines, book covers, deadlines edits, etc… We’ve also had a lot of family stuff going on, a lot. Including facing cancer head on. And it’s time to slow down a little.

But honestly, I have no idea what that means. It could just mean that God wants me to spend more quality time with him. More listening time. More time being Christlike, loving those around me. It could also mean he has a specific book that he wants me to write. He’s placed a few devotionals on my heart, so I guess we’ll see.

For now, I’m going to fully try to commit to the Lord whatever I do, so that he will establish my plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Every Thought Captive

I am typically a very shy, very introverted person. Most writers are. We like our caves. We like characters so we can manipulate their lives the way we wish without having to deal with a bunch of drama. So, I guess it’s no surprise that my people skills are thoroughly lacking.

Okay, well let’s just wait a minute. I think my people skills are just fine, as long as I can remain behind the potted plant.:) I like people just fine. In fact, I love people, even those strong type A run you over with a bulldozer type people. But they don’t tend to like me much. They have a tendency to be snappy and try to tear a pound or two of flesh from my hide, and most of the time for no reason other than the fact that in the natural realm of things the weaker vessels tend to get ousted by the stronger ones.

This morning as I was reading through messages I realized I scowled when coming across certain ones. It gave me pause. I couldn’t believe the tension I felt as I read particular posts. And then it hit me, it was because in some way, shape or form they had attacked me, mostly verbal, always private. And almost always at a time when I was already super vulnerable.

The thing is, even if these people realized what they were doing they probably don’t care. They don’t care that their words spewed venom and caused deeper wounds. They can’t see my scowl or my reaction or the fact that their actions are causing me to harbor unforgiveness.

WHOA! STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!

You’re right. 100%. It’s not their problem, it’s mine. And praise God He revealed it to me before the unforgiveness monster took over and began to rule. God reminded me to take captive every thought.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Even if these people have huge, compassionate hearts, they have no idea how much they hurt me with their words. I need to grant them the same love Christ granted me, even if they are unlovable because Lord knows I’m unlovable at times. I need to forgive them as Christ forgave me. And I need to take every thought captive in order to do that. I can’t let thoughts of hurt and rejection weasel in take over. I need to allow Christ to rule and shine bright.

Too busy? How do you think they feel?

A few years ago I was a membership chair for a large writer’s group. One of the questions on the membership renewal form was are you interested in volunteering? If so, how? Once I received an answer that gave me pause, and then I became offended, then down right angry. I realize know that the answer probably came off more inconsiderate than it was meant, but it hurt and stung.

At this time, we had nearly three hundred members and less than a dozen active volunteers. Many of us were doubling, tripling duties because there weren’t enough volunteers to go around.Pleas for help were often ignored and many of us were stressed because we were overworked and underpaid. What do people not get about the word ‘volunteer’?

Each of the volunteers were part of the organization for the same reason those who didn’t volunteer. We wanted the community, to learn about the craft of writing, the industry etc, etc.  We were there because we were writers.

An organization, such as the one I was involved with, runs because of the volunteers, without them there is no organization. When there are few volunteers the workload becomes heavier for those who do volunteer, which means eventually something has to give. For the bulk of us, it’s the writing that gives. We can’t just shove our kids to grandma’s house and pick them up in a few years. I had spoken with the former president of the organization about her writing. It was non-existent. Here she was a promising author but because she stepped up to the plate and volunteered her dream of publishing was set aside for the four years she served.

Those volunteers also get a bad rep because they aren’t doing things they the members think things should be done. You wouldn’t believe the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. My mom had worked in the complaints’ department with a large insurance company. I remember her coming home in tears. Yeah, that’s kind of what it was like volunteering. After several years I was thankful when my position was handed to someone else. And I actually shied away from everything, even quit participating in the loops and became a lurker before eventually allowing my membership to drop. It was just too much.

I wrote this because the major reason people give for not being able to volunteer is because they’re too busy. Yeah, I get that. I’m busy too. So are all the volunteers who keep our cherished organizations running. They have families. They have full-time jobs. They homeschool. They go to school themselves. They have ill parents. Some are fighting illnesses themselves.

At the time I was volunteering, I was homeschooling, dealing with a troubled teen, helping hubs run our upholstery shop, taking full classes at a local college, dealing with an auto-immune disorder and trying to write. None of that included any of the day-to-day drama. As a mom and housewife, I had to run my kids to their activities, do laundry, dishes, clean bathrooms and make dinner.

I am not saying this to show all the things I do, because honestly, if I can get by without doing the laundry, I will ;). What I am saying is that the volunteers in our organizations are no different than you and me. They have busy live and many of them are writing under contracts. They have deadlines.What I am saying is that if you see a need within the organization maybe God is calling you to volunteer. What I am saying is if you’re asked to volunteer and you don’t feel led then don’t, but show some appreciation. Too often volunteers are overworked and underpaid. Too often their work goes by without any thanks.

This can apply in all aspects. Too busy to volunteer at church? Too busy to volunteer at your kid’s school? No joke. I was the snack coordinator  for room parties for several second grade classes. I believe there were four classes. They made on coordinator for all classrooms because they couldn’t get any of the parents to volunteer and I had a difficult time getting any of the parents to send snacks.

I’m just saying, if you can’t volunteer, try to show appreciation.

January 2nd

On Writing

A few of my writer friends decided they wanted to do a NaNoWriMo sort of thing in January. We could work on something we already started on or start something new. I’m opting for revising what I started for Nano and then finishing up the word count I need to finish the book. I need at least twenty thousand words. That’s about six hundred forty-five words a day. Between yesterday and today I only increased a little over five hundred. *sigh*

It seems slow going and it’s giving me a headache just thinking about it, but I intend to stay the course. Ever little bit forward is progress. I know this. I preach this. So I just need to settle it in my mind and be content with what little progress I’ve made.

I did put in a solid hour of work on my manuscript, so that’s good. My hope is to eventually be working at least four hours a day five days a week. I’m certain not all that time will be dedicated to actual writing, but to plotting and research as well. One thing is I don’t want that time to include networking, that should be outside my writing time.

On Blogging

One of my goals this year is to blog a little more. Problem is at times there are too many topics running around in my head and others there’s nothing. It’s one of the reasons I tried to set myself a schedule. I’ve heard if you do anything for thirty days it becomes habit. I don’t know that I can blog thirty days straight. I guess I’m going to take it one day at a time.

On the Lord I know this should be a first topic, but I wanted it to be the last in your mind before you close the tab. I woke up this morning not wanting to get out of bed. I’m suffering from a kidney issue, could be a stone or it could be something else all together. Not having insurance for years on end I’ve learned to read the symptoms and to know when it’s time to go to the doctor’s office. I don’t like the pain pills he describes and won’t take them anyway so what is the point? I pay him an exorbitant amount of money for him to tell me what I already know? I think I’ll keep my dollars for now.

Anyway, I was laying there not wanting to get out of bed. There’s a lot going on as there always seems to be at the first of the year. I cried out to God. There is so much on my plate at the moment that there is no way I could handle it all on my own with a healthy body. How am I going to do it with a sick one? :/

No, this isn’t intended for a pity party. God heard me as I know He always does and He gave me two differing scriptures from two differing sources.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way until the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. (KJV)

These gentle reminders filled me with peace. I can’t do things on my own but I can do them through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s working on financial papers, mailing a letter, writing a blog, or dealing with a kidney stone I need to commit it all to Him. In committing it all to Him I’m showing my trust in His abilities to carry me through.

There is a song that Hillsong sings that says it best:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp you infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you

His infinite wisdom, the depth of his love–it just amazes me. I mean the little bit of stress I experienced this morning is nothing compared to so many things going on in this world, but yet He cared enough to encourage me.

Prayer Walk Ramblings

Last Sunday, after a beautiful praise and worship service our church, Imago Dei, dispersed. We set out on a prayer walk, some of us went out in pairs, others sat on the corner and played music, while others went off on their own. Hubs and I went off by ourselves. We began with a very well kept house across the street and shortly found ourselves among some very run down homes, but homes obviously lived in. We saw things that were familiar to us and knew how to prayer, and then we saw things unfamiliar.

Although hubs and I were together, holding hands as we walked these historic, bricked streets, our approaches were different. You see, I’m a bit shy when it comes to praying and often do not pray aloud. Some people think this is something I need to get over, for how can I minister effectively if I’m unwilling to pray aloud? Well, as we walked, this thought had entered my head. How could I participate in the prayer walk if I could not pray aloud, but then I saw one of those unfamiliar things. A prayer formed in my head, in my heart and shortly thereafter hubs was echoing them aloud. It became evident we did not walk alone. The Holy Spirit was among us, telling us how to pray for these people. It also became evident to me that I did not need to be vocal in my prayers.

It wasn’t too long before we came to a pair of churches sitting catty corner from each other. One seemed worn down with years of neglect, but as we approached the front we realized it was an active place of worship. We crossed the street and sat on a brick wall outside the better preserved church and prayed over them both, obviously not just the buildings but the people who called these places home and the ministries that reached outside of their doors.

Once we were done, we realized we were close to a place hubs had done some work for, a tiny, yet busy, corner cafe. There, as we passed in front of the old building, I found my voice and prayed aloud. We passed new businesses and refurbished buildings as the district is trying to bring restoration to the area.

Soon, however, as we continued to walk south down Kansas avenue, my thoughts became distracted by the barrenness. No longer did bright signs hang from the lamp posts. The potted plants stopped. The colorful window displays no longer existed.

As we approached the south end of this road, there was a sense of loneliness, empty. Abandonment.

Much like this picture of this old lumber yard, which no longer exists.

It’s empty, the gates are closed, locked. The smell of fresh lumber no longer lingers. Shrubs, left to their own devices, decorate the misshapened chain link fence. Odd, that they, if the lumber yard remained, would have have been cut at the roots and kept from growing. Lonely. Hopeless. Abandoned. Neglected.

So, why did we continue southward? Well, because the Rescue Mission resides south of the railroad tracks and we wanted to pray over the place, over the people. These people who have very little left to them. We walked to a parking lot across from the Mission’s Hope Center, a facility for families and my husband prayed to the tune of children’s laughter transmitting from Hope Center’s playground. I couldn’t help but think what a blessing the Hope Center is/was to homeless families, yet . . . . . how scarey to have very little outside the clothes on your back and the responsibility of children. My heart went out to these mothers and their children residing in the Hope Center. And then hubs said Amen. I lifted my eyes and there on the sidewalk in front of us was a young family. A mother pushing a stroller, a young boy and an adult man, who may or may not have been his father. I could not hear the words passed between them, but soon the man and young boy raced down the street toward the mission. A smile spread across the child’s face as he took the lead. A smile spread across the man’s face as it was obvious he was not giving his all in this race. A smile spread across the mother’s face as little feet kicked against the stroller.

These people may not have had much, but they were happy for the moment, as a friends, as a family. It warmed me. They did not seem abandoned, lonely, hopeless. But then a movement caught my eye. A lone woman wondering around in the grass until she stood on top of a large grate. She stared down into that hole. He body language was like that of the lumber yard, empty, abandoned, looking for hope in a dark hole in the ground. I wanted to say something, to touch her shoulder. You’d be amazed at how small human contact can lift a person’s spirit and give her hope. We were late getting back to the church. There was no time to speak to her, to shake her hand or give her a hug. I’d left my daughter at the church. She was counting on my to return on time. Besides, outside a small glance toward her, hubs showed no hint of leading by the Holy Spirit.

It wasn’t until later after we’d left church that hubs and I talked about the walk when we discovered we both felt the need to speak to this woman. Since we have no idea who she is, other than lift her up to the Lord, there is nothing we can do. Next time I think hubs and I will be more aware and obedient to the Spirit’s leading.

There are many thoughts that went through my head as we walked around the neighborhood, but the one spoken the loudest is that God cares for these people–the homeless, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the rejected, the abandoned, the financially down and out–even if the rest of the world doesn’t–God does.