What Do You Want Me To Do?

When I hear the same message more than once within days, I tend to pay more attention.Lately, it's how God has been speaking to me, because He knows I've prayed, "Lord, make what You want really clear because I don't always get it the first time, OK?"

101_0027 As a writer, I am also a reader. This should come as no shock (at least I hope not!) as I have a blog and read others' as well. And there's still the stack of books on most flat surfaces in my home.

However, today, as I caught up on my e-mail reading, a post from The Christian Pulse warranted my attention. There was a post written by Charlotte Riegel entitled "Can You Help Me?" where she spoke of Jesus' question, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51 NIV)

I addressed the same issue in a post back in the middle of December 2012--you can read it here.

Yesterday, I arrived at church very late. I woke up late, not feeling well, but I knew I wanted to break the habit of not going to church because I ...(fill in lame reason here).

(Before you get all up in my face about this subject, I know there are legitimate reasons for not attending church. I am NOT speaking of those reasons. I am speaking STRICTLY ABOUT MYSELF, and the lame reasons I SOMETIMES use for not attending church. My health issues have a lot to do with that; I assure you they ARE legitimate. However, I have found God speaks in definite terms, [i.e. Go here..., Do this..., thou shalt not...] whereas the enemy of our souls uses the same lies as he used on Eve, [maybe you shouldn't..., I don't think..., You better not...]. That being said...)

I knew my showing up at church would be an act of worship between God and I. He knows my heart, and He knew what it would take to get me out of bed and into the car for the 28 mile drive.

He also knew I needed to hear the message Pastor Tony was preaching.

I don't know if Pastor actually said the words, but I heard, "What do you want Me to do for you?" loud and clear during the message.

And for the first time, I answered Him. I answered Him with specifics, because He is very clear about things; no wiggle room there.

I'm waiting, with expectancy, to see how He's going to pull this one off. I have no doubt He will, in His time.

Read Mark 10:51 for yourself. I looked it up in the Message, NLT, KJV, Amplified, Living Bible, and NIV. The scripture is the same. (Remember, He DOES NOT change.)

What do you want Him to do for you?

I'm So Tired of the Crap.

I've been the recipient of an awful lot of crap lately. The last few months have been instance after instance of bad manners, thoughtless gestures, health issues and a general feeling of I-say-what-goes-and-there-isn't a darn-thing-you-can-do-about-it.

You may have gleaned I don't do well in this environment.

I brought my concerns to the Lord. I know He has only good planned for me. (Romans 8:28)

I pleaded for Him to show me His wisdom and comfort through these trials. I got more trials.

I I held onto His promise that He would not forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6,7) Verse 8 says

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." [bold letters mine]

But I was discouraged.

I cried out to the LORD, about the unfairness, the injustice; the crap I've been handed.

He listened.

He forced me to look at my hand in the incidents; I wasn't getting off scot-free.

Some mistakes were mine; I had not had all the facts. But I am not responsible for the actions of others.

As far as it had depended on me, I had done the right things. And it was affirmed to me.

Matthew 5:37 (NIV) states it plain--

" Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

There will be friendships lost; those seasons are over. Feelings may be hurt.

That's too bad.

I want God's approval, not the world's or the enemy's.

And His grace is sufficient for me.

Got Baggage?

Baggage. We are on day 5 of a 15 day vacation and I'm pretty well fed up with my baggage. In my haste to remember everything, I find myself needing to search through various nooks and crannies of each suitcase to find the needed item. Thank you technology--but so many WIRES! So much STUFF! I missed worshiping with my home church, but I went on the website and was able to catch last week's sermon--(I had been leading God-Tham City kids, our kid's church so I was pleased to find the sermon I missed.) If you would like to view the sermon, please visit KLFC.org .

The visiting Pastor, Dr. Bez, spoke on the fourth chapter of Jonah--"Jonah and the...(I won't give it away)", but my mind wandered a bit back to a day I had a "Jonah" experience--back in 1997. My mom was suffering with cancer and was about to start on the grueling chemo/radiation regimen that may or not save her life.

Now, please understand, I was an unruly teenager once upon a time (yes, I know it's hard to believe--but maybe not for some of you). The daughter my mother remembered was not a very nice person, but given mom's health concerns, this was the only possible alternative.

I, on the other hand, also remembered the rocky times--the difference was I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior since then and knew taking care of my mom was the right thing to do.

BUT--in remembering our past and our 'baggage', I copped a Jonah attitude. Why should I show her my Jesus? After the way she treated me? I'm the first to admit, I really didn't want to. I was a lot like Jonah with the Ninevites, deciding myself that they (mom) didn't deserve salvation...well, maybe they (she) did, but it wasn't gonna come from me!

God's pruning/growth spurts HURT!

Knowing the caretaker role I was embarking on, God started to show me my mother through His eyes, not the woman I remember, but a lost soul who needed saving, carrying her own baggage. I was suddenly able to see clearer and do for her as if I were doing all for Jesus, despite my own baggage (which I noticed was getting a little lighter each day.)

Like Jonah, I had to learn the tough lesson by being willing to accept and trust God for the outcome..

My willingness, plus seeing the relationship between my husband and I, helped to show Jesus to my mother. Four months before cancer took her life, she did accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. We still had our moments, and some unpacked luggage, but we both knew that peace that passes all understanding.....the kind that can only come from Jesus.

Things Are Not as They Seem

As we were cleaning up my yard last Spring, my landscaper asked where I wanted these lawn ornaments to go; did I want them here or somewhere else in the yard. I chuckled, knowing I hadn't put them there--they had grown there happily, under the protection of the overgrown holly. This got me thinking about circumstances that had occurred over the past few weeks.

I started to get miffed about things I normally let slide-- I started to question everything; my purpose in life, my daily routine--to the point of breaking down into inactivity.

I forgot (not totally) that God was in full control of my life, and did not need my help.

As a matter of confession, I started to believe some of the lies the enemy had been feeding me.

Things came to a head when I realized I was acting, or not-reacting, to anything.

I was at the point I felt powerless to do anything about it. I recognized this, but felt helpless to do any thing about it.

It was then I timidly opened my Bible. "Seek Me first..." drifted through my mind... God brought me to a place in 2 Timothy...snippets from chapters 3 and 4...(NIV--bold print and italics mine)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive...ungrateful, unholy...unforgiving...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. (3:1-5)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. (3:14)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4:3)

Looking back over these last weeks, in the light of these Scriptures, this makes more sense to me.

Jesus said to "Watch and pray". Beware the tactics of the enemy... because things are NOT always as they seem. Stick with what you know to be true.

Deception has Reared Its Ugly Head...or Has It?

I've been deceived.I should have recognized it; the signs were there but I missed them.

How could I have gone from 'helpful' to 'prideful' in one seemingly fell swoop?

Ah...the whispers of the enemy. He specializes in this very tactic.

I started writing this post yesterday, on the 24th. I could not continue. The enemy of my soul had stopped me again...or had he?

I knew the direction I was heading when I started writing...I was going to spout about the rotten chain of events that had been weighing me down lately. Those enemy tactics that seemed to be working. But I could not continue to dwell in that noxious stew. This starting and stopping had never happened to me before.

This unfinished post became just another thing on my 'to-do list' I had no interest in doing.

But today...

In reading through my 242 e-mails (I had let those pile up too), I came across 2 separate instances from 2 completely different directions; both referring to John 10:10

My NIV states, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." My Living Bible says "(red letters)...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (bold letters mine)

Why am I allowing the enemy of my soul to get me down?

I know I acted in a way that was most pleasing to God.

I know I did what had to be done.

I know without a doubt, because I prayed through every decision I made.

Crappy stuff fell on my head; I had momentarily forgotten to wipe it off before I became crushed and paralyzed by it.

Thank You LORD, for letting me stew in my stuff long enough to smell its stench, but not long enough to be crippled by it. Amen.

CELEBRATE!

Were you aware that the LORD delights in you? Psalm 149 says so!

Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds...

Praise the LORD. Psalm 149:1-5,9(NIV)

Praise Him! However you can; singing, dance or rejoicing. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you DO it!

God enjoys you!

Christmas Card Blessings

I recieved a Christmas card today from an old friend who never misses a year. We attended her church from 1990 until 1996 and she has been faithful in sending a Christmas card to us since the beginning of that time. This year's really touched me and I'd like to share it with you--

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him." --Ephesians 1:17

The Older I Get... the simpler my holiday preparations become... the closer I feel to old friends as I write my Christmas cards... the more I cherish the oldest ornaments... the more fondly I remember Christmases past... the longer I hold on to a holiday hug... the more I realize Christmas is a matter of the heart... the tighter my throat gets when I sing "Silent Night"... the more I enjoy giving than recieving... the more I try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child... the longer I sit at night in the glow of the Christmas tree... the more wonderously beautiful the Christmas story is... the deeper my awe at God's infinite love... the more I love Christmas!

My wish for you, dear reader, is that you are able to take a moment in your busy holiday schedule, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas in your own heart. For unto us a child was born, a Saviour was given!

"Been Reading My Head Off" (no, not really)

I haven't been around lately. Partly because it's that time of year, where things seem to keep us super busy with one thing or another. But this is a bit different. I've been reading, no, more like absorbing these 2 books I have. I purchased the first one, "Not Your Parents Marriage", I'm guessing five years ago. I read through it, I think, and left it on the book shelf. At the CLASS writer's conference last month, I met Jerome Daley and purchased his book, "Soul Spaces". Imagine my surprise to see "Not Your Parents Marriage" on the stack at his book table. I never made the connection that it was the same author. Jerome led the workshop, "The Spiritual Journey of a Writer" at the conference and this gave me a more intimate glimpse into the workings of this man's mind and his truly intimate journey with the Lord. I couldn't wait to get home and start re-reading the "Marriage" book; wondering why it had not impacted me when I first read it. I soon discovered a little trick God likes to play with me. I honestly don't remember if I read the book when I first bought it. Here's God's little trick -- if I DID read it, He knew I wasn't ready for the growth that would happen from it -- so He made me not comprehend whatever I read, if indeed I did read it at all.

Knowing some of the background that Jerome and his wife Kellie (Kellie co-wrote the Marriage book with Jerome) had to deal with, I find myself reading the 2 books alternately. There's like a hallowed space I'm visiting in the Marriage book, as this couple is sharing very real experiences and hurts with their readers. Soul Space is allowing me to have these open, raw moments with God -- sometimes to the point to where I need to stop reading, to face the truth He is opening up to me. It's not always painful, it's more like a stretching, a reaching for the edge of the branch where the fruit is, waiting. It's like God is showing me, proof -- "you know this about Me; why wouldn't I want what's best for you? I love you child --trust Me more...."

And then I have to take a breather; I come up gasping for air only to be plunged back down into His Living Water, to have my internal buckets filled to overflowing. I weep at His Goodness; how He cares about my littlest fear! And He does not give up.....

We sang a song in church that had me in tears..."don't give up on God, for He won't give up on you! (italics mine). Step by step He's taking me deeper, higher, giving me the 'more' that I ask for.

God is taking me on a new leg of the journey that is my life. He is undergirding me so that I will not be afraid to go out on the branch. He is showing me the gifts I have, that He has been honing for years. He is allowing my personality strengths to be used for His Glory -- my sanguin-ness is being allowed to 'come out and play' as I dress as a character and read to children and seniors alike-and had a BALL doing it!

Opportunities to minister, play (important to me), encourage, and be of service to HIM for His Kingdom are presenting themselves to me. I had forgotten how much fun playing is -- sculptures are being planned and worked on, things I can make with my hands to bless those around me -- even things as simple as baking for a group meal are taking on that servitude that only comes from His Grace and His indwelling Holy Spirit.

And it all started with my being willing to be used by God for whatEVER He has for me. Allowing Him into EVERYspace in my life because He planned it all while I was still in the womb, unformed, but loved by Him. He has been showing me glimpses of Himself in the journeys of others who have gone on before me; who have walked difficult roads so that I might learn from them. I am willing to be taught; to learn from trusted teachers, whose lives are living testimonies to what God can do , if we only allow Him full access.

So, if I disappear for a short while, it is not that I'm being lazy or forgot to post. I'm studying for a test coming up, a presentation I need to make, or a tutorial position has come up that I am uniquely qualified for. I'm being moved by the Master's Hand and there is a job to do. My work gloves are never far from reach, my Spirit is willing, and my reading glasses are at the ready.

And my head is still firmly attached to my body, absorbing like a Sham-WOW cloth. Keep it coming Lord, as You see fit.

Black Friday Tidbits and Thoughts

I have chosen to skip Black Friday shopping this year. My family is small, I have no little ones to shop for, and I got laid off from my full time job in June 2011. My son is grown, living in another state and will not be home for the holidays at all this year. We have decided to celebrate Christmas in May 2012, when he graduates from college. We have all we need. I will not go into deeper debt to buy things that will be discarded or end up at a spring yardsale. Paul and Timothy made it clear in this passage-

"Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Phillipians 4:10-13 The Message)

I have already recieved the greatest gift; my salvation in believing Jesus Christ died for me on the cross. Do you have this assurance in your heart? I pray, dear reader, you do. And if you don't, or aren't sure, please read aloud the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I know I've messed up in my life. Things have become more important to me than You are. I believe You are LORD and I believe in my heart that God raised You from the dead. You died for me, so I can have eternal life in Heaven. I invite You, LORD Jesus, to come into my heart and to help me live my life for You, not me. Thank You LORD Jesus, for saving me from my sins and washing me clean as snow. Amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, and you really meant it, God really means it too. He has saved you and you will go to Heaven when you die. You have just recieved the greatest gift there is -- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have recieved Jesus as your LORD and Savior, please make a comment below -- I would like to welcome you into God's family and help you grow as a Christian.

Catching-Up Day

I've just spent the last week in New Mexico at a writer's conference. AWESOME TIME! Not only did I meet new friends and fall in love with old friends again, I got to spent time with God. Yes, I know I can, and do, spend time with Him everyday, but there is something very special about being about 8,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by the beautiful mountains, basking in His Presence. This picture does not do the area justice; it is absolutely breathtaking in person. I have seen it before and it still leaves me in awe.

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.

Psalm 36:5,6

Today I was dealing with the reality of being back in my home, getting back to the routine, emptying the last stuff out of the suitcases, posting pictures and adding friends on social media, food shopping, laundry, etc. But a little part of me was longing to sit in the Adirondack chairs at the Ranch, watching the weather move in over the mesa, ready to hunker down for a deep, soul-full experience with my Lord. Fragments of favorite songs would drift through my mind..."I Could Sing of Your Love Forever"..."Nobody Greater"..."Holy Holy Holy"...causing spontaneous worship-ness. I catch myself staring into space, trying to recall a scene or an event and find myself lost in the moment. A longing envelops me: I will have to wait until next year.

Until then, I have friends with better camera skills than I; who were generous enough to post their pictures. They will have to do until Abiquiu and I meet again.

Blessed are the Flexible, for They Will Not Break in the Storm

We had a surprise snowstorm here in Pennsylvania at the end of October. This lilac bush was in our yard when we moved in fifteen years ago and it was pretty old then. The snow was very wet and it just couldn't stand the strain. The whole bush was bent over, but the thicker (older) trunks could not bend sufficiently to weather the added weight. When I saw the storm damage, I couldn't help but think of the term "stiff-necked" which is mentioned 19 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it refers to the Israelites being stiff-necked(stubborn, unyielding). In Proverbs 29:1, WE are warned against being stiff-necked-

A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.

In Acts 7:51, the only reference in the New Testament, it reads "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!"

Being stubborn is mentioned 28 times. I'm thinking God knew we were going to have a tough time with our stubbornness.

I suppose I could have gone outside during the storm and brushed the snow away from the highest branches. I could have tied the branches to the garage to help support the weight. But I didn't do anything beforehand to prepare for the coming storm. I didn't even think about it until after, when I saw the damage. I've read that one shouldn't prune a lilac bush more than one third of its size; more than that will kill it. In looking at the total bush, it looks like I won't have to do any pruning this season. God has taken care of that for me. He has pruned me recently, also. The dead wood that was resisting the Holy Spirit has been removed; the Holy Spirit has refilled me. I have been transformed. The transformation happens when we stop resisting the Holy Spirit and allow His leading.

"Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight"

Karen Linamen has been a favorite author for a long time. My collection of her books, shown to the left, has kept me laughing, thinking, praying, crying, repenting, eating chocolate, career (I got laid off in June), stuck in my prayer life (yeah God, you know...yadda yadda), even stuck in my worship, both in and out of church. I was in that desert place where every hill looks the same, and no matter which way I'd turn, the endless scenery went on for miles. I was weary of trying to find which hill to attempt next. I knew I couldn't stay where I was, but couldn't do much more than take a few futile steps in any direction so the view would be slightly different. Karen's writing spoke clearly to this lonely place. By page 22 I had a viable, actual thing I could do. Being a visual learner, I needed this 'picture', this 'hands-on' THING I could do. Thirty pages later, I found myself with a roughly drawn map to escape the desert place I had been. I still had some 140-ish pages to go and I was already excited about where I would be, where God would take me, on this journey! I've read through the book for the first time; fully intending it to become worn and dog-eared, like the rest of my collection of her books. They are indeed worth a first, second, even a fifth time reading. God has gifted Karen with a way of writing that will indeed touch, uplift and inspire you, wherever you are in your circumstances.

I will urge you, dear reader, to pick up ANY of Karen Scalf Linamen's books, and dive into her wacky, wonderful world of living each day to its fullest! laughing some more, singing, exploring feelings, having "TA-DA" moments, eating more chocolate, and laughing some more. Mostly they have brought me closer to God in ways I hadn't even imagined. Her latest book, "Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight" is all of these things, times ten. It came at a time when I was stuck -- stuck in my own desert of self-ness instead of being in His Garden of abundance.

RUN to your nearest bookstore, (or to the nearest website - http://www.karenlinamen.com/ ) and do something awesome for yourself and buy any or ALL of Karen's books. I promise you will NOT be at all disappointed and may even find a friend waiting!

Having a Bummer of a Day?

I went through my e-mail file that I've been saving to read at a later date. Some of the stuff has been there so long that it no longer applies to anything I'm interested in (like the Christmas 2010 special deals!) I ran across an e-mail I recieved from one of my dear encouragers; one of those priceless people who will ask me hard questions when I whine, or complain, or make any excuse to not get my work done.

Her timing, which is ultimately God's timing, as usual was spot on:

God called me to write. I didn't realize that if it was truly His vision, He would prosper it. I spent a lot of time angsting about such questions,as, will my books sell well; will I get good reviews; will I be able to think of more stories, etc. It was not until recently that I realized all that kind of thinking comes from my flesh. Me, taking ownership of God's vision. I am on a faith journey. I am trusting God to prosper what He ordains...or not. I will do what He asks to the best of my ability, and the rest is up to Him.

I don't know where Delores Liesner got this quote from, but it sure struck a chord with me today as I re-read it again.

I FORGET STUFF

I forget His promises, like "His Grace is sufficient..." (2Corinthians 9:12) and "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

If He has called me to do something, HE WILL equip me to do what HE wants. The enemy of my soul does not want what God wants. This is a classic battle between God and satan. Satan will use whatever he can, whatever lie he can get to work, to defeat victory in Jesus.

He said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Whirlwind Days...and I Don't Mean the Weather!

There's been alot of activity going on around here lately. God stuff. Forcing me to look at my habits and comfort zones stuff. Besides the writing stuff and the praying stuff and the art stuff. God stuff. Like Him asking me what I'm ready to give Him. What will I die for? How much of me am I willing to let Him use? How much of me am I willing to let Him change? When I pray the Jabez prayer, (1Chronicles 4:10) how much do I truly want Him to enlarge my territory?

How much do I mean it?

I find myself surrounded by people who are truly gifted at intercessory prayer, powerful worship and a sense of God's Holy Spirit down here in my trenches, where it hurts, where it matters most, where the needs are the greatest. And I'm finding I fit. It's like putting on a new sweater that was especially made for me. It feels like an old friend, right out of the box. It's broken in at all the right places; the material is soft, like I've never felt before. It's not a comfort thing. It's more of a marvel, that this was here all the time and I never knew it existed.

And I find myself weeping, with gratitude, that I am allowed to experience this.

My self-imposed Sabbatical was more God stuff. His Will, not mine, was at work. Leading me along these new roads, stretching me out of my comfortable shape into an new mold, all in preparation for the work that's ahead.

And again I weep, not only with gratitude, but in Worship.

Introspection: A Look Back

I always seem to get introspective at this time of year. I think it has something to do with my birthday, the memories of school starting, (going back to school was always a lousy Birthday present for me as a child) and the coming Autumn weather.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year; I have great clothes for this weather. Corduroys, sweaters, and still being able to drive with the roof down on my car are a trifecta that always puts a smile on my face.

My thoughts start to drift, however, to what I've accomplished in the last year, and what prospects the coming year hold. Last year at this time I was excited, and scared, beyond belief at the aspect of flying for the first time to New Mexico alone to attend a writer's conference, knowing this was what the LORD had for me to do.

I had a great time and became a published author because of that conference. I also came home with about forty new friends, writers all, and an unmistakable inner peace that assured me GOD had a plan for to speak. My artwork was also involved, and that talent in my life, buried for so many years, began to blossom and refused to lie dormant any longer.

I have since lost my full time job due to the economy, which has forced me to discipline myself to do my artwork on a regular schedule, rather than fitting it in 'when I have time'.

This has opened up a whole new area I find myself lacking; my self-discipline. I seem unable to tackle it with any regularity. I, who can be so disciplined in other areas, like car maintainence, laundry and cooking, even documenting medication side effects, cannot seem to master things like reading my Bible every day and setting apart time to work on art projects.

I seem to wallow in the "do I want it bad enough? or the "am I good enough to do this? mire. The more I write these thoughts in my journal, the more I can recognize the whispers of the enemy of my soul. Satan does not want me to succeed. These are tricks he uses to get my mind off of what God told me and showed me at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Back in 2004, I highlighted this in my Bible. It is from a footnote from Isaiah 40:12-31 - "Don't limit His work in your life by underestimating Him." I wrote beneath it, "and what He can do through me. I CAN do this thing You are asking; to help others by what You have taught me. Thank You Lord, for Your never ending love!"

Spending more time with my Bible and earnestly seeking His Word and direction are the top priority now.

Psalm 40:12(NIV) says it best - "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."