31 October 2011

November madness


The last hours of October are passing quickly, with cloudy skies and temperatures well above normal.

It doesn't feel at all like October 31st.

But indeed, tomorrow is the first day of November.  Though it seems as if only weeks or months have passed since National Novel Writing Month 2010 wrapped up, I will wake tomorrow to begin afresh for 2011.

Again I ask for your patience, your grace and your prayers.  I may not be present here on my blog quite as often as I settle into the imposed (and much needed) discipline of daily fiction writing.

I am surrendering myself into the hands of the Lord, once again permitting Him to supply the stories and the words, in His way for His purposes.

I pray that He will be glorified in what gets accomplished.

 

30 October 2011

Sunday morning praise

Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,

praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.


Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah! 


Be blessed as you worship - today and all days

29 October 2011

More, much more

Cashmere Luxury Aran

Seeking nourishment
a bit to nibble
crumbs
instead You spread
upon my table
a lavish feast

no scant drops
of water
You poured
the sweetest of wines

I needed shelter
from winds, rain
prairie snow
four walls
to make a home
"not just that"
You said
by giving us
rooms to spare
and acres of green

Yes, I would have
rejoiced
in cottons, coarse wool
practical clothing
but You've chosen
the finest fibres
of cashmere
wrapping me soft
in the riches of Your love.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. 
Ephesians 3:20 The Message


My response to the cashmere writing project at T. S. Poetry Press


 



28 October 2011

Relevant to who?

I’m looking up relevant:
Having some bearing on or importance for real-world issues, present-day events, or the current state of society
I’m thinking of all the endless discussions about how the church must find ways to be significant to the world, as if Jesus Himself is not important enough.

He Is our God – He Is always relevant. That only becomes obvious to those that truly know Him.

Twisting in my thoughts today is the idea of turning this all upside down. Instead of thinking how we can be relevant to the world, perhaps we need to consider how to make the world relevant to us. Instead of hiding inside the four walls of our church buildings singing “this little light of mine” can we pray and ask the Lord to show us how to allow that light to really shine in the darkness?

CandleImage via Wikipedia

Think about the way that Jesus lived when He walked among us. It was the broken, the hurting, the crippled and lame that caught His attention. He was filled with love and compassion for those who would never think to darken the doors of a temple.

These were the ones that were relevant to Him then.

These are the ones who are relevant to Him now.

If we claim the desire to be like Him, should we not feel the same?

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 The Message



Joining Lisa-Jo and others where today's word is relevant









also bragging with Laura today





 
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27 October 2011

Can I forgive sharp teeth?


This weeks poster is a familiar movie monster.  I like what People of the Second Chance had to say:
Jaws represents the unprovoked attack. The terrifying unknown, preceded by reputation and worst-case scenarios.
And they asked:
So what do you believe? Do you have a shark in your life? Have you forgiven them?
I had to think for a bit to remember the "jaws" in my life.  This lack of immediate memory helps me see how far I have come from the shock, pain and trauma.

I was thirty years old and seven years into a job at a major university.  I had started as an hourly paid accounting clerk, receiving praise and promotions on a regular basis.  Whatever work was thrown at me I handled with skill and accuracy, until I found myself moved into a salaried, more professional position as an admistrative assistant and office manager.  I believed that I had good relationships with those who worked for me as well as those I reported to.  The work was surely less than exciting, but the pay continued to increase.  I put my time in while filling my nights and weekends with friends, drinks, music and other less than positive habits.

I had just been notified of another promotion and raise when I found myself summoned to the director's office.  Seated around the desk were the director and assistant director of personnel for the entire university.  I assumed the meeting was about an issue with one of my staff members.  I felt a sudden and intense flush of heat overcome me as I listened to voices informing me that I was being put on suspension for an unknown period of time while they began to investigate a claim of sexual harrassment filed by a male employee who had quit a month prior.  Not only was this totally untrue, but when he had quit he said he didn't really want to leave, but he had found a better paying job. I was told to leave immediately and not to make contact with anyone I worked with.  The shark had bit, I left bleeding.

The days ahead included tears, anxiety and confusion.  I actually believe the charges were fabricated as an excuse to force me into resigning.  I never really knew what happened, and unless God chooses to reveal the scenario to me, I will never know.  Life had to move on.

Years later, after circumstances that led to my encounter and surrender to Jesus I have come to realize that God used the situation to shake up my life in ways I never would have done on my own.  I have been able to truly forgive all those involved, in much the same way that Joseph forgave his brothers:

Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people
Genesis 50:20 The Message

The sharks, like all God's creatures are never beyond forgiveness.

Visit People of the Second Chance to read more about Jaws

 

26 October 2011

Word Filled Wednesday - Bearing fruit

[Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age;
they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality]
and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].
[They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright
and faithful to His promises;
He is my Rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in Him.


Come on over to Internet Cafe Devotions to enjoy more Word pictures
 

24 October 2011

A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker

Written across the back cover of A Good and Perfect Gift Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny by Amy Julia Becker is the line -
Sometimes joy shows up when you least expect it
Nodding my head in agreement because I know that God's plans and thoughts are higher than ours, I continued reading the rest of the cover:
Things don't always go as planned--especially when it comes to our children. When her first baby, Penny, is given a frightening diagnosis, Amy Julia's world comes crashing down. Could she continue to trust God's goodness through what felt like personal tragedy? But challenging surprises often lead to unforeseen joy, and disappointments can turn into blessings. This wise and beautiful book is more than a courageous story of raising a child against the odds--it is a journey through the unexpected ups and downs of life and the discoveries that come along the way.
Becker begins her story with the birth of her first child, born with unexpected challenges.  She takes her readers along with her on a winding journey, from her child's first breath, the numbing words from doctors, the questions she has for herself, her husband and God Himself.  We are welcomed in to her struggles to fight her own expectations of what life should be; her failed attempts to not draw comparisons to other's children; and an adjustment to a new "normal".

This book forced me to confront my own ideas about "special children" and the God Who doesn't make mistakes.

Becker's words flowed like good fiction and I hope she will write more about not only Penny, but her other children as well.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers a Division of Baker Publishing Group.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.
 

Blended promises

I have learned
that man
can twist the truth
side step, embellish
using words
that falsify
or fantasize
but my God says
that He is not
a man
that He should lie
I must hear
His Words as truth
receiving all He promises
He leaves no room
for doubt
says in this world
you will have trouble

Yes troubles come
surprising
with their sting
and in the moment
of catching breath
I must hear
His Words as truth
receiving all He promises
He leaves no room
for doubt
I will never leave you

Promises mixed
in eternal blend
I tip the cup
to drink them all

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
 Numbers 23:19 NIV

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV



Joining Jason and the other warriior poets talking about difficulties




 

22 October 2011

A blanket for Sandy

You capture slivers of beauty
in digital space
the sun's rise
and fall
wind on water
leaves adrift on the breeze
like taking a moment
to breathe
even when lungs burn

diving deep
to find Him
when chaos, fear
and sorrow close in
hoping that
somewhere
there is glory in all this

Hold on
when there is nothing
to hold
but the holding

I watch as
prayers of friends
strangers, angels
weave a blanket
to wrap you
in His love

and yes,
there is glory here.



 

Behind the Veils of Yemen by Audra Grace Shelby

There are nations and peoples that I know nothing of, so I jumped at the opportunity to read Audra Grace Shelby's new book Behind the Veils of Yemen - How an American Woman Risked Her life, Family and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women.

Reading the excerpt paragraph on the back cover, I found myself transported:

Women began to arrive in the entry hall, peeling away their black outer coverings. I watched in amazement as shimmering bodies emerged from the black shrouds. One woman sparkled in a purple silk caftan, her arms gleaming with gold jewelry. I smiled to myself. If people only knew what was under those veils. I looked at their faces, artfully painted with makeup, not at all how they appeared in public: dark eyes in narrow black slits. They were like the beauties of Arab folklore. I was awed by the transformation.
Through each page of her story, Shelby painted pictures with her words helping me to experience with all of my senses what she saw, heard, smelled and tasted.  Not only was she able to share what she learned about the hearts of the women she lived among, she enabled me to care for them as well.

This was no back patting scorecard of the number of souls she was able to save, like some missionary tales.  In fact, there is no mention of any of the women actually making a decision to follow Christ.  Instead, the reader is allowed access to Shelby's heart; her questions, fears, doubts and love for the people of Yemen.  We are also able to glimpse God heart for the same people.  Shelby scattered seeds of love and prayer everywhere she went.

Her story read very much like a novel and I was almost disappointed to come to the ending pages.  I encourage you to pick up a copy and take this journey behind the veils.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions I have shared are my own.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group

 

Inside and out

In church on Sunday, when I met the missionaries that were passing through town, headed for a placement in Kenya, I knew I wanted to spend some time together, sharing stories of Africa and how we too feel God’s call. I invited them for a meal. “Please, come for dinner. We’d love to spend time with you two.” Happy to be asked, they agreed.

“What was I thinking?” I asked myself on the day they were expected as I looked upon the disarray. “You can’t entertain new friends in this mess.”.....

click here to read the rest of the story I'm sharing at Internet Cafe Devotions...


21 October 2011

What's beyond?

Can I reach beyond what I already know. Can I release my imagination, allow it to expand? I know that I know that God is much bigger than my thoughts of Him, and that life is in His hands. I want to move into the new things He is creating, walk paths He has chosen. Already I have lived through things I never could have dreamed of ... and more waits around each corner.

May I have the patience to wait until He says go and the obedience to move without question. There is a history behind me, of failures and successes, hurts and triumphs, laughter and tears. There is also the taste and touch and smell of this present moment, the realness of what I can hold in my hand – just now.

Yet there is more. There is the beyond that I can not perceive. All I know is He is in it, so that is where I want to be.

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]--To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).
 Ephesians 3:20-21 Amplified

Joining Lisa-Jo @ Gypsy Mama and others talking about beyond


also linking to Laura @ Beholding Glory for Brag on God Friday


 

20 October 2011

In His heart

My heart can't be trusted
it sees through eyes
clouded
by memories, hurt
missed opportunities
coated with layers
of dust, the grime
of a world fallen
sinking, struggling
for breath

Reading
through a window
fogged with history
word upon word
labels collected
and believed

useless, defective
inadequate
broken
each a jagged shard
leaving cuts, scars
draining life, joy
light

Yet the honey
of His voice
the One
Who created all
knowing the end
before the beginning
beckons me
come, look
there in His heart
to see
what He sees
one bright, shining
word
covered in the blood
of His Son

complete


FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG
jamming with Bonnie as she asks Complete this sentence & share your thoughts: “In God’s Heart, I am (fill in).“



joining Emily and those imperfect only in their own eyes

19 October 2011

Word Filled Wednesday - Refreshing

Observe the commands of the LORD your God, 
walking in obedience to him and revering him.
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land
—a land with brooks, streams,
and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills 




Visit Internet Cafe Devotions to see more Word and
image combos   


Close Enough to Hear God Breathe by Greg Paul


The words written on the back cover of Close Enough to Hear God Breathe The Great Story of Divine Intimacy by Greg Paul could have come from my own heart:
There are a thousand voices telling me who I am or who I should be.

I want to hear what God has to say.  I want to know that He's really there.  I want to know that in the whole grand, tangled sweep of the human story my little story matters.  I need to hear His voice speaking to me, in my own ears...
In a journey that should be familiar, through Creation, The Fall, Redemption and finally Consummation, Paul shows us through scripture and stories how God longs to speak to us as much as we hunger to hear Him.  His voice rings loud through the lives of those Paul has met on the streets of Toronto; homeless, addicted, ensnared in the sex trade, but human all.  God loves and pursues and His light can be seen shining in their eyes to those willing to get close enough to look.

Through these pages I found myself both chuckling and wiping tears from my eyes.  There were moments I needed to stop reading, close my eyes and sit silently, waiting for God to speak to me, as Paul left me hungry for Him.

If you have ever felt that your story doesn't matter to God then you need to read this book!

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.  The opinions I have shared are my own.


18 October 2011

Only Him

To walk in the world
unattached to the world
to know enough to know that I know nothing
how much strength does it take
to allow weakness
how deep the need
to die afresh each day
each hour
each moment
for the flesh kicks, screams
marches into battle
and resolve crumbles
again and again


For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.  1 Corinthians 2:2 Amplified


Joining with Peter Pollock and others - talking about resolution

17 October 2011

Which Jesus?

Jesus casting out the money changers at the templeImage via Wikipedia


We continue to move slowly through the book of John.
This is not a complaint.  Slow is good.  Meat is meant to be chewed.
Last week Jesus turned water into wine astonishing those who witnessed this, His first miracle.
This was a Jesus we love, a friendly, party loving type of Jesus.  He enjoyed helping others have a good time.

This week, we meet a different side of Jesus:

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  John 2:13-17 NIV

This is a stern, serious, angry Jesus.  This is perhaps not the Jesus we like to think of.
But it is Jesus indeed.  The Jesus Who cares.  The Jesus that will not tolerate injustice.
The Jesus Who shouted out:

My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers
Matthew 21:13b NIV

Yet this is still the same Jesus Who cares enough to assure that we all are treated fairly.
Jew or gentile;  man or woman;  adult or child.
Same Jesus. Same God. Still love made flesh.  He loves.
Can we love all aspects of Who He Is?

And the question we were left with was:
what might He need to clean in our own temples?

I am soiled, torn
cracked and dry
often no more than dust
yet He loves me enough
to come
pouring down on me
like good clean rain
leaving me moldable
again in His hands
He alone can shape me
into what I need to be.



Come visit Michelle's place to read what others are hearing and using today!



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16 October 2011

Scattered leaves

Let's cherish the lingering moments
of Autumn
crisp, vibrant
every colour by His hand
even the scent of decay
holding the promise
of new life

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