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Thursday, June 30, 2011

God Delivers Again

Sometimes I feel so small! I look at the things of the world and they seem so much bigger than me and even hopeless, really. And by the time the devil puts in his two cents worth, I’m plagued with doubts and fears. I don’t know why, but the bad things are always easier to believe. It’s always easier for me to believe that I will fail, rather than succeed.

Sometimes it’s hard to wait so many years for a prayer to be answered. It’s hard to keep believing when things continuously get worse, instead of better. It’s hard to believe the sun is coming up in the morning, during the darkest hour of the night. It’s hard to watch those you love suffer and stand by helplessly. It’s hard to watch a dream come crumbling down. However, it’s during the darkest hour of the night when God proves His love to me.

Without heartaches, I would never be able to feel the power of His comfort. Without trials, I wouldn't need His strength so much. Without obstacles, I wouldn’t need the power of faith. Without fear, I would never understand the power of courage. Without the heartache of sorrow and tears, I could never truly appreciate the wonderfulness of joy and laughter. Sometimes, I believe we need to experience sadness before we can truly marvel in the essence of happiness.
And sometimes, I believe, I just need to be reminded that God is in control. Regardless of my troubles, God has a plan. Regardless of my heartaches, God’s arms will always comfort me.

I like to think about the children of Israel, approaching the Red Sea. The enemy was closing in on them and there was nowhere for them to go. However, we serve a God so big that He can create a way, even when there is no way. We just have to TRUST Him.
I can’t even imagine how fearful it was to walk through the middle of the sea, with nothing more than wind parting the water. I don’t think that had ever been done before. But by grace through faith God made it possible.  

The bible is filled with miracles and awe moments. It is filled with stories of hope, courage, love, faith, etc., and God’s abundant blessings on man. Even though it happened many years ago, the testimony of God’s grace still helps many today.
It reminds me that regardless of my sorrow and trial, God will deliver me and bless me far greater than I ever imagined. And every time that happens, I can’t wait to tell everyone who will listen—My God delivers again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

With God, All Things are Possible

God’s power never ceases to amaze me. I’m always in awe of His grace and mercy. Regardless of the devastation or tragedy, God’s love is always boundless and free. And despite the power of the storm, the sun always shines the next day. In the midst of disaster, if we look to God there is always hope.

This week as my hometown was battered with storms and floods, my heart ached for all affected. One moment the ground was dry from lack of rain, and, in the next instant, the flood waters advanced, destroying homes, stranding people, and trapping them. And it reminded me just how quickly our lives can change. I’m sure those rendered homeless, never dreamed they would lose everything with the morning light—when they went to bed that night. There was no way for them to prepare for the intensity or devastation of the storms; it was unexpected.
Now, they’re assessing the damage, filing insurance claims, going to places where needed items are donated and distributed. Communities are gathering together to help everyone affected. Volunteers are offering their time and kindness, prayers are being prayed and God is offering His mighty hand of love and comfort. Everyone will survive this hardship and move forward in their lives, with only the memories of the catastrophe. They will build their homes and lives back and be stronger because of what they survived.

However, I can’t help but think that one day devastation will strike and the intensity of God’s power will destroy the whole world and everything in it. There will be no comfort on that day. There will be no volunteers, kindness or prayers. There will be no time to neither prepare nor survive. Today is the day to make your preparations.  
I can’t help but believe these tragedies in divers places are warnings to us. Not only the people affected directly, but everyone who witnesses it. God is showing us a small glimpse of His power. He is showing us that we need Him in our lives to survive, grow, and prosper. He is showing us that, yes, bad things will happen to us, but if we only lift our eyes to Him, He will give us rest and peace.

None of us know why we suffer, but I know there is a reason. Sometimes it takes heartache to be able to pray or to even see the need. But the best thing we can do in bad situations is lift our eyes to God. He can show us just how blessed we are. It’s hard to stand in the aftermath of the storm and be grateful when everything you have is gone, but if you’re alive to feel the pain, that is a wonderful blessing.
We should all take a moment and hug our loved ones and thank God for sparing us. We should all thank God for every bite of food we take and every breath we draw. We should be thankful for a place to sleep, clothes on our back—even if they’re used, and His love and mercy. Regardless of how we suffer in this life, we will NEVER suffer like Christ suffered for us.

So let today be the first day of your new life. Seek God with your whole heart. Ask Him with tears and a heavy heart to help you. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.
We never know when we will need to pray. What you drove up on a car wreck and the victims needed prayer? What if a tornado was headed right for your house? Could you pray?

I will never forget the time when my daddy was sick and I couldn’t pray for him. He was having chest pains and I was the only one available to help him. As I drove him to the hospital and watched him get worse, I tried to pray, but God wouldn’t listen to me. He had been calling to me to change my ways and come back to Him, but I refused and turned a deaf ear. However, when I needed Him, He turned a deaf ear to me. I had to pray for myself first, before I could pray for Daddy. That was one of the worst times of my life—knowing that if God decided to take him, I couldn’t even ask Him for mercy. Needless to say, by the time He was finished with me I was so glad to go to church and serve Him. And I’ve not been so keen to stray away either.
God is so loving, merciful, and longsuffering, but He can be a terrible God when He pours out His wrath upon us. If you think about it, we don’t really own anything—everything we have is just borrowed. He gives us things to brighten our lives and instead of being grateful, most times we just expect it.

However, we all have the power to change. In ourselves we might fail, but if we look to God all things are possible. We don’t have to conform to the ways of the devil. We all have a choice.  It’s not God’s fault that we continuously make the wrong choices.
Regardless of how far we drift away from God, we are never farther away than our knees. God always hears a humble heart. He can help us be a better person, smile through the pain, forgive our enemies and love our neighbors. He can help us overcome any obstacle we may face with peace. There’s nothing too big for God to handle—I love having Him on my side.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Wonderful Daddy

With Father’s Day approaching, I like to take a moment and reflect back on all of my wonderful memories of my Daddy. I can’t help but marvel at his greatness. And if I mentioned this to him, he would tell me that it is God who makes him look good. There is one thing for sure; God blessed me with an amazing Daddy. And I am so very, very thankful for him.

He blesses my life so richly with his love and wisdom. It seems he always knows exactly what to say to encourage me and help me along my journey. However, I believe one of the greatest things he has ever said to me was when he told me to always follow the Lord.
So often we forget to tell the ones we love how much they mean to us. We neglect to tell them just how much their love, forgiveness, patience, and strength have helped to mold us. While I don’t think I can fully express just how great my Daddy is to me, I’m going to make an effort to tell him the words of my heart.

Thank you, Daddy, for loving me. Thank you for always making me feel so safe and secure, when I was growing up. Thank you for loving Mommy and always being so good to us. Thank you for working so hard to provide for me, especially during the times when I didn’t appreciate it. Thank you for punishing me when I needed it and holding me when I needed that, too. Thank you for always showing me there is a positive side to everything.

Thank you for taking me to church when I was a little girl and always covering me with prayer. Thank you for showing me how to live my life for God. And for reminding the most important thing I can ever do in my life is to listen to God and do whatever He wants me to do. Thank you for showing me how to treat people and to always be there for them when they need me.
Thank you for showing me how to respect others and to be a better person. Thank you for reminding me that I’m nothing, but God is everything and sometimes He makes me look good. Thank you for being a wonderful Daddy, pastor, and friend. Thank you for teaching me about the Old Path and setting up stones for my life.

Thank you for loving my husband and for accepting him as your own. Thank you for being such a wonderful Papaw to my kids. Thank you for always making sure they have happy money. Thank you for teaching me how to work in the garden, but more importantly how to share it with others.

Thank you, Daddy, for all of the beautiful memories you’ve given me and for setting such a wonderful example for me. I hope, in some way, I can be everything for my kids that you’ve been to me. I love you so much!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

All or Nothing

Sometimes I find myself standing in between two opinions. I’m neither for nor against something, and I end up standing on neutral ground. On some topics or things it really doesn’t make a difference, but when it comes to God—it’s All or Nothing.
I love it when my Daddy preaches on the plumb line in the bible (Amos). With God you’re either plumb in or you’re plumb out. There is no in between. We either believe or we’re a nonbeliever. We are either living our lives for God or we are living for the devil. It’s really not complicated at all. However, we try to make things complicated by justifying our actions. Not only do we lie to God, but we lie to ourselves. I know I do.
If I wanted to, I could find a million excuses not to pray, not to go to church, not to write this blog, and not to read my bible, however, there really is no excuse at all. I can’t find one exception in the bible that allows me to put anything before God. Not one! God wants us to make an honest effort to serve Him and He knows when we are sincere in our efforts and when we are holding back, looking for an excuse.
Even though I’m doing really well now with my hands, it still hurts me so bad to drive. It’s an hour and fifteen minute drive for me to go to church. I could justify staying home on Sundays because it physically hurts me to go, but where would I stand with my Lord? What kind of life would I have if I didn’t get to feel the presence of my Lord and feel His wonderful love from the church? To me that’s worth, ten times over, any pain I might incur. Sometimes we have to be willing to suffer a little for the Lord. We just have to realize life is not easy, nor will it ever be.
It’s not easy for me to write these blog entries. Every single time I sit down to write the devil is in my face. He fights me with every word. It’s hard to hear that still small voice through all of his shouting, but I have found if I stand still and wait, God will put him in his place for me.
Really, when you think about it, all God requires from us is our obedience. That sounds pretty simple until God gives us a little job to do. He doesn’t make us do anything, we always have a choice. However, the price for disobedience is high. And we don’t get to decide how we pay for it, either. God decides when and where and how much we owe.
Sometimes we forget what we’ve done. But in His time, He brings it to our remembrance.
When I dug out my manuscript, Zippy and the Stripes of Courage, for the publisher that requested it this week, there was something not quite right about it. I read it, over and over trying to find the problem. That’s how I’ve always felt about this book, that there was something missing or not right. And I knew I couldn’t send it to the publisher that way. I needed to fix it, but I didn’t know how.
I was miserable on Monday. My contract for Underneath the Scars hadn’t arrived, yet, and all I could think about was Zippy. I knew I had to submit it, but I couldn’t. So I did the only thing I could do, I prayed.
I asked God to help me. And he took me back to the time in my life when I changed Zippy’s story. I was just starting out and I listened to what other published writer’s and top agents were saying and I tweaked my manuscript to adhere to their principals and guidelines. I believed them when they said children’s books shouldn’t have morals and values nor teach anything and I removed God from my story.
And then, I justified my actions. Oh I left a few good points in the story to make myself feel better, but the most important part of the story was gone. Therefore, I had no story at all.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; COLOSSIANS 3:23
I realized I can’t write for anyone other than my Lord. I can’t listen to what the world tells me, I have to follow my heart and in doing that, God will provide the way for me. All He wants from me is obedience. That’s all that I’m capable of anyway.
Once I asked for forgiveness, God blessed me to rewrite the whole book. This time I didn’t hold back, I allowed the story to come totally from my heart. And once I placed Him in the very center of it all, the book satisfied me.
I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am for my actions. But God is so merciful. He could have allowed me to bury the book because I had already given up on it, but instead He loved me enough to forgive me and show me what I had done wrong. Not only that, but He helped me fix my error.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love that book. I learned so much about myself and God through writing it. I fell in love with that little zebra because I realize he is a reflection of me. Through this book not only did I accept my scars, but I learned to love myself.
Whether or not Zippy is published, rests in the hands of my Lord. After I overcome my fears and submitted him to the publisher, I received my contract for the other book. God is the one who can give it all to me or absolutely nothing. He’s my everything!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Right on Time

I can honestly say God has always been there for me. There has never been a time in my life where He left me or where He didn’t supply my needs. He knows what I need before I even ask and He always, always gives it to me Right On Time.
But let’s face it; God is so absolutely wonderful that He gives us all way more than we need. Sometimes the devil gets me down by pointing out all that I don’t have in this life or my troubles, but when I look to God and He starts showing me all of my blessings, there’s really no comparison. He’s a wonderful paymaster.
This week He has showed me His greatness and given me so much more than I deserve or even expected. After seven years of struggling and whining, running and fighting, crying and praying, doubting and hoping, God blessed me with the one call all writers dream of. He blessed me to hear a publisher say they wanted to extend me a publishing offer for my book— Underneath the Scars.
For someone who loves words, I’m at a loss for the perfect words to describe how I felt in that moment. I guess if I had to pick just one word to describe the moment it would be BLESSED. God opened the windows of heaven and filled my heart; so full that it bubbled over.
I laughed and cried and my smile was so bright that it shined through my tears. The whole moment felt so surreal. I wish everyone could feel exactly how I felt in that moment. For so long, the devil has tormented me and told me this day would never come. Through the struggles, and they were many, God never allowed me to lose hope. Oh, I tried to quit many times. I tried to convince myself it would never happen, that I was chasing a foolish dream, but at my lowest moments God would always give me a spark of hope. He would remind me why I wrote the book and why I wanted others to read it. And I’m so thankful, through it all; He never gave up on me.
I woke up that morning feeling so blessed. I took my coffee out onto the deck to spend a few minutes with the Lord, before I started the day. All I could do was cry for all that He has blessed me with (and that was before the call). I feel so undeserving of His grace and mercy. From the moment my children were born, I desired to stay at home with them. I dreamed of spending summers playing and making wonderful memories. And I’m so thankful God has blessed me to do that this year.
He showed me when I was struggling to finish my book, some time ago, that there were seasons in writing.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
There would be times when He would plant the seed, times when He would water it, times when it would grow, and then times when I would write it. There would be times when it would need to be weeded, and then a time when I would just need to wait on Him. But there is also a time when it is ready to harvest. And God showed me some time back, this was harvesting season.
He fixed it so that I can spend those blissful moments with my kids, guilt free. I can help my daddy in the garden, without neglecting His work. I can be there for those who need me, anytime. And I can write the blog entries He puts on my heart without neglecting my children.
I love working with God! He’s the absolute best! He gives me so little to do and even helps me do it, and blesses me so richly. Just when I think, it just doesn’t get any better! Then, it does.
While I was talking to the publisher she said that she wanted to read the little zebra book that I struggled so hard to write. The very one that I had put away, believing it would never be published. The one I cried over so much and desired to see published—the one little book that literally changed my life. Through it God opened my eyes and showed me I’m not cursed, I’m so blessed. Through the many revisions of that book I found peace with my scars and, finally, accepted them. I thought it was only for me. That God blessed me to write it, just for me, and that it would never be read or loved by children.
It shocked me so much when she told me that she would like to see both books published at the same time (of course, she has not read it yet, so she might not like it at all). I made excuses for the book and tried to convince her she didn’t want to publish it. Now, I wonder why I would do something so stupid. Why would I try to convince a publisher not to buy my book that I’ve wanted to see published for so long?
And I can only find one explanation—I’m afraid.
I put that book away, years ago, with many tears. I accepted that it would never be published, although it broke my heart. And to pull it back out again, and go through all of the pain that it might possibly be rejected is too hard. I don’t want to go back down that road again. I don’t want to be hurt so I’m trying to shield myself. But in doing that, I’m hurting myself worse.
As I pull out the manuscript and knock the dust off, I’m amazed my answer lies inside the pages. It’s a book about courage. With a prayer and a dream, I read the story and fall in love all over again. And I think what if a little child somewhere reads my book and finds the same answers I found. What if God shows them the same thing He showed me? What if He gives them a new perspective and shows them they’re blessed with life and not cursed with scars? What if He helps them to accept their scars, too? How could I even think for one moment about not sharing it?
If it’s God’s will it will be published and if not, then it served its purpose. But that’s not up to me to decide. God gave me the words, and I have a responsibility to share them. And I will not allow fear to stop me. I will cry and pray until God gives me the strength to submit it, knowing that He is always in control!
Sometimes I feel bad for talking about how blessed I am because I feel like I’m bragging. Then I realize I am— on just how wonderful my God is to me. My God is so worthy of praise.
He can do the things you and I can’t do. He can handle the situations that seem so hopeless. He can change everything in a moment and a twinkling of an eye. Our God is so BIG! After all, He spoke the world into existence.
Whatever your problem, turn it over to God! He knows how to handle it. He knows what is best for you. He wants you to trust Him to take care of it. And He will, Right on Time!

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra