Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)
Monday, January 31, 2011
I used to love the cold. I felt invigorated by those bracing winds. Safely coccooned within my fleece inner lining and nylon shell, with gloves, thick socks and boots, hat and scarf swathed about my face, what had I to fear? Hah, hah, hah, wind!
Two years ago, with this bravura and my usual bundling-up, I headed for a brisk (that's an understatement since the temperature hovered around zero degrees) walk around Lake Estes.
It's one of my favorite walks: a four mile jaunt on paved trail with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, rock formations, ponderosa trees, icy lake, golf course and animals.
Only a thin slice of my face actually encountered the deadly cold, and that was mostly shielded by my sunglasses.
Large patches of ice covered the sidewalk and I took care to avoid them as best I could.
I passed a woman and her dog --- perhaps the only other brave souls to venture out that morning ---and continued on my way.
When I marched under the shade of a stand of bare cottonwood trees, my sunglasses failed to distinguish the slight difference in hue between dry sidewalk and ice-covered sidewalk. And that's when my feet came into contact with "the spot."
Most accidents happen very quickly. That's why they can be so deadly; there's very little time to react.
Paradoxically, real-time seems to disappear and time seems to slow to a tortoise's crawl so that every excruciating detail of the fall can be observed, analyzed, even prayed about.
As my feet zipped forward and my body flew backward, here are some of the amazing number of thoughts and prayers the neural connections in my brain fired out:
Oh, my gosh, I can't believe this is happening!
Both my feet! At the same time!
Ooo, this is going to hurt.
I didn't even see that patch of ice
I'm all alone out here.
I even forgot my whistle. Dummy!
What if I knock myself out?
I might freeze before someone finds me.
Poor Bruce, poor family.
What if I break my back or my neck?
Oh Lord, help!
As soon as my back connected with the pavement, real-time resumed.
I landed with a thump, but not a hard thump, unbelievably. It felt almost as if I'd fallen on a pile of leaves. I sat up, realized that I was completely unhurt, then jump back to my feet.
I dusted the ice off my back and fanny and kept walking.
The entire incident took perhaps three seconds.
Three seconds. What normally happens in our brains in three seconds? Three seconds in the grocery store? Three seconds in the classroom? But three seconds of flying through the air, feeling death imminent?
The Lord has placed in our amazing brains the ability to "slow down" time in order to analyze and make some quick adjustments for survival. I've experienced other "near misses" and each time, this phenomenon of the perception of time being slowed has kicked in and given me opportunity to adjust, mentally and physically.
What's your "three-second" crisis? Have you experienced the same slow motion phenomenon?
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139: 14)
Friday, January 28, 2011
Getting the flu is a little like being mugged. One minute you're walking down the sidewalk, minding your own business.
The next, you're broadsided by some punk, looking to take whatever you've got.
I suppose the best defense to such sudden assaults is to be aware and be prepared.
Years ago I was walking to one of my many music gigs. I was loaded down with my purse and a big satchel of music. Of course it was at night and I happened to be walking in one of the nation's most dangerous cities: Oakland, California.
I walked quickly, with caution. Nevertheless, a man suddenly stepped out of an alley and grabbed my arm. He said, "Hey, what you got in that bag, Mama?"
"Nothing!" I yelled. Then I ripped my arm away and started running. I ran right into a major street into the middle of traffic, and when I looked back, my would-be attacker had disappeared.
My quick action surprised the stranger from the alley, possibly preventing me from getting a pummeling.
That flu jumped out and grabbed me, too.
I couldn't foresee that attack. But I had stocked my pantry with all the things one needs to treat flu: ibuprofin, ginger ale, jello, chicken soup.
There are other kinds of sudden attacks that, if we are wise and aware, we can defend against also.
I believe the soul is under attack almost constantly from a world that is hostile to the knowledge and reverence of God.
These are the kinds of attacks which, if we are unaware, can seize us and drag us downward.
Stick close to God and His Word; it's your best defense.
Ist Peter 5:8 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."
Perhaps you can't stop the flu attacks or the man-in-the-alley kinds of attacks, or even the spiritual attacks.
But you can arm yourself. Be aware and be prepared!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
At four, the waiting was about going off to kindergarten.
At seven: would Christmas (and my birthday) ever come?
At seventeen: couldn't wait to finish high school and finally shove off to college.
As a young wife: waiting the nine months for the baby to come.
Waiting backstage for my cue
Waiting for summer and road trips with husband and kids
Waiting in line at the grocery store
Waiting at red lights
Waiting for the plumber, waiting for the package to arrive, waiting for the paycheck, waiting. . .
And the biggest wait of all: waiting for God to answer prayer.
Don't you just hate waiting?
Is there anything good about waiting?
Here are some really good things about waiting:
- Waiting helps you develop your imagination as to the vast possibilities.
- Waiting teaches you that eventually, inevitably, the day comes that you've been waiting for.
- Waiting helps you become creative with your wait-time.
- Waiting helps you reconsider your choices: Do I really need that half gallon of triple fudge, nuts and caramel, chewy chunks of cookie dough ice cream?
- Waiting gives you time to think.
- Waiting helps you realize that life exists in the here and now, not the future.
- Waiting is the time that you own. The past cannot be held onto and the future will always be the future.
- Waiting shows you that you do not control the future (although you can influence it).
- Waiting develops patience.
- Waiting teaches you that God does answers prayer (but in His time, not ours).
So keep your eyes on the future, but don't forget to fill your "nows" with all the living you can squeeze into it.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Eccl. 3:1)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
She said that she expects her future will be amazing and even dangerous and the theme of her new life is "Fearlessness."
My friend has recently gone through some horrendous life-changes and to make such a fearless statement says a lot about her character development.
It's funny but I've been thinking along those same lines. It's possible that the Holy Spirit is preparing many of us for uncertain and challenging times ahead.
My decision to face the new year with lion-like courage and to take risks does not stem from any crisis.
It's a message without an audible voice, imprinted on my heart by God.
Here are 5 reasons to stop being so comfortable and take a risk:
1. Taking steps of faith is like an adventure-quest novel. The journey presents challenges, even danger, but it's these very difficulties that make the story interesting, that force the main character (you) to transform into something better.
2. Remember Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit? Would you have found his story interesting or his character fascinating if he'd refused to accompany Gandalf and the Dwarves on their quest to the Lonely Mountain? Would The Hobbit be memorable if Bilbo had remained safely in his hobbit hole? Are you memorable?
3. Safe is boring. Boring. Do you ever want to listen to a boring person?
Safe people risk nothing and gain nothing.
4. People who gain something in life, (could this be you?) whether it be celebrity, an academic or athletic prize, a business success, a special honor, a leadership position, or an important job, have taken a risk.
5. It would be a shame to gain heaven and the presence of Jesus Christ and then look back over my (or your) short seventy or so years on earth with regret that I'd never ventured a toe beyond the boundary between "safe" and "maybe not safe, but, Wow!"
It's really a faith-issue, don't you think? How much do you really believe that "safe" is not what Jesus calls us to be?
I'm going to take risks this year. Not silly risks, or foolhardy risks. I'm going to respond to those little holy nudges from Jesus.
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Heb. 11:8)
Monday, January 17, 2011
I'm tiny. . . short.
But I hope I'm never referred to as "small."
I've known "small" people. Those are the ones who can't get over offenses and become so self-absorbed as a result that no one wants to be around them.
Paradoxically, "small" people have big egos and big hurts.
"Big" people live above small slight and difficulties. They've experienced grace from God and others, and as a result, they are willing to give grace to others. I know some Big people.
In everyone of us, as Believers, there resides both a "Big" and a "small" person. Sometimes we are small one day and Big another day.
I've thought about keeping a personal calendar and marking it with the letters "B" for big and "s" for small for each day that I live. Then, at the end of the year I could count how many "Bs" and "s"s I've collected. Just for my own curiosity.
I'm glad God doesn't keep score of my Big and small days. Wouldn't that be awful?
And wouldn't it be awful if we kept score of other peoples' "Big" and "small" days?
You don't, do you?
I have to admit, I do, sometimes.
But on my Big days, I tear up those score sheets.
"Love. . . keeps no record of wrongs." (1st Cor. 13:5)
Thursday, January 13, 2011
"Enoch walked with God." (Genesis 5:24)
Last year, God brought this verse to my attention and I've been pondering just what "walking" with God looks like.
Like a mantra, these four words, "Enoch walked with God," have been streaming in and out of my consciousness.
And throughout the year, when I wake up in the morning I ask myself, what is walking with God going to look like today?
I checked out the study notes in my NIV Bible and it says," The phrase replaces the word 'lived' in the other paragraphs of the chapter (chapter 5 of Genesis) and reminds us that there is a difference between walking with God and merely living."
A big difference, I should say!
If I merely live in the same house as my husband, going about my separate business (his office is downstairs and mine is upstairs), conducting my separate life in the community and at church,
I think it would be safe to conclude that
I am merely living with my husband.
I have no relationship. I am not "walking" with my husband
But relationship involves:
talking and listening: Communication
doing for the other person: Giving
accepting "doing" from the other: Responding
Considering the wishes and needs of the other: Supporting
learning the ways of the other so that the relationship develops positively: Respect
Enoch must have been doing all those things with God in those very early days of mankind.
How lovely. Can you picture it?
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
Monday, January 10, 2011
Elk are really big. It's a good thing the big guys are relatively used to people. If one of them wanted to, their five hundred pounds of muscle could make mincemeat out of my small frame.
I'm not much of a danger to the elk. But even this big bull has to look out for mountain lions, which roam the perimeter of the forests, seeking unwary prey.
Fortunately, God has equipped this big fellow with everything he needs to be aware of predators:
Big ears that swivel and catch the merest hint of a lion's stealthy stalk.
Large eyes which sit on the sides of the animal's skull so it can see almost in every direction.
Powerful legs for stomping or running.
I thought about the predators that we, as believers in Jesus Christ face. Oh, not lions or tigers or bears. I mean the predators which stalk and make war on our souls, those which would hammer us or spear us with discouragement, depression, fear, and bitterness. They roam the perimeter of God's Kingdom, seeking unwary victims.
Fortunately God has equipped us with everything we need to ward off such attacks:
Truth, found in God's reality, not the world's
Our own character, if we continue to do what God's Word (the King's book) tells us
A willingness to flee bad situations, if necessary
A continuing reliance on God's promises (found in the King's book)
A readiness to use God's Word, (found in the King's book) not our own logic, as a defense against spiritual attacks
A confidence that comes from realizing that our ultimate victory is already assured
The great priviledge of being allowed to approach God's throne, knowing that He hears us and comes to our defense
But we have no defense against horrible enemies of the evil kingdom if we do not arm ourselves with the wonderful things God has provided us through His Kingly Presence and His Kingdombook.
Stay close to the King and His Book!
(Note: The above list of defenses are found in Ephesians, chapter 6)
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Young, beautiful Laurie is in love with her cowboy. But the evil Judd says that if he can't have Laurie, then nobody can. Judd tries to kill the two young lovers, but instead falls on his own knife and dies. Later, in a touching scene between Laurie and her Aunt Eller, Laurie asks why things like this have to happen. What Aunt Eller says has always stuck in my mind. She explains that many hard things happen in a woman's life, but you " jes gotta be hardy. You jes gotta."
This musical came out in the fifties, and was written about an era (early 20th century) when it was assumed that most American farm folk shared a common Christian faith and a reliance on community to get them through life's storms.
Implied in Aunt Eller's admonition, "you jes gotta be hardy" was the assumption that God is near.
But if God is not near, then "you jes gotta be hardy" means nothing.
Why be hardy? What will it get me? Why is it important that I be hardy? Will it gain me one more day on earth? What good is struggling to stay alive is there's no reason to be alive?
That's like people who say, "just keep the faith."
Faith in what? Faith in faith?
Without an object in which or in Whom we place our faith, faith is ridiculous. And just being hardy is no better than not being hardy. What does it matter? Without God, nothing matters. There's no reason for my life, your life, and everything that happens is merely chance.
But there is a reason to be hardy. Because there is a God. He exists. He gave you life. He loves you. You matter to Him. He wants to have an everlasting relationship with you.
Psalms 139:15 and 16 says: "My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."
That's why Aunt Eller's words ring so true for me:
"You jes gotta be hardy. You jes gotta."
Monday, January 3, 2011
For Christmas, I get lots of bookstore gift cards, (and some books are sent by my ever-so-literary brother, Jay) so I go to town (literally) and stock up on good reads.
Books on writing I started last fall and am working through:
The Fire in Fiction, by Donald Maas
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas
Editors on Editing, edited by Gerald Gross
Deep and Wide, by Susan May Warren
Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxis (I bought this.)
He is There and He is Not Silent, by Francis Shaeffer (I borrowed this one.)
The Lives of the Great Composers, by Harold Schonberg (Another gift.)
Fiction: ( I bought all of these myself)
The Survivor's Club, Lisa Gardner
An American Childhood, by Anne Dillard (Actually, non-fiction that reads like a novel.)
The Making of Angels, by my friend, Terri Michel
Two Lives, by William Trevor
Nightingale, by Susan May Warren
In December, I finished: