Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where to start?

I've had the pleasure of talking to lots of fun people while at book signings or at speaking events. Many people have expressed their own desire to write a book.

I get so excited for them because, well, it's obvious, I love to write stories.

The big question I get, is always, "How?"

Just do a little at a time and it grows and grows and soon, there before you is a book.

But often times it can be very hard to be standing at the beginning of something, without thinking, how on earth am I ever going to do that?

It can be so overwhelming in many different situations such as...

I remember the first day I was alone after I had experienced a miscarriage. I laid in bed wondering, how on earth am I going to even get out of bed, let alone go through the entire day?

I remember when I had some very loud mysterious blaring noises in my head and couldn't find a doctor to help me. The day ahead would seem so long, how on earth was I going to make it?

When another miscarriage happened I wondered how to even begin to live my life while letting go of a dream I'd had for so many years.

There were also times in the last years we've wondered where on earth is the next dollar going to come from? And how do you plan to take care of your responsibilities in that situation?

Where do you start in those emotionally tumultuous times?

Where?

That first morning alone after my miscarriage, I was given some very wise advice. I turned on the radio. The pastor spoke about his trials. He dealt with leukemia. He referred to the Bible passage, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

He explained that meant "ALL" things.

I literally started with, "I can put my foot on the floor one at a time, through Christ who strengthens me." Every step that day, I said those words for everything I did. Not only did I say them, I believed them. That is how I got through that first day after I miscarried and the days following.

"I can deal with this noise in my head, through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can let go of my dreams, through Christ who stengthens me."

"I can make it to payday, through Christ who strengthens me."

I can say, now, on this side of those situations, I did make it. I didn't think I could, I didn't make it alone though. There was no way on this earth I could make it through those situations without the strength that Jesus Christ gave to me.

A person can stand at the beginning of something, and do whatever they want to figure out how to get to the other side of a circumstance. There is a lady in the Bible who tried everything, doctors couldn't help her for twelve years. But, when Jesus walked by, she knew if she just touched Him...she touched the hem of His garment and she was healed.

I know at the beginning of something, even at this moment...I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Mapmaker

Once upon a time, there was a Mapmaker. He had a little shop that sat way up high on a hill with an incredible view.

The Mapmaker knew where every single path, anyone could take, led. He carefully marked all of his maps with the straight way to any destination. If followed, it would guarantee a person would experience the most enjoyable things along the way, no matter how difficult the journey.

And to top it off, he offered a guide, for free, to escort the travelers.

Each map not only showed the straight path, but also roads which appeared shorter and offered more fun.  They ended up being dangerous and not enjoyable routes. The Mapmaker faithfully put up warning signs on these particular routes. Usually, a person who took these paths would wind up at the end of their journey very battered and bruised.

There was one particular day the Mapmaker was busy cleaning up around his shop when the bell attached to his front door rang. Someone is here! He was quick to dust himself off and straighten his shirt as he approached the front of the store with eagerness. The Mapmaker loved to help people plan out their trips.

“Hello,” he said cheerfully to the young couple looking through some of his maps. They gave him a halfhearted response. “Is there something I can help you with?” The question hung in the air, ignored by the two, who discovered a map for the particular adventure they wanted to take.

With excitement, their fingers traced the marked routes leading to the place they had chosen. The Mapmaker stood nearby with a smile spread across his face. The two talked excitedly between each other about all the places to stop and check out along the way.

Watching the couple’s excitement delighted the Mapmaker even though they paid no attention to him. With care, they studied the path and seemed to stick to the perfect way to go.

The Mapmakers’ brow furrowed when all of the sudden everything changed. The couple started to argue over which path they would take on their journey. And it was over the routes he would advise them NOT to take. He tried to interrupt, but the couple continued to ignore him.

The man pointed out if they went the way he wanted to go, they would be able to see the view from the top of the mountain. He also pointed out, how often they could stop and hike. He added many other things to his argument to convince the woman.

The Mapmaker shook his head. The man had ignored every warning on the map about that route. That path was a particularly dangerous one. It had many avalanches and the roads would get blocked by falling boulders. Sudden snowstorms caused many people to be stranded if they weren’t fortunate enough to turn around in time. It was very rare anyone made it to the end of that path in safety.

The woman pointed out if they went her way, they would be able to enjoy the view of the river and that they could swim and fish.

The Mapmaker shook his head again. She too ignored his warnings. Floods were known to wash out the path and the rough current of the river made it hard to swim. The fish were very few due to the chemicals from a factory on the bank of the river.

But the Mapmaker was unable to share any of this information since the couple continued to argue back and forth and ignore the warnings he had written. Many, many times he tried to interject, but to no avail.

If they would just take a moment to listen or study the map better, they would see the best way to go, and they could both be happy. They would see the straight path did indeed have the scenery of the mountains with plenty of hiking and the view of a river without a rough current and plenty of fish to catch in uncontaminated waters.

With deep sadness, he and his guide stood in silence near the couple as they argued, waiting to be of assistance. Their voices grew louder and louder. Each one determined to make their point heard, without any intention to listen to the others side.

If only they would ask him. HE was the Mapmaker. He knew the way.

The couple purchased two maps and two of every type of equipment needed. When they left, they went separate ways. The Mapmaker motioned for the guide to follow.

The Mapmaker sighed. Although they never conferred with him at all, ultimately, it would be his fault when they faced their trials.

Soon the bell rang over the front door again. The Mapmaker prepared himself with eagerness to talk and help another customer plan their trip.

“Hello,” he called in a cheery voice to the young couple that entered.

“Hello,” the woman replied. “We’ve heard all about you. We are looking for a map to go on a particular journey.”

The perfect map was picked for the couple and then laid out before them. They spent the next hour or so discussing the right direction to go. The Mapmaker showed them the perfect path to their destination. It was a hard one, but they would discover great rewards at the end.

The man pointed to the other shorter, wider paths and listened as the Mapmaker informed him of all of the dangers and things that would hinder him getting to his goal.

Both paid close attention, believing and knowing since this was the Mapmaker, they should listen carefully to get the best out of their adventure.

After a cup of coffee and a snack, the two left the shop carrying out all the equipment needed, a map, and a guide sent from the Mapmaker. It was a joy to hear the laughter and excitement in their voices as they went off together on their journey.

The Mapmaker smiled knowing how much they would enjoy their trip. He’d make a point to be there at the end of it to commend them on how well they had done.

He still had hopes for the other couple too. His door was always open in case they decided to turn around and ask Him, the Mapmaker for help.

God knows where all of our paths lead. He is our Mapmaker.

Psalm 139: 1-24

Philippians 4: 6-9

Colossians 3: 12-17

Psalm 62:8

Friday, January 14, 2011

THE FORTY DAY CHALLENGE

My great niece lives across the country from her dad. She gets to see him a few months during the summer, a couple weeks during the winter and a week during the spring. Not much time for a little girl who adores her daddy and a daddy who adores his little girl.

Recently right after she returned home from Christmas break, she called her nana from a box. “You’re calling from a box?” Yes, she had put her daddy’s address on it and crawled inside so she could be shipped back to him.

The time they spend together is very valuable. During the interim there are many phone calls to one another and gift packages.

What a wonderful relationship the two have between them. Although, they don’t see each other often they keep in contact and share things of their life with one another. They take the time to truly get to know one another. My niece could know her dad from what the people around her say but, she goes right to the source and values her time with him.

When I was very young I was taught to read the Bible, everyday. I read it but, didn’t apply anything of it to my life except some stuff I decided to pick out of it. I had my own view of God and it didn’t come from the Bible.

Things changed in my late twenties. I was introduced to the God of the Bible. When I started spending time seeking a relationship with Him, I discovered God wasn’t who I had conjured Him up to be and His ways weren’t what I said they were, believe me I had some pretty strong opinions about God, yet it was only my opinion. I now love to spend time praying (talking with God), reading His Word, worshipping Him and fellowshipping with other believers. I love to talk about Him because I spend time and am discovering how wonderful and loving He is.

Instead of just reading the Bible, I started praying about what I was reading asking God to lead me and bless the time I spent in His word. Also, to change me and give me whatever I needed to follow who He really is.

I’ve been asked by people many times, how do you do devotions (daily time with God)? And been told it’s too hard to read or it’s boring. Also, I’ve heard the same opinions said to me that I used to have until I started taking the time to really listen to what HE had to say about Himself.

SO, I would just like to throw out a challenge to you today. No matter what your personal beliefs are, or what your opinions about the God who created you are, I challenge you to get something to write on and a pen or pencil and then open up the Bible for at least fifteen minutes and read it, for forty days. Ask God to reveal Himself to you and jot down on the paper what you hear.

I will confess to you the King James Version is hard to understand but the New King James is a bit easier. There is a New International Version, American Standard, and a Living Translation. Pick whichever one you want I just hope you do the challenge.

Just some guidance, the gospels are in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, they tell about when Jesus walked among us. Acts is about the early church and the others in the New Testament are letters to the various churches. Revelations is about Jesus return.

The Old Testament is filled with incredible stories of how God interacted with His people. Genesis starts with creation, you can go through and read about Moses, Joseph, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther and see how God worked in their lives.
Psalms is great to read and if you read a Proverb a day you will read the entire book of Proverbs.

It's good to start with the book of John to learn about Jesus and who He really is. Although I love what I read through the whole Bible, my favorites are Mark, Peter, Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis and Exodus.

And why forty? I only picked that number because forty is used in the Bible a lot. Like Moses and the Israelites walked around in the desert for forty years. Jesus was out in the wilderness fasting for forty days. So I picked forty. You can go more though, which I hope and pray you end up doing.

I hope you take this challenge and if you do, I’d love to hear about it.