Friday, January 29, 2016

His Way. His Will. His Plans.




I don't know when my discontent began - perhaps when my mother's health began to fade, when my daughter was diagnosed with a debilitating illness, or perhaps when my grandson sustained a horrendous injury that left him with a lifetime struggle. It could have started when my own health closed doors to me. I only know that I am feeling burdened and weary. And in the midst of battle I've struggled with two questions. "Where do I belong? What should I be doing?"

I miss the days when family and church were my first callings. The closeness with my husband and children and the people in my church were treasures to me. Each day was an adventure. I would drop my children at school and set off for Bible study, prayer fellowship, discipleship meetings. My husband and I taught adult Sunday School classes and led small groups. We were in the middle of what was happening - loving on people and being loved in return.

It's not like that these days. I feel as if I've been sidelined. And I sorrow over the loss. I want to engage more. But how? I confess that as I watch friends jump into activities I  feel like there is a hole in my life.

This morning while reading from a devotional these words leaped from the page. "Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set on our own ambitions we are hurting Jesus. Is that what I've been doing? So many years ago, the Lord's call seemed clear when he led me into writing. And I have loved it. But these days the desire for more meaningful connection has become my call.

I ask - How can I feel sidelined when there are so many who need prayer or a friend (even if that friendship is online). My family needs me. I am not physically strong but I can give in so many other ways. When my mother looks at me for the thousandth time and tells me how much she loves me and she doesn't know how she would make it without me, how can I feel sidelined? And when I hear from readers who have found comfort, joy and encouragement from something I've written, how can I feel sidelined?

It's true, my life is different than it once was. The days of my past were joyous and challenging. But that does not mean that the ones I am presently living aren't just as precious. The trouble is that I've not embraced them.

Why not?

Can it be because I had a plan, which is not God's plan?

In the devotional I felt the spirit speak when the writer quoted this scripture (Matthew 11:29). "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." The writer went on to say, "All I do should be based on perfect oneness with Him, not on self-willed determination to be godly."

Oneness with Him. That is where we all must begin ... with Him.

If I am on my knees before The King, seeking only Him, I will have peace. Belonging to Him is enough. Being one with Him means possessing faith that right where I am is right where I belong.

Truth offers peace and joy. And I  will embrace it.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Joining the Club




While I was considering what to write today I was distracted by an eloquent post (http://bit.ly/1PG6nPG) about joining the club - a club we never planned to or wanted to be part of. A club that brings with it uncertainty, doctors, medical testing, a changed life or even death. The post was about a grandson hit by an illness that made him part of the club.

The article hits close to my heart and is part of what I wanted to say today. So, here goes.

My family, my children and grandchildren have been included in the club.Through the years we've been dragged into the sorrow, fear, pain ... and beauty of the unexpected. I've pinched myself, wishing that what we were going through was only a nightmare and that it would evaporate when I woke up. I even turned my back on it and pretended it it wasn't there, or tried to convince myself that everything would be all right. Generally it doesn't work that way.

Not being all right doesn't mean everything isn't just as it should be. God hasn't checked out or deserted us. We walk paths that often we would not chose, but that does not make the journey an error or an impossible challenge.

There are so many in the club, people who know and understand what it means to lose dreams or discover new ones. It can be a place where nothing is what we planned for or anticipated. Children may not be who we expected them to be. And we are not who we wanted to be.

My daughter Sarah is not living the life she had planned. A growth in her spinal cord changed her course. Every morning she finds strength to climb out of a pit and begin a new day. Her son, my grandson Ezra, lost the life he'd planned. His hopes and dreams were snatched from him nineteen months ago when an ATV tipped over and pinned him to the ground, it's weight crushing his head into the rocks of a trucking lot.

Nothing has been the same since that day.

Sorrow sometimes feels like a mist in the distance and other times it slams into us with the power of a freight train.


Being in the club often means you don't know what tomorrow will bring. What you do know is that you've got to move on and not forget you are loved and that the King of Kings stands with you.

Don't listen to the voices that tell you differently.

In the midst of the struggle we try to be strong, to remain faithful, but there are moments and days when we can't hang on any longer and for a time we lose sight of what is real and true. The weight of uncertainty, pain, and suffering become too much and failure lays heavy on our hearts. And heavier still when our family and friends point fingers at our failures and tell us to buck up rather than cheering our successes or rallying to help us stand when we no longer possess the strength.






There are days when we have no power in our legs, nor courage in our hearts, or resilience in our spirit - no passion left for battle. Those are the times when we need the arms of others - arms to lift us up rather than slam us down. Arms to hold us close and give us strength.







Are we the kind who point an accusing finger or do we embrace those who need the strength of our arms? It's an important question, one we need to answer if we are to fulfill God's purpose in our lives.

There are all sorts of clubs. Perhaps we should create one that's all about loving others. Oh! There is one. It's called the Christian Family.

Be kind.
Love at all times.
Carry one another's burdens.

We can do all things through The One who gives us strength.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie 

Friday, January 08, 2016

ARE YOU AN EAGLE OR A PARROT?






It is one of those especially beautiful days here on our small mountain in Southern Oregon. The sun shimmers off distance hills and illuminates the forest with life. It's the kind of day when I want to do nothing but gaze at our incredible view. 


There was an extra drop of special today. A golden eagle sailed across the sky, riding the wind currents above the forested hills. I hurried out to my deck to get a better look. Eagles are something special here - we seem them only occasionally.



While I watched this magnificent bird soar above the forest I was taken back to a small home group years ago when my pastor asked a simple question. "Do you want to be an eagle or a parrot?"

My first reaction - An eagle of course! But as I considered more carefully I wasn't so sure. 

Eagles are courageous. They do things like dive off cliffs or tree tops. They use their skill and strength to survive, and make powerful dives toward earth to capture  a meal. And they let the currents carry them into the clouds. They don't pretend to be anything other than what they are - they hit life straight on, meeting each challenge with boldness.

I'm not so certain an eagles qualities are anything like mine. And I ask, "Do I really want to be an eagle?" If I were a parrot I could remain safely in a cage. My owner would make sure I had enough to eat and drink and might even spend sweet time with me. I wouldn't have to be courageous. All I'd need to do is what was expected of me.

I don't want to offend parrots or those who love them. They are beautiful birds. But if I must choose - eagle or parrot - I don't want to settle for a cage where nothing is expected of me. I want to be an eagle.

There's a problem with that - I'm not always strong or courageous. I don't like heights. And diving into life is scary ... actually it can be terrifying. 

I can't be an eagle, at least not if I must depend upon myself to do it. I am too weak. But God promises me that where I am weak he is strong. He tells me I am never alone. When I leap I can trust him to be there and lift me into the heights. 

As I step into the coming year I think about what it will look like if I am an eagle, and I challenge myself to charge ahead and soar. And what comfort there is inn knowing that I won't be alone.

How about you? Would you rather be an eagle or a parrot?

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Irregular Christmas



I'm one of those traditional Christmas folks. I celebrate family traditions handed down from my parents and grandparents, along with some my husband and I have included throughout the years. Christmas Eve is a special time I reserve for me alone. After everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet I turn on the Christmas lights, enjoy a favorite Christmas movie, and then I often watch a Christmas Eve service on television. After the busy Christmas rush, it is a time to be quiet and to reflect on the season and what it means. If it's not too late I often share some of my thoughts here on my blog.

This year is a bit irregular. But so was the first Christmas.

I'm having my gallbladder removed on December 24th. I'm scheduled for surgery at 7:30 AM and if all goes well I will be home that afternoon. Likely I'll be napping while my family works on their last minute Christmas preparations.

I suppose it sounds kind of crazy to have surgery on Christmas Eve morning, but the other option was mid-January ... too long a wait for this sick puppy. I want to share my thoughts with you today because I probably won't be up late on Christmas Eve this year and if I am I likely won't feel like posting a blog.

This holiday season hasn't been typical .... or maybe it actually has. Between my mother's needs, my own illness, my daughter's illness(she has a couple) and my grandson's issues with a traumatic brain injury the season has felt less merry. But interestingly enough I've been at peace, for the most part. I know it is the Lord who is holding me together.

I'm still loving Christmas. It's a beautiful time of year - not just because people seem friendlier, the shimmering lights in town make life brighter, and Christmas music is uplifting but because it is a time that reminds me of my Savior's birth and God's great sacrifice. Without these there is no hope. And so, in the midst of all the heartache and worry I have found peace and hope.

My favorite Christmas Song
Mary Did You Know



I wish you all peace and joy as you reflect on the beauty and miracle of Christmas. Emmanuel, God with us, was born to deliver us and open the door to heaven.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Favorite Part of the Seasosn



The gifts have all been purchased, the meals have been planned, tree is up and decorations make the house look festive. I breathe again. Now I can calmly do the part of Christmas that is one of my favorite parts. I wrap gifts and put them under the tree. I do this while listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies.  I also make out Christmas cards to a few special people. It is a quiet time of the season for me.

I wish I could say I was fabulously creative when it comes to wrapping gifts, but I'm not. Still, I love pretty wrapping papers and bows and ribbons and the gifts do look pretty darn good when they are done and find a place under our tree.

There are more favorite parts of this season I hope to talk about in coming days. What do you like most about the season?

Have lots of happy days during this Season of celebration, and make sure to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Bonnie

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Book Giveaway Winner!





I  have had so much fun hearing your Christmas stories. Thank you for participating and for answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed reading the excerpts from To Dance With Dolphins and add it to your Christmas list. It is still on sale - just 0.99 in ebook.

Alrighty. Time to announce the winner! 

Deanna Patterson, you've won a series of my books! You can choose - Alaskan Skies series or the Sydney Cove series.







Congratulations Deanna. Please contact me at bonnie.leon52@gmail.com and let me know which series you'd like and where I can send them.

Merry Christmas.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Christmas Book Giveaway & Excerpt From To Dance With Dolphins





Final entry in the Christmas Book Giveaway! And the last excerpt from To Dance With Dolphins. Let's see what are Claire, Sean, Tom, Willow, and Taylor are up to.

"Willow, are you not feeling well? Are you sick?
    She didn't answer for a long moment
    "I'm not sick, but I'm not all right either." She sighed. "I should be filled with thanksgiving. Instead, I'm down in the dumps. Days like today remind me how much I dislike my body. I want to be strong and healthy. The old me would have been fine in the water today. I'd have made it to the boat on my own and climbed back in easy as pie." Tears washed into her eyes. "Yet here I am, all gimped up. Sometimes it just makes me so mad." She wiped her eyes with the edge of the blanket." I really wanted to ride in that race, but who am I kidding? I'll never be able to do it."
    Claire swallowed hard. What could she say? Willow was the one she relied on--the one who was strong, wise, full of faith. She'd never seen her like this. If Willow couldn't stand up to her weaknesses, then who could?
    "You'll do it. I know you. You're strong."
    "Oh yes, that's me - strong. Even my name, Willow. A willow bends in the wind. Its limbs are weak. That's who I really am."
    "But a willow also dances in a breeze. It's flexible - that's how I see you." Claire reached over and rested a hand on her arm. "Today was just a bad day."
    Willow shook her head. "You all think I'm so tough, but I'm just like everyone else. I get mad and depressed. And sometimes I don't understand why God allowed me to end up like this. I used to be fun-loving, the one involved in everything. I enjoyed working hard and playing hard. But now ..." She wiped her eyes. "Oh I hate feeling like this. What must the Lord think of me?"
    "He loves you. No one is strong and full of faith all the time. You're alllowed to have real feeliings." Claire grasped Willow's hand. "But you are strong. And you have great faith. You help everyone around you. And I'm thankful for you.
    "This morning I was feeling reall low. I hated how I have to live and I had, once again, convinced myself I had no future. But today was amazing. I went fishing. And then I helped my friend when she fell in the lake. We all helped each other - Sean, Tom, you, me and even Taylor. We didn't have to think about it. We just did it."
    Willow sniffed and wiped away more tears. "You're right, but sometimes it seems impossible to make it through even one more day."
    "I know exactly how you feel. But I'm learning to take care of the body I'm in, and not think about tomorrow." Claire hugged  Willow. "I love you so much. I'm so glad you have more days to live."
    Willow smiled. "You're right. It was a good day."


If you'd like to find out more about what happens to my traveling comrades you'll have to get your hands on a copy of To Dance With Dolphins. You can find it online or have your local bookstore order a copy. And for a limited time the ebook version is on sale for just 0.99!


                                             http://amzn.to/1HVUcRB
 http://bit.ly/1HsfBdG
 http://bit.ly/1IGcztS






I will be drawing a winner on December 11th. I'm posting a question at the end of each day and all you have to do to have a chance to win is to answer the question or leave a comment. If you're just now discovering this, you can go back to my first entry in this contest on November 29 and read each blog and answer the questions. The more times you comment, the greater chance you have of winning.


I'll be giving away a complete set of The Alaskan Skies or Sydney Cove series - your choice. I can't wait to see who wins.








Question of the Day:  What is your favorite Christmas movie or Christmas song? 

Thank you for hanging out here with me on my blog and sharing your thoughts about Christmas.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie













- See more at: http://bonnieleon.blogspot.com/2015/12/christmas-book-giveaway-to-dance-with.html#sthash.fJ0EHtnG.dpuf

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