Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tips for triumphant living -- Godly Comebacks

Chuck Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Evidently I'm not done with last week's topic about "dancing" because this is what came out when I sat down to write. I promise to move on to something new next week. :-)

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Swindoll. We may think that reacting in an appropriate way to difficuties is easy, but for most of us it’s not. We have to choose how we’re going to respond to what comes at us. Sometimes we don’t look or act anything like Christ.

The problem may be something “small” like a moment of irritation with a store clerk (I’ve had to apologize more than once) or it might be something significant or even life-threatening. I’ve had personal experience with this kind of thing as well.

Seventeen years ago one of the biggest tests of my faith smacked in to me in the form of a log truck. My immediate response was to praise God for His goodness—He’d saved my life. But pain filled weeks and months piled up and what followed was fear, anger, and depression. I waited for God to make me better inside and out, but with each passing day, each painful test, and each additional disappointment I sank further into desolation and wondered what had become of my faith.

I accept that drastic changes in our lives often require time and that there are phases of growth. I needed time to grow through all that was happening to me, to learn to accept and even embrace the new me. It didn’t come easy. And there were days of shame and tears when I wondered why I wasn’t responding to this “tragedy” in a more Godly manner.

But it’s the fruit of what came out of the dark days that really matters. God understands grieving and the process of becoming who He wishes us to be. He was patient with me. I finally climbed out of the pit of despair and went on, deciding to live my life—to find out what I could do and then do it. A fabulous truth is that I didn’t have to make one step of that journey alone. God was and is with me every moment.

I believe nothing touches me that God does not allow. So . . . if that’s true who am I to question His choices for me? He wants me to grow up and become more like Christ. That can’t happen without pressure, which often comes in the form of hardships or trials.

How are we going to respond to the challenges? If we rely on our Lord in the day-to-day, trusting and growing in Christ will be an automatic result, which offers immeasurable blessings. And the beautiful thing is that our blessings flow over into the lives of other people.

How will we respond to the next “something” that comes into our life? It can happen at any moment. So let’s be prepared and set our minds upon Christ.

Abundant blessings,


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quiet Moments With God -- Take Possession of the Land.

Earlier this week while reading Joshua my mind went to a special day, a moment when God answered the prayer of a broken-hearted woman. On that day He gave me all I’d asked for and more.

There was a time when my husband and I were getting a divorce (that’s another story). As a new believer I understood, as a child does, that her Daddy can do anything. So I asked God to restore my marriage, bless us with children, and allow me the privilege of being part of a Christian family. And I also asked if He’d mind giving us a home on acreage. I know it sounds silly, but having a little farm was part of my dream.

God honored my prayer. My husband and I were reconciled. When, Greg, asked me to try again I was afraid; I’d been deeply wounded. But like Joshua God wanted me to take possession of the land—to be courageous and to obey. So with what little faith I had I stepped forward, trusting in the promise. My husband and I fell in love again and in the years that followed we were blessed with three children. We worshiped together and served together. And then one day we were given the home I’d prayed for so many years before.

When the land (five acres) was offered it made no sense to purchase it and move from one state to another. My husband had a terrific job in Seattle and the United States was in the midst of a terrible recession. But God said, “Go, take possession of the land I give you.” With our shield of faith in place we moved to the foothills of Southern Oregon.

The transition wasn’t easy—the recession had taken hold in our rural community. We faced innumerable obstacles and challenges, but God walked with us through each and every one. We’ve spent twenty-seven years in this place that He gave us. We raised our children here, served our community and our church and have offered hospitality to many who have walked through our door. And we’ve loved each other here. This place is our promised land.

There are days when all I see are the ruts in the driveway, the mud tracked in on the carpet, the garden that needs tending and I think that a small place in town with sidewalks and city water might be nice. God in His graciousness reminds me of all that He’s given. Me and my family have been blessed beyond measure here in the foothills of the Cascades. If my husband and I had been too afraid or too distracted or too something and had not listened to our Lord’s leading we would have missed out on His special gift to us.

I am living a dream. God gave me more than I could ever hope for. My Christian children are grown now with children of their own. And I am privileged to be a part of their lives. I am still in love with the man I married 36 years ago and we still reside on the land God gave us.

Is God offering you “a promised land”? Don’t be afraid. He knows the beginning and the end and He will stand with you while you take possession.

Grace & peace to you from God.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tips for triumphant living -- Keep on Dancing

"You Gotta Keep Dancin’" is the title of a book written by Tim Hansel, a man who was badly injured in a mountain-climbing accident and who learned how to live triumphantly. If you get a chance read it.

Making the statement to keep on dancing isn’t so hard, but living it is. I know. After an accident took my "normal" life from me I was sucked into a vacuum of pain and disability. The day came when I had to choose--soak and sour or live. I decided to live.

Life is crowded with trauma—injustice, illness or accidents, the loss of friendships or the loss of someone we love, financial difficulties and unresolved conflicts just to name a few. We’re going to get hit by troubles. It's a given. And when the difficulties come, they can transform our lives—for better or worse.

So, if we know suffering will come we should prepare. What can we do? There's really only one reliable answer--walk closer to God. He is our strength and He's the one who will sustain us through the hard stuff.

When difficulty finds us we must choose how we'll live--will we wither or will we dance?

Some troubles are mountainous and “getting through” is a process of recovery. Sometimes it’s not possible to step through difficulties wearing a smile and proclaiming victory. We’re human—we’re not God. But we do have a God who holds out His arms and asks that we leave our troubles in His care. He will not force us to trust Him, but He does promise that we can. Shall we leave the trials with Him or hold on to our disappointment and fear?

I know about soaking and souring; I’ve done my share. But languishing in self-pity or clinging to bitterness never made my life better, not even for a moment. Only when I give my angst to God am I able to dance again, to see God at work in my life, to watch sorrow turn to joy.

Life is good! Step out in courage, move forward without the weight of your troubles, find the joy and keep on dancing. :-)


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Quiet Moments With God-Knit Together

Fifty-six years ago, today, I met my parents . . . and my two older brothers for the first time. It was an auspicious moment.

My father is gone now, but my mother is still living and this day never passes without her thinking about my birth and how we first met. When my childrens' birthdays come I do the same, remembering my labor, the trip to the hospital, all the special particulars of that child’s labor and then the moment . . . our first introduction face to face. Each one’s arrival impacted me in a tremendous way.

In light of this, my mind wanders to God and what He may feel about our arrival here on earth. I’m sure He’s not surprised at what He finds for He knew us long before we were born.

Psalm 139 is full of treasures and one day we’ll take a look at some of its other verses, but today I want to focus on a few right in the middle of the chapter, verses 13 – 16.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

As I read these passages tears come. How amazing! God created me on purpose. The God of the universe thought it out and then crafted me—Bonnie Leon. I too often forget this significant truth. And worse than that I sometimes loathe his creation, thinking He must have been mistaken and I ought to go back for a refitting.

He made no mistake; the first verse says He knit me together. When I read this I see gentle nurturing hands creating something of value. The verse goes on to say that there was nothing hidden from Him. He knew exactly what He was doing.

These statements are beyond my comprehension . . . but I know they are true. I trust God; He does not lie, not ever. The unfathomable truth is that He formed me. He could have made me better—smarter, prettier, kinder, gentler and a long list of other er’s, but I’m me with all my weaknesses and foibles. And yet, He loves me.

He gave me free will and therefore I am an imperfect human being, one who makes wrong choices, worries too much, and has been known to whine on occasion, and who isn’t always kind and full of love. But the core of me came into being at His will. I can trust Him; I’m a continuing work.

Verse sixteen says all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. I pray I do not squander the time given me and that I savor every moment, remembering that the good and not so good are all part of the journey and that the journey is a gift.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

For Rosalyn

Rosalyn, thank you so much for your letter. I tried to respond, but all attempts ended up with my email bouncing.

To answer your question. Book two, Longings of the Heart, will release on September 1st. Can't wait.

Blessings to you,