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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peace - Unveiled!

      Sometimes things just get…complicated. We wrestle to be free, like the proverbial fly caught in the spider web. (Eww… I just compared myself to a fly… why couldn’t it be a butterfly?) When we finally give up, or are about to…and sit still long enough, we realize it was hopeless all along, and only one thing can save us: Calling out to God.

     ‘How can I be so stupid?’ I momentarily muse; then remember quickly that my adversary has great skill at this, and can use 14-year old boys of small stature to bring down giants as much as God can.
     “Why do I hate enforcing rules?” I asked my wise and wonderful daughter last night. It was a bit rhetorical; I just wanted her to know that I recognize my fault, my struggling and striving and failing.

     “Because you hate having to HAVE rules, and so do I.” That’s pretty much the story. I’m not a rule follower; I keep in my heart what is right and true and endeavor to live in that relationship of Love. I just don’t understand why anyone would think there is any other way worth living. So, there it is: reasoning with the unreasonable. Light dawns: Some folks just want to do wrong and get away with it. For them, it’s a game to see how much they can get. And when someone is yielding to that, there is no reasoning. Trying to do so sucks you right into the web and they sit there smiling smugly at you thinking they have won. 

     So, God reveals I had already set the bar and somehow he slipped under it all the time. And such great peace follows! I am free! Free of the pondering and wondering and struggling! Free to think and ponder the other things God now wants to reveal:

     Things like going to the big Christmas ‘production’ and never once feeling a tinge of wishing and hoping that I was part of it...Things like the assurance that I chose the right path...Things like (do I dare say it?) learning to play the guitar and maybe even the keyboard, and sing God’s songs in the simplest, purest way possible! These marvelous thoughts reveal things I once considered impossible, as if a veil has been removed.

     Some might call it God’s timing, but I see it as the wonderous work of being brought from faith to faith and glory to glory … of being able to yield, more and more, through the circumstances of my life, to the God who makes Himself real and worthy of my love and devotion, day by day.
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Cor. 3:18 NLT)

     So, on this kick-back Saturday morning as I give quiet time to the Creator who lives in me, I am so grateful for the things he has taught me and brought me through. I am grateful for His skill at untangling webs and cutting me loose once more! I am grateful for the peace of ‘nothing missing, nothing broken,’ that passes understanding, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas is here!

Photo Card
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Well, it really is beginning to feel like Christmas and I'm loving it! It took a few hours today to get a box ready to ship to Namibia, while playing Christmas music from Women of Substance Radio (via live 365). I'm so blessed that they selected 'Rock of Ages Lullaby' to play. It really is going around the world.

Earlier this morning, I wrote a new communion song for believers, and while I was folding laundry (of all things), I began following an inspiration for a new Christmas song!
I knew I was due for a breakthrough, because the enemy was fighting a fierce battle this week. In fact, Thursday was such a ridiculous mess, it was laughable! Was it easy? Oh my, no! But every victory of faith makes me stronger!

This evening, Gary and I went to our favorite local family restaurant, where he made arrangements for his CAP Christmas dinner. Then he went to shoot a football game while I came back home to work on this card. He arrived home just as I was finishing it to give his approval. And while he was working on his photos of the game, we shared a tear or two over the ending of "It's A Wonderful Life." I guess you could say we feel very rich!

 I hope your Christmas season is richly blessed with the favor of Christ who came to earth to live in us! Take Him in this Christmas!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

His Problem Student

One of the countless blessings...

          It’s been a short work week. I have tomorrow off and I am so very glad. Ten minutes before the last bell today, one of my ‘problem’ students decided it was time to do his thing: the classroom was too quiet, so he started to whistle a few bars. He stopped right away, but when I released the class to put up their work, I called him to my desk. He ignored me. I repeated the request and he shuffled and bribed, “Man, it’s time to go, I don’t got t’ time!” To which I responded, “Then go to the office. You still have time for that. And I hope you enjoy your in-school suspension!” He was half way out the door when he received his next inspiration which was to mock me just outside the door, just as the bell was ringing.  
          I made time to go to the office for a discipline referral before heading home to take my sick kitty to the vet. Wesley hasn’t been himself for a few days. Turns out his temp was 105, apparently the result of a very bad, delayed reaction to the vaccinations he received almost two weeks ago.
He and I are both feeling better now, although I’m grateful to God that I have a three-day weekend, courtesy of an optional (they must be kidding!) state teachers’ conference.  His recovery can be credited to cortisone and re-hydration; mine to a renewed realization.   
          I have always had a heart for believing the best of people. It took me years to realize that the reason I received so much abuse was because of this belief. That doesn’t make me a fool. It makes me a person of love. It also makes me vulnerable. These little enemy ambushes are designed to trip me and strip me of my focus on my goal for myself and for my students. I am not ignorant of his devices. Still, I am human, and I rely on God’s strength.
         God is not only my Father and provider, He is also my defender. And when someone proves by his or her actions their intent to harm, He will avenge, defend and protect me. He will reveal His plan to me and He will not be mocked. That student is not my problem student any longer. That student and a few others like him are God’s problem now.
          Though I was angry, I did nothing wrong, and still, I regret even wasting the time on anger. But that is why we need this relationship with God. As I read in my precious quiet time with God this morning, “To accept grace is to admit failure, a step we are hesitant to take. We opt to impress God with how good we are rather than confessing how great He is” (Max Lucado). Thank the Lord, He’s not impressed, and I am humbly stepping aside. I am desperately in need His grace!
          It has been a productive week in the progress of bringing the music and the word of Cafeteria Covenant to the ears of the hearer. I should not be surprised at the little foxes sent to spoil the vine. Livingwell Seed Co has more than 1200 followers on Twitter since its first tweet one week ago tomorrow. Rock of Ages Lullaby will be sent around the world by radio again this Christmas with two upcoming promotions. There are countless other little blessings that came my way, but I once heard Joyce Meyer say that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to sleep… Yes. Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beware the Writer

(reposted from my author's blog)

When you really want answers, and you ask for them (Ask and you shall receive) you may not always be prepared for them. This can be a difficult thing for the parent who has been praying for answers about their child, and finds herself gasping for air when the cold water hits. But it isn't always bad. I think not knowing is worse.

So often, we are so busy with the business of living that we don't take time to stop and say, "Hey! I need to pray about this. I need to ask the Father for some answers, for the light to break at the end of the tunnel, for..." Well, you know. That's just how it is sometimes. It's the enemy's dance and he's enjoying it. Faster, faster... that's right! He smiles, puffing a big cigar.

It may have been yesterday morning, it may have been today, I found myself asking. "What's the next step for marketing the book and the album? You led me, You gave me the songs (even though some would rather have me say, they were inspired), You showed me what to write. And I believe You have more songs for me, because I sing them every morning and that means more finances to produce them, but You are my provider... and as You know, I am not doing any concerts right now, or book signings, or whatever You want me to do. So, I believe You will show me what You want me to do... thank You, Father."

When I arrived at the school where I teach, there was a new substitute across the hall. A nice enough guy, it seemed. Dressed appropriately for any other day, but today was Friday, and "We pay into a scholarship fund so we can wear jeans on Friday," I told him, explaining my jeans. He nodded, proceeded to tell me he'd come from a Bible study, and in a few minutes more I learned he was also a singer and a worship leader. Not having a lot of time to think, I tucked it away with a this may be a path to pursue, and determined I'd ask him later what kind of music, if he also wrote music, etc.

When lunch time came, I asked, "So where do you lead worship?" He mentioned a conservative denomination. "That's nice. I'm a singer-songwriter and I'm always interested to hear what other singers are involved in."

He nodded again and his eyes dropped from my eyes to somewhere between my waist and my knees, then he turned and walked away.

I was glad I was wearing my wool jacket, even though it was a little itchy on my neck. At least I was able to warm up again. I pulled it tighter.

Okeedokee, I thought. Moving on. I closed my door and took a seat at my desk. A new email was in my inbox. It came through the contact form at one of the music community websites, one I'd only rejoined a week ago. It was from a young woman at a  marketing company for Christian musicians wanting to inform me of a new opportunity, so I checked their website and requested more information.  In a return email, she said she liked my website and wondered that I didn't have a Twitter account... (OK - I've just been waiting for a good reason to have one, so I do now). She told me exactly how her company could help and how reasonable it would be. By evening, another marketing company had contacted me about my book (not quite as reasonable, but not crazy either).

So, I guess this weekend, I'll be spending more time in His presence, following the direction He's been taking me, exploring Twitter, and hoping that those who really love God won't mind if I wear jeans to work on Fridays to support the student scholarship fund.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And I hesitate to add…

Many are cyber-bashing an 82-year old film icon right now who could probably care less. Many are debating whether his rambling and impromptu address to a chair was a blessing or a boon to the Republican side. Clint Eastwood was speaking from a unique perspective that we may not all understand, but have to respect. His is the generation that fought a war against socialist and fascist aggressions. But many of his critics wouldn't know anything about that.
Some think Eastwood’s performance was fodder for the opposition. There was certainly no polished pretense. He certainly didn’t have Hollywood Hair. But having just returned from a visit with my only surviving family member of that generation, who is two years older than Clint, I think his appearance at the RNC was refreshingly real. It resounded with wit and wisdom many in our day may never completely grasp. I will admit I haven’t taken the time to fully figure it out, but here’s what I did notice: Here in the midst of changing times, riding in on our love of all things Old West was an icon that reached to our roots and reason.

His address to an empty chair inferred that the seat of authority in our nation might as well be empty. The promises made by the one who-was-not-there-when-he-should-have-been were likewise empty. The assertion that we are the real ‘owner-operators’ of this country further drove home the point. We don’t need someone who isn’t doing their job in our country/company. We have too many chairs in America filled with people who aren’t doing their job, holding positions they really didn't earn, but they’re fooling people into thinking they are. And many hard-working Americans have lost jobs and the futures they worked hard for, through no fault of their own. The American work ethic is a fading ideal, along with the middle class that was our pride and joy. In its place is a Grendel-like bully that eats up our courage, takes whatever it wants and defies us to do something about it.

Eastwood's response to that arrogant defiance, "I can't do that to myself" was a typically characteristic remark to the insult. That is exactly what the empty-promising chair of the country has effectively been delivering to those whose reality is suffering because of things he evidently doesn’t know how to control, or is controlling very well. Either way, we are being affected, and Eastwood answered for us, “we can’t do that to ourselves.”  

The Old West was a place where lawlessness was prevalent, and sometimes  “men” had to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves and the things they loved. Clint Eastwood knew what to do. I think he still does.

So, let them twitter and tweet. One of the highest tributes anyone can give a creative individual is to debate what they have done. It stirs up attention. The words of many brilliant people are still being pondered. Mark Twain comes to mind; Huck Finn has been a controversial stroke of genius from its first publication to this day, 124 years later. But, the words of fools will die before they do.