Thursday, March 31, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Are You Ready for Trial?

“For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us. Instead, all that is left is to wait in fear for the coming judgment and the fierce fire which will destroy those who oppose God! Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty from the evidence of two or more witnesses. What, then, of the person who despises the Son of God? Who treats as a cheap thing the blood of God’s covenant which purified him from sin? Who insults the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment he will deserve! For we know who said, ‘I will take revenge, I will repay’; and who also said, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10: 26-31.)

The courtroom can be a nerve racking place. Standing or sitting before a judge, taking an oath to tell the whole truth and not perjure yourself, pleading with the judge to understand your story and rule in your favor, listening to the witnesses, and waiting for the judge’s decision on the matter. How scary that is for most here on earth, yet I cannot imagine how terrifying it is in the “courtroom” of our Father.

His laws have been set before us just as the laws of our countries are put into place; by which to be abided and enforced. We hope for leniency of our wicked ways yet scripture notes a “no tolerance” policy. Perhaps some of us think we can lie our way into the Judge’s favor? What fools! Our Father can neither be deceived nor manipulated like the laws and the courts of this world.

And, what do you think it will be like to give your testimony to our Father? “For it is written:
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14: 11-12.)
What will you say? Will you tell Him of your good deeds? Without an “attorney” present to advise you, how will you know that “all of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through. Because of our sins we are like leaves that wither and are blown away by the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6.)

Will you argue that you did not know that He existed? Errrrt, wrong answer! You are reading this and therefore have been warned. Our Father does exist and so I ask you this:

What have you got to lose?

If you study the bible everyday therefore “staying in the word” and live your life according to the laws set forth therein, what will you lose?

If you chose not to believe and abide by the laws handed down by our Father, tell me then, what will you lose?

I think of my love ones who have already left this earth and I cannot help but wonder how their “trial” went. One day I will know the outcome but until then I can only hope for the best. I hope for the best for you as well, my friend.

(Photo information: Bing Images)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Technique Tuesday: Tracy's Karate and Mixed Martial Arts

I trained with these incredible instructors in California!!! I highly recommend learning from them if you are in their area!

Technique Tuesday.

New video series with a new move every other Tuesday! In this video you see Seven swords. Make sure to give it a like and share it with your friends.

Posted by Tracy's Karate & Mixed Martial Arts Studios of Davis on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Little Bit of Fiction

Character: Josephine Viola Effie Doyle

He reached out his hand to greet her, "Hello, Miss Doyle. I'm so glad you could make it."

"Mr. Dalton, the pleasure is all mine," she answered.

She tilted her head and gave him a warm smile. He felt his face become hot. He wanted to keep her hand in his but knew that would be inappropriate. As soon as he released it he instantly missed the softness of her skin.

"The Victorian society is grateful for your generous donation. The organization cannot continue to grow and prosper without dedicated members such as yourself. I wanted to come here, personally, to thank you."

He was captivated by her bright eyes. He could not help but wonder how they had never met before this moment? They both frequented the same club and moved in some of the same social circles. She stood perfectly straight, which gave the illusion of her being tall, yet she was actually rather short in stature. Her torso was compact and her legs long. Of course the four inch heels of her brown, knee high boots gave her an extra advantage.

"Would you like some tea?" asked Dalton. He barely heard his own words leave his lips. He never felt so strange in all his life. Perhaps he was coming down with something he told himself. He certainly could not feel this way because of Miss Doyle!

"Thank you, no. Forgive me but I must be off. I just wanted to stop by, quickly, to express my gratitude." She gave a polite nod and turned to exit.

Dalton studied the flow of her dress and how her collar gently touched her neck. "Miss Doyle!" he called. He noticed the curve of her lips and how her nose was slightly upturned. Suddenly, he realized he was staring and smiling like a fool.

"Yes, Mr. Dalton?" she inquired. "Is there something else you wish to discuss?"

He wondered if his face was flushed. He searched his mind for a proper question. Why had he called her name? He knew the answer. He did not want her to leave quite yet. He needed a reason to extend her visit. Frantically he tried to come up with something.

She smiled. "Did you forget what you wanted to say?"

He desperately wanted to know when she would be at the club next. He played with the notion of asking her out right. She probably thinks I am such a fool, he thought. "I - uh. Well - I." He took a deep breath. "Do you need transportation to your next appointment?"

"Oh. Thank you, no. My ride is waiting." Again she gave a polite nod and went on her way.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Warm up

For some reason I feel so tired…yet I have a paper to write for sociology. I need to get the creative juices flowing. Today, is one of my absolute favorite holidays! It is Resurrection Sunday. He is risen!

One of my older children, the College Kid, once asked me a great question regarding socks. Kid wanted to know why it is when we wear white socks, the dirt they pick up looks gray and dark. But when we are wearing black socks, the dirt looks white or light. As I sit here typing this I looked at one of my younger children, the Little Chef, and noticed chef has on black socks…which got me thinking about what Kid had said.

So this paper, on which I am supposed to be working, is for my class "Sociology of the Family of America". It is an interview with a couple who has children and touches on their decision to start a family, their parenting styles, challenges, etc. After completing my interview, last night, the Little Chef informed me the mother of a friend had died. I knew this woman! She was an acquaintance of mine from the school where I used to substitute teach and where my children attended last year and the year before that. She seemed like such a nice lady and her children are fantastic! Unfortunately, as I understand it, she had gone into the hospital for surgery, caught pneumonia, went into a coma, and the decision was made to take her off life support. How unbelievably devastating to her children and all the young ones who knew her. She served them well at the school. I believe her oldest is out of school, her middle child is in high school, and her youngest is in elementary school.

Quick Fiction

Fanfiction: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

He grabbed her firmly by the neck. Her hands quickly went to meet his as she gasped for air.

"What do you want from me?!" he roared.

Her words were wispy and light without the force of oxygen behind them. "My name is Josephine Doyle," she started. Her hands still grasped his, hoping he would let go of her. "I am looking for Dr. Jekyll. I am from the local Victorian society."

Mr. Hyde studied her carefully. His eyes were on fire with rage. "I could kill you right now!" he hissed.

Josephine felt a tear forming in the corner of her eye. She was desperate to get free. "Please," she said as she pulled at his grip. It was too tight for her to work loose. She would have to strike him in the groin or gouge his eyes to get him to release her. Before she could, though, he let her go.

She ran from him and placed a large potted plant between him and herself. He could neither reach around it nor go over it. Each time he moved, she did also to keep distance between them.

“I am so sorry, sir…” she began.

“It’s Hyde!” he spat.

“Yes, Mr. Hyde. I did not mean to upset you! I was only looking for Dr. Jekyll.” She could not account for what she had done to get Hyde in such a rage.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is Risen!

He is risen!!! Thank you, Jesus!!! Thank you, Jesus!!!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

It is Good Friday, but sadly I feel we are so far removed from what took place thousands of years ago it is not fresh, raw, and intense in our minds. I suppose we could watch something like “The Passion of the Christ” as a reminder or, even better, re-read about the account in God’s Word…but even still, can we fully grasp the weight of it? I do not believe so.

18:13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people….

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said." 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?" 24Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest….

28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" 30 They answered him, "If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you." 31 Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death." 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 34 Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" 35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." 37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." 38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" 40 They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.

19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him." 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God." 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" 15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

"They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots."

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." 37 And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced."
(John 18: 13-14, 19-24, 28-32, 33-40, John 19:1-37. ESV.)

I pray that each of us may feel the love of Jesus this weekend. That we may understand His obedience to the Father, His allowance of man to torture Him to take on the wrath of the Father so that we could be reconciled to Him! May we know God fully and truly appreciate being able to stand before His throne of grace anytime. May we grasp the weight of being before God and having Him see His own precious Son when He looks at us. May you have a blessed weekend and a beautiful resurrection Sunday!

(Photo information: Bing Public Domain.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

For We Do Not Know What to Pray for as We Ought

This morning I am meditating on Romans 8:26-30.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
As I have mentioned, I feel suspended, paused, not quite sure where to go from here. I love God’s promises that He has it all sorted out and I need not worry about anything.

There are times when it does not seem like “things are working together for good”. There are bitter occurrences that leave a bad taste, a broken heart, or both. I find this especially challenging as a believer. I hear myself say to God, “I am Your daughter! I am Yours! Why have You forsaken me? Why do You allow such things? Why do You give man the false notion he/she is calling the shots? You could stop things at any moment, yet You do not. What is the purpose? What is Your will?” Of course, I know the answer to some of these. In reading Revelations one can see how the “story” ends…how all events lead to God’s glory!

I used to believe I was reaping the consequences for my past actions and decisions. I had sinned, knowingly went against God’s word, and I was reaping the crops of what had been sown. But, lately, I have been shown my previous thoughts are not quite accurate. Even one who has done all that God requires and is a far better servant than myself, walks the same path as I. God has given me the knowledge I needed to stop punishing myself. However, the question still remains---maybe even stronger now than ever before---why, Lord? We are Your humble servants. And yet, His word does not say a believer’s life will be easy, full of prosperity, etc. It actually says quite the opposite. This world will be a struggle for us because it is not our home. We are pilgrims, just passing through. But are called to serve as we do. Further, sometimes, that is far harder than we ever thought possible.

But now onto some fun fiction! I am creating a character. Josephine Viola Effie Doyle, I believe shall be her formal name. I’m sure she will inherit an abbreviated name, or nickname, over time. Further, I feel naming my characters is quite challenging for me…probably my biggest obstacle.

Her long, thick, hair curls about and bounces over her shoulders. Dark as midnight, it threatens to take a person captive, never to be seen or heard from again. Its dense forest softly beckons to those daring enough to try to touch it. What secrets is it hiding? The four inch heels of her boots add to her small stature and delicate frame. Her big, dark eyes and gentle features hide the volcano beneath. It steams and glows with a fiery conviction. Her hair, though dark as volcanic glass, reveals a magma red tone that blends in gradually until it takes over completely.

She is only just a sketch that I hope to continue to work on and develop further. Have a great weekend, everyone!

1 You will say in that day:
"I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 "Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation."

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:

"Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 "Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
(Isaiah 12. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Decluttering: Brain Dump

I do not really have any characters floating around in my mind. Is that bad for a writer to say? I have a few storylines, I guess. Today, my head feels clouded. Maybe it’s the weather. The allergy count report states oak, trees, and mold are at “medium” and grass is “high”. Tomorrow, the forecast is oak, trees, and grass will be “high” and mold at “medium”. Perhaps it’s my allergies.

Generally, I prefer to write non-fiction focused on the bible. There is so much in there. People, like me, who sin and need a Savior.

Every once in a while I try my hand at poetry but I do not feel it is my strong suit. I do not know what is, actually. I know my writing is acceptable though I wouldn’t call it exemplary. I usually get high marks on my assignments at university. But, I guess I question where my talent truly rests.

Sometimes I do fan fiction. Maybe I should have majored in writing to sharpen my skills. I don’t know. I do know I am inspired to just keep writing. Regardless if it amounts to anything or not…I should just do it. With the internet being such a widespread success, it is out there. Whether anyone cares to read it is another story but...

I suppose this post is the equivalent of “clearing the clutter” from my mind or a “brain dump”. Writing, like me, is always a work in progress. And, lately, I feel…suspended. Not lost, but just sort of standing still or paused. Have you seen the Disney version of “Alice in Wonderland”? There is a part where Alice is walking along a path and meets up with a “dog” character that is erasing the walkway as it goes along. It steps around her, continues deleting the pathway behind her, and leaves her standing on a square without any indication of where to go next.

So, I am just continuing along down the road I started. I am so close to getting my bachelor’s degree in general studies so I may move on to law school. Lately, however, I have been greatly tempted to go the paralegal route instead of spending all the money, I do not have by the way, on law school which I will have to do part-time so I am not completely absent from my children. Law school is so insanely demanding, it leaves no time for anything else. Those who are in law school go “underground” for a while until they resurface for the bar exam. I cannot do that to my children.

I suppose I wish I could “live by the pen”. But, I do not even know how or where to begin. I guess I could start reading biographies or memoirs of authors such as Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, Robert Frost, etc. for some direction. And, most importantly, pray about it. I am not one to ever give up, so I’ll just keep plugging along…and not get discouraged!

The scripture from today’s bible study with the kiddos:
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, "Follow me." 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" 31 And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
(Luke 5:27-32. ESV.)

(Photo information: Bing Public Domain Images.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Feeling Inspired

Inspiration comes in many forms. Mostly I look to God’s word, and the bible study I do with the kiddos each morning, and find encouragement. Other times, it is through the determination, talent, and hard work of others.

As I have mentioned here before, my long-time friend illustrator Kellee Riley really gets me motivated. We used to train at the same ballet and dance studio when we were children. There were some classes when we would be waiting for our turn to practice across the floor…and making animal noises while standing in line. I would mimic a chicken, and she would answer with a horse. I would gobble like a turkey and she would quack like a duck. We had to keep it fairly quiet, you understand, because there was a ballet class going on.

Recently, I got to visit with the phenomenal Kellee and her lovely mother. I’m hoping to get to go back, soon, and see them again! Their gentle nature and loving hospitality makes a person feel special. Not to mention Kellee’s well-crafted talent keeps me pursuing my passion for writing.

Sometimes, it is difficult to sit here, staring at a blank page, and to let the ideas flow. The thoughts bouncing around in my head collide and gradually make it to my finger tips to be cast out upon the page. There are days when I have to write for school. Then I wait, eagerly, to see if my instructor enjoyed my work. Most approve. Recently, I had one who did not, as much. He gave me a mediocre score. Mediocre?! That is all he thought of it. So-so. But, I guess one cannot please them all. I did not even receive feedback, other than the score, so I am not quite sure with what, exactly, he was displeased. Hopefully, he likes the paper I did for him, yesterday, more.

Another who inspires me because of her unrelenting determination is fellow writer, Teresa Tysinger. I have mentioned her, here, before too. And, Carl Jones was another but his blog is currently idle.

I seek to do all I feel I have been called to do…#1) I am a mother. That is my first priority! #2) I have a long standing passion for writing, mainly for God’s glory. #3) It was heavy on my heart to go back to school and get my degree, so I have almost accomplished that, praise God! And, #4) A new door was opened to me and of course I ran through it like a bull in a china shop! God is SO good, as I mentioned yesterday! He ALWAYS provides! And I must always walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh!
11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. ESV.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Receive Mercy and Find Grace to Help in Time of Need

A song is stuck in my mind.
“God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good. To. Me.”

As I set out on a long road trip, last Saturday, I was so proud of myself for getting up at 6:00 a.m. and making it out the door by 6:40 a.m. It was going to be a long trek and I wanted to make it there before it got too late. The GPS said arrival time would be 10:30 p.m. It would have been 9:30 but were going to cross a time zone. Perhaps traffic would be good and we would get there a little earlier than expected. Nope! It was quite the opposite, actually. Between road work, spring showers, and flooding we got set back FIVE (5) HOURS! Five hours!!! I was dumbfounded! Our new arrival time was 3:00 a.m. and that was not acceptable! At 10:00 p.m. I stopped, found a hotel, and we rested. The adventure was doomed to be continued the following day.

Though not the start I had hoped for, spring break was still a success! We made it to the beach, visited with family and long-time friends, I drove around my home town wondering if I even knew where I was, and made some new discoveries. I love how God works! To say He is awesome and amazing does not even scratch the surface. To say He is faithful and true hits a little closer to the mark. Imagine my surprise to catch up with an old friend, who I have not seen in many years, only to find we have been walking the same path all this time. God has kept us side by side even though we did not realize it! Once again, I found myself dumbfounded! I guess this was the trip of astonishment because there is still one more to come! Needless to say, now that we have discovered we are both pilgrims traveling the same weathered road our friendship has taken on a whole new life. Where I once walked alone and felt forsaken, I am now overjoyed to have company! God is sovereign and though I might think I decide my fate, He is in control. He may let me believe I am calling the shots, like the ones who crucified Christ---all the while feeling they had the upper hand yet bringing prophesy to pass---but His will is what stands.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33. ESV.)

As I prepared to make the trip back home I checked the weather and cringed. The forecast stated there would be thunderstorms the entire way back! The stress hid during the day and then woke me at night. We got up at 6:00 a.m., said good-bye, and hit the road at 6:35 a.m. The darkness broke into morning. Mild showers met us within a couple hours. And, then once we crossed into the next state, road work had the traffic backed up. Yet, once we cleared the construction, it was blue skies and no traffic delays the ENTIRE rest of the way!!! Praise God! He had had mercy on me and cleared the way! Thank you, Lord!!! For the third and final time on my adventure, I was completely dumbfounded…and in awe!

God is so good. That is definitely difficult to say in times of trial, strife, suffering, pain, sadness, heartache, etc. When I do not understand why His will is what it is for me, it is hard to sing His praises. But Holy Week is a good time for me to reflect on how Jesus came as a man. He felt the burning and restrictions of the flesh. He endured temptation and sorrow. He allowed man to torture and kill Him. All so we may be reconciled to God the Father!
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15 & 16. ESV.)
I pray your Holy Week draws you ever closer to God and His precious Son!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Be Gracious to Me According to Your Promise

This place called “life” is full of adventure, mystery, intrigue, riddled with the unknown. It takes us to great heights of pure joy and threatens deep crevasses of the deepest, darkest lows. There are plenty of hills and valleys. As a child one maneuvers without thought or concern for much of anything. Our lives are seemingly simple, and perhaps one even feels invincible. But as we get older, the realities of life set in and we are faced with things that never even crossed our minds prior. There are many who get entangled in the busyness of it all. Yet, from time to time I come across the dreamer. One who, despite the pressures of life, floats on wings of vision and belief. He or she moves boldly forward, toward an idea he or she feels without doubt to be attainable.

I especially love reading the memoirs of such individuals. My current fascination is with Jane Austen who decided to “live by the pen” in a time when women did not have careers. They were completely dependent on their father, husband, or brother. As a writer, my heart meditates with the notion of “living by the pen”. Writing has always been my “obsession”…even as a child. Alas, I am at a loss regarding my own future endeavors. Currently, am a mother, attend university to get my bachelor’s degree, and have always wanted to study law. Further, an opportunity has come about, a door has opened, in direct selling…of books, no less. It goes hand in hand with being a writer. But, to what end? Or should I just hold on tight and enjoy the ride? Who cares to what end! It is a means.

Above all, I must preach to myself. I must not lose sight of what is to be my focus!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2. ESV.)
What is the will of God in my life? I am a mother. That is where my whole heart should be found. God provides. I need not worry about any of that!

57 The LORD is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!
Psalm 119:57-64. ESV.)

Friday, March 04, 2016

But As For You, Continue In What You Have Learned and Have Firmly Believed

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17. ESV.)

This is what I read for the bible study lesson with my kiddos, this morning. However, after I went back and looked it up a second time, this was not actually the reading meant for today. Well, it was not what the book had scheduled. But, I guess God felt it was what my children needed to hear this morning. I made a mistake and read from “May 4th” instead of “March 4”. Oops! However, I firmly believe God sees our hearts and struggles. He knows what we need to hear and when. And, all things are His servants (Psalm 119:91) even my crusty morning eyes that can’t quite focus on what I am supposed to be reading to my children before they head off to school. Soon, I will need to transition this responsibility and teach my young ones how to be leaders. I did not grow up with bible study at home but I hope they will continue it when they are grown.
2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— (1 Peter 2:2. ESV.)

My older children currently do not do bible study or attend church. I fear they are lost and my heart breaks over it. I pray for each of my kiddos, every day, and beg God to keep the young ones close and draw in the older ones. I rest in His sovereignty and the knowledge that He goes and retrieves the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7).

I love the references we have of Him to help us connect with and understand His character. The Good Shepherd (John 10:11). The Great Physician (Mark 2:17, Luke 4:23). Our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:26, Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 6:35-36, John 14:1-2, John 16:27, Romans 8:15-16, Matthew 7:9-11, 1 John 3:1, Luke 15:17). A King (Psalm 47:7, 1 Timothy 6:15, Psalm 95:3).

Yesterday, I touched on cynicism and how I have become untrusting of some things…some areas of life, per se. Today, I received encouragement through the post of a friend. Again, all things are His servants (Psalm 119:91) and I love how God encourages…gives us little nudges, confirmations, or affirmations regarding the direction in which we should go on our path.

89 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. 91 By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. 92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. 94 I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. 95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. 96 I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. (Psalm 119:89-96. ESV.)

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Lord Will Repay Him According to His Deeds: Battling Cynicism

I find I have become a little…cynical, disapproving, about certain things. Someone will say, “[Something I am cynical about] is so wonderful!” and I catch myself snorting or scoffing. I might even groan and roll my eyes. Which can be a terrible thing. Why take someone else’s joy away from them or hider them from it just because my experience has been difficult and/or unpleasant? You know?

A few things spring to mind but let’s take writing as a simple example. There was a time in my life when I worked so hard at my writing skills, projects, getting published, promotion, etc. You name it! I busted my butt tirelessly at manuscripts, I sent out query letters, I showed samples of chapters, etc. I chased that dream to ends of the earth, as I knew it at that time. And, it is possible my talent is lacking…that I just do not have what it takes. But, it could also be an extremely difficult field in to which to break…to get your foot in the door. And then once your foot is in the door that does not mean the door will then be wide open to you. It seems to be a struggle…all…the…way…around. From finding an agent to actually getting published, to being published a second, third, fourth time, etc. to retail of printed copies, and the list goes on and on. So, I have become doubting of the process and rewards. And, to be honest, when others in my life are starting on their writing journey I DO want to be encouraging. I hope that I am. But the voice inside my head is screaming… “Tell them your experience!”

This goes for a few things. Relationships. Like in middle school, sixth through eighth grade, there was someone who was very unkind to me. When I asked what I had done to hurt that person, the answer was, “It was something you did a long time ago.” I apologized even though I had no idea of what the person was referring. I just wanted to be liked…accepted. And for the life of me, this person wanted no part of a relationship with me. But there were others who did not see this side of the individual. They did not see the “dark side”… only the joking, laughing, charismatic, charming side. So, I began to not trust this person and whenever someone gushed about how lovely the person was I wanted to show them the part they were missing! You know, like in Stephen King’s The Green Mile movie adaptation where the one character, John Coffey, grabbed the arm or hand of the other, Paul Edgecomb, and Paul could see everything as if he had been standing there witnessing it himself. Like that! Why do we not have that ability? I have, of course, forgiven this person for their unkindness. After not seeing the individual for many years we did meet up again, on day, and we smiled and were polite to each other. The distance was most likely the best remedy.

So, what to do about my cynicism? Is this the part where I hear the whimsical words of “Let it Go” belted as loud as humanly possible? What does God’s word say about cynicism? Nothing my pride wants to hear, I’m sure! And, as God would have it, John Piper’s Desiring God website has the answer. Writer Paul Maxwell states,
…In the case of suffering, the imprecatory prayers are a huge help. The cynic can pray, “They did this to me, and it was wrong. I hate them for it, I hand over my curses, my ill-wishes, and my disapproval to your omnipotence to curse, to ill-wish, and to disapprove, O God. I stand with you in your disapproval of that evil. Thank you for standing with me” (Psalm 5; 69; 109; Matthew 26:23–24; 2 Timothy 4:14). The imprecatory prayer relinquishes the power to punish over to the Righteous Judge. In a sense, in this case, Christ not only redeems the cynic, but affirms the validity of the original cynicism as well….

If an idea is harmful, or a person is manipulative, or a group is destructive, a proper response is not to launch an emotional counterattack, but to construct a positive counteragent.

Proverbs 9:7 rightly says of the cynic, “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury” (see also Proverbs 18:9). In suffering, a scoffer finds an opportunity to retaliate — against the universe, neighbor, or God. Conversely, a wise man seeks satisfaction in rebuilding unto the Lord (Proverbs 12:14; 16:3), because his identity is in Christ (Ephesians 4:28–29).
(Maxwell, Paul. Desiring God Ministries. “Putting Off Cynicism”. January 23, 2014.
I guess I should re-read Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, again. That one always helps me focus on my own sin and concern myself with the speck in my own eye.

14Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:14-18. ESV.)

(Photo information: Bing Public Domain)


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