Tag Archives: amwriting

The Best Place Ever to be with your Spouse – Take the Marriage Trip

couple on beach sunset marriageIn the middle of blasé, I’m slapped awake by love. It happens while looking at my husband, Sandy. With 25 years of marriage in our pocket, it’s against the odds. Why does he still tweak my heart strings? We do have that “magic” going on, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is different. It’s as if all my senses have the gift of sight. I see with my heart, soul, mind. Like seeing him through a pair of divine glasses. About now, he asks….

“What? Why are you staring at me?”

Vision blurred, I dismiss his question moving on with the mundane day, grateful.

I love those sloppy, in your face moments of love. Like:

  • Catching him knelt by a child, giggling.
  • When he smiles through a backache because his hard work and talents blessed others.
  • Watching him in prayer, worship or meditation.

Or recently, when he lifted my suitcase, into the car, placed his arms around my shoulders, and kissed me softly. After confessing he’ll miss me even if I’ll be away only one night, he hands me a bag with apples and almonds for the road, and says— marriage

            “I want to pray for you.”

Golden moments to savor. The times you think it just doesn’t get any better. Yet, it does There is something even more incredible…marriage

It’s a place. A destination.  I can’t say how long it takes to get there, but I guarantee, it’s 5+star and worth whatever the cost. We chose the long route. The wide highway with multiple lanes, all mysteriously located on the edge of a cliff. I don’t recommend this well-traveled road, as it is in perpetual rush hour. It zigs. It zags. And, it takes a spiritual enema to blast you out. At least that’s how we got through the bowels. marriage

When the portal leading to the “place” opens, it’s glorious. To enter you must be alone, and together, at the same time. And, mysterious as it sounds, you never arrive. Enough riddles. I’m talking about standing before God together. It’s the best place a couple can be. There we are independent of each other, yet interdependent with our Father. marriage

We are one in quiet… one in prayer… one in awe and praise… one in gratitude. If I named this place it might be Clarity… or Peace or simply, Good. Here is where I know who I am, who Sandy is, and most important who God is. It’s a place packed with power, wonder… magnificence.             marriagemathew19 marriage scripture

We often visit this place alone, which somehow brings us closer together, enriching our relationship beyond any other cure. But when we stand before Him as a couple, bothersome worries and gargantuan challenges flee. Just like shining the light on a nest of roaches. Nothing is too big, complicated or irreparable. You might enter empty and discontent, but you’ll leave full and satisfied. A guaranteed occurrence.

I wish we’d taken the short cut. It’s not like we didn’t see the signs, have a map or hear the Guide offering help. I recommend the fast train to this destination. Why not skip the detours we suffered? I don’t plan on getting lost again. I keep the coordinates for His presence close to my heart.

Coming soon: Check out a sample chapter of our book – “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.”

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

 

 

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

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

Billie Jean – A Testimony of Joy, Perseverance, Faith and Dance

A Christian woman worshipping the Lord, hands in air, in front of a stained glass window.

Meet my friend Billie Jean Newhall. She’s a walking, talking, dancing testimony to God’s amazing love. I double dog dare you to read her story and not fall in love with her.

Born a happy baby, with a perpetual smile, Billie Jean’s testimony begins as a memory given by her mother, Star.

“We lived next to a tiny country church. I was about two or three years old. I’d walk behind the preacher imitating him… back and forth. I loved it there. It was the place I felt love.”

Born in 1957, to her 15 year old mother, the first born of five children. Recently Billie Jean received a surprise phone call from her brother Teddie, (second born) who was adopted out at birth.

Smiling woman sitting in church. “He used the computer… found me and my brother Michael. My other brothers are gone. Johnny died as a baby, probably SIDS, but mom thought she was being punished for adopting out her first son. Kelly, jumped off a bridge in 2001.”

No matter what changes or hard times came her way, one constant remained… Billie Jean never stopped seeking God’s love. As a young girl she hung out in a friend’s book store, reading scripture. During this time, she surprised everyone, revealing one of the many gifts bestowed on her by God.

“When my friend at the bookstore asked me to write the scriptures down, she couldn’t believe that I remembered each one, word for word.”Woman with hope.

Still today people, like me, turn to Billie Jean if we’re stumbling to recite a verse correctly. Remembering scripture verbatim is an amazing skill, but when I asked her to name her best trait she said, “I love people.”

She’s right… as usual.

If you’re thinking she’s some “zippity-do-dah” phoney baloney, fake kind of lovey dovey person… you couldn’t be more wrong. She loves deeply, gives it away freely, whether family, friend or stranger.

I asked if she had a favorite scripture to which she belts out…

“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9… God gave me that scripture when I needed it.”

The time of need she’s referring to was one of sexual assault and abuse. A scared teenager who needed the strength to speak out and stand up to a violent predator. Joshua 1:9 got her through that ordeal and has continued to serve as her personal encouragement from God.

Last August, Billie Jean faced the death of her dearly loved mother. Despite a flat tire in “the middle of nowhere,” her Uncle was able to drive 250 miles and back, uniting mother and daughter for a last visit.

Only God knew how much she needed this moment with her mom. Her last visit still hurt. Under the effects of morphine, Star had lashed out at Billie Jean, angry that she could not stay with her; an irrational, out of character attack leaving her confused and hurt.

“I was there with her when she died… the only one she’d let touch her. I rubbed her, patted her hand and asked. ‘Do you ‘ikes’ me mama?’ That’s what I used to say as a baby. She was thirsty… I’m the only one who could give her a drink.”Happy woman.

Later, feeling helpless, sitting in silence by the door, Billie Jean heard her mother’s voice.

“I know you’re there.”

It was a blip of a moment, but exactly what she needed to hear. As the closest family member, the life support decision fell on Billie Jean. After prayerful thought, she pressed close to her mom, whispering.

“I give you permission to go.”

With those words, came peace and her mother’s parting breaths.

Two months later, grief still raw, Billie Jean finds a lump on her right breast. The diagnosis is cancer, showing in her lymph nodes and bones as well. When asked what she’s learned through this, she assumes a natural pose, arms stretched out, palms up, stating.

“To rely completely on God.”

She admits to times when grief smothers her prayer voice, yet faith never wavering, she adamantly states, “God is with me through the hard times.” In a sweet session of worship, soaking in His presence, Billie Jean received an encouraging word from her Father.

“In the shelter of His wings.”

The exact words needed to carry on as she always has, relying on God. After a mastectomy and radiation therapy, she put her foot down, ordering her friends to…

“Stop talking about cancer!”Woman posing with attitude.

We were cramping her style. Getting in the way of the job God has called her to do… to be… the job of spreading joy. A job she aces. When we stopped bugging her about cancer, she became herself again. The dynamic woman ever ready with a dose of joy, a huge helping of love, a barrel of fun and more dance moves than Michael Jackson. Dancing to her name sake song, she pauses momentarily to say.

“I don’t’ dance exactly like Jackson…”

Maybe not, but this gals got rhythm. As one of her many friends, I can say to know her is to be blessed. God uses her to touch many lives. The employees at our local North Star Cancer center looked forward to her radiation treatments, and have since told her to come back anytime to visit.

“They loved my hugs,” she says, with a satisfied grin.Sweet faced woman.

God is with her, always, she knows that. Last week she ended up in the hospital suffering from dehydration, unable to focus.

“I wasn’t myself. I kept crying. I couldn’t pray, but I know God was listening to me anyway.”

Through this experience in the hospital, she received the gift of understanding… for a nagging hurt about her mother’s death. While sick, dehydrated, emotional, and disoriented, Billie Jean understood why her mom had lashed out at her.

“She wasn’t herself… it was the morphine… she was disoriented like me. Now I understand.”

She needed the experience to heal the hurt, lingering behind. No one knows what lies ahead, for Billie Jean, nor any of us. In the meantime, she’ll continue doing her favorite things; worshiping the Lord, dancing, preferably with flags and giving away hugs, smiles and encouragement to friends and strangers alike.

Again, her favorite scripture comes to mind. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I hope you enjoyed hearing a small piece of Billie Jean’s story. We all have a story of God’s love for us. A story of yesterday, today and tomorrow. A work in progress that needs to be shared.

 

 

When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. When God speaks…

God Speaks to Those who seek His wisdomWho remembers the 1970’s E.F. Hutton commercials? My favorite shows two men on a plane conversing across the aisle while disinterested bystanders sleep, read, gaze out the windows. That is, until the name E.F. Hutton drops, causing a collective hush, among the eager eavesdroppers. The ad ends with the famous, unforgettable tag line: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

What about when God speaks? Do we lean in, hand cupped over ear, holding our breath in anticipation of His words? Speaking personally, I can say He knows how to get my attention. I’m not talking about an audible voice booming down from heaven saying stuff like “Deb, stop that!… you know better.” No, that’s more likely my own busy-body mind intruding on my peace: named “guilt.” I’m referring to a distinct voice in my head, a message arriving in an envelope of peace, reassurance, and clarity. A voice heard through the ears of my heart… or the lips of a friend… quite possibly a stranger. A voice that’s visible, seen not heard, through the staggering power of the ocean, or the knee buckling tenderness of a child’s love. Scripture, previously known, now alive, renewed. Words on a page, a billboard, a T-shirt… highlighted, back-lit, subliminally underlined.

No matter what the medium, when God speaks, there’s no confusion of authorship. You know, that you know, that you know. You just do. Even so, it’s hard to grasp that God dropped everything to send me a seemingly trivial, but deeply intimate message. However, once we stop denying His signature on the message, the essence of His ever powerful love for us is boldly evident. Yes, our God is mighty, capable of whispering sweet nothings in our ears, all while moving mountains, healing the sick and charging command over legions of heavenly angels. Yes, He is an exquisite multi-tasker.

One clear example, occurred two years ago when my husband, Sandy attended a men’s retreat in Canby, Oregon. He kissed me goodbye, grumbling that he’d rather stay home. He left discouraged, disgruntled, dis-everything (not a word, I know). In his own words, the troublesome “dis” was, “I’m tired of asking God for direction and hearing nothing.”

For months, we, meaning me and our entire church body, had been praying for him to receive words and encouragement. Some of us might admit to growing weary of the redundant prayer. Yet, we all knew Sandy’s deep desire to hear from God, promised an answer.

“I try, but I don’t hear anything. God doesn’t speak to me,” he’d say in response to our “keep seeking nudges.”

Seated among the 300 or so men who’d travelled from Vineyard churches across the northwest, he regretted saying yes to the invitation. If he’d stayed home, he could be working on the never ending projects on his ever growing list of “to-dos.” Staying busy seems to dull the pain.

While tapping his foot, waiting out the remaining 10 minutes before “getting on with it,” two men approached.

“We felt like you might need prayer. What’s going on with you?”

Sandy shared his frustrations, a familiar script, flowing off his tongue like an old song, the melody being “I don’t think God hears me.”

The men listened, praying a facsimile of the prayers sent over the past months of discontent. The prayer ended, just as the worship service started. Through worship, Sandy continued praying, seeking, yet convinced it was a one-way communication.

“Please, Father… I want to know you.”

When the key note speaker began, Sandy chuckled sarcastically at the topic – “Receiving Words from God.” When the audience was asked to participate, he prepared to go through the motions, expecting that others would receive wondrous, life changing, intimate messages from God, as he wallowed, on an island of quiet nothingness.

“There are thousands of words floating around this room right now. Please turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Then let’s spend some quiet time asking God for a word for each other.”

“My name’s Sandy… nice to meet you.”

Shaking hands, the stranger stated his name, which Sandy instantly forgot.

During the five minutes of quiet, disguised as three days of noisy head clatter, Sandy tried, in vain, to hear from God. When the time was up, he shared what he calls, generic fortune cookie stuff, derived from his own head.

“Something good is going to happen… there’s going to be a change…”

When it was the other man’s turn, he looked blank, then said.

“Philip. Right? Your name is Philip. He knows your name. That’s what I felt God wanted you to know.”

There it was… in perfect timing. Weak kneed, laughing… crying… laughing… no doubt God speaks… no doubt God hears… no doubt God knows him by name. You see, there was no way the stranger could have known that Sandy’s real name is Philip. A name spared only for legal documents. A name God shared through a stranger, knowing Sandy would hear it, An undeniable message of the His love.

That night, a phone call interrupted my sleep.

“He knows me by name!”

“What? Who?”

“God knows my name is Philip! He knows me…”

He shared the story with me, pausing for frequent voice cracking breaks, his demeanor and mannerisms out of character… chatty, fired up, super charged. To this day, he shares this story with anyone who’ll listen, never able to say “He knows me by name,” without tears. He left home with an acute case of “diseverything,” returning a changed man.

I suspect God is speaking all the time, and we are the lackeys with plugged ears. He’s a gentleman, who won’t yell over the top of the other noise in our life, and doesn’t need to. He knows exactly what it will take to get our attention, being our Creator and all.

Before my mom died, in 2002, I sat with her every day in the hospital, reading the Bible aloud, praying her seemingly sleeping mind could hear God’s word. I begged God to give me a sign that she would be in heaven… at peace and free of pain. My expectations were that she would awaken and say something reassuring, like “Jesus told me to tell you, it’s all good, you can pray about other stuff now.” That didn’t happen. Instead, moments before mom died, my sister and I walked into her room, finding her wide awake, smiling, gazing straight ahead. Whatever she was looking at, was beyond our understanding. One thing was clear, Whomever she looked upon blinded her to all else, satisfied her every need and filled her with joy. Then, she left the room, or at least in spirit. The nurses told us we could stay with her as long as we wanted. But why? She left, leaving only the parcel she rented space in, behind.

That day, God spoke, giving me everything I needed to never doubt. Like Thomas, who needed to stick his finger in the hole in Jesus’ side, I needed to see Jesus through my mother’s eyes. Nothing else would have sufficed. He knows us well. Yes, indeed.

BETA Readers – The Heart Behind Our Book

target reader3Every morning I sip hot black coffee, telling stories to an invisible friend. We share a few tears, a giggle or two and a wink when we know a surprise is coming in the next chapter. My friend is quiet, interrupting only to ask an apropos question like “what did that feel like?” I know this friend like my own heart and blood, yet I could not pick them out of a crowd or recognize their face in a photograph.

I’m talking about my target reader. The person I imagine curling up with my book upon its completion. The person God places in my heart and mind, all day, all night. The person this story will speak to, minister and bring healing to. Who are you? Did I stand next to you selecting eggs at Safeway today? Pass you on the street? Are you the telemarketer, I hung up on?

Last week my husband and I met with our BETA Readers to share a meal, express gratitude and listen.  I felt awkwardly delighted that the book was the center of attention. I’d planned on discussing other topics during dinner, the polite thing to do. In my defense for  breaking Emily Post’s etiquette basics, this group has little common ground to share. After all, they were selected to test the reading waters based on gender, age and interest variables, not similarities. Besides, detouring the subject from the book would have been like asking a heroin addict to focus on world events while holding a loaded syringe.

Earlier that morning, I read the words I believe all writers long to hear, “I couldn’t stop reading it… I have to know what happens next.” Yes! Yes! Yes!. The best words ever, written by a newbie BETA Reader enlisted to fill an untested demographic slot. I didn’t think it could get better than that, but it did. After dinner the discussion turned to target readers, I lapped up their thoughts like a starving cat.

 I listened to my BETA Readers talk amongst themselves, and like a negative clearing in the chemical wash, the face, heart, mind and soul of my reader appeared. Seeing my invisible friend who sits by my side every morning come to life through my BETA readers refueled my inspiration tank. I highly recommend using a test group such as mine. If you’ve researched this system, you already know I ignored a rather important rule – wait until the book is complete before letting them read it… oops. I knew that,  but chose to ignore it, desperate for encouragement as the book progresses. They’ve been pushing me forward all along and I’m grateful for their willingness to stay the course.

The insights they shared are invaluable. I learned the book’s target is genderless and could appeal to young adults through seniordom. It’s a story the reader will want to share with others. It’s for those who like humor, romance and intrigue. For those who love God and those who don’t know him yet. For readers who are an alcoholic, love an alcoholic or want to learn more about the struggles of addiction. The story has something for singles and married folks as well.

Those are the bones of many potential readers. When the subject switched to whom this story will minister to, I could see the person sitting next to me every morning. Please understand, I am thrilled anyone will enjoy reading the book, but the ache in my heart, placed by God, is for someone specific… some genderless person intimately pursued… invited to experience the Grace our Father awaits to shower upon them.

This person, is hurting, desperate, searching for help in all the wrong places. They have banged on doors of self-help, destruction, human failure and quick fixes, none of which helped, and they are facing the last house on the block. They secretly want God in their life, but believe He wants nothing to do with them until they change. It’s not that they are not willing to change, they believe they are not capable, and they are right. What they don’t know is that Grace is waiting… beckoning… wanting only a willingness to accept it.

That’s who I share my story for. My story of a clueless couple whom God loved back to life. I want this for my reader, the person God has placed on my heart to care for, to love, to disciple through the story of my journey.  I want this reader to know if God could love me as I was, and as I am today, both options a messy person, then He certainly loves them!

I’m grateful for the love God gifted to my heart for my most special reader.

Psst… curious about our book? Click the link below to read a sample chapter. In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

Newsflash… Telling Lies Can Be Hazardous to Your Health!

liar

A recent study found that those speaking the truth are 75% less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who tell a lie. Sounds like a government study… right? Relax, no lying rats were harmed in this study, I made that part up (oops, that’s what I’m talking about…).

Years ago, I took a job as a professional liar. That’s not what they called it, but truly, I was a liar for hire. The official job title was “shopper,” specifically banks. It began innocently with fibs, innuendos, lies of omission. Corruption begged company, so I enlisted my husband, bringing him along for the heists.

Like Bonnie and Clyde, we hit the banks on the list pretending to be ordinary customers, cashing checks, making deposits, asking questions. Unsuspecting tellers would later be evaluated as to his or her customer service skills. Victims chewing gum or forgetting to say thank you, landed on the hit man’s list back at headquarters. Those were carefree days, racing away in our get-a-way Subaru, conscience slightly smudged.

We excelled at our job, leading to increased hits spreading throughout the Northwest. Soon our escalating lying skills led to the big time… hustling loan officers, a position requiring top notch lies of the sort they named the club after.

We were given an attache full of new identities, including names, jobs, financial histories, to which we added personal details for flavor. It was challenging racing between the ever growing list of jobs. We grew weary, making small mistakes like taking the wrong exit or misplacing notes. The lies grew like weeds twisting around truth, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy.

My last bank job, the one that scared me honest was in Portland. It was the final job of the day. I was late, rattled, weary from building lies. The loan officer offered her hand, inviting me to sit. The cool, collected Bonnie and Clydeness abandoned me. Taking her extended hand, I opened my mouth, trusting that whatever name came out would be correct.

“My name is Ida Thurman,” I said.

“What? Oh… no… really? That’s my name too. I’ve never met anyone named Ida Thurman. Both first and last names? That’s crazy!”

The moment I heard it, I knew I had unconsciously spoke the name on the brass nameplate displayed on her desk. Too late for a clever lie as to how I confused my own name with hers, we began a lengthy, clumsy conversation about the Minnesota Thurmans, none of which I could recall except possibly Sue Ann sounded “familiar.”

No matter if the lie is white, barefaced or polite, a fib, a whopper, or my favorite – The Butler’s lie (coined for lies intended to save face), lying is stressful. Maybe you’ve never lied; never experienced that flushed face sweaty palm moment; never needed a shovel of reinforcement lies to dig yourself out from the grave of deception. If so, I commend you, albeit with much skepticism.

I know my family culture promoted the art of lying, selectively of course, with good intentions and purposes; such as lies to friends or family, protecting feelings; lies to neighbors and busybodies, restricting gossip, lies to the police, limiting jail visits; lies regarding taxes, saving money. This is just a small sampling of the acceptable practices in the art of moral lying. If you research styles of lies, you’ll be amazed… Wikipedia lists 35. As a former not so nice chick looking for trouble, I believe I’ve practiced all on the list and more. I’m not alone. Just look at the songs written about it- to name a few: Rolling Stones – Lie; The Castaways – Liar liar; Eagles – Lyin’ Eyes; Queen – Liar; Fleetwood Mac – Sweet Little Lies.

Personally, I had a hard time taming my lies, sometimes still do. For me, lying was a natural gift for survival. It was easy and harmless creating a tall tale to fit the occasion. Even as I write this I’m holding back an urge to boast of instances when one of my lies helped someone. Alas, the command to not lie made God’s top ten list, thus the need to change. One thing I’ve learned, if God commanded it, then you better listen up because He only wants to protect you from the dire consequences.

Today I can honestly say I’m no longer a gifted liar. It’s like making gravy, it takes practice keeping the lumps out. I don’t miss the thrills or even the sense of self-awe after creating a doozy (not on the Wikipedia list). I do enjoy knowing my word means something today. Turns out telling the truth relieves stress better than the typical recommendations of rest, meditation, exercise and it’s even better than a strong dose of Vodka or a bottle of wine. That old saying “it’s always best to tell the truth? Turns out it’s not some hokey line parents made up to find out what their children have been up to. It’s true.

4 simple ways telling the truth can relieve stress
  1. You only have to keep track of one version of the details.
  2. People learn to trust what you say, even respect who you are.
  3. You don’t think everyone else is a liar, leading to trust and respect for others.
  4. That feeling of “soon the bodies will float to the top of the lake,” disappears. You’re confident of your innocence.

 

Keep in mind, this is based on my own experience with the relationship between lies and stress. We might need a spendy government study to prove it, being a sound source of truth telling.  As obvious as it may seem to stop telling lies, I believe we all need a little reminder since it is a prevalent, even expected practice, in the world we live in.

I conclude this post with a confession: Stress or not, if you ask me, “does my butt look big in these pants?”… I’m going to lie.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttp://goo.gl/yPgrFh

Prayer – The First and Last Tool You’ll Ever Need

 A red tool box with the letters TOOLS.

A heart of solid stone… that’s what it would take to survive if I did not have PRAYER in my toolbox. For all the times past, present and future when I could not, would not or did not DO anything. When I stepped over the vomit sopped drunk asleep in the alley… kept quiet when gossip sprayed across a room like a sneeze… or daily, doing my thing, ignoring what I read or heard on the news.

One seemingly standard-issue day, a woman stood across the counter at my Antiques store holding a new, cheaply made, necklace spinning a story of ancient history and real gold. I wasn’t listening much to what she was saying, I’d heard the yarn many times. Instead, I looked into her dead eyes desperately seeking a sign of life. There was a hint of youth despite her cadaverous persona.

 When I explained the necklace was neither gold nor old, a new lie snaked out between decayed teeth, something about needing $10 to catch a bus because she was stranded. Again, I knew the story. I wasn’t really listening. My mind spun like a Rolodex searching for solutions. I want to help but know I do not hold that kind of power. Part of me wants her to disappear so I can return to the bliss of denying the world around me. Bad ideas exhausted, I remember where my help comes fromPlease God… help me know what to do.

“I don’t want the necklace. You need help. I can see that. I’ll give you the money. You’ll run to the nearest drug dealer. We both know that. First, would you let me pray with you?”

She agreed.

Ordinarily I pray eyes shut intently listening, this time I kept them open, revealing a momentary glimpse of light, a peek at youth, a trace of a softening heart. The dark hollows holding the dead eyes, damp from tears. My senses heightened, I heard a tear hit the glass on the counter, one of mine. We shared a smile in another world. She looked away, but not before I saw childlike innocence. With amen, the glow on her face drained, leaving a desperate look of “where’s the cash?”

I ignored her demanding stature, going on about my church, suggesting ways she could get help until finally succumbing to her outstretched hand. With the ten dollar bill in hand, she raced for the door, stopped at the stoop, turned my way…

“I’ll be okay. Really. I’ll look for you at your church, Vineyard… right?”

That was several years ago. I think of her often, and pray. I wonder, did God answer our prayer? Is she living a full and vital life today, free from the bondage of drugs? Yet, it’s hard to picture her anything but dead. Maybe it was ME God healed that day, a progressive miracle, kneading my heart.

Helpless? Yes. Without hope? Never. One tool, prayer, keeps me sane. Without it, I’m an idiot. A busy, frantic, destructive action figure believing the delusion that I can fix things like a self-help, handyman, super hero.

I don’t know about you, but some days I am not able to ignore the dead bodies piling up just beyond the sanctity of my white picket fence. My eyes open to see the child hiding behind the gang tattoos, the loneliness around the widow in the supermarket, the daily news of tragedies, near and far, now and soon to come. I try not to dwell there and sometimes prefer a blindfold to a prayer, admittedly because when I feel helpless I forget that prayer is a verb.

Still… how do you stand by and watch a proverbial scene of man repeatedly beating himself with a stick? You ask them to quit? Yes, but they won’t stop. What then? We watched a friend toss 14 years of sobriety as simply as crumpling a sheet of paper, hurled into the waste basket. He lived in a small house directly in front of our kitchen window. A close friend to my husband, a new acquaintance of mine. We stood at our kitchen window, washing dishes, witness to the deterioration of a hearty, vital, vivacious man, morphing into a soulless human shell. All the schemes and well wishes of kings could not have brought him back. We, like many others, prayed… and prayed some more. He clearly wanted nothing more than to get life over with as fast as possible. I remember many prayers that he would experience God’s grace.

After two years of warring with himself, stopping periodically to gain enough strength to return to the battle of self-destruction, he miraculously “got it.” No earthly explanation. Today he lives, that’s a big deal in itself. Cooler yet, he’s living out the miracle as a generous, boisterous, fun-loving character searching for ways to show Grace to others; volunteering time and energy to anyone in need.

I’m grateful for the prayer tool in my otherwise empty toolbox. As an insomniac, I’ve learned to embrace this time as an opportunity to listen through the ears of my heart as God whispers the names of those I should pray for. It’s a special time cuddling with Father God. More often than not, sleep returns before I can finish the prayer list; waking with the remaining names on my heart ready for a fresh pre-dawn prayer session.

Honestly, I prefer the secret intercessory times than face to face prayers. Though that’s not completely true. Better to say I shy away from it, humbled when the Holy Spirit conducts, orchestrates and completes, leaving me aware of my lack of necessity in the scheme. I may be standing there, but the “me” of the moment, is obliterated from the equation.

I try to remember those times when I am tempted to ignore the still small voice prompting me to pray with someone. Shamefully, I remember asking a woman I respected at a retreat “how are you doing?” Expecting to hear “great” or “fine” she responds with “not so good.” I heard my heart say “May I pray with you,” but out of my mouth came, “I’ve a funny story that will cheer you up.” It didn’t. I walked away, head down.

The desire to provide a quick fix like slapping on a band-aid, giving lame advice, side swiping with a compliment (great shoes), or telling a joke must be hereditary. My dear, loving, funny, best-ever Na-na could make me madder than a wet cat (one of her terms). With perfect timing… like right after a skinned knee or whacked elbow, she’d say, “just think how much better it will feel when it quits hurting.”

AAAAAAAAAAGGGH! It still gets me to think about it.

 We all have times in our life when we need more than a funny story or flippant remark. Likewise, there are times when we need to GIVE something more than a slapstick distraction. Many times, most times for me, prayer will be the only tool clanking around in the empty tool box. A funny thing I’ve learned is that when I use this tool to help another, something broken inside myself gets repaired as well.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

YAY! WE WON A LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD

liebster award I was hungry… my mind tricked me into reading “Lobster” in place of “Liebster.” I didn’t care if we’d been nominated for a fishy award, I was happy to reel it in. The point is, someone (not a relative or coerced friend) likes the blog. A closer look into the award revealed that the German word Liebster means “dearest or beloved.” Cool, huh? Much better than a crustacean award. LiebsterPost

            Blogging takes time, patience, a steady flow of affirmations from readers, and for me, a willing husband who never tires of saying, “no, it doesn’t suck.” So, yes, yes, yes, I accept the nomination and without further adieu extend a huge thank you to Erin @ http://onehundredtwentythreedays.com/ for the recognition. Check out her blog, I found it to be fresh, intriguing and I gleefully accept her challenge to live a better life.

The idea behind the Liebster Award is to discover and give a nod to new bloggers. Accepting, means you win (yay! I won). There’s no trophy, paid vacation or a truck load of cash (dang), but you do get the honor of displaying the cool Liebster Award logo while taking a stroll down the cyber red carpet.

In lieu of an acceptance speech, winners are asked to follow a few instructions.

Answer the following 11 questions provided by the nominator.

Share 11 random facts about themselves.

Post the Liebster Award rules

Nominate 11 others for the award.

 

Q&A From My Nominator (nominees, please answer these same 11 questions)

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 29, and find line 4. What is the book and what does it say?

“Notre Dame,” by Victor Hugo… “Oh yes; I remember it!” exclaimed Gisquette: “God on the cross, and the two thieves on each side of Him.”

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

I’m weird about this. It’s much more about who I live near than where. I would choose a place with few if any snakes, close to my family and friends.

3. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

I would replace all hate with love.

4. Is the glass half empty or half full?

A trick question for a sober person… what’s the liquid?

5. When is the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Two years ago from my own little garden. Confession: It did not taste like the ones I remember as a child; dripping down my arm with the first bite.

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Mark Twain… of course!

7. What is your favorite time of the day?

First light… sitting with hubby in the quiet as we slowly enter the day.

8. What inspires you?

Faith… without which I am done for.

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Sitting with my mother, flipping through the Sears Roebuck Catalog, selecting everything we would buy if money was no concern.

10. What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Tigers, flowers, and the way light plays on the trees.

 11. Who are your Nominees?

Here are 11 random facts about myself.

  1. At the time of this writing, I was the ONLY person in Washington State who wasn’t watching the Seahawks at the Super Bowl.
  2. Sometimes I just can’t help exaggerating (see #1 above).
  3. I wonder about cows. According to my hubby, too much. Stuff like… why are they all standing up? Why is that cow being snubbed by the others? Did she do something anti-social? Is there a hierarchy among cows in the field? Is the cow on the mound pretending to be king of the hill? You know, that stuff… I assume everyone ponders.
  4. I write to music, sometimes evoking a moment of dance followed by a get back to work slap upside the head.
  5. I wear my husband’s T-shirt to bed, the one he’s been wearing for the day. No other will do. It gives me the same comfort my thumb sucking blanket gave me when I was a toddler (this should count as two random facts).
  6. If my toenails are not painted, I feel like they are naked.
  7. I HATE wearing socks.
  8. I play a game by Battlenet called Hearthstone more than I should.
  9. I’ve worked a variety of jobs in my life including driving a bulldozer and a forklift. Side note: Crashing a forklift through a plate glass window gets a lot of attention.
  10. I can be won over by any dog. A couple of wags, a sloppy wet kiss… game over.
  11. I think Godly men like my husband are super sexy. Watching him pray has an even stronger effect on me than number 10.

Looking forward to all my nominee’s answers.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

 

Can Your Dream to be an Author Come True?

1950s author card deck
Me, dreaming of becoming an author alongside my buddy Mark Twain. Sigh…

Like most girls in the 1960s, I dreamed of playing house with a plastic Ken-type husband gallivanting around in a pink convertible packed with smiling children. Even so, I bored easily with the game, preferring an alternative fantasy – to be an author.

The daydream took place in a cabin in the woods where I labored day and night at a primitive desk holding a stack of tattered gilded edge Mark Twain books, a flask, a fat cigar, and an Underwood portable typewriter. Other props included a No. 2 pencil as a pseudo quill fountain pen, and although I pictured a bushy beard, I settled for messy hair.

Truth is, I didn’t actually write much in those days. It was more about the mysterious writer facade. The part about putting words on paper came later and, sadly, I admit to being easily discouraged. I take full responsibility for that, recognizing that many writers pressed through rising above all obstacles, honing their craft from an early age. I on the other hand, stomped off stage with my flask and cigar with the first “boo.”

Maybe there’s a future blog brewing on the false starts, failures, brokenness and repeated murders of my lifelong desire to write, but this is not it. Instead, this post is about today, tomorrow and the next. All the days to come, promising a “do over.” No excuses or justifications. Do I have what it takes to be a writer or do I go back to swigging air from a flask in front of a blank sheet of paper?

Declaring war on my fears, I’ve been writing for an hour here and there for over a year trying to complete my first book, while maintaining an online antiques business and scaling out a pound or two of personal life. At first I could hardly wait to complete my self-inflicted writing sentence of one hour. Each word painfully squeezed out only to be deleted, exchanged or groaned at. Finally, one day a paradigm shift occurred. I no longer felt dread seeking the first word, it was the period at the end of the writing session I rued. Words came a little easier, my confidence peeked and winked at me from around the corner and a question nagged like a dripping faucet – “Could I write full time?”

That is, if all excuses were removed… the ones shielding me from finding out what I can or cannot do. Would I? Could I?… hack it as a full time writer? Or do I secretly want to remain in the pretend world alongside my justifications and alibis. Then the question became, is this book supposed to happen or not?

Tormented, I had one of those “duh” moments when I remember to take my burdens to God, so I prayed and prayed again, and again. Then one morning I awoke in an epiphany. God blessed us with a good year in our business, leaving us not only with our emergency cushion untouched, but also some extra and we are both in a rare season with flexible schedules.

Could it really be that God wants us to spend this money on ourselves? How could that be, when all around us there are people in need. Yes, we do tithe and give to charities, both ongoing and spur of the moment, but do we live sacrificially? Probably not. We continued praying until we felt certain the money was a blessing meant for us. Leaping hand in hand off the decision cliff with gratitude, we nabbed the cash, planning our dream trip with these specific priorities:

  1. Intimacy and renewal of relationships with Father God.
  2. Intimacy and renewal of relationship with each other
  3. Writing, writing, writing… more writing.
  4. Rest, long walks, good food and quiet.

We ended up in Yachats, Oregon in a charming beach house, with a bay window overlooking our front yard view of the Pacific Ocean’s cresting waves. There in the misty salty air I learned a few things about my writing abilities, limitations and style and some random stuff too.

First – I’m no Stephen King. In his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” he mentions, rather nonchalantly, that he writes 2,000 words 365 days a year. Setting this goal for myself was not productive. I spent most of my time obsessing over the disappointing progress. Wondering: Why my last outpour is only 333 words? If King counts the words in emails, grocery lists, love notes to Tabitha? How about doodling?

Second – Solitude, quiet, gorgeous scenery… even time with the Lord… can be just as distracting as our sometimes busy, noisy home. BUT these distractions renew, giving back more than they take. Whereas the clanging of nagging “to do’s” at home zap spiritual and creative strength.beachselfie2

Third – I don’t regret choosing devotional time with my husband, a prayer walk or even a nap. beachselfie1Shushing the Nazi-esque task master nagging me to sit at the computer until I reach my word quota, results in quality over quantity.

Fourth – God’s timing is essential. The first morning I left my dreamy prayer mode at 3:00 AM, anticipating a spectacular sunrise. Shortly I tired of staring out the bay window into the darkness. Not wanting to wake my husband, I turned to my other friend with all the answers – Google.

Yachats, Oregon, United States Sunset Time

Current Local Time: 3:14am PST

January 5, 2015

Sunrise

7:52 AM

Seriously?

Later, hubby rises at 7:20, three hours later than his normal “up and at ‘em” time. When I ask why the sun is sleeping in until nearly 8:00 he glibly replies “because it’s winter.” Then smiling, he adds “you won’t see it from there anyway dear, the sun rises in the east and you are facing west.”

The lesson: Nothing is going to happen if it’s not God’s timing and if you are not facing in the right direction you could miss the miracle.

Fifth – If you wait for God’s timing, and if you are facing the right direction (see lesson above), you’ll see God at work. DSCN3348Sitting in the bay window, facing west, watching the sunset swirl colors around the sun, I witness His glory in the magnificent and seemingly insignificant. People gather to watch the sunset show, snapping photos with their phones. An elderly couple hold hands… share a kiss. A man with an angry stride, head down, carrying three grocery bags, stops as if tapped on the shoulder, looking up at the progressing sunset like “hey, who did that?” Beckoned by God Himself, he sits on a bench, and although I can’t say for sure, he appeared to be praying.

In the meantime, pink and purple show up center stage, travel outward leaving a golden orb. As the final curtain is about to come down, I notice there’s about a hundred Seagulls gathered for the sunset finale. But, wait a minute… they’re ALL perched with their backs to the view. Stupid birds, what’s wrong with them? (Again, see above).

Sixth – I have no idea what God has in store for me tomorrow, nor even a clue what it should look like. I thought words were going to stack up like snowflakes in a storm. That was not the case, yet I wouldn’t trade one moment of this trip for 20,000 perfect novel-worthy words.

Seventh – I feel, therefore I write. If I stay in the writing closet without stretching my mind occasionally, just like my bottom, my stories suffer numbness, cramps, and possibly rigormortis.

What was the total word count tally of the trip? Drum roll… 9,069. Less than half my goal. Did I fail? I think not. Yes, some days I feel like the book will never see the words “The End” but then I remember it’s all about God’s timing.

            My prayer: Father, let me wait on you expectantly and please don’t let me be a silly seagull facing the wrong direction when the miracle appears. Amen.

A

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/