Wednesday, April 24, 2019

God's Creative Lessons





My dog, Henry, is special. He's intelligent, full of fun, and courageous.  However, Henry is also full of mischief and although he's been easy to train he is not always well behaved and it has been a daily challenge to teach him good manners. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he is a seven-month-old Labrador Retriever with all the energy, strength and mischief that is common to the breed at this young age. Some days I wonder if it was unwise to have chosen to adopt a lab puppy, especially at my age.

One recent morning, he was up to his usual mischief. He'd stolen my television remote and thought it was great fun to destroy it. And even more fun to keep it away from me. He wasn't about to give up his prize. After much effort on my part to rescue the remote, I was near tears and pleading with Henry to take pity on me. I tried to reason with him and told him, "Henry, I love you. Why are you doing this? I picked you from a whole litter of pups, knowing you were the one for me. I've loved you. I've taken good care of you and made sure you are well loved and well fed. I've spent countless hours training you, and I've been patient with you (most of the time). I know you are special and I have great hopes for you." 

And then ...

I heard the voice of my Heavenly Father. He said, "Bonnie, I created you and I chose you. I have loved you, watched over you. I have given you everything you need for health and life. I have great hopes for you. And yet, sometimes, just like Henry, you go your own way. You refuse to listen to me."

I stopped trying to convince Henry to cooperate. My frustration melted away. As my countenance softened, so did Henry's, and he gave me the remote.

How often I'm like Henry. And as he trusts me, I also can trust The Father. If only I will listen to Him. He loves me and always wants what's best for me. And even when I'm being stubborn and willful He doesn't give up on me. He always forgives me. 

How wonderful is my God. 

If I am willing to listen, He teaches me, sometimes in creative ways, even using my mischievous puppy, Henry, to help me see what is real in life and to help me better understand how deeply I am loved.

Is He speaking to you in a creative way? Be listening. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cursed?



God reminds me of His truth, often in surprising ways. For instance, a few nights ago I clicked onto Netflix and scrolled through the movie selection and came across one that had never before appealed to me. But on that night I felt like something lighthearted and decided to watch a  movie called Penelope. To my surprise I enjoyed the story. But it's something one of the characters said at the end of the movie that caught my attention most.


"It's not how powerful the curse, but how much power you give the curse."

That statement got me to thinking.

In the movie a witch had placed a curse on a family centuries before and that curse destined a beautiful child to be born with a pig snout. I won't say more about it because I'd hate to give away too much of the movie in case any of you might want to watch it. 

The curse theme got me to thinking about all sorts of curses, or what I'd rather refer to as lies. Lies that we bring upon ourselves or accept from the mouths of others, or simply come to believe because of circumstances, or an idea we accept rather than God's truth. 

I'm certain we all have lies we believe about ourselves rather than the truth. I have a bunch. Some I've come to see as lies and others I still drag along with me. 


  •      I'm not intelligent. I listened to that one for many, many years. 
  •     I have reason to be afraid. I still struggle with that one. However, when I look back over my life and remember the many risks I've taken, the times I stood up when no one else would, and when I've stepped out because I was sure it was what God wanted even when I knew there would be consequences to pay ... I see the lie. I'm only fearful when I give power to the lie.    

There are others that try to keep me down, keep me isolated or stuck. 

  •      I can't do that.
  •      I'm never going to be capable of ... 
  •      When my vision is gone I won't be able to write.

     And more.

Lies. All lies. 

We need to see them for what they are, destroyers from the enemy, satan, the author of lies, who wants to see us fail, relishes in keeping us weak and afraid, and powerless to serve the Lord. He wants us to believe he has the power. But he only has as much power as we give him. Because in Christ we are powerful, and all things are possible. Christ gives us insight to see the lies and courage to stand up to them. He helps us see that we can be more than we believe we can.


Out Father gives us all that we need. And tells us how to battle in Ephesians 6: 10 - 18 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power . Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers for all the saints.

We can shut out the lies and listen only to truth. We are able because we belong to The Father. We are His. 

Never forget. Do not live under a curse.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Just As We Are



Do you think you're not good enough to serve the Lord? Sometimes I feel like that. But I know it's not what I do right or my gifts and talents that matter. It's the Lord and His design for my life that make my days special. I am never going to be good enough. But He loves me anyway, and He wants to challenge me, uplift me, teach me, He wants me to walk with him.  

How do I know? Because He tells me so.


1 Corinthians 1:25-31

For the foolishness of God  is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider  your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. So that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because off him you are in Christ Jesus, who became too us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Many years ago, when I was a young woman, this scripture was spoken over me as part of prophesy. I've never forgotten. It reminds me that I have been called ... just as I am with all my fears and weaknesses. I'm no one special, by the world's standards, but I am handcrafted by God and loved by Him. I am all I need to be as long as I am His. He is enough.

And He is enough for you. Don't let the world drag you down. Don't let your own opinion of yourself keep you from the life intended for you. 

Are you feeling a tug on your heart? It could be God. Maybe He's trying to get your attention. Maybe He wants you to know that He loves you and cherishes you ... just as you. And He longs to share life with you. Listen to His voice. A wondrous future lies ahead, if only you will listen.

Already walking with the Lord? Praise Him!

Is He asking you to take a chance? Make a change? Don't be afraid. Listen to Him and step out. 

Sometimes God asks us to do big things, but oftentimes it's in the smallness of life where we can best serve. Whatever He asks of us is important. And even when we feel weak and small He will lift us up and remind us that we matter ... that He loves us and wants to walk with us as we sojourn here. He wants us to place our hand in His and allow Him to lead us into places we might not have imagined.

Remember, there is no safer place to be than within The Father's will. Trust Him. He loves us beyond our ability to understand ... just as we are.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Friday, November 16, 2018

Strangers No More


Don't you love how God can drop us  into a group  of  Christian strangers and we instantly know we are family?

That happened to me last weekend. 

I was the guest speaker for the women's retreat at the Church on the Mountain in Welches, Oregon. I met a bunch of lovely, smart, funny and gifted women and was immediately swept up into their loving family. I was there to be a blessing to them, but from my perspective, I am the one who received a tsunami of blessings. I now have new sisters and brothers who will be close to me through now until forever.  

How is that possible?

It's a gift from God. 

John 13:34-35 says this - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Life as a Christian means we get to be part of something special. I know some of you have had "not so great experiences" in churches -  so have I. But we need to be patient with one another.

When we place our faith in Christ we immediately become part of God's family. We are his children and that makes us special. We're not suddenly perfect human-beings, but we are forgiven. And although we sometimes disappoint our Father and ourselves, that doesn't change our "status" with God. We still belong to Him.

It is comforting to know that no matter where we go, we have family - people we can count on - people who will pray for us, encourage us, help carry our burdens and who will love us just as we are.

I am thankful I got to be part of the Church on the Mountain for a day. The friendship, love, good food, and fun now lives in my memories where I can call upon them anytime and be reminded of God's goodness.

Thank you so much ladies for loving me.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie




Friday, October 05, 2018

On The Road


Travel is a mixed bag for me. I love to get out and see the beauty and diversity of this country. And even better, spend time with loved ones who live far away. But ... and that's a big but, it's not easy for me to actually do it. Travel is hard on my body - it's painful.

Sometimes in the days preceding a trip I get anxious. There are mornings when I wake and my first thought is fear and I wonder how I'm going to do it this time. And though my physical condition does keep me from some destinations, I am determined to get out and enjoy being on the road. I never go alone. The Lord is always with my husband and me. We count on His protection and care. And He assures us that there is nothing too difficult as long as we keep our hand in His.

Months ago, Greg and I made plans to travel to our son's home in Southern California and then head out together for the Grand Canyon. My emotions were a mix of excitement and trepidation. I needed my praying friends. I can always count on them. 

Covered in prayer, off we went.




Mount Shasta



Shasta Lakes and another view of Mount Shasta.
Love that part of Northern California.

It is a gift to travel with my husband. I'm thankful we can still do that together. It's so much fun to see new places and to revisit some of our favorite locations together. And no matter whether it is a well known place or something new, God never lets us down. His inspiring creation is every place we go.

Determined not to hurry, Greg and I took our time - three days to Temecula, California. How wonderful it was to put my arms around my loved ones - our son, daughter-in-law and grandson. We are blessed to have them in our lives.

We parked our well-used RV on the street in front of their house in an upscale neighborhood. Had to wonder what the neighbors thought. 😉 

We stayed for a few days, then together we set out for the Grand Canyon. Cy, one of our grandsons, was so excited. He'd never been camping before. His big smile and fun antics were worth every mile traveled, every expense. I still smile when I think of him. Love stays with us.





Ready to go!



The trip across the country was easier on me than I expected. Thank you prayer warriors! Thank you Lord! 

It is always thrilling to set out on highways we've never driven. My husband and I almost always end up in conversations about the early explorers and pioneers and what it must have been like for them. I can't imagine the courage it took all those years ago.

We traveled from Temecula to the Grand Canyon in one day. It was a long day and the temps in Arizona hovered at 105 degrees. We've been enjoying the cooler Fall temperatures here in Oregon so that was an adjustment. The seemingly endless miles of desert were stark, stunning and spectacular. I loved it. 







We were grateful to pull into the Grand Canyon Park that night and crawl into the comfy bed in our RV.







The next few days were full of family fun, discovery, and inspiration. And a lot of elk. They seemed to be everywhere - in our camp sites, on the road, in the forest and even in parking lots. We had a very close encounter with a cow and her calf outside a restaurant where we had dinner.







             










And then there is The Canyon. 




Greg and I visited Grand Canyon National Park twelve years ago. I've longed to return ever since. I was not disappointed. It was as spectacular as I remembered. There were people visiting from all over the world. They crowded to the edge and beyond (dare devil types can't be kept behind fences) to see the spectacular site, the evidence of God's hand - His creation. Hearts and minds are touched at the sight. We are so small, the canyon so vast.







           




We'd been told that the best time to see the canyon was at sunset. I had yet to get there at that time of day, and it was looking doubtful that I'd be able to do it, but my son wasn't going to let me miss out and made sure I got there.

Sunset at the rim is different than during the day. There is a quiet expectation in the air, a reverent hush. No matter what your background or homeland, there is an awareness of something greater than youself. For those who believe, it is the presence of God. 












 As I stood at the rim, the mightiness of God settled over me. He had created this. He was here in this place. My heart swelled and my eyes pooled with tears. This creation, this gift, at this moment was for me. If I were the only human being on the planet He would have made this for me. His love is great. It is endless. There is no way to measure it. This great inexplicable love reaches out to all mankind. His love is for us all ... If we will only accept it.





Grace and peace to you from God.



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,

Bonnie





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,

Bonnie

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