T'was The Day After Christmas..

T'was The Day After Christmas100_9912 T'was the day after Christmas (at least at my house) Our bellies still full of cookies and grouse; The stockings, now empty, were thrown on the floor, With a half-eaten candy cane stuck to the door. Some children, still sleeping, at this stroke of one While others went shopping, hitting sales on the run. Yes, up before 7--it's shopping they went Seeking bargains. YES! Up to fifty percent! There's gift wrap and ribbon, tags and all kinds of doo-dads, The 'not-chosen' gifts that did not make this year's fads. "I'll stock up for next year! Yes, that's what I'll get!" I said as I stacked my cart full at Target. "My shopping will be done, I won't have to scurry Or go to the mall in that mad, insane flurry. Yes! I can be finished! In June if I'm lucky! And all will envy me!" (Won't THAT be just ducky?) But then I paused, my face froze in mid-grin; Had Christmas become just a battle to win? Something to be conquered; a contest? a goal? A competition for biggest and brightest of all? And what about Jesus? What would He say About the way we act around His birthday? Yes, we remember Him before that big day But after--how quickly we all turn away. "Thank goodness it's over!" "We've put on quite a show!" Then we all hunker down and wait for the snow. The rat race continues, empty faces return, Folks with no hope, no Jesus still haven't learned To seek His face daily, yes, each day of the year. Just ask Him in and He will draw near. We need to live it like we believe And not only show it on Christmas Eve.

A Legacy in Ruth Bell Graham

I recently spent some time at The Cove -- The Billy Graham Training Center -- in Asheville NC. While there, I got to deepen my appreciation for the woman behind Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham. I wish I had learned more about her before she went home to be with the LORD. Ruth seemed to embody a lot of the qualities I was seeking when my son was growing up. I would have liked to have known more about her, perhaps even written to her at some point. She appeared to have a handle on the day-to-day; I felt very much like I moved from one crisis to the next.

Part of that, I suppose, was the fact that I did not have Christ in my life until I was 28. In fact, my son led me to Christ when I was pregnant. The LORD had impressed upon me that I was indeed carrying a miracle; that He has plans for this child. The LORD's impression was so strong, in fact, that I immediately knew it was God, and He was serious. From that time on, my quest to know as much as I could about God took off like a rocket. My husband did not have any interest in a church--I had only the radio for my information. Late at night, a Christian radio station would come in clear, and I soaked up scripture like a sponge.

I had accepted Jesus (in words only) when I was 19 years old. It was a very matter-of-fact,"Yeah, so, what now?" attitude. I didn't think very much of it. But GOD didn't forget me. He took my decision seriously. (Even if I didn't.)

A divorce and a remarriage later, the LORD gently reminded me of my commitment and His words to me. God grew my husband and I in wisdom so we would be able to answer my son's questions, which came at a fast clip. Not having any godly family to look to for direction, I sought the Holy Spirit and a local church. God did not disappoint.

But I did wonder about the legacy I was leaving. I had those moments when I drove my son to exasperation. Those moments when I uttered hurtful words I can never take back. Sure, I'm better now, 20+years later, yet not near where I'd like to be. But what kind of memories did I create?

What legacy will I be leaving?

What will my son take away from his childhood?

Will he remember my joy in him? My delight in his antics?

I hope he remembers the laughter.

The Bears (and I Don't Mean Chicago)

I got a real treat while I was at The Cove. I walked out to the deck near the dining hall, looked down, and saw this. This was the elusive bear we were all trying to get a glimpse of during our week long stay. Taking a walk. She walked to the edge of the woods, to my left, no hurry, just walking. I hear a rustle of the trees to my right. I look over, and I see this. My dinner companions, Chris and Rochelle, had just come out to the deck. I motioned and loudly whispered, "there's bears!" The cubs heard this--one scampered up a tree about 10 feet; the other came out into the clearing a bit. Here comes Mom. Not hurrying, but about the same pace as before, went straight to the wayward bear cub and smacked him, sending him rolling! James and Ruby, my other dining companions, sadly, did not get to see this display of wildlife.

But can't you imagine the story?

I can't take another MINUTE with those two kids--they are driving me outta my TREE! "I'll be gone 5 MINUTES--don't you MOVE from this SPOT"...muttering...twins. I hadda have twins. All my friends had single births, but NO--I get twins...and boys yet...driving me out of my tree. What? Where do you think you're going Mister? I told you DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM...get up in a tree like your brother (smack). Five minutes...I can't even have five minutes. Sigh.

Well, it might have been like that...

Attempt at Productivity - Step 1

These cookies are my undoing.I'm blaming hormonal changes at this point, but I realize this is too much information.

Pardon my digression.

I started out today fully intending to leave my home office--(where a thousand things are waiting to be done) and sit at my local coffee/sandwich place of choice to get some serious writing done.

After running 4 errands, I arrived, starved, ready to get busy. Only 2 more errands after this and I could check all those "to-do's" off today's list.

And you know God laughed.

Sigh.

I set myself into a corner table near an outlet to finish my devotion before the writing session. As I'm finishing up my reading from Proverbs, a young couple sit diagonally behind me. Fine. I can tune them out.

Then the conversation started in earnest and got louder. Apparently they are not going out; he is 17 with a 16 year old drama-queen girlfriend and she is 18 or 19, with a penchant for drinking every night. The conversation escalated to their individual sexual prowess.

I really don't want to listen to this.

At this point I was really glad I carry a pair of earplugs in my purse. Yes, really. They are invaluable when one is faced with a situation as described above, having to be a patient in a hospital, or finding oneself at a fireworks show--(my husband is a licensed pyro-technician, so this is not as much an isolated occurrence as one might think).

But I digress.

Earplugs installed, I concentrated on Mark 4 and the parable of the four soils. I use a life application NIV Bible, because I find the footnotes helpful. Verses 18 and 19 caught my eye.

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Bold letters mine)

The footnote went deeper still. "The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God's message. Usually we think about four different kinds of people. But he may also have been talking about a) different times in a person's life or b) how we willingly receive God's message in some areas of our lives but resist it in others. For example, you may be open to God about your future, but be closed about how you spend your money. Or respond like good soil to God's demand for worship, but be rocky soil to his demand to give to people in need.

We need to be like good soil in every area of our lives."

A life packed with materialistic and carnal pursuits deafens us to God's Word.

I wish I could tell you I spoke to those young people and shared the gospel with them, but I didn't. I prayed they would be receptive to the person who would, whenever that time came. Here at Panera, at 4:30 PM wasn't the time.

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.

Plausible Deniability

Plausible Deniability. I first heard this phrase in one of my favorite movies, "Max Keeble's Big Move". Max, a picked-on seventh grader, planned some 'pay-backs' for the bullies of the school to coincide with the last week Max was there before moving away. He asks his real friends, a boy nicknamed Robe and a girl named Meagan to help him set up the pranks--explaining all the blame will fall on him, (after he's moved away) not them. They didn't know what they were jumping into, but they trusted Max. As they won't know all the details of his plans, they have 'plausible deniability'.

Without going into much detail, Max arranges things so the bullies who were taking advantage of the more helpless ones get put into place. Those who were bullied finally have a say.

The ones who were laughed at, robbed of their lunch money, made to feel inferior; all the different ones; were finally united by the actions of one individual.

Justice was served. (I love a good 'underdog' movie).

I couldn't help but think of how God gives us plausible deniability. God works things to happen in our lives for our good. ("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28 [NIV]). We don't know all the details, or how elaborate His methods are to accomplish what He wants for us. We don't even know who else is involved; how intertwined our lives are with others. We go along with what He asks; not knowing what He has planned next--but trusting Him all the same.

And I couldn't help but think of Jesus.

How the actions of one person could change the whole attitude, one person at a time.

Plausible deniability.

We will not be held accountable for what we have done in this life if we have accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour. (1John 1:9 [NIV])

He will take the blame.

His blood washes us clean; white as snow. (Romans 10:9 [NIV])

Are you jumping into what He has planned for you?

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.

Stubborn as a Mule!

I had a surprising taste of God's wrath today. Not aimed at me, but a feeling I can only guess was close to approaching God's anger at the Israelites when they yet again chose disobedience to God's law. I have a neighbor whose declining health is necessitating more care than an occasional visit can give. On the one hand, she is appreciative of the help and meals given her. Yet in the blink of an eye, she can become sullen, argumentive, and downright nasty; all while contradicting herself with her own version of the facts--sometimes in the same sentence. Stubborn!

While listening to her latest rant today, I couldn't help but remember the Israelites wandering in the desert, demanding provision from the Lord. In Exodus 15 and 16, the people complained because things weren't like they were before. "...the people grumbled...'What are we to drink?'" (Exodus 15:24 NIV) The Israelites grumbled all through chapter 16, never listening to what was offered to them, never realizing it all was for their benefit, from a God Who loved them and gave them chance after chance to accept all He was willing to give.

I had to administer 'toughlove' today. I had to remove myself from the situation--of course, after saying my piece. There are programs in place to help seniors. The problem lies in the willingness to accept the help from these programs. If the person says 'no', no help can be given. The agencies cannot go against the senior's wishes.

After seeing the reality of her situation; the depth of how much help is needed, my occasional bowl of soup or pan of cornbread isn't going to cut it. But she is set in her ways--indeed, stiff-necked--and is either unable or unwilling to see the truth that has become her life.

Oh LORD, help me find the balance point between what I can and cannot do.

New Growth From Dead Wood

This lilac shrub suffered a major setback from a surprise snowstorm last year. I was afraid it was done for; the damage seemed too drastic for it to survive. It sure looked like a goner.

I thought for sure I had a dead tree on my hands. I had no choice to wait it out and see what developed in the Spring. The pieces of trunk looked like they would be dead wood, no longer of any use to the tree.

I couldn't help but see the correlation with the disciples after Jesus died.

How could there be life after the crucifixion?

I know in my heart I believe it...but...do I really know it? In the same way I can meet someone and know immediately whether or not they can be trusted with my prayer requests? That kind of 'knowing"?

It's been a few months now, the lilac is starting to bloom. I would peek at it through the window, daily, wondering if I needed to have it removed.

Imagine my surprise (and delight) to see, not only new growth, but strong new shoots preparing to carry the needed nutrients to the flowers yet to come!

There will be new life coming out of the 'dead wood' in our lives, as we seek to live in the fullness of God.

Earlier this week I determined to terminate a toxic friendship I knew was not bringing Glory and Honor to God. Why would I want to continue this friendship? Out of habit? Out of feeling obligated to her and her husband?

Is this really how He wants me to plan my day? To carefully arrange my mask so that I wear the perfect facade while harboring resentment and dishonoring behavior inside of me?

1Peter 2:9 calls us "...a chosen people, royal priesthood, a Holy nation..."

Knowing who we are in Christ is about as real as we can be.

I'm not giving in to the enemy's lies--not even for a moment. Rid yourself of all that keeps you from giving all you can to JESUS!

If He can see to the health of a green plant after a storm, how much more will he do for you, His Beloved?

Toxic Friends

Storm's brewin'. I remember watching the skies before this one hit. I had just made it home when the skies opened up. Raindrops like paintball splotches on my shirt. Wind whipping trash and leaves down my street. Take in the perishables but leave the rest of the groceries in the car until after the rain stopped. Storms.

I had an experience Monday that struck me worse than a storm. A friendship I have done my best to maintain needed to be terminated.

It had lasted, in its crippled state, for fifteen years. She had always had a sarcastic mouth, was quick with a put-down--those seemingly innocent zingers that annoyed, and sometimes drew blood--yet always given with a quick laugh to show she was 'only joking' (Wassamatter? Can't you take a joke?)

I hadn't seen her for 6 months--about the time we were led by God to change churches. This was not a decision we took lightly--we pled for God to make His leading crystal clear, for we wanted to be totally obedient to His wooing. God gently but firmly gave His direction and we acted on it.

Within the last six months, still pleading with God to show me what to do about this situation, I reached out with a couple text messages, telling her I missed her. They were answered in that passive aggressive tone--a pattern I recognized all too well.

Monday, I had the opportunity to make a hospital visit, knowing she would be there too.

From the time I arrived, the old zingers appeared. But I could only look at her with sadness.

When I first met her, I accepted the sarcasm, the putdowns, and such; knowing she had been hurt by people in the past and this was her defense mechanism to head off being hurt again. I accepted the crumbs and worked at showing her His love as best I knew how.

Her behavior continued, as did her habits.

Something in me decided ENOUGH! on Monday.

I ignored her comments that interrupted my conversation, but was acutely aware of the passive aggression displayed there.

I cut my visit short--said polite good-byes, and left.

I brought this to the LORD in my devotional time this morning. In my journaling, I have a section called "Admits' where I come clean with what's bugging me, holding me back, and things that are consuming me, whether real or percieved. I started to write-

I'm having a hard time dealing with X's treatment of me. Her passive--aggressive thing hurt, then made me sad, for both her and her husband. I am not responsible for the actions of others. As far as it depended on me--I was peaceful, calm, and collected, but I will not put myself in such a toxic situation again. I've been nothing but kind and friendly to her over the years and I deserve better than this from her!

I paused. As soon as I wrote the words down, I felt His sweet small voice--

I know what you're going through. I deserve to be treated better, too.

Here, I'm wanting to be treated better, because I deserve better than the treatment I've been getting. You feel this way too, don't You Lord; You certainly deserve to be treated better and they killed You. Thank You for showing me this, so I may understand better. I wrote it down in my art journal so the words wouldn't slip away-

Betrayal, deceit, gossip, slander--I accepted the crumbs, because you were not able to give yourself over to genuine friendship--that was when we first met. It's been over 15 years now, I deserve better than this from you. I was saddened by your response to my attempt to 'be there for you'. Sarcasm? Put downs? No thank you.

LORD, You have shown me the grief in me--I need to let myself grieve--and get past it. The best way I know how is to run to You.

So here I am to worship...

Adding Prayer to Lent - Day 35

I have felt led to devote myself to prayer today.

I have had various prayer requests come in--

Friends are going through horrific circumstances-- Illness is taking and changing lives-- Meetings are happening where the outcomes affect future livelihood-- Children, of all ages, are thrust into situations never imagined by their parents--

The enemy is sowing discouragement, which leads to despair and ruined lives. The enemy wants to keep us looking at the circumstances around us so we take our eyes off God. The enemy wants us to have no hope. He wants our futures to look as bleak as his.

Today, I stand in the gap and pray for you.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; He's waiting.

"Submit to God, resist the devil--and he will flee from you." James 4:7 (NIV)

Today, I stand in the gap for you.

Storm Damage- Conclusion

What happens to those who are so firmly wedged into the lies of this world; who choose to ignore the small, still voice of God? What if we don't realize the error of our ways? What if we've fit ourselves so comfortably in the world's views and opinions that our behavior no longer seems like sin to us?

It will be too late.

"...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."(1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

Storm Damage-Part 2

The lilac bush had been around a long time--at least the fifteen years we have lived in the house. This branch that broke was not one I had slated for removal. It was one of the stronger ones with great flowering potential. Yet now it was dead wood. As I continued to saw my way through, the tiny teeth left a pile of fine powder sawdust around the blade. It looked like it was barely making a dent.

But that's where I was wrong. When I removed the saw to see my progress, there was indeed a cut in the wood; I remember being surprised at how deep it was. Heartened now, I continued.

I thought again about the seemingly little progress I was making. A secret sin or a bad habit--really anything contrary to God's precepts--can chip away at our resolve to conduct ourselves in a manner pleasing to God. We can justify subtle lies when they're wrapped in noble intentions. The behavior becomes so ingrained that we wake up one day, and hopefully realize our error.

But the consequences of our behavior will happen.

We will be left to clean up the mess.

Storm Damage-Part 1

Back in October 2011, Pennsylvania got hit with an unexpected snow storm. The heavy, wet snow wreaked havoc on many trees and caused widespread damage. In my own yard, the lilac bush took the brunt of the hit.In preparation to trim the lilac, I went out to the shed, looking for a pair of pruners. Upon closer inspection of the broken branch, I determined a saw would be in order. However, all I could find in the shed was a small hacksaw type of tool. As I began to saw away, I noticed the tiny teeth the blade had. This was going to take awhile. Nevertheless, I persevered. As those tiny teeth kept cutting through the branch, I couldn't help but see the similarity between it and sin in our lives.

How many times do we pass off a little sin as "Oh, it won't matter" or "Nobody will find out" or the ever popular,"That's not really wrong, is it"?

Here's a hint--If you're asking that question or find yourself strongly defending it? It probably is.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Did you ever have a day where one little thing wreaked havoc on an otherwise perfect experience? Maybe you found that perfect color blouse to match those pants--only to find an ugly stain on the back...

Or the cute shoes that will set off your new outfit--only to discover they didn't have your size...

(and one for the guys) You finally decided to spring for that big screen TV for the BIG game--only to find out all they had left was the 13" ones and the massive 72" one that wouldn't fit in any vehicle you've ever owned; never mind the price, which was 8x the amount you had in mind...

The experience I had was with a lipstick. Yes, trivial I know. But a disappointment just the same.

You see, I have dogs. Three of them. And while I love them dearly and get great pleasure from owning these rescued-from-abusive-situations pups, I DO NOT love their hair in my purse. ESPECIALLY ON MY FAVORITE LIPSTICK!

I chose to look at the facts. --Dog hair happens. --My lipstick was still useable (after a quick wipe). --My lipstick wasn't melted all over the inside of my purse. --It wasn't really that big a deal (except for my initial 'EWWW') --And the biggie-it wasn't worth throwing a fit over!

I seem to get alot of exercise 'jumping' to conclusions. I think I'd do better to 'exercise' my faith instead.

"My attitude should be like that of King Jesus...(Philippians 2:5-my translation)"

Year End Perspective

December 31 is here already. As I get older, the time seems to fly by so much quicker. I think it is a perspective thing. When I was little, I couldn't wait for things like Christmas or my birthday; even the weekends seemed to take forever to get here!

But now, having recurring monthly and yearly bills needing to be paid, the perspective seems to be way different. Being aware of having to budget time, money and other resources has made me lose alot of that child-like wonder of the first day of summer vacation.

My "when will it get here?" has turned into "when did that happen?"

Where did the weekend go? Where did spring go? Where did the summer go? How can it be fall already? I'm HOW OLD?

This new perspective is not without it's perks. I'm learning to live more in the moment, taking the time to enjoy the now, rather than always looking forward to the what's next.

I have the greatest respect for my husband of 21+ years, knowing he took on alot of responsibility, marrying me with a 4 year old in tow. I appreciate the man my son has become, seeing his potential rather than his faults and being so proud of his accomplishments. I am able to love deeper, say kinder words, and laugh--always laugh, more often. Encouragement comes easier than finding fault, praying comes easier than judging, and open ears and open heart work better than an open mouth.

Yes, perspective has its privileges. Thank you Lord, for growing me and showing me.

"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.