Monday, April 30, 2012

Quiet Moments With God: Light of the World

 I don't like darkness.

I'm not speaking about the shadows that lie between hillsides or beneath the broad limbs of trees. Nor the darkness of a night sky that is brightened by shimmering stars or yellow slice of moon. Or the dark green depths of our local river. No, I'm speaking about darkness of the soul and spirit, where God does not dwell.

I once lived in that dark place. I met each day with fear, without hope. I wondered where the day would lead and moved through it with trepidation.

This morning I settled in my large leather chair and opened my Bible, hungry for the Lord, longing for His presence, His wisdom and love. My eyes moved through scripture and fell upon John 8:12. "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, 'I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will  have the light that leads to life.'"

I remembered the darkness where I once lived and tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. I no longer live in that place for the light of Christ dwells in me.

Does that mean I am never afraid? Do I live without sorrows? No. I live in this world. But when I'm afraid or feel a situation is hopeless I know it is only for a time. I am loved by the Lord God. He will never forsake me. His light shines brightly from within and above and below, showing me the way. His hand reaches for mine and He holds me secure and promises there will be a day when there will be no darkness.

Reach for His hand--accept the light of truth and step into a future filled with love, hope and light.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Relationship -- Don't Forget The Hugs

      Are you a hugging or a hands off kind of person? Did you know that giving hugs and receiving them is good for you? It's true--studies have proven that when we include hugs in our life we feel better and we are actually healthier  A hug can make all the difference.

Last week I was having a bad day. The world felt dark and unfriendly, and I couldn't seem to pull myself out of the pit I'd stumbled into. To make matters worse, when I looked out the back window my family was building a bonfire. I love bonfires--constructing them, roasting hotdogs over them and sitting around them beneath the stars. But on that day I was stuck inside. It was one of those my body has a toothache days. I'd spent most of the afternoon on the sofa, medicated and with my heating pad and a blanket. I was not happy.

God sent someone to the rescue--my granddaughter, Olivia. She bounced in, wearing a bright smile, her eyes alight with mischief. She sat on the sofa beside me and just grinned. Finally she got around to why she was there. She wanted to know if I could drive to the store and buy marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers. S'mores were on her mind. I was medicated and in no condition to drive so I had to tell her I couldn't go. 

I pouted, but Olivia didn't. Her eyes were full of love and she said, "That's okay, grandma." And then she gave me one of her Livvy hugs that brighten so many of my days. We held each other tight and before I knew it the gloomies were gone. The magical powers of a hug had worked once again. 

My advice is don't despair . . . hug someone. It can make all the difference.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Books & Writing -- Your Story

 Yesterday, I was in tears and at the end of myself.  I asked God, "Is this really what you planned for me? I don't think I can do it anymore."

I wanted out. I was tired of pain and disability. It was just too hard, and it shut me out of so many of the things I love. I wanted a regular life. I wanted the life I had before a log truck barreled around a corner and hit my van.

I've walked with God for a very long time, and I knew the fear and frustration and weariness would pass. God holds me in His mighty hand. I pulled myself together and asked Him for strength, comfort and a will that molds itself to His. I realized there were a lot of "I's" in my rant. And I understood that life isn't all about me . . . not entirely, anyway. And yet, my life is mine to live out.

God uses all sorts of circumstances and people to speak to our hearts. Today he used a kind and a wise woman to help give me perspective. She said that when life becomes too difficult for her she considers the stories she loves to read--they are always about people who have faced adversity and either overcome it or found peace within it. She said that we each are living out our own stories. And as with those we love to read the adversities make our stories richer and more meaningful.

Her words have stayed with me. And though I may not like my personal story it is made up of the things I love in the books I read as well as the ones I write. I have experienced the glory of life as well as its darkness. Many days I feel as if I'm climbing a mountain called pain to reach the summit where I can see across miles of terrain and far beyond the moment. And the God of the universe, my heavenly Father who loves me, is The One who carries me to the top of that mountain. It is because of Him that I can travel this path, one He has allowed, one with a purpose. It is my story to live out. And I pray it will leave a lasting impression of goodness and grace. I know it has a happy ending.

Trust God with your personal story.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, April 23, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Mom's Tree

A couple of months ago, my mother moved into an assisted living community here in Southern Oregon. It was a difficult time. She'd been ill for several months and then her husband died, making it necessary for her to move closer to family. Her new residence was very nice, but it wasn't home. We sought ways to make the new place feel homey for Mom. We noticed a tree right outside her apartment windows. Its limbs were bare, but we knew when spring arrived the tree would be transformed.

Several weeks ago, we noticed buds sprouting and we  knew it wouldn't be long until the unveiling. We watched and waited, knowing that when the time was right there would be an explosion of color. This week vibrant pink blossoms opened like an offering from God.  

Mom loves that tree and refers to it as her tree. Of course, technically it belongs to the owners of the assisted living center . . . but we know God provided it for her. He knew Mom would need that tree. Years ago, when it was planted, He understood my mother's love of nature and how she always looks for and sees the beauty in the world around her. This tree is like food for her soul. And so the tree is Mom's tree, a gift from God. 

Mom is doing much better these days. She's discovering a new life, good friends and a home here in Southern Oregon. And she is enjoying the pleasure  of watching her very special tree filled with pink blossoms, buzzing bees and singing birds. It has come to life, just as she has. And that tree will remain Mom's tree . . . until she no longer needs it.

Thank you, Father.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, April 20, 2012

Relationship: Sisters

My sister is here! She lives in a place most people have never heard of--Naukati, Alaska. It's a long way from her home to mine, but she usually makes it down a couple times a year. She drives 1 1/2 hours on a gravel road, then takes a four hour ferry trip, then flies from Ketchikan, Alaska to Portland, Oregon and finally drives another four hours south to my place. It's not an easy trip, especially for those of us who are moving beyond our middle years. I'm sixty and my sister isn't far behind. And of course there is always the trip back to Alaska. My sister is a trooper.

 All of this to say, I'm thankful she's here. And that I know she'll continue to come to see family, which includes me.

Family is a special relationship, but there's something unique between sisters. I know that's not always true--I get that, but me and my Sis are blessed. We don't always agree. We have even said unkind things to each other, but I never doubt that she loves me and my love for her will never die. It is amazing to have a person like that in my life.

She's the one who shares my memories of little girls and Barbie dolls and twirling to watch dresses bloom. And she's the teen sister who shared and kept secrets and the friend I talked to about my most recent crush. She's the young woman who was the first to know I was having a baby and the first one I told that I'd lost that child. We've talked kids, hugged in airports, shed tears and angry words, and we've prayed together and trusted God together.

 I'm thankful for my sister. Even after all these years, I know that if I need to talk she will listen. She's irreplaceable. I love you, Sis.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Books & Writing: Favorite Books

If you're reading this blog, you are likely a reader of a writer. If you're a writer, then you're both. I don't know a writer who doesn't also love to read.

Today I want to talk books. What books do we love and why do we love them. I'm presently reading a couple of books, The Colonel's Lady by Laura Franz and Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott. So far, both are impressive.

I have a terrible habit of reading two or three and sometimes four books at a time, not to mention the books I read for researching my writing projects. And presently I'm writing two books simultaneously. We'll see how that works out.

Back to my topic. I love books.

I don't love them all for the same reasons. I have a variety of favorites.

A recent addition to my favorite's list is Rooms by Rupart James. It's not my typical read because it's contemporary. My favorite books are generally historical. But this book was a mystery and had me slightly spooked and kept me guessing and wondering who "the bad guy" really was. Plus snippets of wisdom were sprinkled throughout the pages.

Sometimes loving a book is all about what is being said. When I read the memoir, An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison she opened my eyes and gave me a glimpse into the mind of a person living with bi-polar disorder. My sister was bi-polar. Sadly, I read the book after her death. I wish I could apologize to her, because I never got it while she was alive.

I can love a book that doesn't have the greatest writing, but has something wonderful to say. And then there are those books that feel as if you're reading poetry. The writing is exquisite and I relish each word. One of those is Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott.

And of course characters are central to all books. Francine River's story, The Last Sin Eater left me with characters I will never forget.

So . . . books that stay with me are all about beautiful writing, characters who seem real, messages that have the power to change, real life history, and of course great stories. I have a long list of favorites. Do you? Can you choose one? Why is it your favorite?

For me -- Hawaii has always risen above the others. I love the history and the story. But there's also The Thornbirds, The Shape of Mercy, The Dawn of a Dream and . . . well okay I can't pick just one. Can you?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Relationship: A Wedding or a Marriage.

My mind is on weddings. My daughter Sarah married the man of her dreams today--Robert Spencer, a good man. But a wedding is just the beginning of a journey.

No matter what kind of relationship we are part of we need to ask ourselves, "Is this a wedding or a marriage?" There is a profound difference between the two.

When a couple plans to wed there is a lot of hoopla about the wedding. And sadly, the focus is often more about the wedding than the marriage. There's nothing wrong with planning a memorable wedding. Weddings are fun. There are enchanting decorations, gorgeous clothing, handsome grooms and stunning brides, as well as meaningful promises, dancing and merriment. A wedding is a grand celebration. It should be. But weddings last only a few hours. And it's more about present happiness and fun rather than the promise made for a lifetime.

Marriage is living in the trenches . . . together with people we love. Good times and bad are shared between a man and a woman who love one another and are committed to each other. They count on their partner to stand with them in the midst of the storms as well as the joys of life. It is a lifetime commitment, not a party. It's not just about merriment, though there is that. There is fun and reasons to celebrate, beautiful moments and unexpected joys, but there are also disappointments, sorrows and suffering. When we are pledged to another we are assured that we will not make our journey on our own--it will be shared.

There are all sorts of relationships--Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friend to friend, even a child and their pet or neighbor to their neighbor and of course there is God's commitment to mankind. When we consider these relationships what do we see a wedding or a marriage? And what do we want?

A marriage makes life richer. It offers what really counts . . . love. 1 Corinthians 13 says,"Three things will last forever--faith, hope and love--and the greatest of these is love."

I pray the relationships in my life will be more than just weddings. How about you?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Books & Writing -- Short and Sweet

Today's post is short and sweet. I'm a writer who lives with chronic pain and disability. And this morning I woke up with my back screaming at me . . . for unknown reasons. So today is a med day, bed day--not a work day.

Though sometimes we need to fight our way through difficulties, I've also learned there are circumstances that require rest and a conscience free of guilt when we need down time. Today is one of those days. My body will not heal without care and I'm doing my best to help it along.

We can only do what is possible and let the rest go.

Take good care of yourselves!

Grace and peace to you from God,


PS So far I'm not doing so good and so I'm asking you for your prayers. Only three days until my daughter's wedding--gotta be there.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Seek Him

While reading from a Max Lucado devotional this morning I came across these words,"So people came to Him; my, how they came to Him! They came at night. They touched Him as He walked down the street; they followed Him around the sea; they invited Him into their homes and placed their children at His feet.

I was reminded of a scripture that speaks to me about the importance of seeking the Lord and heaven. Matthew 13: 44 says, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field."

The man found the treasure by chance, but recognized its value. So he gave everything he owned to purchase the field. Heavenly treasure is far more valuable than earthly riches. I wonder what we would be willing to do if we knew there was heavenly treasure buried in a field. Would we give up everything--everything?

What if we knew it was in the field, but didn't know where it had been hidden How long and hard would we work to find it and what would we be willing to sacrifice?

People came, seeking Jesus, just hoping for a glimpse or an opportunity to touch his robe. They knew he held the keys, only He offered them entrance into heaven.

Seek Christ and you will find Him. But . . . you must be willing to seek.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Relationship -- Father & Son

Today is Good Friday -- the day Christ gave up His life. Too often we consider His sacrifice lightly. We fail to contemplate and pray about what our Lord did for us. Good Friday is a day of deep sorrow and hope renewed. What happened on that day is so big that we mere humans can't fully comprehend its divergent offering to the world -- a covenant between God and man, fulfilled. The lamb of God sacrificed. Heaven accessible for all who accept God's offering of His Son.

If not for Christ's willingness to fulfill His Father's promise to us we would be locked away in our sin for all eternity. And just because Jesus is the God/man what He faced was not easy. The night before His arrest, Jesus agonized over what was to come. He knew what lay before Him and though He asked God if there were another way, He submitted to His Father's will and lay his life down, trusting God and obeying Him.

This was the greatest sorrow the world would ever know, yet Jesus offered Himself to His Father and to us. It was more than suffering and death, it was the acceptance of all mankind's sins, laid upon Him while at the same moment separation from His Father God, something that had never happened before nor since.

Jesus trusted His Father. We can trust Christ. He gave all a man can give--his life.

Easter is coming, a day to herald Christ's resurrection, but before you celebrate, take time to contemplate the reason, the sacrifice made and the inheritance offered. And honor our Lord. The gift is free to us, but it came at a great price to the Lord.

There is no greater love than to give up one's life for a brother.

Thank you, Jesus.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Books & Writing -- A Privilege

I just finished transcribing hours of cassette tapes that were sent to me by a woman who lived an incredible life. Several years ago, when she first approached me about writing her life story I was too busy and didn't give her the time she deserved. However, she's tenacious and she didn't give up. Occasionally I'd get a call from her or a card. And then, one day when she approached me at a booksigning and told me some of her story, I finally listened. I now have the privilege of telling her story.

Sometimes in the midst of all the work, all the marketing and rejections, and even in the midst of success we forget that it is a privilege to be a writer.

Each writer has their own reason for writing. Me -- I love it, but more than that I believe it is what God asked me to do. He has a plan that is bigger than my own. I trust Him and so I write and do my best to glorify Him in the tales that I write.

I must also remember my readers and be grateful for them, for without them I wouldn't be writing for publication. There is an audience of readers who love my stories and some who hear the deep things of my heart while reading one of my books. I am thankful for you.

There is no getting around it--writing is hard work and sometimes it feels like torture. But it is so much more. It is discovery. It is wonder. It is joy. It is growth. And I am grateful for it all.

I'm working on my first true life story, and as I've listened to the cassette tapes that hold the story that will become my next book I am astounded at a little girl's unusual, often horrific and sometimes beautiful life. God's hand is and was upon her. And the girl she was and the woman she became inspires me. The hours I've spent with her have left me breathless at the great privilege I've been given.

As writers, we must remember our job is a gift. It's not always easy to hang on to that truth, especially when we're in the trenches and wondering why and how we got where we are. And when we wonder whatever induced us to think we could write. And why in heaven's name did we begin this writing journey at all . . it's just too hard.

Still, I ask you to remember the wonder of it. Savor every sweet moment. Be prepared for the unexpected. And know it is more than a job because it is . . . more.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Make Me A Channel.

Make Me a Channel by St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred let me bring love. Where there is offense, forgiveness. Where there is discord, reconciliation. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is sadness, joy. Where there is darkness, your light.

When I read this my heart wrenches. Even at my best I cannot reach this ideal. And I'm rarely at my best. I fall far short of God's standard -- Sometimes I want to hate -- Sometimes I stubbornly hold on to offenses -- Sometimes I rail against others -- Sometimes my faith is more like a limp noodle than a strong, straight rod -- Often I struggle to climb out of a pit of despair.

I long to please God, to be a woman of faith, love and hope, filled with joy that overflows to others. I want to be a light to the world. But more importantly I want to be a light to those closest to me. Those who know me at my best and at my worst. What does my family see in me? I pray they will see Christ. I've been told, Mom, we know you're not perfect. But in your weakness God has been faithful. You demonstrate love toward us even even when we're at our worst. We have seen what it is to walk with Christ because you walk with Him. You have loved us. And we love you.

Though I have fallen short in so many ways, God has seen to bless me anyway. And I am forever bonded with my family in love through Christ.

I haven't done it perfectly, but I know The One who is perfect. He upholds me when I am weak and loves me when I don't deserve to be loved. He has forgiven all my sins and thrown them as far as the east is from the west. Because of Him I am a channel of His love and forgiveness.

Only because of Him.

Grace and peace to you from God,