Tag Archives: christian blog

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

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

Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

Qualities of the perfect man --Cary grant Mr. Bean- Grizzily AdamsI don’t know when it happened, or how. But it did. One unremarkable day, we became that couple. The one people snicker at and call CUTE! Sometimes even SOOOOO CUTE! Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

At first we were confused. After all, we had not changed, yet, whenever we held hands or smooched a little cheek peck, the world stopped, fingers pointed and exclamations of delight proclaimed our adorability. This is especially true of young couples. We can only imagine what might happen if they caught us partaking in an innocent love pat on the behind? Oh my! Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

What changed? How did we jump from being the rude couple, known for PDA (public display of affection), to the Cutie Patooties belonging in the Guinness World Record book with the caption: Old Farts in Love. When the “Awwwws,” first began, we’d back away, fearing our groupies might pinch our cheeks, or worse, snap a photo to share on Facebook. Over time, we’ve gotten over our fear of death by koochie-koochie-koo. When it happens today, we share a secret nod of wisdom and a wink of… Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

“If they only knew.”

Truth is, I’m more in love with my husband today, than ever. And, yes, I mean IN LOVE. Mad, lust worthy, hot, married you rock my socks, kind of LOVE. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

Hello? Hello? Is anyone still reading?

If so, I’ll share what I’ve learned about love. My prayer is that someone might be spared the wild seek and conquer dating escapades I suffered. Sadly, I know I am not alone in this, having many single friends looking under the same rocks as I did.

My quest for love, is best described as a manic episode of Where’s Waldo? Desperate, I sprang between victims, begging for alms of love, to fill my black hole of a heart. He must be charming, like Cary Grant, funny like Mr. Bean and strong and protective, like Grizzly Adams. And, most importantly, he must speak my personal dialect of love language, willing to be like the guy in My Fair Lady who sings, “On the Street Where You Live.” That guy felt happy just standing outside, knowing his love was in the vicinity.

“Sigh.”

Love me, love me, love me. Who will love me? Who can fill my bottomless pit of a heart?

My sad, wild safari in search of love guaranteed three perpetual moods:

Empty

Lonely

Broken hearted

I remember a day, when I believed I could not take another breath, unless tossed a crumb of relief to the gaping hole in my heart. With no other options, I sent a weak prayer out, begging an ignored God for help.

When I met Sandy, my husband to be, he had the Grant schmooz, the big protective brute air, and, he was well endowed with Mr. Beanisms. Sadly, though, he did not speak my love language, nor show any desire to stand outside on the street swooning with love. He had better things to do. Yet, there was something about him that kept me hanging around. He was patient, loving, and kind. He spoke of God and faith.

And then, we lived happily ever after… right?

Not quite.

We dug, dredged and sucked every ounce of love from each other. But, it was not enough. He could not feed my hunger, nor I his. What then? None of the equations add up. X + Y = Z … if X is me and Y is you then Z should be love… Okay, math is not my subject.

We fought.

And, fought some more.

Something was missing from the equation. It took years for us to figure it out. I should add, we are still working on the math, but we found the missing component, the foundation, the cornerstone. God. When we invited God into our relationship, our sparse baskets of fish and bread, became more than enough to feed ourselves and each other, with abundance to share.

Without God, marriage is like the wood, hay and straw, spoken of in the Bible; when the test of fire comes, it disintegrates. The tests will come, in many forms. Losses, disappointments, struggles, temptations. And no one will escape the trials of time; gravity, erosion and decay. Just as the Beatles song ponders, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

It’s flattering to be admired for outer beauty, but to be revered for inner beauty is the biggest rush of all. I grumble at the woman in the mirror, wondering where she hid my youth. Yet, the most beautiful I have ever been, is in the eyes of my husband, where glows a lasting beauty, beaming from the inside out. I marvel at the image, coming from the eyes that have seen me at my worst. I’m not talking about the mother of all insults, “I love you even though.” That’s a tainted love, that pats the giver on the back. No, I want none of that.

To best understand, the love I refer to, it takes a child. A child whose well loved toy is showing wear. No longer new, shaggy, tousled, tired looking. Maybe it’s even missing a few parts. But what happens when you offer this child a shiny new toy in exchange for the old one? You can’t pry it from their clutches, not even to toss it in the laundry. They love it just the way it is. After all, it’s the toy that’s been there, through everything. The ear hanging by a thread, the bald spot, the dangling button, are like precious gems, badges, reminders of trials, victories, parades marched side by side.

I’m no longer dependent on love. Instead, my love is dependent on God. Without God in our marriage, our love is weak, no better than a silly love song. With God, we are like two children under an umbrella of His love. Holding hands, peering into each other’s eyes, marveling at who God created us to be. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

And… I guess we’re pretty cute. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

A note to my husband: Happy 24th Anniversary. I thank God for answering my prayer.

1 Corinthians 12

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

 

Check out our book in progress … read a sample chapter…. BookPromobannerhttp://debpalmerauthor.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

The word NO in a gift box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back, I’m dumbfounded. How did I miss the seventy times seven flashing neon “good choice” doors? Choosing instead the door down the long hall with the sign reading: You Know Better. I’m grateful for all the times God waited patiently while I collected consequences from behind the “bad choice” doors. Those lessons, greatly improved my choosing skills.

Contrarily, what about the times when God bolts a door shut? No matter how hard you pull or twist the knob, it won’t open. It’s stuck, bound with spiritual duct tape. We have free will to do what we please, pound our head against the wall as often as we like. I’m talking about the times when HE intervened, protecting me from the scariest monster of all… self. Continue reading When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

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.

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/

How Do You Choose A Church If You Don’t Know What You Believe?

Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Yakima Vineyard Christian Fellowship

While vacationing on the Oregon coast in the dearest cottage by the sea, we found ourselves with the dilemma of choosing a church for the fast approaching Sunday. Not wanting to drive out of town left three choices.

  1. Yachats Community Presbyterian Church preschurch

My personal top choice, based on the brochure that reads: “The Church of Agate Windows, ” not because Sandy thought it might be a Pizza Hut.

  1. Yachats Baptist Church bapchurch

Maybe a better choice since choosing a church for the building is rather lame. Then again, I have a tainted view of the Presbyterians, based on childhood profiling, gained from a few sporadic visits. I assumed they were cranky because they had to get all dressed up to sit still and quiet on hard, slick pews. I see from the sign reading: Come As You Are,” they’ve fixed that problem.

  1. Little Log Church and Museumlogchurch

The most intriguing choice, but there’s a slight glitch- they don’t actually have a service. It’s just to look at… hmmm… sort of like owning a Bible for display only.

Over the years, while away from home, we’ve crashed a few random churches, but we are far from experienced shoppers. Choosing a church for a single hit and run Sunday service is not a huge task, if you are strong in your doctrine and faith and believe God will be there, if you seek Him. Worse case scenario, you walk away grateful for the church back home. Contrarily, if you’re searching for a church to call home, you’d best put some thought into it.

I’m grateful for God’s hand in my church hunting expedition, which began with a list of six churches in Yakima, Washington, (our home town), recommended by various concerned friends over the years. It was some time in September 2001, before the collapse of the Twin Towers that brought hordes of new and returning temporary relief seekers to church. Keep in mind, at the time, I, like many who walk into our churches today, was ill equipped to know what I should be looking for. How do you know what doctrine to adopt if you’ve never read the instruction book? Maybe, like myself at the time, you weren’t even sure the Author existed? What then? I knew one thing only… I was hurt, broken, out of solutions and the only thing I hadn’t tried was church.

I entered the first church on my list, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Yakima, donning my best “I’m invisible, better back off” suit of armor, slipping through the doors undetected. The building itself was my ideal, thus holding the number one place on the list. It was built in 1904 using huge impressive looking stones. Inside, under a domed ceiling the stained glass windows provide a kaleidoscopic light show of jade and gold dancing round the mahogany columns, beams and majestic 24 foot tall sliding doors.church4

That day I climbed the stairs to the balcony, studying the angelic crowd below, with their seemingly perfect lives, born into idealistic Christian homes that made the right decisions, day in, day out. I wondered if they could see or sense the mess of my past, and shuddered they might have some kind of religious telepathy, capable of hearing the non-pure thoughts renting space in my head. I was confident they wouldn’t have the nerve to throw me out, stone me or point fingers my way, mouths agape. I figured they must have been taught this behavior is considered poor etiquette in “Being a Good Christian 101.”

Fast forward 12 years. The second church on my list still has no check mark next to it. Much has changed, and I’ve learned a few things. One being that, the angelic looking people that first day had some messes for God to work on also. Another, being that although the building is worthy of awe, it’s what’s inside that counts, or rather who’s inside.

At the time of my first visit, Wayne Purdom was the pastor, whom later ushered my husband into the fold with his down to earth sincere concern and genuine interest in others. Four years later, God moved the gifted Purdom family cross state to plant a new church and bless others. That left us a church in a lurch. I had one foot readied for escape as I pictured some worn out constipated-looking guy alongside a screeching soprano “everything is hunky dory” type wife, abducting our cherished “come as you are” church family.

Much prayer and several months later, no one answered the call. With a tremendous team of church leaders, our church body suffered no neglect, but time was ticking with no potential candidates in sight. Then one Sunday, a surprise announcement was made… Jimmy John Morris, our talented worship leader, would be stepping up as senior pastor.

Honestly, we were concerned. He was a super guy, remarkably talented musician, devoted worship leader, and he was funny. Even so, he didn’t seem like an obvious shoe in for this position. We asked God to show us what He planned to do with this young man, but frankly, doubt is a noisy occupant, and neither of us could hear any kind of response. So, we made a pact with God and ourselves to stick it out and see if He would show us more than a great guy with a good sense of humor and a hillbilly name.

The following months, we sat stiff necked with arms crossed in a defensive pose, but we kept our promise to suit up and show up. Neither of us could say when or how it happened, but shortly after the initial shock, we recognized the man standing at our pulpit was undeniably anointed to pastor this church. We’re grateful God didn’t ask our advice, knowing who would best serve His church. Today we’re blessed with Jimmy John and his wife Donna, who vigilantly seek His guidance under the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Whether enjoying a season of prosperity or one that appears hopeless, they practice the positioning statement on our Sunday program “Love God, Love ALL People.” A tall order for some of us… well at least it is for me. I know… I know… it should be easy, but our church is all about authenticity, so get over it.

It feels good knowing our home church, with our family of incredibles, is a safe haven with sound doctrine, an incubator for hurting souls not knowing what they need. Number two on our shopping list may never happen – so much for comparison shopping.

We still need to make a decision for this Sunday since we cannot drive 339 miles back to Yakima. For fun, we put the choices to a vote on Facebook. Phew… not the best idea I ever had. I didn’t mean for it to become a yay or nay on any given denomination. In retrospect, I see my error and apologize for the lack of thought given prior to posting the ballot. I don’t regret what I learned from this.

Whether a mature Christian ready for solid food or an infant needing pablum, the church you select should serve healthy portions of Love.

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

As it turns out we attended both church services, consecutively. When your faith and beliefs are strong, you can give glory to God under the roof of any church. I don’t think he’ll mind if you raise your voice and heart in worship, even if you disagree with the doctrine. Granted, it may be best to find another choice for your home church.

On the other hand, if you’re a new believer shopping for a church, your first task is to read your Bible and test what is being taught based on His word. Look for someone you can trust to help. A good pastor will be more than happy to answer questions and find you the help you need to gain understanding.

 In the meantime, whether a newbie or not, keep seeking Him.

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