Dear Reader, I know very little about what David's education would have been. I am astounded at the visual imagery he recorded to describe God's glory and majesty. Here are a few examples:
Dear Reader, where have you glimpsed God's glory? What experiences have caused your breath to catch in your chest as you experienced overwhelming awe at His majesty?
Last week, Dear Reader, I told you that transparency is a challenge for me. Okay, not exactly a challenge, more like downright hard. Committing to weekly updates on Jubilee's progress has forced me out of my hermit's cave.
Well, here goes.
After my initial rejection, I slipped into my organizational mode. That may sound good at first, but over the years, I figured out that sometimes organizing turns into procrastination for me. Are you ever like that, Dear Reader? Organize a challenging task to death in order to avoid actually doing it?
My spreadsheet was detailed to the point of minutia. The colors were meaningful and lovely to look at. Email addresses and information about agents were starting to fill all the cells. I'm great at organizing, and my spreadsheet showed it!
But it takes more than organization to get the job done, doesn't it, Dear Reader?
At first, it felt like rejections were coming in faster than submissions of Jubilee and the Stinky Fish were going out. One actually came within twenty minutes of me pressing send. Ouch!
For a couple of weeks, it seemed like there was another rejection every time I checked my email. My brave was starting to wear thin. Fear was quickly taking its place. And that's just where Satan wants us.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
Dear Reader, I'm embarrassed to say that I let fear take control for more than a minute. Then I opened my medicine cabinet. This had been taped there for so long, I usually didn't even notice it. But there it was, just when I needed it: "do it afraid".
When I got serious about taking the journey with Jubilee, I forgot to factor in a few things. I didn't think about how rejections might foster fear. I didn't realize how powerful that fear could become.
Have you ever noticed, Dear Reader, how isolating fear can be? It threatened to shove me back into my hermit's cave. I was convinced that I must face the battles of rejection and fear alone.
Praise God, He never intends that for anyone! And He made sure I got the message:
Dear Reader, this is me being transparent (and admittedly shallow and naive). The journey of Jubilee and the Stinky Fish is being harder and more frightening that I imagined.
Have you ever launched an endeavor without considering all the factors, Dear Reader? How did you handle them when they did arise?
After some hesitation, I've begun checking my email again, knowing each time there may be another rejection. I've also resumed submitting Jubilee's story, factoring in a little fear, but leaning more on my faithful Father.
Dear Reader, where do you hope your journey will take you? Has it included unexpected bumps and bounty? My hope is that fear will not be a factor as you move closer and closer to your goal.
Dear Reader, don't you love it when God teaches you something new? And do you think He may chuckle a bit when He uses something we're familiar with to teach the lesson?
That's exactly what He's been doing with me and the Book of Psalms. Even though many of my favorite scriptures reside there, it's almost as though I've never read it.
May I share some new observations with you? This first one is a biggie. The psalmists seem to have figured out the steps to answered prayer. Let's take a look.
Acknowledge God's sovereignty: The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18: 2 RSV
Admit our frailty: The cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of perdition assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me, the snares of death confronted me. Psalm 18: 4-5 RSV
Ask for God's help: In my distress I called upon the Lord;to my God I cried for help. Psalm 18: 6a RSV
Trust God to act: I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies....From his temple he heard my voice,and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalm 18: 3,6b RSV
Imagine how our lives, and those of the people around us could change if we would simply ACKNOWLEDGE, ADMIT, ASK, AND TRUST.
Over and over in Psalms, David uses this same strategy, and look what he did. David may not have been Mr. Perfect, but he knew the steps that would take him to the throne of our Creator. (If we take a closer look, we may see that the same steps are included in the prayer Jesus gave His disciples as recorded in Matthew's gospel, 6:8-13.)
For the next several weeks, I'll be sharing my reflections on the kinds of psalms we find in the Book of Psalms. I hope you'll join me as we dig a little deeper into some of the ways the Lord uses it to minister to us.
Our son-in-law, Brandon, and Rachael's stepson, Parker, are big Marvel Comic fans. Since Netflix is my BFF while spending time in the rehab room, checking out some of the movies seems to be a good way to learn about their interest.
I've only watched a few of the Marvel movies, but so far my favorite character is Agent Peggy Carter. Strong, positive character traits, and get a load of that terrific red lipstick! What's not to love?
During my hospital stay, during in home and out-patient therapy, I've been blessed with several Agent Carters. Okay, maybe without the lipstick, but with the qualities of Agent Carter, my medical caregivers have definitely been marvelous!
So what is it about Agent Carter that reminds me of my recent caregivers?
If I'd made a list of traits I wanted in nurses, home health care team, or physical therapists, those qualities would definitely be on it. What would be on your list?
2 Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.
Oh yeah, there are a couple more traits Agent Peggy Carter shows in "Captain America" that I'd like to have in caregivers.
Well, not smacking down the new recruit. But who doesn't want someone with high expectations and focus, and a touch of humanity?
But God wasn't finished blessing me. He also sent a special Angel of Mercy, Barb. My new teaching neighbor last fall, we immediately hit it off.
This summer, Barb has gone way past collegiality. From watering plants to moving pictures to doctors' appointments, Barb has chosen to minister to me. What a gift!
Barb is kind without hovering or patronizing. She anticipates my needs without being intrusive. And most importantly, Barb freely offers her fellowships (and does a great job of choosing restaurants!).
As much as I appreciate all of the Agent Carters, Barb has been a powerful reminder that our Savior is as close as a prayer. He's waiting to respond to our needs, and more than capable of meeting them. And we never get a bill for services rendered.
Dear Reader, what qualities do you look for in the people surrounding you? What qualities do you hope they see in you?
Dear Reader, have you ever gotten caught up in a tug-o-war between reality and perfectionism? Feeling restricted by time or skill, and pressured by expectations? I'm embarrassed to admit I find myself in the middle way too often.
I was excited this spring to connect with an agent, Jenn, who is interested in my new manuscript, Jubilee and the Stinky Fish. As a matter of fact, Jenn gave me the title.
Jenn's been available and extremely helpful. After several emails, and checking submission guidelines, I was excited to share my manuscript.
And then war was declared.
Before sharing Jubilee with editors for a synopsis and cleanup, I spent hours combing it for content and grammatical errors.
Does this scream "novice"to you? Or just not quite bright?
Hello! What's the point of paying editors if I'm trying to do their jobs for them? I realized I was delaying manuscript submission, and perhaps its successful publication.
I stopped staring at the computer screen, and did what I should have done to start with. I prayed for the characters in Jubilee and the Stinky Fish. I prayed that their stories would resonate with the love of Christ.
I also prayed for Jenn and the editors, thanking God for the journeys that have brought us to this intersection. I prayed for the kids whose lives I hoped to impact for Jesus.
Most importantly, I prayed for wisdom in discerning God's will, in yielding and committing myself to it. As so often is the case, prayer brought an end to the conflict between reality and expectations.
God's Word brought clarity about our quests for perfection, and His will for each of us.
Do your best to be the kind of person God will accept, and give yourself to him. Be a worker who has no reason to be ashamed of his work, one who applies the true teaching in the right way.
Perhaps being directed to "do your best" acknowledges and accepts our individual limitations. Perhaps it exhorts us to accept ourselves, and move forward.
In a few short days, the editors returned my manuscript. They were both gracious with their constructive criticism and positive feedback.
A couple of weeks ago, I submitted Jubilee and the Stinky Fish to Jenn. The journey with Jubilee is already reinforcing the importance of prayer, commitment, and trust.
Dear Reader, what lessons are you learning and working on during your journey? Frankly, it's too soon for me to say if it's more about the journey or the goal for me. What about you? Where are you finding the most satisfaction?
So, here we are, still doing rehab for the knee replacement a few weeks ago. I gotta tell you, Dear Reader, I'm one blessed woman! And it's definitely undeserved grace.
Mama wanted to be a nurse in the worst way as a young woman. Just because nursing school didn't work out for her, that didn't stop Mama from nursing any and everybody who was sick or injured, including me.
Things being the way they were, our first child was a C-section. Not the handy-dandy t-cut doctors do now. Two, three days, and you're back at it.
Nope, mine was straight through, and weeks of recovery. Mama to the rescue!
I didn't think much about it at the time; nursing people was what Mama did. But Tom was paying attention.
After falling in love with Tom, I fell in love with his dad. No, not romantic love (that's just weird). I loved Dad's kind and gentle spirit. Dad took care of others and never made a big deal about it. And Tom was paying attention.
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
Probably if you ask anyone in either of our families, they will tell you that Tom has always spoiled me. But this is different. After learning nursing skills from Mama, and compassion from his dad, Tom is showing me the tenderest of care, like the Samaritan. (Seriously? Who else would go along with getting a beta fish to take care of just before surgery?)
This winter when Tom's back flared up again, I must admit that I was not a good caregiver. And still, he reaches beyond himself to provide for me what I didn't offer, much less give him.
Dear Reader, has someone shown you grace when you felt like you least deserved it? Have you taken the opportunity to do the same for others? Does giving or receiving grace and mercy draw your heart closer to the Lord?
I don't recall our daughter, Mary, playing school when she was a child. Usually, she did have a book in her hands. Mary and I have chatted along the way, and I don't think she remembers not being able to read.
I credit Mama with Mary's love affair with books. Mary has turned her passion for reading into a career in writing. Tom and I are probably a lot prouder of her than she realizes. To others, I have to rein in the proud Mama gush frequently.
In addition to her gift of writing, Mary is also gifted with compassion and generosity. What a blessing for me! Before I began writing for publication, I was totally clueless about what Mary does in the world of writing. (Still am once in a while.)
From the very beginning Mary has mentored me in writing for publication, and social media. Did I mention that Mary is gifted in patience? She must be based on the times she 's graciously repeated advice or directions.
Next week, I'll tell you about two game changers Mary encouraged me to do. For now, Dear Reader, I'll just say that I hope you are equally blessed with a mentor as terrific as Mary. (Of course, I'm biased, but she hasn't steered me wrong yet.)
Dear Reader, Jesus gave the ultimate model of mentoring, but he wasn't the only one. Take Elijah and Elisha:
19 Elijah journeyed to find Elisha (Shaphat’s son). He found Elisha in the field where 12 pairs of oxen were being worked. Elisha was with the last pair. Elijah wrapped his cloak, his token of spiritual power, around Elisha, 20 and Elisha abandoned his oxen and chased after Elijah.
Mentors and mentees are sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Lord seems to encourage these relationships, which typically seem to bless both people. Let's face it, Dear Reader, we need each other.
8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose. And each one will be rewarded for his own work. 9 We are workers together for God, and you are like a farm that belongs to God.
Dear Reader, who has blessed your life with godly intention to help you become who you are today? Is there someone you have taken under your wing? Whatever role you're currently in, I pray it will only make your life richer.
Dear Readers, I need your help, and trust me, it's not easy to ask. It means being transparent enough to admit fear and weakness. It means trusting and obeying in a whole new way.
Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.
Way back in the last century, Daddy, Buddy (my older brother), and I went fishing a few times. I don't remember us catching many fish. What I do remember is that Buddy never could put a worm on his hook, or take the rare fish off of his hook.
In a mixture of helplessness and big brother bossiness, he would hold out his hooks for me to tend to. Buddy trusted me to take care of what needed to be done. And I displayed a modicum of obedience.
I'm going fishing again, Dear Reader, fishing for souls, and I need your help with the hooks.
Jubilee and the Stinky Fish is the working title of my second book.
I know, I know, I told you in January that I was taking a break from building a platform. But God seems to have different plans. So here I go, frightened and frail.
HELP WANTED: Tribe members who are willing to be sounding boards, shoulders to cry on, mentors, critics, and voices of reason. Minimal pay, some evenings and weekends.
For the past several weeks, there's been a gnawing to share mine and Jubilee's journey to publication. We're so much closer than we were a few short months ago. I have no idea how long this journey will be, but I don't want to go alone this time.
(Tom, James, and Mary were indeed boon companions on the way to publishing and marketing Life with Bobby and Bonnie. It seems, though, God is calling me to more. Psst! That's you.)
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough ... By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.
Dear Readers, will you be my tribe? Will you journey with Jubilee and me as we try to reach kids and their stakeholders with the voice of Jesus?
Tom and I have been blessed with several weekend visits lately from our girls. Honest to goodness, Dear Reader, it only takes a visit from Annalyn and Gracie to be reminded that kids are the best teachers.
At nine, Annalyn is beginning to learn about the tricks our bodies can play on us. Hygiene seems to be a frequent topic.
Lately, there's been a lot of brushing and braiding of hair to alleviate tangles and excess oil. It may sound silly, but I think hair brushing can literally provide positive strokes, and be very soothing to both participants.
The little extra time and care also seem to be adding to Annalyn's pre-pubescent self image. I nearly cried a couple of weeks ago when Mary texted me this picture of her. Annalyn asked her mom to take a picture and send to Allie, "Because I look pretty!"
Don't we all long to look pretty sometime, in some way?
May our sons be as strong as trees and our daughters as beautiful as the carved columns of a palace.
Then there's my "go for the bling" Girlfriend, Gracie. She's all about the nails, the hair, and the jewelry ... and she's only three and not quite a half!
Girl thinks we need to do nails every visit. When she proudly showed her purple nails to Rachael on a recent visit, Rach told her that I NEVER would have let her paint her nails purple! Gracie let her know that sometimes it's blue or green.
Just like brushing Annalyn's hair seems to be "physical therapy" for her, manicures seem to work for Gracie, anytime, anyplace ... living room, Walmart. It always pays to look good.
But some days, no matter how hard we try, we just don't seem to be able to pull it off. Dear Reader, have you ever felt so broken that you didn't think you could go to the Lord? I have!
5 Guide me and teach me your truths. You are my God, my Savior. You are the one I have been waiting for.
Dear Reader, how wonderful and amazing that no matter how wretched we may feel, or look, the Lord never runs out of compassion. If that isn't enough, in His abounding love, He lifts us up as His cherished children.
We had a plan. We thought we'd prayed fervently over it, seeking wisdom only God can provide. We thought it was something we could live with while meeting some long term goals.
I'm not sure what quite went wrong, or when. But once it started to unravel, it was hard to see how it could come together again.
Recently, another blogger coined a phrase, "2020 Plan", that seemed to click for me. It's their planned year of retirement. I counted up. Huh, that's the same timeline as mine and Tom's.
We've been working hard paying off debt. We've come up with a plan of what and when we need to do in and around the house to get it "market ready". There's a plan for trading vehicles. And once or twice, I've even searched a little online for new homes.
A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
I'm not sure if God is taking a hands off stance, or stirring things up. Either way, I'm pretty sure He's in the middle of shredding our 2020 Plan.
It started with a leak in the roof. Yada yada yada. Bad back ramped up to awful (because Tom got up on the roof). Whine, whine, whine. Medical bills increasing, overtime decreasing. You get my drift.
God was getting our attention, and teaching me a couple of lessons.
First, Tom and I had talked and talked, and even prayed, but had we listened for how God wanted to use us and our resources?
14 The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. 15 It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.”
When came to the roof, Tom was willing to do what it took to get it fixed. The plumber had already paid a visit. No answers just, "Here's your bill, Mam." It was time for Tom to literally put his back into it, and climb up on the roof.
Let me take a minute to clarify about the roof. Tom's not crazy about heights, especially on a ladder. (Trust me, that's not a criticism; it takes an act of God or Congress to get my feet off the ground.) To make it worse, the drippy spot was in a place that's THREE STORIES UP. Get the picture?
This is where God took what seemed like a nuisance and a challenge to remind me of the greatest lesson of all.
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Dear Reader, God is willing to do whatever it takes to bring us into His will, and ultimately to bring us home.
Life keeps on happening and for us, that means holding our resources with looser fingers, and trusting God more to fill in the gaps. I won't even pretend it's easy. But I'm learning that holding the finger of God while He directs our path is way better than clinging to a spreadsheet and a calendar.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
What about you, Dear Reader? Do you have a 2020 Plan? How are you balancing your faith and His actions?
Hi, my name is Alice. A Way with Words s about sharing faith, fun, & encouragement. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a little something to take with you.
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