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.