Category Archives: Chrisitan

What are the Desires of your Heart? Need a Motive Check?

     Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.        Do you ever catch a glimpse of your faith–that wee mustard seed, dwarfed in the palm of God’s hand? Recently, a peek at my faith meter, raised a question: Do I truly believe God longs to give me the desires of my heart? Continue reading What are the Desires of your Heart? Need a Motive Check?

Is Sobriety a Gift or an Albatross?

To Thine Own Self Be Tru Unity Service Recovery XXIIIRecently I came across a video, boasting the health benefits from eating fermented vegetation, a euphemism for rotten veggies. For 20 minutes I watch some skinny gal shred buckets of cabbage, carrots, golden beets, and celery, pressing  the compost-like mixture  into Mason jars. sobriety

As she’s twisting the lids onto the jars, I wise up. sobriety

          “Wait, I’m not eating that!”

Not ready to give up, I think up an alternative I can stomach… sauerkraut. I like it, sort of.  Next, I turn to google, searching for a home-cured recipe. As I scroll through dozens of choices, I remember my husband’s remarks the last time I ate sauerkraut. sobriety

            “Oh, (gag), that’s nasty stuff. Can’t you eat that outside?”

Next, a perfectly timed pop-up ad appeared on my screen. It happened to be a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (my old favorite), with flashing red font, claiming the same heart-healthy benefits as rotten veggies. This should be an easy choice. I mean come on… a bowl of sauerkraut or a glass of Sauvignon? sobrietyglass of red wine

Right?

Problem is, next month I will celebrate 24 years of sobriety. That makes choosing a tad more difficult. The big picture question becomes two-fold:

            Part 1: Could I have a single glass of wine every day?

And  …

          Part 2:  What size glass are we talking about?

Seriously, after more than two decades abstaining from alcohol, I can’t help wondering if the alcoholic label has expired.  After all, I’m a new person. The loud mouth woman, slurring words and falling down is behind me. sobriety

Or is she? sobriety

What if she’s lurking in my soul, smacking her dry lips, day dreaming of a 36-ounce tumbler of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Frankly, I believe God put my old self on a bus, out of my heart, years ago. With caution, I confess, I don’t think having a single glass of wine would cause me a problem today. I’m not certain I want just one glass, but with God in my life, I believe it’s possible.

So, why would I choose sauerkraut over red wine?

For starters, gratitude. Sobriety is the gift that keeps on giving. Why would I stand in the return/exchange line for a refund? I certainly don’t want back what I paid for it. That’s a scary thought.

“Here you go, ma’am… 24 bags full of heartbreak, disaster, and shame.”

Am I saying a sober life is a life of sauerkraut? No! That’s just how these ponderings began. Quite the contrary, sobriety for me means:

I see… hear… taste… smell… feel… love. I have character, maybe even integrity, from which relationships thrive with God, my husband, children, grandchildren, friends.

My life means something today. I stand for things. Such as an alternative lifestyle, one  lacking representation and prominence in this world. Too many of us have modeled the American dream, boasting age 21, as a time to receive our prized first drink. Our children see us glorify liquor, resembling the proverbial rabbit chasing the carrot. They hear us say things like “I NEED a drink,” or  “I’ll drink to that.” We honor our time spent with booze by giving it pet names like Miller Time, Beer-thirty and Happy Hour. We even warn the end is near with Last Call. Then, when our children prematurely race for their first drink, we have little tolerance. Yet, we’ve dangled it in their face, adding allure, by tagging it taboo.

God help me!  I imagine by now you’re picturing me banging my tambourine, like one of those prudish Victorian women from the Liquor Prohibition Temperance Movement. Banning alcohol Liquor Sobriety Funny Photoconsumption is not my intent. I envy families who’ve modeled drinking as a choice no more exciting than peas and carrots. I am asking that we quit portraying drinking as a glamorous rite of passage. Certainly the media does not need our help brainwashing youth to believe college equals parties, problems are solved by drinking, and bars and clubs are the only venues for good times.

What I realized contemplating sauerkraut versus wine, is that I like and appreciate my sober life. I’m proud to represent a lifestyle option that I hope reflects contentment, joy and excitement, without the need for additives. sobriety

See below to read a sample chapter of our book in progress.

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Wait on the Lord…but in the Meantime

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LordAt times, my husband, Sandy, grows weary of my writing process. Wait on the Lord…but in the MeantimeWait on the Lord

Morning Convo:

ME: “I’m stuck. I don’t know where to go from here. It’s  all gobbledygook!”

SANDY: “God always shows you. Don’t worry about it.”

Afternoon Convo:

ME: You won’t believe what God showed me. Remember that guy, the drunk? I had to pick his false teeth up off the sidewalk? It’s the perfect lead-in for where we need to go. Right? I’m so happy.” Wait on the Lord

SANDY:  “Me too.”

Evening Convo:

SANDY: “What’s wrong? You look upset?” Wait on the Lord

ME: “I don’t know what to do. There’s nowhere to go from here. It’s all garbled.”

SANDY: God always gives you direction. It will be okay.”

He has a point (“sigh”). And, (long “sigh”), he’s right. Our book is built; word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, page by page, one prayer at a time. I know that. Wait on the Lord

But then…

At 10,000 words, I start to pray for the ending to our story. The big finish. Where do you place a period in God’s story? After all, He’s still writing. My thoughts wander… What if I drop dead, mid-sentence, without ever finishing our story? Wait on the Lord

Wait…

Trust. Wait on the Lord. Remember, if this book is meant to be, I won’t fall face-first onto the keyboard before it’s complete. Keep clicking away at the keys, trusting His signs and landmarks. Listen and follow God’s GPS signals. Wait for Him to whisper: “You have reached your destination.”

But then… Wait on the Lord

At 40,000 words, WORRY creeps back in alongside its buddy DOUBT.  I feel like I’m writing with a big rubber plunger, attempting to unclog the words, retrieving merely a hairball destined for the trash. Striving reaps one reward; pressing me to my knees, head raised in fervent prayer. The result? Words gushing forth, and hubby dear echoing his beloved, “I told you so.” Wait on the Lord

Scrolling the pages, through 80,000 words, I’m grateful for each character, and hope for reaching the “THE END,” is flashing like a beacon from that clichéd tunnel. God has provided; the means; time, content, energy, patience, hope, drive, perseverance, wisdom. Yet the prayer, requesting a stop sign, remains unanswered. I feel the journey’s climax, but I’ve no clue of the destination.

I picture my petition in heaven’s inbox, buried under a mound of others, awaiting attention. Before long, I slip into that lonely seat behind the control panel. I’ll just get things rolling while I wait on God. Help out with the creative process. It seems the book needs a big finish to compete with other popular books. Like surviving a bloody shark attack! And we should save hordes of souls! Proof we deserve all He has done for us. Wait on the Lord

Oh, but wait…

This is non-fiction. And we, nor anyone, deserve the Sacrifice made for us. That’s the whole point of our story! We are the ordinary, the mundane everyday sinners, trudging through the ant farm tunnels. We are the least of the least. Yet He loves us, through it all.

Back to prayer.

 “Lord please show me how best to bring glory to You.”

Meanwhile, back at the pages….

I often write in the car on my laptop while Sandy evaluates the driving skills of all within his range. Clicking away at the keys keeps me occupied and, therefore, both of us happy. On the way to the beach, for a two-day needed get-away, I finish the first draft of the second to the last chapter of our book. It leads the reader straight to the sweet spot begging satisfaction.

“Sandy, we’re at the end. I still don’t know how…”

“(Groan) Wait for it. He’ll give you the end. You know it.”

In prayerful memory, I took time recognizing His faithfulness thus far. Closing the lid on my laptop, I let go. I walked…snuggled… read…prayed… worshiped… listened. The book with no end took a seat in the back of the brain bus.

Wearing headlights atop our hooded sweatshirts, we took a late night walk on the beach, savoring the mist, the waves, and each other. Nearly 25 years ago, we strolled this same beach, as honeymooners.

To our right, we eye a seagull confidently holding its spot on the beach. Nodding agreement, we rush the bird, in honor of our deceased 110-pound lab, Gabe. His mantra? Never let a gull go unchased. Thoughts of Gabe, stir a nest of memories. In the midst of recollecting tears and guffaws, I realize we  are performing the end of our book. God is showing me, providing a detailed script, a live scene, like I’m watching a play.

I wrote the end, in the form of an epilogue on the drive home, like a court reporter transcribing a trial. It’s the easiest writing session I’ve ever experienced. I won’t be a spoiler, telling more of the end. I will say, although the book ends on the beach, there are no sharks in our story. Even so, lives are saved and the Hero wins.

God was not late in giving his answer… he was perfect.

See below to read a sample chapter of our book in progress.

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

Granny Tennis Shoes… Sword Tongue… Praying Hands… What’s Your Legacy?

High top all star converse tennis shoes Praying Hands Legacy

Everyone knew her. That woman, older than dirt, bent like the crook of a cane to half her height. Back then, in the 60s, an old lady in trousers is today’s equivalent to a tube top and Daisy Dukes. Thus, all elderly women wore floral jersey dresses. But this lady, had it going on, donning the expected uniform dress, and thick, sagging, support stockings with her signature Converse All Stars high top tennis shoes. Praying Hands Legacy

The fashion statement earned the nickname, Granny Tennis Shoes, and a story, told as a warning, locally and beyond. The tale not only explains the physical ailment but also solves the fashion mystery.

It went something like this…Praying Hands Legacy

            One day a poor penniless widow found a pair of Converse All Stars in a dumpster. While lacing them up, the plan emerged, catapulting the old woman from rocking chair to entrepreneur, soon branded as Granny Tennis Shoes. During peak traffic times, taking a two-point stance at the street corner, she’d wait for the light to flash green, pouncing onto the crosswalk, (hence the tennis shoes) in front of a car, (hence the crippled body). Afterward, Granny drug her tired, tread riddled bones to court, suing the traumatized driver, for all they had.

And the saddest part of the story?

We all believed it.

It was not until I told the story as an adult that I realized how unlikely it would be that she would survive more than one attempt. Poor old Granny Tennis Shoes, clueless as to why… fingers pointed… cars swerved at the sight of her… wide-eyed children gawked or ran away. Praying Hands Legacy

Have you ever wondered what stories are told about you? I cringe at the thought. Labeled a feisty redhead with a nasty temper, my brother nicknamed me Sword Tongue saying,“Watch out, if you make her mad, she’ll slice you to pieces!” Praying Hands Legacy

That’s not a good legacy. I pray today my words be sweet, that the blade of my tongue is guarded, never wagging amok, or used as a weapon. I confess and repent of times my nearest and dearest have witnessed my tongue unsheathed. It’s true, I ’m not the person I could be, but it’s also true, I’m not the person I once was. The one who took pride in verbal slaughters. Glory to God for the changes and praise for His continued work. Praying Hands Legacy

I remember the first time I knew there’d been a paradigm shift in the way people define me. It was my birthday, the one when my now 18-year-old grandson was just four years old. With no help or suggestions from others, he selected my present. By the look of anticipation on his beaming face, I knew whatever it was, he believed it to be a grand and perfect gift. I expected a mug, or socks, maybe even a “NaNa is the best” placard. I did not, nor could not, have imagined the treasure concealed inside the box, wrapped slipshod in the funny papers. After peeling the last layer of comic, I opened the lid, lifting the mysterious cube from the box. Dazed, I stared at the gift, mirroring what my grandson sees when he looks at me. A battery operated crystal cube that lights up, revealing a silhouette of praying hands. The loveliest gift ever. Praying Hands Legacy

A drop to my knees, state of mind, moment. Hyper aware of the miraculous transformation, present in me, a task only God could pull off. How flattering… what an honor… to know my grandson pictures me as a woman of prayer who loves God. I’ve never felt more gratitude for God pulling me up out of the muck and mire, hosing me off, presenting me as lovely, in my grandson’s eyes. Praying Hands Legacy

Had I kept going the way of my past, my grandchildren might see me as someone chasing the wind, or worse, they might not know me at all. Because of our powerful awesome God, my five grandsons know what’s important to me. God, their Grandpa, and family.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

That birthday was a defining moment for me. A day when I received a priceless jewel. Proof that God is working miracles every day, in every way, even if you are just a “me,” like me. Undeniable evidence that I am not the godless woman I once was. For me, the wondrous change is no less a marvel than if I’d sawn off my leg and God grew it back.

Grateful! Grateful! Grateful!

Thank You God that who I see reflected in the eyes of my loved ones, is good.

Hmm… maybe Granny Tennis Shoes’ grandchildren and those who actually knew her, saw her as a loving grandma, who happened to wear cool high top tennis shoes. I hope so.

 

See below to read a sample chapter of our book in progress.

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

What Gift Will You Give Jesus for Christmas?

psalm 86:12 Praise God Glory to the Lord Jesus

Jesus I didn’t know what to give my husband for Christmas this year. He’s difficult to buy for. I wanted it to be something special, not the usual patron saint T-shirt with Bullwinkle or The Muppets. How many does one closet need? There’s always the shirt with a spiritual message, but again, we’ve just about covered the Bible through his wardrobe. Alas, by chance a miracle, that Craftsman has invented a new tool, that he will not think is silly or doesn’t already have. Jesus

Each year, the problem increases. Even if I had extra money for a trip to some race track, or a Harley Davidson (old style, of course), the gesture is “meh,” compared to what he deserves. This is the man who continues to love me, right where I’m at. He loves me when I’m right. He loves me when I’m wrong. He loves me when I think I’m right, but might be… well, you get the drift. Jesus

I can’t say what I ended up buying, because he will read this before he opens the package. I will say, it’s just as unremarkable as any other year. Short of ripping my heart out and slapping a red bow on it, I don’t know how to express my love for him. Jesus

And that’s when I get to thinking… Jesus

As much as I love my husband, and God knows I do, I love Jesus twenty gazillion times more. My heart often aches to give Him a gift, exemplifying gratitude, for all He has done. Truth is, my all, is about as lame as handing Jesus a Bullwinkle T-shirt and saying thanks. Thus, the daily lesson in humility.  s

I’m leaving this post short. Pressing in, taking time to breathe in the season, bask in His love. s

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Remember the Child God Created You To Be

innoncent child redheaded girl 1950s child God Child Children Children God God's Children God Created         I  knew a little girl, with frizzy red hair, knobby knees and a gap between her two front teeth. To the world she appeared gawky, gangly and awkward, but she never questioned her beauty and magnificent design.  Remember Child God Created Creation faith inspiration

          Eyes wide, she greeted the flowers, the sunshine and colors of each moment, with gratitude. To her, miracles were expected, like turning the crank on the Jack in the Box, certain it’s coming, exhilarated by when. Nothing too small, or taken for granted. All creation grand, worthy of great attention and delight. Remember Child God Created Creation faith inspiration

          Hyper-alert, nothing missed, or unseen… the twinkle in another child’s eye, or the void of hope, lurking in a stranger’s soul. She recognized the need for a smile, a kind word, a touch, a simple pat on the hand. And, without question or hesitation, she filled the need. Courageous. Fearless. Forever listening to the still, small voice, speaking through the ears of her heart. Remember Child God Created Creation faith inspiration

              I remember her tears. Cries for Marilyn, dragged to the front of the class, spanked and shamed by the teacher, while wide eyed 1st graders, sat writhed in helplessness. Sweet tears, wept over the graves of babies, buried in an overgrown cemetery, near her house. Sobs of empathy, for the poor, ill-treated, and abused… the boy next door with the mean dad, the upside down gold fish, the woman scarred from burns on her face, and Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

           I remember her well. Those who loved her, cautioned, along with the rest of the world,”You’re too thin skinned, toughen up. Chin up child!”

        Defining labels began to stick. Remember Child God Created Creation faith inspiration

       You’re too:

Sensitive…  Soft hearted… Emotional

       The equation became:

Sensitive + Soft hearted + Emotional = Weak & Stupid.

       Soon the clanging noise of the world, muffled the still, small voice amplified from her heart. Cynicism replaced trust. Bitterness squelched goodwill. Hatred and resentment silenced love. The world held up a mirror, ordering,

     “Take a good look. You are not beautiful. Just look around you.”

     So, she looked, compared, measured and judged.

     Through this child, I met a woman; broken, bitter, “so over it.” Weary from turning over stones, finding no satisfaction. No questions asked or answered, soothed her pain. I remember her tears, as well. Tears from the well of brokenness, sorrow, darkness, loss of hope.

     One day, in the deepest, darkest pit of dismay, she listened for the familiar still small voice, that even to deaf ears, kept speaking. She heard Him.

     He’d never left.

     As you’ve probably guessed, I’m the child, and the woman. God created me with certain traits, some of which may not suit this world. Sadly, vows were made to fit into this world, like “toughen up,” and stop being a “bleeding heart.” Once as a young woman, an employer asked me to seek a favor from the big boss, saying, “Everyone is nice to dumb animals and Debbies.” Just words… maybe. But the hurt from them fueled a fierce vendetta. No one would ever think of me as dumb again. I would get my “shrewd” on. Trust not, care not, love not. See no good, hear no good, speak no good.

     It’s been a long, bumpy journey looking for the woman God created me to be. I have a longing to return to the pure loving heart, I was created with. I wish I could tell you I’m all fixed now.

     I’m not.

     Every day, I trust, care and love, a little more. I see, hear and speak His good. I call on His name and I fight to hear His voice. I pray He will “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. “ Psalm 51:10

     Think on this:

     The nagging voice, growling up from the bowels of this world, knows us not. That’s why the lies often don’t even make sense, fired for effect, hoping one might penetrate our hearts, take us down… one more bites the dust.

     Contrarily, the truth comes from the One who knows everything about us. The One who designed us after Himself, created us, and loves us beyond our wildest imaginations.

     Who should we be listening to? Remember Child God Created Creation faith inspiration

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

Dance Before the Lord with All Your Might

Worship Hands Raised Stained Glass Window Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

It was the early seventies. I was 20 years old. In simple math, a long time ago. I’d been invited to a dance. A first date. I bought a new tangerine silk wrap dress, for the occasion. I wore a pair of strappy heels, that hurt terribly, proving I’d achieved sexy. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

My date arrived in his 1971 Volkswagen bus, dressed in Levis, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, completing the iconic image, with messy hair and mutton chop sideburns. We conversed in “first-date-ESE,” each asking the other prepared clever questions. You know, like, “What’s your sign?” Or “What band do you groove on?” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

When we arrived at the Broadway Grange Hall, he excused himself, pointed to the punch bowl, and joined his buddies across the room. It was one of those moments when mundane tasks feel awkward, like standing, selecting a facial expression, or breathing in and out. Looking around the room, I noticed the crowd was, different. Then I remembered… my date works at Yakima Specialties, with disabled adults. He failed to mention this is a dance for his clients. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

Just then, a young man in plaid pants and platform shoes approaches, asking if I’d like to dance. The dance floor is empty. The song is Jim Croce’s, Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown. I want to say no thank you, but instead say,

“Sure.” Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

As I practice the dance of inconspicuousness, my partner multi-jives, using arms, legs, feet, hands, head, utilizing every inch of the 20 by 40 foot dance floor. Looking back, I realize now, his dance was brilliant, ahead of its time and exactly what people strive for today. But, being the age of “everyone is looking at me,” I was embarrassed, wanting to disappear. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

Contrary to the insistence of my inner narcissist, no one was looking at me. My date was engrossed with his buds, talking shop, or sports, or who cares what. Before I can slip away, the next song begins, enticing a fellow in a ruffled tuxedo shirt, to join us on the floor. Moments later, a girl with a rhinestone tiara, pushing a walker, and a few others boogied onto the scene. By the fifth number of the night, Elton John’s, Crocodile Rock, the dance floor is packed with non-couples, dancing free style, not only to the beat played by the band, but many others, as well. Worship Praise Dance for the Lord

It took longer than it should, but I came around. Who could resist? They were free, real, alive. They trusted the music, the moment, the calling. They exchanged uptight for “out of sight.” That night, they set me free as well. My self-absorbed fears melted away, leaving me worthy of my partners. We tapped, river danced, dosey dohed, and did the alligator on our stomachs. I witnessed a pirouette, and an impressive leap across the floor. It was exhilarating.

          Unadulterated joy!

Fast forward, 30 years and much life, good, bad, and ugly, to the year 2001. I walk through the doors of the Vineyard Christian Church, the same as I attend today. I’m late, uncertain I want to be there. The service has begun. I choose a balcony seat, in the corner by an exit, where I can keep watch over the entire church.

The music is unlike any I’ve ever heard before. I’m fascinated with the interaction between it and the people in the pews. Many are standing, hands raised, swaying, eyes closed. Others remain seated, eyes open, one or both hands outstretched. Some weep. All, appear at ease, or at least content. Mid-investigation, to my surprise, I feel tears streaming down my cheeks. Good tears, comforting, like warm water when you’re chilled. The kind that shows up at reunions, weddings, and births.

I didn’t know what to think.

Back then, I thought people sang in church for the same reason they joined a Barbershop Quartet or rang doorbells with Christmas carols. I must have heard it referred to as worship, but did not make the connection. After witnessing worship, and having been introduced to the Holy Spirit, I hung around. Like a starving cat given a bowl of milk, I wanted more, and knew where to find it.

The mysterious tears continued to show up in the balcony, dripping down my face. Eventually my fascination with the worshiping lessened, and my own desire to praise grew. My familiar enemy, I call, oppression, kept my arms dangling awkwardly at my side. One day, I ignored the nagging oppressor, shooting my arms straight up. I laughed out loud, because for a moment, I thought I might fly up through the air with my limbs. Such bliss, beatitude, joy!

Freedom to praise, love, honor, adore, worship my Lord, in MY way. I’m not saying, animated worship is for everyone. For some, sitting still, basking in His presence is THEIR worship mode. I practice this style as well. But, one of God’s coolest traits is knowing each of our hearts, style, idiosyncrasies… our nature. I was trapped in a safe mode of worship, by fear, not choice. It suits me, to raise my arms, sway and sometimes dance. It’s fair to say I’m a David, when it comes to worship.

“And David danced before the LORD with all his might.”

When worship sunk in as a verb, I was set free to show my heart to the Lord. I pray all will find the place of worship that unlocks the boundless praise, longing to escape.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150:6 | NIV

In Spite of Us - Chapter PreviewCheck out our book in progress. Read a sample chapter here. Sneak Peek Chapter 14

Which Bible Character Are You?

Bible sheep redheaded sheep 99 sheep

Honestly?

I’d love to say I’m like Paul. But I’m not. Or, Peter, or Deborah, or Ruth. Truth said, when asked which Bible character I am most like… I think of that sheep, you know the one that wandered off from the others?

Yep, that’s me, the rogue sheep.

“Baaaaaaaa!”

My 99 friends, grabbing cell phones to call and advise me against bad mouthing myself, don’t bother. I’m good with being that sheep.

Think about it. Who did the shepherd go after?

You see, I face that sheep every morning, post prayer, pre-shower. That’s my time to write on our book, working title being, “In Spite of Us… Stalked by a Loving God.” Clicking the keyboard, shaking my head in dismay, I record the rebellious acts, stupid choices and messy consequences of a redheaded vagrant sheep. Said sheep may share my name and DNA, but beyond hair follicles and spit, today, nothing much else matches. Thank God.

Thus my patience wans, writing scenes doomed for sorrow and discontent. Even knowing that the Hero (Jesus) is coming to save the day, it’s tough to keep writing. I want to say “Don’t open that door. Really? Again? Stop! Look!.. Look up dummy!”

I wish I could skip to the stage of our story where a spiritual metamorphosis is apparent. If I did fast forward, leaving out all the muck and mire, the glory deserved by the Hero of the saga would be significantly diluted. It’d be like saying, “well, we were handling things okay on our own, without God, but he deserves credit for improving on our situation.”

What a joke!

The second half of the “we” in the story is my husband, Sandy, another sheep with beard goateefugitive sheep. In his defense, at least he showed up with a map, but staying on the straight and narrow path? Too much of a challenge. Therefore, the sheep duet, wandered around the jagged cliffs, blind and deaf to the Shepherd’s persistent calls. We were dying, drowning in a pit of self-inflicted, excruciating pain… hopeless, with no sign of relief. Picture two sheep at the bottom of a ravine, on their backs like turtles struggling to get up, bleating, “Baaaaaa!” The Shepherd should have said, “serves you right” or at least jabbed us with an “I told you so.” Instead, He kept at us, gently coaxing for us to stand up, climb back up the cliff, and follow the directions on the map.sheep on back legs in air

You can laugh, I have. Still, I’m honored to be that vagabond sheep. Grateful beyond explanation. I turned my tail to the other 99 sheep, booing their blatherings. Worse, I felt no need of a Shepherd. I had it handled. That is until I was floundering at the bottom of the gorge. At last, willing to call for help.

“Baaaaaaaa!”

And the Shepherd answered.

An accurate description of his response is written perfectly in the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.

 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

— KJV

Yeah, I’m “THAT” sheep. The one the shepherd pursued, foraged for. That makes me special, of worth, loved. Grace given, undeserved. If you’ve ever been forgiven by someone you’ve turned your back on, you know what I’m saying. It’s humbling.

If you have not experienced this Grace, let’s talk. I know a Good Shepherd, I can introduce you to.

 

Coming in 2016 – In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving GodIn Spite of Us - Chapter Preview

Sample Chapter of our book

Church Ladies… Hot Flashes and Faith

Church lady appearing to be gossiping in wide brim flowered hat and gloves.

            The other day in church, my attention turned to the pews, a Divine tap on the shoulder. I looked around, noting the faithful bobbing heads of our congregation, worshipping to the song, “I’m a Lover of Your Presence.” My heart stirred as my imagination drew a line above the heads of all the women, connecting them like a graph. I understood, resting for a moment, knowing, I, too, am a dot on this chart. Church Ladies 

Then I laughed. Church Ladies 

“Oh dear God, I’m one of those “church ladies!”

My past connotations of church ladies are both sweet and bitter. A picture of wide brim hats bursting with silk flowers, gathered like a bouquet, under which tongues wag gossip and white gloves point fingers. A gaggle of pinched nosed ladies, pecking rumors, slipping smooth smiles as innocent victims pass by their coup. Still dear, the image of gloves and big hats, it’s the gossip and finger pointing that tastes like vinegar. No better is the stereotypical “church mouse,” staring at the floor, incapable of squeaking one word without an apology. Neither of these portrayals are women I want to model. Church Ladies  Continue reading Church Ladies… Hot Flashes and Faith

Do You Act Like a Child of the Most High King?

Royal children of God

Recently, I watched the movie, Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. Kelly holds a special place in my memory. Although too young in 1956 to see the live footage of the royal marriage to Prince Rainier, I do remember the replays, from our 21 inch, Magnavox black and white television console. For me, mom, and all America, it felt like a member of our family received a crown, giving us a shirt tail foot in the door, if we happen by the palace someday.

The movie didn’t live up to my black and white childhood memories of a handsome, fairy tale prince, driving his Rolls Royce up to St Nicholas Cathedral, to wed his bride. Or the vision of Grace Kelly in her flowing gown, made from 300 yards of lace and 150 yards of silk. Nevertheless, the story, confessing to be fiction based on true events, left me thinking.

1956 royal wedding scene with Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly at the altar.
1956 royal wedding – Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly

Kelly spent years learning to be a princess. She practiced the royal walk, talk and demeanor. Eventually she mastered the expectation to “become” what royalty stands for. To “be” the Princess of Monaco, inside and out. She sacrificed her acting career, studied the French language, mannerisms and history.

Princess Grace of Monaco in crown
Princess Grace of Monaco

She owned the tiara.  

Watching her “become” royalty, my emotions stirred with possibility. Pausing the movie, I practiced the princess effortless glide to the kitchen, to make a cup of tea.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” my husband asked, walking impatiently behind me.

“I’m practicing walking like a princess… oh, never mind.”

Then, the thought occurred.

I am the daughter of the Most High King. Seriously, I really am the daughter of the King. It’s not a Christian Hallmark card saying we chant behind closed door prayer groups or churchy ice cream socials. I AM the daughter of the Most High King!

Whoa… hang on…

So are you.

We are royal children whose Father is all powerful, almighty, majestic, not just in essence, but in being.

What does that mean?

Shameful first thoughts of royalty reek of privilege and triviality. A palace, or maybe two, a throne, a gaggle of giggling maidens who think I’m cool, and cater to my needs… oh and maybe one of those glittering sticks, you know a wand. Or are those just for fairy godmothers and tooth fairies?

Stop!

That’s not what it means to be the child of the Most High King. Like Kelly, I must learn. But unlike the princess, I don’t have teachers, trainers and coaches committed to molding me into nobility. She studied. There were instruction books. Oh, wait… there is a book… the book… the Bible. A collection of 66 books, written by 40 authors. The word of God. His mandate of “how to.” Not how to earn the position, Jesus paid for and reserved it for us. I don’t know about you, (actually, I suspect I do), but I do know I do not “own” the daughter of The Most High King title.

What would that look like?

According to our King, royal children dispense love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

And, there’s nothing that would lead us to believe we are better than our brothers and sisters.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (NIV).

Or less than…

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Do I act like the child of a king? I know sometimes I act like a spoiled child of an earthly king… stomping my foot when I don’t get my way. But do I act like the daughter of the Most High King of kings, Lord of lords?

Not so much… sometimes… not enough.

I know I am a muched loved child of God, His daughter, a princess. Yet, to “become” what the crown stands for, I must train and practice. Without much thought, I found three major areas of princesstude I’d like to improve upon. I choose to work on these because I love my Father and my royal siblings.

First – Royal children know who their Father is, resting in His name. It doesn’t get any better than knowing your Dad tops all, and then some. No more lashing out at self with insults disappointment, and unattainable agendas. My Father loves me, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Second – My brothers and sisters are sons and daughters of the Most High King too. Even Sister So and So who looks down her nose and her Brother Knows It All. No more bad mouthing others for not living up to my expectations. Our Father loves them, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Third – Royalty serves outside of the palace. As a royal princess, I am a servant with a cause much bigger than my own yard. My siblings are my family, my heart. Together we can be about our Father’s work. No more going it alone. I need my family.

So Lord, my wondrous Father, whom I love. I pray that without the aid of an earthly crown and scepter, I can be a pleasing daughter, princess, child of The Most High King.

Amen.