Friday, December 30, 2005
Sad. We so easily get into a religious rut. Or feel if we spend time with Jesus, all should go well. And if we don't, look out. What a crock. God is good all the time, faithful even when we are not. On the good days and the bad.
So, how do we get out of the "quiet time/devotional" mind set? It's so duty oriented and well, religious. Twenty five years ago I read Brother Lawrence's "Practicing The Presence of God" and it impacted me then, and all these years later, I still feel on the other side of his philosophy. Basically, Jesus is with us all the time and we can fellowship with Him any time we want.
Colossians 1:27 says that's this is mystery of the ages, Christ in us, the Hope of Glory!
It's not about spending 15 minutes reading through a devo book, or 30 minutes reading the Word, it's about a heart connect. And as He fans the fading flames of my heart, I want to spend time with Him. Then as I go about my daily tasks, I'm aware of His presence. Of His hand on my heart.
Look, I'm a start-in-the-flesh-and-end-in-the-Spirit if need be. I do honestly believe we have to set apart time to spend with the Lord or it won't happen. And the only way to go deeper, to swim in the River of Life is to BE. Eating of the Tree of Life is a planned, determined pursuit.
Yet, we cannot boast in our schedule or our regular times of prayer and fasting. Then THAT becomes our source and not Him. We are so quick to go to the rules and not the Ruler.
Why am I on this? Cause a lot is happening in the world. And I do not want to be offended at God when it all comes down. When more and more of His judgements are unleased on the earth. I do not want my heart to grow cold. The Bible is clear. End time judgements will cause the nations to rage against the Lamb. Think about it. The Tsunami, the wave of hurricanes. The Iraqi War. The Civil War of Ideas going on in our nation right now. All could very well speak of judgements. Judgements designed to grab our attention and bring the prodigals home and cause the wicked to repent.
You ask how could a good God do such things? Simple. He sacrificed His own Son for us. Such a great sacrifice deserves such a great wrath against those who refuse to surrender to Love. Think about it. What if you gave up your kid for the salvation of, say, your neighbors. Never mind the entire human race. And when it came time for you neighbors to accept the price of the sacrifice, they scoffed and said, "Naw, we got a better way. Your kid didn't do anything for us." Off they go, on their own way. Imagine the movements of your heart. First, you would say, "Please, please accept while there's time."
But then, eventually, if they neglect so great a salvation, they have to pay the price with their own life.
So, we pursue Him because His love is immeasureable, never ending, unconditional. Our cold, weak human hearts need His fire. We want to endure to the end. And it begins now. Today.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
We had a great time with our family and it seems like the time went by so fast. I miss everyone already, but am happy to be home. I still need to unpack, but gee, the stack of cards and gifts that came while we were gone needed my attention.
Psalm 90 says He will accomplish what concerns me. This is my prayer. Take my weak, cold heart and fan the embers that smolder there. Turn my simple desire to be more like You, to know You more, to become a deep, deep well into a roaring passion that cannot be quenched. It's impossible for me to want Him more unless He draws me. So, I beg Him to draw me. Otherwise, I cannot run.
My goals for 2006 are simple. Pursue Jesus. Write. Hopefully get a new book contract since my second WestBow book will be turned in July 31.
Man, do you ever just feel so inadequate? Sheez. Thank goodness, Jesus is completely adequate and He lends Himself to me.
I also want 2006 to be a year where I abound in love. Do the First Corithians 13 thing. Love is patient, kind, keeps no record of wrong, bears all, believes all, hopes all. Never fails. It's the greatest.
Friday, December 23, 2005
We had a nice day. The sun warmed the day to a brisk 46. Snow still covers the ground in patches, but I hope I get to see some snow fall before we head home on the 28th.
Two of Tony's brothers, Dave and Jim came over tonight with their spouses, Sandy and Vickie. And Jim's grandson, Lucas. We ate. Yep. We ate. Mom made gumbo which was fab. And Vickie made corn chowder that was fab, fab. She also brought chocolate dipped strawberries and apricots.
It's always good to laugh and reminisce with family, isn't it?
Wrapped Tony's presents. He got quite a few from Santa Me, but they're boring. I can't help that. He requested boring stuff and could not come up with any exciting gift ideas. I'm going to have to remedy this next year. He's done this two years in a row, so next year, he's getting a new PDA or something. Oh, an electric guitar!
I've been thinking a lot about my life. Realistically, I've lived half of it. I'm 45. I'm not disappointed with my life up 'til now. I've been very blessed by the Lord. But, I really want the last 45 to count.
Luke 2 tells the story of Anna, a widow, who gave herself to prayer and fasting.
"And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."
Somehow, I want to be in that place, to have an eternal mind set. It's about living not for this life, but for the one to come. This life, as we say among our friends, is an internship for the next. Yet, it's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day pursuits. Good pursuits. But, what is there value in eternity?
Look, I'm not talking about quitting my job and sitting in the church sanctuary for eight hours. I mean, I'd do it if the Lord called, but I know I'm a mixture of a contemplative and a writer.
I'm talking about frivolous things like television or movies or hamburgers. So I miss a few shows or miss a few meals to fast, so what? So what? In all of eternity, so what?
What if I bite my tongue and don't defend myself, or don't give my honest, yet negative opinion of others. What if I esteem others higher than myself? What if I give up sleep to spend extra time in prayer, or choose to give that hundred dollars instead of buying DVDs or shoes?
I have so much. I am so blessed. If I had half of what I have, I would say the same. Yet, I am desperate to exchange my stock in this life for stock in eternity. Finding "eternity bucks" wherever I can.
I have control over my affections, money and time. How am I spending them in this life so they are not utterly destroyed in the next? Will the things I'm spending them on withstand the fire of God? Are they imperishable.
Paul understood this. First Corithians 15:53 he says, "For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality."
I think he's saying, "Stop thinking in temporal terms, but eternal terms." How do I do this? I'm not sure. Prayer. Dialog with the Father. Asking. Discipline. Starting some where, knowing I'll end up where I want to be. Not of myself, but because He's faithful.
So, 2006 will be that focus. More prayer, more Word. Fasting. Budgeting my expenditures of affection, money and time. And words.
All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I can't think of those days in Homestead and not remember Bill. He taught me to drive stick shift Thanksgiving day, ' 76. We were having a big church family picnic in our yard and some how there arose a yam emergency. Bill was tasked to run to the store for more.
Firing up the old, old, really old church truck, Bill asked me to tag along. Not many, if any stores were open on Thanksgiving Day, and the south Florida streets were quiet and barren. We found a convenient store, bought the needed yams, and headed home. Only with me behind the wheel. Bill had a wild idea to teach me to drive stick shift. In the old, old, very old truck. With three on the tree.
Fifteen and unsure of driving, let alone clutching and shifting, Bill's patiently taught me the basics of manual transmission driving and in a reasonable amount of time, I got us home. Though, I did sit at one traffic light for about 15 minutes. No traffic. No hassle, but I was sweating a little.
Bill treated my brothers, sister and I with kindness, always generous and encouraging. I'll miss him. But he's with Dad now, in the Cloud of Witnesses, no longer in pain, but in glory.
David, Joe, Nancy, I'm thinking of you and praying for you.
Air craft carriers should have technical, sceintific names that bolster confidence. " Yes, this bucket of bolts will stay in the air."
Or at least. "We can make it from one cost to the other," like Eastern or American West.
Or, "We can make it to the contenients." Conteniental.
Airlines that sound like fast food, Taca Airlines, or a componant of a music course, Song, or like the next Crayola Crayon color, Jet Blue, don't inspire confidence. Am I the only one?
But Song was great. Little TV monitors in front of all the seats. Nice food selection, though you have to buy it, at least you have a choice.
Indianapolis is cold, but the snow is melting. At least we got to see some. Can you believe Christmas is 3 days away?
Blessings to you all.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Here's an excerpt from Brother Yun, on trail in China for "opposing the government" for preaching the gospel. The time is the early 80's, and Yun is in prison and now facing a judge.
The judge fell into a furious rage. His eyes bulged as he banged the bench and pointed at me. "I order you to kneel down before me and repeat the prayer you said on the tape."
Several guards with batons came and beat my legs to make me kneel down. They screamed, "Kneel down! Kneel down!"
At that moment, the power of the Lord filled me (RH: sounds like Mathew 10 stuff.) A voice spoke to my heart. "Dont be afraid! Be srong in the Lord. Even if ten thousand enemies surround you, rest in Jesus. Be bold and courageous in the Lord!"
As the guards continued to beat and kick me, I suddenly shouted at the judge in a louds voice, "By what authority do you order a servant of God to knew down before you? You have no right! Your questions are unreasonable. Now, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I command all of you to kneel down. I will lay hands on you and ask the Lord to forgive your sins."
They didn't kneel, and Brother Yun knew his struggle with the courts would be a long one. He writes, "They had used the most barbarous tortures their minds could invent, but had not been able to make me say a single incriminating word (to confess his crimes.)"
But miraculously, Yun was only sentenced to 4 years in prison, hard labor. Not life or death as he was told.
Brother Yun's story is full of heart breaking tales of hunger, torture, seeing his wife and children suffer. Even his mother suffered for Yun's "crimes." His only crime was preaching Jesus. But yet, let me say. Brother Yun saw and experience many divine things and miracles. Fasted 74 days without food or water. Revival in the prison camps. Healings and demonic deliverances. The book of Acts.
In 1989, I visited Toledo, Spain and one of the ancient churches had chains and shackles nailed to the outside wall. It was a visual reminder to the early Christians to remember to pray for the brothers and sisters in Christ who were in chains, suffering for Christ name.
In our American world, we bark about this liberty or that, but in reality, we have all liberties. People may not like us, but we pray when we want, talk about Jesus when we want, and freely move about the nation. I haven't heard of anyone being beaten and told to bow before a court office and pray a prayer of worship.
I'm so thankful to the Lord for our liberties. Oh, please, may they remain. But if you have the heart, please pray with me for the Lord to continue to give grace to our brothers and sisters in chains. And to work might miracles on their behalf.
Paul wrotes to the Colossians, "Here is my greeting in my own handwriting--PAUL. Remember my chains. May the grace of God be with you."
Friday, December 16, 2005
This is a load I started on Saturday, topped with the load from last night. It's clean. It's dry. It's just booorrrring! I'm trying to talk Tony into taking laundry back again. Time to pray and fast...
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Around 11:30, I finished at the mall and drove over to the beach to get my nephews some cool surfer dude trinkets. Had a slice at Bizzaro's pizza, sat on the boardwalk in the wind and sun, watching the surfers and Yankees sunbathe.
It was a beautiful day here today.
I finished shopping online, went to Spinning class, addressed Christmas cards, wrote a Christmas letter, stuffed it in the cards, stamped and sealed them, wrapped a present to mail and oh, cleaned my desk!
You know, I still have a problem with cards and paper and notes I want to keep. What do I do with those?
Hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas season!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I'm so glad. So relieved. So excited to start editing tomorrow. I can get four good days in before leaving on the 21st for Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas. Beka called me yesterday and said twelve-year-old Josh said, "I can't wait for Aunt Rachel to get here. I'm going to give her a big hug. I miss her."
I'll be so busy with family stuff I don't think I'll be able to visit friends, which is sad. But the holidays are busy for everyone.
Cheek out the photo's page. New photos!
Peace and ahhhhhh! It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Seven Things to Do Before I Die
1. Pray for someone to be raised from the dead.
2. Preach the Gospel before hundreds of thousands.
3. See millions praying and fasting for Jesus to come again.
4. Be on the NY Times best seller list. And the CBA.
5. Be so consumed by the Love of Jesus I can't find myself.
6. Go to California on vacation.
7. See young women raising the bar and not living according to feminist standards.
Seven Things I Cannot Do:
1. I can't sing and clap on beat for more than one or two measures.
2. Can't do calculus.
3. Do twelve back flips into the fullness of an oak tree.
4. Make homemade pizza dough.
5. Write computer code.
6. Play the drums.
7. I can't forget the love of Jesus.
Seven Things that Attract Me to My Husband [romantic interest, best friend, whomever](not necessarily in this order!)
1. He loves Jesus with his heart, mind and soul.
2. He loves me.
3. He's funny and very smart, and handsome. Doesn't have a pear shape.
4. He is a very wise counselor.
5. He is an excellent Bible teacher.
6. He can do calculus.
7. He supports me in everything I try to do.
Seven Things I Say Most Often
2. What kind of crap is that? Mostly relating to politics and the media
5. No way.
7. What's up?
Seven Books I Love (in no particular order except for the first one)
1. The Bible
2. Little House Series
3. The Best Christmas Pageant Every
4. Anything by Belva Plain
5. Anything chick lit or lady lit.
6. Anything character driven.
7. Anything with good history back drop.
Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again
1. Remember the Titans
2. Back to the Future.
3. Send Me No Flowers.
4. Knotting Hill.
5. While You Were Sleeping.
6. It's A Wonderful Life.
7. Any Christmas movie.
Seven People I Want to Join in Too:
1. Heather Diane Tipton
2. Christine Lynxwiler.
3. Hope Willbanks
4. Scott Weberg
5. Tracey Bateman
6. Will Donaldson
7. Joel Hayes
Saturday, December 10, 2005
God spoke and the world was created. Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" And a dead man, lived. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh.
Last night at Fire Dweller we opened with exhorting the name of Jesus - who He is. Not what we need or want. Not calling on Him to visit us or change us or have His way, just Jesus, this is who you are. Living Lord. King of Kings. Righteous judge. Lover of our souls. The list goes on.
I felt the Lord say he wanted to cleanse our words. And as we lift up His name, declare who He is, truth washes away the lies of our own speech and we grow in grace. We need to guard our words. The Book of James says from our tongue comes both cursing and blessing.
We ought to only speak blessing and truth. As we do, those very things begin to reign in our hearts and minds.
For example, do you get down on yourself? Prophesy failure over yourself. I'm no good. No one likes me. I'm a failure. I'm never gonna or I always.... Then you're mad or surprised or disappointed when things go exactly as you predicted them.
See, it's human nature to prepare for the worse so we are only disappointed, not devastated when life fails us. Or, we walk in such false humility we never honor God for the good He's done. We think highlighting our weaknesses is doing God and ourselves a favor. Then, when things work out well, "Woo-wee," aren't we surprised! But we have no idea if and when it will ever happen again.
I think we need to build up a history in our souls, in our spirits, that God is for us, who can be against us. We need to prophesy and declare good things over ourselves and our families. And if you're nervous about getting in the flesh, and we all should be, declare the Word of God over your lives.
Like, Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Or, Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
Here's a good one. 1 Corinthians 2:9 "...but just as it is written," THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
Love this one. Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
God has a plan and destiny for all of us. If you're struggling in an area, go to the Word and find scripture that will uphold you. Pray it, write it, memorize it, sing it, live it.
Don't declare failure over yourself. Declare who you are in Jesus. Get out that big soul stirring spoon and scrap the muck of self pity and depression from your soul. You are a Holy Priesthood, a Royal Nation.
You are the one who ravishes His heart with a single glance of your eye.
I'll use myself as an example. When I started writing, my prayer was always for God to confirm this pursuit. Cause, if He didn't call me to it, or didn't want me doing it, then I did not want to be accountable for all that wasted time. Writing is very, very time consuming. Never mind the mental and emotional energy it takes to create worlds and people.
Once God confirmed it, I had to walk in it even though I didn't see immediate success. Now that I have a few books under my belt, there is still a tendency to think, "Well, this is my last one. All the others were a fluke." Or, "The publisher is going to be disappointed they bought this one."
Now, it may work out well. But why should I be surprised, if I let that attitude over take me, that I am a fluke (a fluke, NOT a flake, come on, ya'll) or that my writing stinks.
But, I say, "God, you called me to this. You opened the doors. I'm walking in Your way. You will see to what concerns me. You will take care of me. You will give me ideas and help me hone my craft. I will be faithful. Give me dreams, visions, understanding on how to do this well!" Then, I've set myself up for success. If for some reason it doesn't go well, I know that I walked in faith and that the Lord has something else for me. But my goal is always, always Jesus. My identity is in Him, not writing.
I declare, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is established in heaven." He will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.
My chief calling is to enjoy God and worship Him, and to be faithful. He'll take care of the rest.
Friday, December 09, 2005
But, don't cry for me Argentina, I'm cool with it all. But my laundry is having a hard time. Still in the basket, in the laundry room, the clean clothes wait. This morning I finally moved a drying rack from the front hall that was draped with sweat shirts and my jean jacket. Know what's weird. The rack stood in the hall so long, when I went around the corner after I moved it, my body wanted to swerve in order to walk around. All ready, in a week's time, my muscles were trained.
Think about that. Our bodies, our minds, our emotion are subtly trained to respond or react to the obstacles in our lives. And even after they are removed, we still want to swerve. Or jump, or react in some way. It felt good when I realized swerving was not required.
On Writing. I feel bland. Very bland and very boring. I'm about five or so thousand words away from being done with Lost in Nashvegas. Whoo hoo. I am praying hard for a creative finish. It's weird, I don't feel writers block or like I don't want to write, I do. I just feel boring. I need some inspiration! :) I need a keyboard so I can sing. I need to stir my soul. Soul stiring is hard, you know. But, I must.
Off to get a big spoon.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
About ten years ago, the ladies at Harris Publishing Systems started a tradition. I like traditions, don't you?
Every year, we go to lunch or dinner to fellowship and exchange Christmas Ornaments. We always have great fun, and even though some of us don't work there any more, we are still invited. I love seeing familiar faces and hearing the latest in old friend's lives.
We play the "white elephant" game for the ornament exchnage, though the gifts are not gag, but beautiful ornaments. I drew Number One this year. Yay! My first pick was stolen from me, and many times over, but in the end, I got it back - a beatiful snowman ornament. It dangles from my tree as I write.
Click on Photos to see more pictures. Start one of your own traditions. Invites some girlfriends to lunch for an ornament exchange.
And Julie, I put up a picture of the tree. Happy? ;)
Love Jesus, ya'll. He's worth it.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
When God called him to Kansas City to the International House of Prayer, I became a worship leader at NCF. That's a God story I'll save for later. Actually a pretty cool one. Frustrated with not being able to play an instrument, or understand how chords progress, or how a song key works, I learned to play the keyboard on a little Yamaha I bought from a guy at work for $50. Little by little, I learned some theory and people like Laura, Cassie and David gave me pointers. Now, I can play and lead worship at the same time. Whoo hoo. Apparently, it's not easy to sing and play at the same time. So, all glory goes to God.
So, last night at Fire Dweller Jim thinks he's getting a keyboard player, maybe a singer, but NOT a antiphonal singer. Gotta admit, that's a little harder cause you gotta keep the chord progression going and make up something to fit into it. Half way through the set, Jim leans over to me and says, "Man, you're playing and singing! I'm impressed. That's great!" LOL. Then, I like, you know, hit a bad note.
Being busy. I heard a little sermonette on the radio today which it unusual cause I don't normally listen to Christian radio. Anyway, the man said modern electronics, as great as they are, can be a hazzard to the Christian life. Why? Because it's a distraction and we become addicted or accustomed email, television, music, movies, etc., that we don't take time to contemplate before the Lord.
Take time to shut off the noise. Close the door. Still your heart and focus on Jesus.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Fifteen things about myself that are book-related? Here goes nuddin'.
1. Where the Wild things are is my favorite children's book. I ditto Tracey here. When we went through family things after my father died, I found my childhood version of this book. I loved it, though I thought it was slightly creepy. I mean, I was eight!
2. I hate to read or listen to books outloud, except on CD, but even then it's hard.
3. In refute of number 2, I read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" out loud to Tony one year on a drive from Indiana to Florida. We laughed uproariously.
4. Sad note on number 3. When I was about 12 or 13, my Grandma Hayes gave me an autographed copy of Pageant. She knew Barbara Robinson. I cannot find that book to save my life. Some where in the moves, college and life in general, it got lost. I'm sad over my loss.
5. I wrote a poem in fourth grade that was so fabulous, my father started telling me I should be a writer. The poem went the way of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Nevertheless, in fifth grade, I started my first novel. It had a horse. Imagine, a ten year old girl writing a story of a horse. How unique.
6. I love, absolutely love the Little House books and have read them a dozen times. I got my first paper back series in 1973 and have since collected the original eight in hard back, plus The First Four years and other writings of Mrs. Wilder.
7. I love chick lit. And Tracey Bateman's mom lit, Claire. She's hilarious. And real.
8. I love Belva Plain books.
9. I plan to sit on Oprah's couch some day and talk about books and Jesus. I'm taking Colleen Coble and Tracey Batemen along as my homeys.
10. If I could write funny like Calvin & Hobbs, I would.
11. I'm gonna buy the book "TISHA" 'cause Tracey said so.
12. I love the smell of new books. When I go into a book store, my stomach gets all swirly and excited.
13. My first finished novel was a honkin' 400 pager with two plots and two romances. It was well rejected by many astute editors.
14. I used to dream and talk about writing books with my Aunt Carol and Grandma Hayes.
15. I'm so honored and humbled to be writing fiction for Jesus. It's hard some days and I bore myself, but the Lord is so good and faithful. Writer's blocks are few. I'm almost 45 and I wish I'd started writing sooner, but I was doing the corporate career thang. But God willing, I'll write until I'm 85.