Friday, March 26, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Listen to Others

After returning home from a five day research trip I expected to spend a day resting, then get back to work on my latest novel. I should have known better than to plan.

My husband and I picked up my mother on our last day of the trip so she could spend a few days with us. Mom's a sweet woman who appreciates life and having her with us is a gift.

Even with her here, I'd planned to spend some time working. After all, having one extra person in the house doesn't change things too awfully much. I figured there'd be plenty of time for work and pleasure. However, my household of three was about to change.

My youngest daughter had been sick for several weeks and was finally diagnosed with pneumonia. She was too sick to care for herself and her children so it was decided they ought to stay here where Sarah could rest and I could take care of the kids.

My son was also due to arrive for a visit with us and his grandmother. We love having him here. And we were scheduled to drive my mom to the train depot in Eugene (a couple hours north) on Sunday.

In true "Bonnie style" I tried to keep up with writing my book, socializing, caring for my daughter, baby-sitting, cooking . . . and everything else. I could feel my book deadline looming so I kept pushing to "do it all". My husband knows me well (after all we've been a couple for forty-one years). He knew I was about to miss out on the special opportunities of family time that I'd been given because I refused to let go of the work of writing.

Kindly but firmly he told me to put the writing aside. Perfectly sensible advice. I shouldn't have needed to be told. But until he spoke I couldn't give myself permission to do the best thing for me and everyone else. He helped me see my priorities--the people I love. The work would get done, but the days with my family would come and go and once gone I couldn't get them back.

I thank the Lord for giving me a wise husband. The moment I decided to listen to him and made the decision that work could wait I felt at peace. I had a couple more days with my mom, puzzle making and games with my grandchildren, a good visit with my son and, although I was concerned about my very ill daughter, it felt good to care for her. She's on the mend, the way.

Sometimes it takes the voice of someone else to help us make wise choices. Listen to others, they may be making sense.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Worry Less

I came across a couple of great quotes.

Mary Hemingway said, "Worry a little every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything."

And . . .

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its joy."
Author unknown.

Both of these quotes hit me right where I live. I'm a worrier, always have been. I'm one who imagines worse case scenarios. Maybe that's why I write books--my imagination works overtime. When I'm wearing my author's hat that's a great help, but in the day to day living it only causes anxiety and is not profitable.

Mary Hemingway said, train yourself. If we're worriers and want to live in a state of peacefulness we have some work to do. It will take effort and determination. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. I'm learning. Some days I'm more successful than others, but I will not give up.

Worry is a normal human response to troubles, but it says a lot about how we see God. Do we trust Him . . . really? If we do, then why are we worrying? He sees it all. He hears our every prayer. Knows our every need. And He has everything in hand.

When we fully trust God it means we don't have to worry about what terrible thing may happen today or tomorrow. Rather, we can live like babes who have been gathered into their mother's arms--fully dependent and fully trusting.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quiet Moments With God -- Kick Up Your Heels

I live in a rural area in Southern Oregon. The landscape is a combination of forests and grazing lands. When I travel between home and town I always see horses, cattle and sheep on the rolling hillsides.

A few days ago while returning home from town I noticed a frolicking full grown black angus. She was running, leaping and jumping while kicking up her heels. This is unusual behavior for a cow. By the time they're grown up they spend their time grazing or standing looking stupified while they chew their cud. Calves run and leap, not cows.

Watching this bovine enjoy herself made me think about grown ups in general. Some of us adults have forgotten what it's like to kick up our heels and have full out fun. That's for the youngsters we say. We're missing out. Just think back to your youth for a moment and remember how much fun it can be.

I'm not able to kick up my heels any more, but that doesn't mean my heart can't do some leaping and jumping for joy. Evidently God thinks joyful living matters because there are lots of scriptures that talk about it.

Philippians 4:4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! And Psalm 4:7 says, You have put gladness in my heart. And there's Psalm 16:9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. And John 15:11, These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full. And lets not forget Psalm 149:3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.

These are just a few. Remember the joy of the Lord. Share some of that joy with people in your life. Lift others up--laugh, sing, and yes even dance.

Sharing joy makes it grow. And then it comes back to you.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- We May Have Only Today

Have you considered how you want to live out your life? Have you thought about how important each day is and that we don't know if there will be a tomorrow? Only the Lord knows the number of days we have on this earth.

While we're here we may be the only image of Christ someone else will see. Most of the time we don't know that people are watching, observing what makes us different from someone who doesn't profess Christ as Lord. More times than I'd like to count I've not been a good example. In my younger years I could quickly become a "mother bear" in defense of my children, a not so attractive example of Christ. And I could and can still get my dander up over an irritation or difference of opinion.

I've made numerous apologies over the years because of a quick temper. It's humiliating to go back to a store clerk and apologize for my short fuse. But it's equally rewarding to see that clerk brighten and graciously accept my apology.

As I've aged, many of the lessons learned have stuck and I'm calmer these days and less likely to loose my cool. However, I haven't arrived.

Being a living example of Christ isn't just about maintaining emotions. It includes being gracious, generous, kind, and helpful. Well, actually all you need to do is look at the fruit of the spirit, which is listed in Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

We shall be known by our fruit. Scripture tells us to live out our faith. If we do our days will be filled with blessings, we will likely do something worthwhile and possibly something spectacular such as introducing Christ to a new believer.

What would I do if I knew I had only one day left on this earth? I'd give out lots of hugs, I'd make sure to tell those I love that I love them, I might even bake my "famous" chocolate chip cookies for the last time and share them with my friends. And I'd definitely sit down with people who don't know Christ and tell them all about Him.

It's time for us to live like today is our last. We will be blessed. Today will be richer and more joyous, not just for us but for those around us.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Quiet Moments With God -- Remember Him

It's nearly one o'clock in the morning and I can't sleep--nothing new for me. But while I was lying in bed I could hear the hooting of an owl so I got up and stepped onto my back patio.

The night is clear and cold. Stars shimmer in a black sky. And as I stand wrapped in my not so sexy bathrobe the hoot of the owl echoes from nearby. Another one answers from a distance. In the quiet chilled evening, they continue to speak to one another. As I share the solitude with my wild friends, I feel as if I'm being included in one of God's special moments. He feels so near.

There are many wonders in our world. I live in the country and each day I'm privileged to see an assortment of wild creatures, hear the wind blow through tree boughs and gaze at rolling hillsides festooned with groves of oak and evergreens. And I am reminded of The One who created the beauty. When the forest floor is littered with wild flowers of every hue and shape I am reminded of Him. And when I'm included in a midnight serenade between two owls I am reminded of Him.

These may seem like small things, but God wants us to remember Him. To remember that He created earth, our temporary home, just for us. He wants us to know that He longs to spend time with us.

You don't have to live in the country to see His creation. It's everywhere--in the trees along city streets, the birds flitting among the bushes in your yard, flowers grown on a city rooftop or even in misty clouds that look like filigree against a pale blue sky.

He's here, all around us, remindng us of His presence. We simply need to look. And when we remember, let's not forget to thank Him for His wondrous gift of earth. There is no other place like it in all the universe.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Listen to the Wise

I often read the book of Proverbs. If it's the fourth day of the month I read chapter four, the seventh day, chapter seven and so on. It is a wisdom feast.

Today is the fifth so I read Proverb's five. There is always more to learn and today God continued to teach. He has a way of zinging me right where I need it.

Chapter five speaks about temptation. We are bombarded by temptations of every description. Many seem innocuous (are they really?) but there are those that scripture says are as "bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword, and that lead straight to the grave".

As I read scripture shouted, "LISTEN TO ME!" If I refuse the day will come when I will groan in anguish for I will receive the fruit of my disobedience. His Word goes on to say, "How I hate discipline, if ony I had not ignored all the warnings!

That's me. There is so much I could have done better, done right. But I haven't lost hope. I can turn to God and obey Him. He is merciful. Though I may pay consequences for my disobedience, He will not leave me nor will He forsake me. Not ever.

I must climb out of a pit I've dug for myself. I'm thankful for the powerful hand of God who will help lift me. Still, how much better it would have been to have listened to His wise counsel from the very beginning.

Although I can begin anew, perfection remains out of my grasp, but God sustains and comforts me. He holds me so close that I hear the beating of His heart.

Today is a new day, a new beginning. A day to rejoice and to praise the King. He has not forsaken me. He is forever and always shall be my Father who loves without restriction.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Quiet Moments With God -- The Battle

Have you read Shannon Van Roekel's book, Desert Fire? If not, you should. From time to time, I come across a book that transforms my thinking and sets my heart aflame with conviction. Shannon, thank you for writing this story. I'm certain the enemy didn't want it written and very likely made your journey to publication a difficult one.

Desert Fire takes us to one of the darkest places on our planet--Darfur. It is there that we are introduced to injustice and brutality unimaginable. We are challenged to look at the truth that we can do more. Not just in Darfur but in all the dark places of our world. To do so, means fixing our eyes on God and listening to His voice. What is it He is asking of us? First we must believe in the one who is above all others, then stand before the enemy prepared to fight.

For each of us, the battle is unique, but the battle plan is the same. God tells us who the enemy is and how to fight him in Ephesians 6:10-18. It is a long stretch of scriptue, but I feel compelled to include it all.

It says, "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 agaainst 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 and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

We need to fight. We can win. Look to the heavens, stand firm and brandish the sword of truth. Don't turn away from evil, don't flinch. Pray for one another, pray for those who live in terror, pray for those who go out into the darkness carrying the torch of light.

Read Shannon's book. I pray it will awaken lukewarm hearts who have forgotten there is a war to be won and an enemy to defeat.

Grace and peace to you from God.