Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Dash

In November I'll be speaking for a women's retreat at The Church on the Mountain in Welches, Oregon. One of the beautiful things about getting ready for this kind of group is how good it is for me. Though I hope to encourage and uplift the ladies who will be attending, the truth is I am the one who will benefit most. 

While preparing for this kind of event I spend extra time in prayer, I seek God's wisdom and knowledge. And sometimes I stumble across something extra special.

This week I found this poem called The Dash written by Linda Ellis. 

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning ... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own,
the cars ... the house ... the cash.
What matters is how we live and love 
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what is true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile ...
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read 
with  your life's actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

Just think about it.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Laying Down Our Lives

A writer's life is mostly solitary. We require large blocks of time to get the stories from our hearts and minds onto the page. However, there are special events when we leave our solitary spaces and gather together.

One of my favorite events is the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. It is taking place this week in Portland. Sadly, I'm there only in spirit this year. 

Today (Wednesday) is day three, generally the most difficult day for me. I'm usually worn out and am craving a nap, but often there is no time. I tell myself, "I can sleep when I get home." I don't want to miss out on anything. 

I love too teach and to mentor fledgling writers. It's beautiful to see a struggling new writer walk away from a class or a mentoring session thinking, I can do this! 

I cherish time spent with other authors. We work through plotting problems, solve issues about characters, flesh out stories and sometimes even realize we've been "barking up" the wrong tree and drop a project and begin anew. 

Some of my most treasured memories were created at OCW conferences. My first conference was startling, overwhelming, terrifying and wonderful. I met crazy people like me. People who love books and reading and who relish creating stories, working through the intricacies of building believable and enticing plots, and who love creating characters readers care about. I met writers who were willing to give their time to a newbie like me. I met prayer warriors who came alongside me to encourage and lift my writing up to the Lord. And I met life-long friends.

I long to be at the conference this week, but just couldn't make it happen. I know some of the writers there are feeling discouraged and wondering why they ever thought they could write. I've been there. Others are on edge, wondering if their appointment with an agent/editor/publisher will go well and are praying they don't blow it. And some will find a new agent who loves their work and will stand with them as they charge into the publishing world. There will be those who find a home for their most recent work and are pinching themselves to make sure it isn't a dream. 
There are classes, meetings, worship and prayer going on all over the conference center. And there's writing, lots of writing. Prayer warriors are lifting up conferees, teachers and speakers. People gather together in prayer, trusting their lives and their careers to God.

A writers life, from beginning to end, is like mountain climbing. Scaling mountains is grueling work and dangerous, each climb is a risk. But writers all over the planet are willing to lay down their lives to fulfill their passion. We need to pray for them. This week I'm praying especially for those taking part in the OCW Summer Conference. Will you join me? 

There is power in the pen. Writers can change the course of lives. 

And just a note to Christian writers, remember, we all are on the same team. We work hard, serving  God ... for His Glory ... not our own.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, August 20, 2018

We Are A Miracle

Don't you love it when God does the spectacular and unexpected? 

My husband, Greg, and I celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary on August 14. It was a special day, just the two of us. 

We made a day trip to the coast where we ate fish and chips, watched boats come and go, took in the fabulous views, smelled the salty fragrance of the sea, listened to the deep-throated sound of a fog horn and reminisced about the days when we frolicked in the waves and played with our children on sandy beaches. We also remembered what a miracle we are. 


We've shared many precious days as well as some truly terrifying ones. We've held one another in love and we've held on to each other for dear life. We've laughed and cried. Welcomed children and said farewell to them. And here we are still ... together.

It didn't begin well. In 1971 we stood before family and friends ... and God, and pledged to love one another for the rest of our days. I doubt anyone knew that as I walked down the aisle that day I was thinking, "If it doesn't work out we can get a divorce." I wasn't committed. I was scared, and for good reason. God wasn't a part of our lives.

 Greg and I  met in 1969 and we fell hard for each other. Only months later he was shipped overseas to the coast of Viet Nam. He was away for 10 1/2 months, and in all that time we shared only one phone call, though lots of letters. There was no internet then. We were supposed to get married when he returned, but I wasn't sure about this man I'd only known face-to-face for a few months. I suggested we live together. He flatly refused and said we could be together married or not at all. I didn't want to lose him, hence my insecure walk down the aisle.

Our first months of marital bliss were anything but. We were both self-absorbed and skillful barb throwers. Four awful years ended in infidelity and separation. The divorce papers were ready. All we had to do was sign them.

But God was at work. His plans for Greg and I didn't include divorce. A friend shared the love of Christ with me, and I believed Jesus had paid the ultimate price for someone as unworthy as myself. 

Changes began.

I prayed for Greg and our marriage. Unbelievably the man who had stated he didn't love me and would never love me started showing up at my door. 

God was at work.

Only months later, Greg told me he loved me. He wanted to try again. I had known something was up, but Greg's pronouncement really took  me by surprise. I was scared, but promised to think about what he'd said and to pray about it. 

I knew God was in this with us and that he wasn't done with us. I returned home. Only two months later, Greg placed his life in Christ's hands.

From ruinous ashes we rose up ... together ... to begin again. It was all the Lord's work, not our own.  

We did our best to obey and stepped forward. 

We've had such an adventure since then. There have been surprises, mountain top experiences and deep shadowy valleys. We have shared love, joy, hope, hardships, sorrows and tears, and we are thankful for it all. We are no longer young, which brings its own special challenges and delights. We can't know what lies ahead, but we know where our strength comes from and we will stand together, trusting in The Father's plan.

Do you have a miracle story to tell? I hope you'll share.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Monday, August 13, 2018

In Training

A few days ago, I sat down for my quiet time with God and picked up my daily devotional. What it said couldn't have been more perfect for me and the place I am in my life.

"I am training you to cultivate a thankful mind-set. This is like building your house on a firm rock, where life's storms cannot shake you. As you learn these lessons, you are to teach them to others. I will open up the way before you, one step at a time."

Tears flowed. 

Now to take the steps God has laid out for me.

If you've followed my recent posts you know my life, this past year or so, has been a uphill climb. And as I'v climbed, I've been trying to do just what this devotion says - cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Today, I woke up feeling bewildered and a bit lost. While my family (some live here on this property with me) set out to do their daily tasks. I stayed home. In the midst of my punk mood I felt as if I were being left behind ... again. 

And then I read God's Words for me today.

He has my steps planned out. He will show me the way He wants me to go. But, there is a requirement He is asking of me. I need to be grateful for who I am and where I am and to trust His choices for me. 

I have a great deal to be grateful for. I've been married to a man who has loved me, through thick and thin, for 47 years. I have three good-hearted children who love the Lord, and seven grandchildren who are a big part of my life. And we all love each other. I've spent 38 years in a home on a mountain-top planted in the midst of God's majestic beauty. And I am one of His children who lives with hope because He loves me and has saved me.

God will lead the way. He will open the doors. But we have to step through those doors, and if we're to know the joy and fulfillment God intends for us, we need to step out with thankful hearts. 

May you recognize and receive His many gifts, all wrapped in His love.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Is Life Fair?

We all know someone who has done their utmost to serve others, or have been generous with their time and money. They've been kind and see the best in people. They work hard and accept struggles graciously. And then disaster strikes.

There are also those who spend most of their time thinking about themselves, who withhold their blessings. They cheat on their taxes, overcharge customers. They can't be bothered to help others. Sometimes they are unkind. And yet, they are blessed financially and socially.


Do we have to accept this injustice and simply move on? I tell myself, God knows what He's doing ... doesn't He? 

Let's see ... does He? 

There was Joseph whose brothers turned against him and sold him into slavery. He lived in Potiphars house for eleven years and was unjustly thrown into prison for at least two years. How could this happen? He was an honorable man and loved God. 

Two of my personal heroines are Helen Keller and Corrie Ten Boom. Helen Keller, as an infant, suffered an illness that left her blind and deaf. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister put their lives in jeopardy to protect the innocent during Hitler's reign, only to find themselves in a prison camp where Corrie's sister died. 

I guess life isn't fair. 

But take a closer look. Joseph continued to be faithful and trusted God. Because of his faithfulness he was released from prison and eventually ruled in Egypt. Helen Keller grew up to be an influential woman who touched the lives of thousands, perhaps millions, as did Corrie Ten Boom.

Their suffering blessed others, like you and me. They offered much. They gave much. And changed lives.

So, what should we say when we are the afflicted? We come up against something like cancer or financial ruin, the loss of a child. What then? 

James 1:2-3 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

Should we cheer when we suffer? Not necessarily. (I'm not very good at that.) But there is joy to be found in troubled times. Our sorrows provide an opportunity for change and growth that can touch others. If we entrust our lives to God's care we become part of His blessing to the world.

So yes, I guess life can be unfair some of the time, but with God in the midst it is also part of the beauty and wonder. 

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, July 20, 2018

The Light

Some days seem too difficult to bear. Darkness closes in around us, and we wonder how and when will life get better. 

I have days like that. In truth, a lot of them this past year. Earlier this week I was told it is time for me to learn how to be blind. I know that, but to hear it from two professionals in one week made it more real.

The past year feels like a year of loss. In truth, it has been, but there has been a silver lining too. The Lord has walked every painful ... and joyful step with me.

Joshua 1:5 says, "No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you."

God's Word is filled with precious promises, promises that can carry us through the most agonizing days. You may be sitting at the bedside of a suffering loved one ... or watching a dear one walk away from you, or worse ... away from God. You may not know how you will provide for your family. Or your car may be in the shop again and you wonder how you'll pay for the repairs. There is an endless list of worries and fears that can haunt our days, even our dreams. But God promises we will not walk through the days and nights alone. 

Our Father waits for us to turn to Him. 

I have lived sixty-six years and there have been many times I thought my ship would sink in a worldly storm. I found myself without hope, trembling in fear ... until I looked into The Light, reached for God's hand, and placed my trust in Him.

The only way out of the darkness is to follow the light. It's always there. And as harsh as this may seem, it is our choice - darkness or light. We choose.

Philippians 4:6 - 9 is always a place in God's Word that reminds me what I need to do in troubled times.

    "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. THEN you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 
    And now dear brothers, fix your thoughts on what is true, and  honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me -- everything you heard from me and saw me doing. THEN the God of peace will be with you.

I wobble along through this sometimes terrifying world, falling and stumbling. And there are moments when I feel lost and weak. But with each challenge I learn more clearly how to see the light.

It's always there. I just need to open The Book, Seek His face, Listen to His voice. And rest in Him.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Race

Do you remember the movie, The Perfect Storm? It was based on a true story of a fishing boat and its crew who were caught in the midst of several storms. No matter what the captain tried he could find no way out. They were trapped.

The ship went down with all crew members.

I've kind of felt like I've been in the midst of a perfect storm for most of the last year. With the illness and death of my sister-in-law, then my sister's battle with cancer and her death, and my mother's home-going in February, I felt like a hapless captain going down with his ship. 

I've mostly been in a grieving place as well as struggling with my loss of vision and physical challenges. Life has been hard. 

But even when we feel there is no way out of our storm God has not forsaken us. He provides for all our needs. 

I am so thankful for the many friends and loved ones who have held me up in prayer. Thank you. I'm beginning to rally. I still grieve (that process will take time), but I'm beginning to feel more like myself.

I was recently reminded that God has given me gifts and talents and long ago He set me off on a race He wants me to run. And so I put on new running shoes and have set off once more to run my race, the one given to me by the One True God.

I'm working on my health and making changes to help me deal with vision loss. And I will be working with a new publisher, WhiteFire Publishing. I have every reason to believe we will do great things together. 

I've plunged back into my novel and am feeling good. I love to write! 

I will try to do a better job of staying in touch with you here on my blog and will keep you up to date on my new story. I think you're going to like it. 

I pray you are feeling God's presence and that you are enjoying the beautiful world He created for us. And I pray you are running your race. Remember, we don't run alone. 

Grace and peace to you from God,