Member Blogs
College Edumacayshkun
Category: Member Blogs

College Edumacayshkun

 
 
My son is going to college. 

As a parent, I'm torn between "Oh, my sweet Baby is going out on his own!" and "Buh-bye All-Knowing-One- good luck in the real world!"

To some of you, that last statement might seem snarky, but there's good reason behind it. You see, according to our nineteen year-old son, my husband and I are morons. 

We had a huge discussion with him about grants vs, loans, what kind of dorm to pick, what he'll really need vs. what he wants, and other fascinating topics of disinterest, when he chimed in with the statement, "But Mom, you and Dad don't understand because you've never been to college."

Let me let you in on something, Seeker-Of-Expensive-Knowledge, neither have you.

So how is it that he thinks he knows more than we do? Just because we never went to college, doesn't mean we are unedumacated- it just means our grandchildren won't be incurring the debt of our non-existent student loans.

My mother's heart wants to find ways to make enough to pay his way no matter what, working myself to the bone to make sure he's fully funded. I want to send him to college with enough care packages that he will want for nothing, never be hungry or thirsty, have enough blankets to stay warm, and a fan to keep him cool. I want all the best tech at his disposal, so he can do what he needs to do to succeed.

But then my realist heart pipes in. How much as he done on his own so far? Ugh. Honestly, not as much as he could. And me 'following my mother's heart' would actually be detrimental to his growth into a productive human being. 
Why? 
Let me count the ways...as of right now:
He sleeps when he wants.
He eats when he wants.
He does chores when he feels like it, which mean he waits until we yell.
He hasn't earned any money because he doesn't work. Yet.

We trained him to be responsible. Really! This was a kid that at ten years of age, could do the laundry on his own. He even did it willingly! Now I can barely get him to clean himself, no less his own clothing.

Ick. 

He knows how to care for a home and keep things organized- he just doesn't doit. It's like trying to get an elephantine-sized sloth to run a marathon...it just ain't gonna happen, no matter how much prompting you do.

And after talking to the college staff, his is not the only case of All-Knowing-Do-Nothing Syndrome. In fact, colleges are loaded with peers like him, so he'll be in good company. At least for the first year. After that, I can see two things happening:

One, we parents will seem even more moronic than before, being mentally comparable to the amoebic gelatinous ooze of a fifth grade science project, because he can now claim a higher educational status.

Two, we parents will be genuinely revered and respected for the true Givers of Life Sustaining Food and Goods that we were, and hopefully will continue to be, because he ran out of snacks, money, and toilet paper. 

We also hope he'll think the second one without the addition of continual financial support, because he'll have a real job by then as a tutor and can pay his ownbills.

Alas, for now, we have ten days left before the sloth goes off to start his new life. And ten days to go through his things, list what he needs, then go out and get the rest. 

It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke- A sloth and an amoeba go to store for college supplies...

We've learned life through experience. He needs experience to get through life. Hopefully we can find a happy medium before his college season is over, and if not, the means to move before he finds us!
Distraction Traction!
Category: Member Blogs

Distraction Traction

 
 
 
I love to use that little red laser to play with my cats. They come running when they hear the soft scrape as I take it from the shelf, looking expectantly to the floor for the red dot that sends them running about the house as they try to catch it.
 
It's just a light. It's isn't something they can catch. Try telling one cat that, no less three
 
Unfortunately, I have my little red light too. Several, actually. I think everyone has at least one, maybe more. Mine are Facebook, emails, and videos. Facebook friends need to be spoken to, emails need sorting and deleting, and videos? 
 
Well, they need to be watched.
 
The sad part is, even if I had no internet, I'd still find other red laser lights to distract me. Like the crafty stuff I never put away. Or those piles of paperwork that need sorting, tossing and filing. And oh yes- books and magazines that need reading.
 
Don't get me wrong, Books and magazines are awesome things! I love to read. But when the story or how-to book distracts me from my work, then it becomes a problem.
 
Like this week.
 
I was supposed to write. In fact, I was supposed to write a lot. I have an agent interested in my book ideas, but he wants three of them finished and three ready to be done. I have one finished. Did I work on the other two? Nope. Not a single, solitary word. But I did start this great book on how to build your author platform.
I also had some health issues, but they required me to remain fairly still.Helloooo- writer here! Staying still is my job. My fingers were the only things that needed to really be running at top speed. 
 
Instead I used them to go through emails. Yes it had to be done. It had to be done for a long time! But I was supposed to be writing those stories. There goes that little red light again!
 
And here I sit on a Monday. It's Blog Day. It's also time for me to write my column and create a few puzzles for Ruby magazine- not to mention the puzzlebook I'm supposed to finish in the next few weeks.
 
I feel like I'm in Distraction Traction- so distracted I can't move because everything I need to do is piling up around me. That's like twenty little red lights going in all different directions- Yikes!
 
Do you ever feel like that? I'm going to have to knuckle-down and break free of my Tractions. 
 
I'll turn off the internet as soon as I'm done this post (um...okay, after I post and share it, I swear!) I'll put the book in my purse so I don't see it. I'll crack open those story files and work on them until my brain is tired, then I'll work on the puzzle book (which is not actual writing, but more like digital crafting and a nice change of pace for my brain.) 
 
will have at least one draft of one story finished and at least two others partially written- or have three story premises/outlines finished. And if I get done early, I'll continue writing instead of distracting myself. Maybe if I can do a little writing then do some puzzles I can entertain my brain long enough to get some projects finished!
 
Have you ever gotten stuck in Distraction Traction? I'd love to hear your stories of how you won free and pounced on those pesky projects!
Conference Capers
Category: Member Blogs

Conference Capers

 


 
Last week I attended the last (but not least!) Philly Christian Writer's conference. I was both an attendee and faculty, which I can tell you on these gimpy knees of mine, was a challenge!

Not only was I trying to sell my own work, I was helping others publish theirs in Ruby for Women Magazine. I'm the Assistant Editor, so I represented a lot of possibilities for new writers.

There was a lot of good stuff this year. One lady was so happy I was an 'Assistant' Editor, because I didn't seem so scary! I know that was meant as a compliment, so I took it as such. Full-blown editors can be scary to someone new to the pond.

My friend Christian Barbie was there (the post about her is here), and she also was faculty; she was a teacher as well as helping people find their place in the writing world. I wanted to talk with her at length but people kept coming up to me and wanting to talk.

We looked at each other after the fourth interruption and she said 'Wow- you're really popular today!" I especially was amazed, since I didn't do anything to gain notoriety- but someone must have read or said something about me, because people I didn't even know were approaching me like I was their long, lost sister. It was awesome. If this was a taste of popularity, I can see why someone could get carried away by it!

Part of it was because my husband and daughter provided the snacks for the faculty. My daughter baked cookies and my husband baked cakes and set out all kinds of goodies healthy and not-so healthy to keep our faculty from passing out from exhaustion. 

My daughter wasn't there this time, due to a snafu in her schedule, and I had a lot of people wondering where she was. We brought her the last day of the conference and she was delighted by all the people who wanted to talk to her.

My darling husband also played chauffeur to those that needed rides to and from the airport and train station, as well as the near cross-country trek across the quad to and from the cafeteria. Only I was allowed to tip him with kisses, but he took a few hugs on the side as well.

The only downer was I'd brought a lot of my self-published (now called indie-published) books to sell, and was encouraged to bring my handmade tote bags (some high-end quilted totes and some lower priced giant grocery totes) as well. I sold one grocery tote and no books. Now I have a box of books at home with nowhere to go...yet.

But I have ideas. You know I'll always have ideas!

Between classes, appointments, and moving to and from the cafeteria hall lines for meals, I was physically and mentally exhausted. But it was a goodexhaustion. I had appointments with two agents, and though one wasn't interested, but the other was. There was a catch- he wanted six books; three ready-to-print, and three almost ready and waiting in the wings. Only when I had those should I approach him again.

Six? It took me a year to polish the one I had! How was I going to...

Wait. I wrote that part-time. If I wrote full-time, I bet I could do a lot more. Looks like another lifestyle change is approaching! And let's not forget I have a book store interested in the puzzle book I'm writing- could this be the big turning point in my writing life? I'm so excited!

Lots to do. Lots to think about. and lots of new writers for Ruby for Women magazine. God is good! 

This week has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Most of it really, really awesome!

As for this last big conference, the lady running the show decided that after thirty-four years (and a lot of work!) it would be a good thing to break a huge, costly conference into smaller, more reasonably priced conferences. There would be more of them, just smaller, cheaper, and more defined concerning genre. And that means she will reach a lot more Christian writers! Change is also good!

I'm looking forward to the changes coming this next year- I can't wait to see what happens and how God is going to move!
The Bride of Christ
Category: Member Blogs

With August being women's month, I feel stirred to share one of my poems “Let faith lift you.”

It is written for the Bride of Christ. To accompany it, a personal word study: “Change your view.” It focuses on the relationship between the Bride and Groom (Jesus Christ).

Let faith lift you

Find your value...your place value!”

Sometimes I am, may be, still unaware and unconscious of Christ's

love for me...

But the Lord wakes me up from my sleep and I am stirred to remember...

O, how this ignorance keeps me from putting my faith into His wonderful Love!

I hear a melody that warms my heart...

Let faith lift you...”

O, how the Lord knows me, He knows me so well!

 

Let Your love O, Father flood my soul, fill my whole being

Let faith lift me to find my value...my place value!

You have paid with Your life to ransom me,

this is more than what words could ever say...

You have fixed Your attention on me and with eyes of Love

You have Stretched out Your arms and died for me,

Who can love me like this?

You showed me pictures and photographs of time and beginning,

Your story and plans for my life woven together in a glorious unfolding!

 

The Lord will carry me all my days

with melodies of His love, I will sing His praise.

I am wrapped in the safety of His arms, nestled close to His Heart.

This is the beginning of the beginning until all eternity!

My place value, with You, I have found!

You have counted me worthy of Your Love

and I am filled with Your new wine, the joy of our Love!

Let faith lift me to Your side!

My value You have decided,

and You left it for me to find...

This treasure of Your Love is mine,

the cup of joy is in my hand and

I lift the Cup of my Salvation high as in Your Love I abide,

I am the bride, chosen and appointed to be at Your side!

Our story has just begun...

The beginning of the beginning until all eternity...

 

Word study: Change your view

 

Luke 11:34 KJV

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Another translation of this verse reads as follows:

Luke 11:34 (NIV)

A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul

From these verses we see a vivid picture:

when thine eye is single = a pure eye

thy whole body is full of light = lets sunshine into your soul

Sunshine makes you think of hope/life. To feel the warmth of this sunshine, this hope, this light... your eye must be pure, your eye must be single.

How do we get our eyes to be pure and single? Let us look for more clues in the Word of God. Song of Solomon describes the relationship between the bride and the groom.

Song of Solomon 1:15

(This is said about the bride)

Behold, you are beautiful, my love!
Behold, you are beautiful! You have doves' eyes.

Song of Solomon 5:12
(This is said about the groom)
His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks,
bathed in milk and fitly set.
Both the eyes of the bride and groom are compared to doves. Why doves? One interesting fact about doves eyes is that they can only focus on one object at a time. They have singular focus. Their eyes can't move around and they literally have to turn their heads to directly look at something. Their focus is only on its mate.
Our eye must therefore only have singular focus. Where should our focus be? It should be on our groom, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. That's how the sunshine comes in. That's how the groom embraces you with love and warmth. That is how hope enters your soul.
Let us look at this verse, the groom is saying something very beautiful to the bride in this verse:
Solomon 4:9
You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my sister, my (promised) bride;
you have ravished my heart and given me courage with one look from your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.
There is something in her eyes that he sees that ravishes his heart. That delights his heart. We already saw he described them as dove's eyes. Eyes that are singularly focused on Him, but there is something else He sees that is connected with doves...When He looks at her, He sees the Holy Spirit in her eyes and it ravishes his heart. a Dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:17
But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.
She commits herself to only one love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and everything that is in you. Her eye is singular....pure....
We also see the eyes of the bride and groom reflecting one another like in a mirror. They both have dove's eyes. They both reflect the Holy Spirit...
We see a wonderful thing happening in this verse.
2 Corinthians 3:18
The Glory of the New Covenant

2 Corinthians 3:18Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

We (she) are continually growing and being transformed into His image.
When your eye is singularly focused on Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. The very essence of His whole being, the Holy Spirit gets infused into your life. You are raised up into life and hope! Your body is full of light.
When you are raised up, where will you be? I would say on the highest mountaintop.
Look at this verse:
Song of Solomon 6:9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
But my dove, my perfect one, stands alone [above them all];
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed and happy,
The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her.
Look at this translation:
Song of Solomon 6:9 (NIV)
But my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her.

 
Why is she standing there? Because she is His dove. No other virtue, but the fact that she is born of the spirit and birthed by her mother.
Who is her mother?
Galatians 4:26 (KJV)
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all
It is interesting to note that whenever the groom sings his praises to the bride, he repeats his words twice to her...how beautiful you are...how beautiful you are...you have ravished my heart and given me courage...you have ravished my heart and given me courage. I believe he is pouring a double portion of favour upon her every time.

Isaiah 61:7Amplified Bible (AMP)


Instead of your [former] shame you will have a [a]double portion;
And instead of humiliation your people will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited];
Everlasting joy will be theirs.


 

Christ gave us new life and He pours a double portion on His bride.
Let us look at this very important part:

Song of Solomon 8:6-7Amplified Bible (AMP)

 (The Chorus)

5
“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning upon her beloved?”

 (The Shulammite Bride)

Under the apple tree I awakened you [to my love];
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.
6
“Put me like a seal on your heart,
Like a seal on your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead).
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
[A most vehement flame] the very flame of the [
a]Lord!


 

The bride's request to her Beloved...put me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm...

The seal attests of us being an original, belonging to God.

Dictionary definition of seal: a device or substance that is used to join two things together so as to prevent them from coming apart or to prevent anything from passing between them.

An embossed emblem, figure, symbol, word, letter, etc., used as attestation or evidence of authenticity.

She is an original, not a counterfeit as we see in:

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

She is the choice one of her who bore her. Her eyes is singularly focus on her Beloved. All of her heart belongs to him.

She is transformed from glory to glory into His Image. She has the seal of his affection and authenticity. She is His possession and He is jealous over her, protecting her with a most vehement flame, the very flame of the Lord.

Let us look at this flame of the Lord for His bride. When did the Lord specifically mention that in scripture? We find it in:

Deuteronomy 4:23

23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you.

24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


 

Deuteronomy 4:15-19

15 Therefore take good heed to yourselves, since you saw no form of Him on the day the Lord spoke to you on Horeb out of the midst of the fire,

16 Beware lest you become corrupt by making for yourselves (to worship) a graven image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, or of any winged fowl that flies in the air.

18 The likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, or of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth.

19 And beware lest you lift up your eyes to the heavens, and when you see the sun, moon, and stars, even all the host of the heavens, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them, things which the Lord your God has allotted to all nations under the whole heaven.

20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to Him a people of His own possession, as you are this day.

 

A Fire burns things away. And we see in the old testament instruction is always given to burn all idols.

For example:

Deuteronomy 7:5

"But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.”

1 Chronicles 14:11-12

11 So (Israel) came up to Baal-perazim, and David smote (the Philistines) there.

Then David said, God has broken my enemies by my hand, like the bursting forth of waters. Therefore they called the name of that place Baal-perazim (Lord of breaking through).

12 (The Philistines) left their gods there; David commanded and they were burned.


 

The Lord loves His bride and He burns away all the idols that might keep her separated from Him. Glory to God!

Let us go back to the golden calf episode. Why were they unfaithful?

Exodus 32:1 (Amplified)
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered together before Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a [a]god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

They became insecure and could no longer see Moses. And they almost made it sound that he was the man that rescued them. They could not see God, left alone having a relationship with God. That lead them into making themselves a god that they could see. Their focus was wrong, faith was absent, they became unfaithful.

 

John 20:29

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Elon Gilad explains the meaning of the golden calf as follows:
This statue, the golden calf, is called masekha. In this and other biblical instances, masekha means a statue of molten metal. Its root is n-s-kh, which is related to pouring, as in pouring molten metal into a mold.
But in the Book of Isaiah we find another kind of masekha, formed from an unrelated n-s-kh root related to weaving: ״And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail [sic] that is spread over all nations.” (25:7) This veil is also called masekha. That is closer to its Modern Hebrew meaning.
In the 19th century the expression “to remove a veil (masekha) from their faces” appeared again and again (freeing people from their misconceptions).”
---
Both an idol or veil can separate you from the living God's presence, leaving you in darkness, unable to grasp the fullness of this life that God has given you. Unable to experience life as God has intended it for you.
The idols we burn. But how do we get rid of the veil?
This is what happened to the veil. Jesus Christ through His death tore it in two. The path is now open for you to enter. To be raised as a manifested son or daughter of God. To live in His presence, to experience this new life in Him.

Matthew 27: 51


…50 When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. 51AT that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

 

How do we do that?

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Amplified Bible (AMP)

 12 Since we have such a [glorious] hope and confident expectation, we speak with great courage, 13 and we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not gaze at the end of the glory which was fading away.

14 But [in fact] their minds were hardened [for they had lost the ability to understand]; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed [only] in Christ.

 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil [of blindness] lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns [in repentance and faith] to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.
 

There we have the answer: Whenever a person turns (in repentance and faith) to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

When a bride marries, her veil is lifted. She enters His presence.

She has doves eyes, He has doves eyes. a Singular focus on one another. Taking care of their sweet communion together. She is being transformed into His likeness. She is His possession and there is no division between them.

Let us look at this beautiful prayer of the apostle Paul to the Ephesians. Let it encourage and inspire us and draw us closer to the Lord.

Ephesians 1:17 &18

17 (For I always pray to) the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation (of insight into mysteries and secrets) in the (deep and intimate) knowledge of Him.


 

18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (his set-apart ones)
 

Amen

Blessings from my heart to yours!

As a seal upon your heart. Sung by Chris Dupre

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRwiyaKN1Mk

 


 

Coming Apart at the 'Seems'!
Category: Member Blogs

Coming Apart at the 'Seems'

 

Yes, we've all done it. We've all watched someone going about their day, and we come to our own conclusions. Many times those conclusions are wrong.

Sometimes they are really wrong.

We see the well-dressed neighbor and her well-behaved children piling into their brand-new vehicle, and we imagine their perfect life as they drive off; we look at our own rugrats (who are painting the cat purple and running around like rampant lion cubs) and gaze into the hallway mirror wondering how that tired-looking woman in the reflection lost control.

Or the guy who seems to have everything- a pretty wife, great kids, and he always seems to be working in the backyard or on the house with the latest and greatest tools and equipment, complete with a shiny new van.

We envy our neighbor sometimes. But we only see the outside of their lives, not what's actually going on. It seems as if all is well, but is it really?

Then we find out later on that the neighbor that was so well-dressed was taking her children to the courthouse to try to gain custody from a divorce gone bad. Looking good is the only thing she can do to cope, and she feels like there's no one else to talk to.
The guy that seems to have everything had his truck totalled when he lent it to a friend, lost his job as a result of the accident, and is using a rental van to get around, borrowing his friends tools to do odd jobs and working on the house in case they have to sell because he can't find work. He pours his frustrations into fixing what he can, because life is getting out of control.

People who 'seem' to have it all together, usually don't. Take a look at your life. Parts of it are probably a mess right now. Yet someone is looking at us and assuming all is well! I've had people assume things about me that are way off base; But those assumptions dissipate once they talk to me- and then we have a good laugh!

She's so creative! I bet her house is like a museum of art! Only if you consider dust bunnies and cat hair an art-form.

She's published so many books! I could never talk to her about writing- she's out of my league. All writers started our as new writers. And this writer loves to talk shop! 

Her kids are so polite and her husband is so nice! They probably never have family issues. You'd be wrong there on so many levels. Polite kids take a ton of work, and even then they aren't always at their best- just like the rest of us! As for my husband- he is nice, but we still argue on occasion!

She has the best marriage/kids/life/whatever! We've had our trials, issues and hardships. Just because we don't show them doesn't mean they don't exist. And when someone talks with us and those 'seems' are mended, that's when friendships are born!

Talk to your neighbors and church members, and engage in your community. Get involved with others and repair those ripped 'seems' with stitches of friendship! You never know how many lives you touch just by talking to someone- help them (and you!) from coming apart at the 'seems'!
Are you nice? Or are you kind?
Category: Member Blogs
Something I am working on myself because I tend to be unfriendly at times. I believe there is a difference in nice and being kind. I am not nice. I will flat out tell you this up front, but I am kind. I have compassion and because of that I know that being nice is fleeting, but kindness is forever. You can claim to be nice, but are you truly nice? Or are you nice until you get your way? <-- I tend to be this way often. I have a bad habit of using people to get what I want out of life. I don't do it often, but I do it enough for God to call it to my attention. What is He trying to call to your attention?
Forgiveness 101
Category: Member Blogs

Forgiveness 101

 
 

Forgiveness...it's such an easy thing to do, right? Just say you forgive someone for something, then forget about it. It's so simple!

Or is it?

I had to forgive someone. Yet I had to be forgiven by this someone as well. To be honest, that rankled me. I'd done my best and messed up- but it wasn't on purpose! Why should I take any of the blame and be treated like that?

But there's the rub- I had to see things from the other person's perspective. Once I did that, I could see how my actions could be seen as something other than I intended. 

The Bible talks about how to forgive and be forgiven. I needed to go to that person and have a face-to-face talk (if possible- it's hard to do if your offender lives far away). In my case this was possible, so I called to plan a meeting. 

The person I wanted to speak to brushed me off. Twice. I almost took this as a sign. Maybe I didn't need to get forgiveness from this person because I had given it a decent try- I was vindicated! 
But no, God had other plans and kept poking me in the heart about it for the next year.

Yes, you read that right. A year. God is good, but He's also as persistent as a kid at Christmas. He kept poking me, asking "You going to talk to her now? How about now? Now?" Finally I'd decided to stop the phone tag and talk to this person face to face. I passed by their house, called and asked if they were home. They were. I told them I was coming to the door and to please let me in so we could discuss things. I slowly released my pent-up breath as I walked into one of the hardest talks I've had to do in ages.

It wasn't easy. This person was resistant. The TV was blaring, and they conceded to just turn it down instead of off. They wouldn't look me in the eyes. I could feel their invisible wall trying to push me away. A chainsaw wouldn't have cut the tension I'd felt in that room. The silence was truly deafening, and I almost walked out. But I had to do this. I needed forgiveness just as much as I needed to forgive this person.

The discussion didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but there were some bridges mended. All the while this person never even looked my way. One thing that was said stuck with me; "I can forgive you, but I'll never forget." 

I always thought the term 'Forgive and Forget' was in the Bible- after all, it sounds like it should be in there. But forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting- forgiveness is about holding no anger and resentment towards someone for something that happened between the two of you. 
It took me years to forgive my mother for some of the things she'd done; but once I truly forgave, I didn't forget- I just remembered without the anger and resentment that usually came with those memories. Instead there was an understanding- an empathy for her concerning what she was thinking and feeling at the time. My mother and I had made peace with each other before she passed away.

This was a bit different. I could still feel the anger from this person. My anger, however, was spent. I left with a mixed bag of emotions. The little stone of resentment in my heart was gone, but I was sad because this person was still holding anger towards me- and there was nothing else I could do to alleviate it. 

I've learned much about forgiveness these past few years. You forgive, and do your best to be forgiven. You have no control over how (or if!) someone forgives you, but if you do your best to make amends- that is all God asks of you. It's up to the other person to let go of their anger- not you.

Forgiveness is freeing. I never realized until I'd forgiven my mother just how much weight anger and resentment presses on your heart. But oh- when you let it go! Your entire spirit lifts, and the world is seen through more gracious and appreciative eyes.

I wanted to share this with you today, in case you have someone that needs to be forgiven, and you just can't. I'm going to tell you that you can- ask God for the strength not to falter or curl up in a ball of misery because of what happened. 
You can get rid of that unseen weight on your heart. Maybe you'll fight it for a year (or years) like I did. I'm quite stubborn! But in the end, forgiveness is what lifted my depressed heart and brightened my spirit so I could see God's grace all around me. 
And I want you, my Dear Readers, to feel that too!
The Big Gulp of God!
Category: Member Blogs

The Big Gulp of God!

My cup is full of a lot of things.

Ideas. 
Frustrations.
Plans.
Complaints.
Hugs.
Laughter.

Unfortunately, when my cup is full of these things, there isn't much room for God. In fact, God should be filling my entire cup so there isn't room for much else- except the good stuff He wants in the cup.

But noooooo, I have to go fill it up with the other stuff first! When I have a full cup of gunk, I have a hard time trying to empty it. Letting go of everything and letting the contents spill to the floor just isn't my nature. Instead I savor that cup of glop and hold it close to my heart.

Maybe you do too?

Some of the things in my cup are good. Ideas. Hugs. Laughter. Even plans are good for the most part as long as God has His say in them. But the other things- the negative things- need to be spilled into the dirt where fertilizer belongs. 

I just have to let my cup of glop go

The best part is, when I empty my cup, God gives me a bigger cup for Him to fill. In fact, I get to help fill other peoples' cups because God doesn't just fill my cup, He overfills it! And we all know when God decides to do something, He goes big.

It's like going to the store for a small soda, and the guy at the counter takes your tiny soda and gives you a giant Big Gulp of the best soda you've ever tasted!

Oh yeah- Gettin' me a Big Gulp of God!

It's hard to let go. Trust me- I get it. I struggle with my cup every day. But the more I spill out, the more God fills my cup with the good stuff- and life starts tasting better and better each day.



Let God be your Ultimate Soda Guy. Let Him trade your small cup of glop and give you His Big Gulp, overflowing with enough blessings you can share. Take a sip of what He has to offer- you won't regret it!
Mind Matters!
Category: Member Blogs

Mind Matters

 
 

Do what God wants. A simple concept, but hard as heck to execute.

I've heard these phrases many times:
Have faith.
Believe in what you're doing.
Believe in what God is telling you to do.

It should be so easy to just throw caution to the wind and go for it. But fear always holds me back. Why am I so afraid to go for the gusto and let God do what He will? After all, He's the end-all, be-all of beings...right? He can do anything. We're supposed to have a child-like faith. Kids have no fear when they try something for the first time- They have no idea what an amazing gift that is!

We learn to fear. We learn to hold back. We learn to be cautious and not throw our cares to the wind and go for it. Because after the first failure, it's just too darn scary!

That's where courage starts. It uses fear to its advantage. Courage is fear that put on its boxing gloves. Oh, we still have fear, but it's held in check by our will to change. We have to want to change enough to beat the fear and continue the fight for what God wants for us.

The Mind really does matter!

A positive mind-set is the springboard that launches us in the right direction. A negative mind-set is more like walking through a field of deep mud. You might be headed to the same destination, but the latter will take a lot more struggle and time.

A personal mantra helps. Tell yourself that you will (action) _(goal)_ by _(time)_. Tell yourself this several times a day, every day. Keep focused. stay on track. Don't let setbacks stop you long term. I've let setbacks stop me, so I know- I'velived it- for far too long. I'm tired of mucking about in the mud, and I'm ready to try out that springboard.

Want to come with me? I'll start!

I will finish writing one book by the end of September.
I will save enough each week to pay an artist for cover work for one book before October.
I will publish a written work within a year.

Picking smaller goals is good, but also have a longer goal as well. Running a few small races helps prepare you for the marathons!

What will your mantras be?
My Hyper Workaholic Husband
Category: Member Blogs

My Hyper Workaholic Husband

 
 

I have a husband who is a hyper workaholic. He's the kind of guy that never stops doing stuff. 

Never.

I think if he could get away with doing things in his sleep, he would. It's a quality that can be both a great blessing and a great curse. Allow me to explain.

He gets up at the crack of dark to go to work. When he's not doing overtime, he usually winds up running errands for our church, or working on a church-related project. Sometimes he'll come home on the early side of late and fix something in the house that needs fixing, or he'll decide to make dinner for us (he loves to cook and absolutely needs to create something foodish at least twice a week to stay sane), turning my once-clean kitchen into a flour-ensconced war zone. Sometimes he promises to help someone or make them a special dessert. Only when the cakes have cooled or the desserts are chilling in the fridge does he finally settle down for bed, which is usually after I'm already asleep.

Even when he had his accident over four years ago, he didn't stop for long. The man had third degree burns on thirty-five percent of his body, and came home eighteen days later with skin grafts, a swatch of pig skin with three hundred staples in his mid-section, and strict orders to not do anything but his exercises. Did this stop him? Nope. He was practically vibrating in his lounge chair, and finally came up to me all hunched over because of the staples and said "You gotta give me something to do!"

He hasn't stopped since.

His doctor (and practically everyone else) told him he needs a break, and must take time off to recharge. So we went to an off-grid cabin in Maine for a week. I'd prepared all of the food ahead of time so all we needed to do was heat it over the fire or bake it. No fuss, no mess. Just rest. 

The first few days he actually slowed down enough to relax. But then he started going on walks, finding things to do like gather wood, chop wood, and find places to drive to so that we could walk around. He needed to do something. Anything. 
Then God gave me an epiphany. We bought coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils with a sharpener. He spent the next three days coloring! It was the only time in our twenty years of marriage I'd ever seen him busy and still at the same time!

You'd think all of this self-discovery and rest would put his mind into a lower gear. At least I did. But when we came home, he happily dove right back into the chaos- in fact, he was even busier than he was before we left for Maine!

He did three straight weeks of overtime. We're talking fourteen to sixteen hour days, five days a week. The weekends were used to play catch-up with church needs (he's a deacon and also the church building manager), so I haven't seen much of him for the past month or so. if this keeps up, I might have to start scheduling appointments to see him!

My husband is a powerhouse for God. He works for Him, does ministry for Him, and expects nothing in return. He's a giver to the point of sacrificing his precious time and energy to help someone in need. People can call day or night- he will be there for them. He's a rare and precious man. He's also as hyper as an over-caffeinated chipmunk! 

I wish I had half of his energy. Only God could have a man do as much as he does, and still have the strength to breathe! I still marvel at all God has done with my husband.

I wish that there was a way to infuse each other, so he would rest more and I would have more energy. The only way I'll get him to stay still at this point is if I duct tape his butt in bed! 

hmm...Another epiphany? I wonder how much duct tape I'll need?
Which Way Are You Facing?
Category: Member Blogs

Which Way Are You Facing?

 
Epiphanies can hit you at the oddest times. This one happened while I was in church during a sermon.

The pastor was talking about getting closer to God and keeping your eyes on Him, and since I'm a literal thinker, I kept picturing myself nose to nose with the Almighty. Can't get much closer than that, can we? 

But then it hit me; all I had to do was turn around to be the furthest away from God. One simple act with a plethora of consequences! He's right there with you, but you can't see Him- all you have to do to get as close as possible is turn around.

Wow.

How many times have I walked around looking for God, only to never see Him? How many times did I turn my eyes away from Him to see some shiny sin-filled bauble dangling in my peripheral vision? And how many times did I refuse to turn around because the bauble seems like the right thing to focus on or (let's be honest here), I didn't want to focus on anything else that might tear me away from the sparkle?

I can tell you this- every time I turned my eyes from God I got into trouble. Every. Single. Time. So why do I still do it? Because baubles are shiny and we humans like shiny things. It's so much easier for us to stare at a glittering object than focus on our work- just ask any school student or desk jockey. Shiny catches the eye and seems more interesting!

Just look up a series of YouTube videos called 'The Most Satisfying' and you'll know exactly what I mean. I could stare for hours at that stuff. 

I'm so glad God is patient and is willing to stick with us, waiting until we turn around to see Him. It's almost like He wants to yell 'Surprise! I've been here the whole time! Aren't you glad to see Me?" 
 

We are both the closest to God and the furthest from God, depending on which way we're facing. So the big question is...which way are you facing?
The Gift of Love
Category: Member Blogs

Isaiah 62:10 (Amplified)

Go through, go through the gates,
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway,
Remove the stones, lift up a banner over the peoples.

 

The Gift of Love

by Vallerie Sharmain Smit

 

Love endures everything...

Love makes a way, it builds a bridge and leads to a new day.

Love empties itself and looks to the Savior to be filled.

Love follows the example of Christ, Who shows us the way.

 

Who will travel the broken road?

Who will grab hold of faith?

Who will set up the standard and raise the banner?

Who will build the Highway and remove the stones?

Travel the Highways of Heaven and say that to love like Christ is the only way!

This is the uplifted road where the keynotes are so high.

The notes are so pure and true, it has the power to heal and restore.

 

If you have seen and felt the devastation of ignoring the signposts of 1 Corinthians 13...

Where lives have been shattered and the alabaster jars have been broken and joy is no more...

You will value life in others and you will value the Gift of Love.

You will know for sure, this is the greatest of them all.

 

Without love we are just a noisy gong.

 

If you are heartbroken who will heal and make you new?

Who will mend the pieces, but Christ's Love alone!

His banner over you is Love...

His Love will change you from the inside out.

 

He will show you the wastelands, the dry patches of your soul,

there might be a root of resentment in the cracks,

a weed of unforgiveness growing in the shade.

Feet might have trampled over your heart,

leaving you empty and hard.

May be a wall or two that you have built, to protect yourself from harm, but now it leaves you isolated and cold.

Places where your soul has died and you do not know if you will live again.

Our Savior will pull the roots and weeds out and

His Truth will push the walls to the ground.

Come forth! He will give you life!

 

He will never leave nor forsake you in your need.

He will not condemn, but tenderly He will take you out and loosen the snares.

He will lead you out to green pastures, and you will know that He cares!

 

Nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God!

We know the Power of His Love and Faithfulness, it endures forever...

The Lord will make the impossible, possible again and you will be completely whole again.

Instead of dry wastelands there will be streams of life.

Love and joy will be your song, trust in the Lord your safe refuge.

 

May God restore, revive and lift you up.

May you soar like an eagle close to God.

May the alabaster jar be whole again and pour out sweet fragrances of praises unto our Savior and Lord.

Through costly experience we know the value of love.

It is priceless!

In others and in ourselves.

The greatest gem above all of them, is Christ's love for us and in us!

You and I are the alabaster jar..

Come, and pour out your life as a drink offering unto Him.

 

Who will love Him most, the one that has been forgiven the most.

Come, pour out the sweet fragrances of a broken and contrite spirit and heart.

Come, you and I are the alabaster jar and the Lord is Worthy of our love.

 

Who will the Lord use, but the one that knows the road...

 

There are many waiting in dry places, out there in the wilderness,

waiting for just one touch of the Lord's Love.

Go forth...

 

(Written on 30/4/2014 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit based on visions, dreams, utterances and songs I have heard in the Spirit)

 

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