2016: A Year in Review

indeedThe year 2017 is in full swing. Have you reviewed the plans you had made for 2016? How did you do?

I didn’t meet all my goals. In fact, I only met a few.

I wanted to publish my book, Ten Days to Live, but it didn’t happen. Additionally, my speaker’s calendar didn’t fill as much as I had hoped.

But I’m excited because I’m seeing God at work. I see reminders of that every time I sit at my desk. I trust that God’s word is good.

Unanticipated opportunities came before me. Different people crossed my path during 2016 that I believe were divinely lead. For these reasons, I have hope and excitement as I enter 2017.

Are you focused on what you missed or on the serendipitous events that blessed your life last year? It’s a choice … and I choose blessings.

What say you?

 

Surviving the Unknown World

August 1983
The cool air and the long rays of morning sun greeted the three of us as we traveled the long driveway. It took everything in me not to start crying.

“Today’s a great day!” I said, with too much pep in my voice. I wanted to make sure I told him all he needed to know for this special day. “You’ll meet new people and it’ll be terrific!”

We continued to walk, hand in hand as we always had in the past. He stopped, looked up into my eye, and with a sober voice, “It is a great day, right, Mommy?”

Little Sis skipped along singing Great day, It’s gonna be a great day … She had no idea the somberness of this moment. But how could she? How could she know what it felt like to lose a baby into an Unknown World?

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Using Words that Count

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Our hearts are full of love as we set a course full of good things when we hold our swaddled babies in our arms. We never want heartache and pain to enter their little worlds.

But it does, and sometimes we can’t save them.

Take a moment and read Beth Miesse Saadati’s latest post, It Shouldn’t Have End This Way: The Epilogue to My Daughter’s Suicide Note. Beth has felt pain no parent should feel. Maybe her words can be used to reach that special person, letting them know that they are loved.

Our children need to hear us–really hear what we say–when we tell them bad situations don’t last forever. They need to know they matter; that they fill our lives with joy every day.

Love you, Beth, and am praying for you and your family..

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What Will I Find in 2016?

indeed

Posted on my computer screen as a reminder of God’s promises and purposes for my life.

Every year I try to find a word or theme to follow. For 2015, the word was “Indeed”. I may not be where I want to be, but I am clinging to God’s promises. Verses like:

Exodus 3:7 – God sees us and our plights
Psalm 85:12 – God promises good things
Psalm 121:4 – God promises protection
Proverbs 2:3 – God promises wisdom
Luke 12:7 – Jesus stresses our value
John 4:14 – Jesus promises eternal life
John 8:36 – John promises freedom

In 2015, I saw God’s word in action. I am thankful for remembering the words of comfort offered. He has a plan set for me. He loves me. He has a plan set for you. He loves you, too.

What are you clinging to as 2015 closes and 2016 awakens? What are God’s promises that you are depending on?

A Rose by Any Other Name …

Some call it Karma. Some say it’s Sowing and Reaping. Others say it’s getting your Just Desserts. Whatever you call it, it’s all the same: getting what you give out. The concept is a simple one: you give … you get. And you will get more abundantly than you give.

If you plant kernels of corn, you harvest a field of corn. Easy enough. But don’t lose sight of the power and magnitude of this law of nature. It goes beyond the farm.

If you speak kindness to people, kind words will find their way back to you. And if you speak harsh and judgmental words, you will be judged harshly.

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More Than I Ever Expected

BRMCWC_Logo_2013I returned home just a few hours ago from my first Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. As I unpacked my bags, I tried to get my thoughts around my experiences there.

I met some incredibly gifted Writers, all friendly and willing to offer support. I met a number of Editors who offered time to anyone who wanted their professional opinion on how to hone their craft. And I met Agents who wanted to guide any conferee toward the best match of support possible. If the pitch offered wasn’t in their agency’s genre, they pointed the conferee in the direction toward the agency where they may find success.

But the most impressive part of the week—more than a writers’ exposure to everything needed to succeed—was the prayers and emotional support offered between faculty and conferee. Writing was the hook, but there was no getting away from the ultimate purpose of the time there: how to best serve our Savior with the gifts he blessed each of us.

I made life-long friends in the few days I was at BRMCRC. There will be Facebook’d pictures, blogging and guest blogging, shared ministries, and prayers of intercession that span hundreds of miles. And it all came about because we set a week apart to become better writers.

I will share with my friends the stories that we laughed (or cried) to later this week, but for now I want to sit … reflect … and thank God for the opportunity to attend Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. And thank you, my fellow conferees and faculty team, for allowing God to use you all in a big and mighty way. To me, YOU are Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Politics

During my morning devotion, I was reminded of Jesus and his relationship with the men and women who followed him. They were all excited about the expectation of being released from Roman bondage. They saw Jesus’ miracles, heard how he put the Pharisees in their place and even that he walked on water.

Their Messiah had arrived!

But Jesus warned them of what was to come.  They had a dream; a picture in their minds of what messiah and savior meant. They had pre-conceived ideas of what their Messiah would do for them. Fortunately for us, their ideas didn’t really match Jesus’ plan.

I see Americans reacting in the same way when it comes to politics. We have preconceived ideas as to what would make this country whole again. Some say it’s the Right while others say it’s the Left. Some say Obama while others say Romney. I’ve even heard the argument that if Jesus was alive today, he would be a member of one party and not the other.

Really?

While Jesus respected the authority of government, he never ran for office or involved himself in politics. He was more concerned with eternity. The only movement he focused on was training twelve ordinary men in the ways of their Heavenly Father.

And I praise God that he succeeded.

Political parties and platforms come and go, but God’s word stands the test of time. If I’m available, I might watch some of the presidential debate tonight. But what I make sure to do during my days is focus on what is never-changing. And what remain constant are God’s promises.

God word tells us how to find peace.

God’s word tells us how to live forever.

God word tells us about abundance.

God’s word tells us how to live our lives.

God’s word even tells us many things will happen before he returns, so why, then, do so may wring their hands over political outcomes?

For me, there are so many of God’s promises that I need to fully comprehend. I have little time to get upset over the political colors of red or blue. In this political season, I will not be swayed by rhetoric. I am and will continue to be swayed by the promise of God.

Panic Set In

Panic set in this morning; when my alarm went off it was still dark outside.

Summer is leaving!

My first reaction was to try and make it stay. There were so many experiences I still wanted to have during the Summer of 2012. There were still places I wanted to visit and people I wanted to meet.

But I knew I had no power over my days. David reminds us:

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” Psalms 39:4-6 NLT

I might not have lots of time, but I want to make sure I use every moment as wisely as I can. How about you? Don’t let panic cripple you to the point of missing out on the sunshine and warmth of summer that is still here. Enjoy … make new friends … see new places. Do these things while you still have the time.

The Chick-fil-A Controversy

I’m a bit confused over the whole Chick-fil-A controversy. Dan Cathy, President of Chick-fil-A Inc., has always been open about his established set of beliefs and values. As a Believer in Christ, one of those established values is to keep Sunday for worship. Because of this, he will not open his restaurants on that day. Another value he holds to is embracing traditional family values, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said in a recent interview. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

In a time when people say one thing yet do another, I would think it would be refreshing to see a man run his company the same way he lives his life: dedicated to what he believes.

I applaud Mr. Cathy for being consistent. And I throw a big Shame-On-You to the organizations and publications that want to take him to task, as well as the contributors who are using this issue to promote controversy.

I don’t hear anyone berating him for being closed on Sunday. I don’t hear anyone picketing his restaurants because chickens are killed to make their famous sandwiches. Here’s a man who is supporting his business doing what he believes is right. And he’s using his venue … his chain of restaurants … to support his values.

I’m not engaging on any side of this issue … because I don’t see an issue. Eat at Mr. Cathy’s restaurant or don’t. The choice is yours. It seems the only people making a big deal out of this are the people who are trying to impress their self-appointed superiority onto others. And this attitude is coming from both sides of the argument; the folks who feel that being in a traditional marriage is the only way to live and those who feel that homosexual relationships are enlightening.

The way I see it is that this is a fallen world and we are dealing with broken people all over the place. Understand, nobody listens to a screaming voice. If either side really wants to make a difference they need to concentrate on areas of commonality, not division. Start communicating from there and see what happens.

I’m all good with Chick-fil-A as I’m good with any gay-owned business. Like I said, I don’t understand the problem … all I see are opportunities to reach out to those who are different from me.

Questions on Looking Back …

In a few days I’ll be heading back to the hometown of my youth for a few days of vacation. I’ll be seeing some friends that I haven’t seen for over 30 years. I’ll also be seeing members of my family that I haven’t seen for quite a while. I’m excited to be sure, but also am dealing with some trepidation.

How odd it is that our life expectations can change; we become something different from what we were all those years earlier. Have we become more than what we were; bigger than what we were previously? Or have we become a shadow of what our dreams were then? Will old friends be pleased to see me or be disappointed in who I’ve become?

And on top of that, will I be disappointed when I realize they have changed too?

Sometimes it’s hard to say.

Life’s experiences hit us all. I can honestly say that even though life has not been all that easy and I have made some colossally bad decisions, I’m better because of the experiences. I’ve learned that offering up all those dark corners of my life to Christ allows him to cover them with the healing blood that flowed for the grace and mercy offered to me.

So if they’re disappointed in who I’ve become, Christ loves me.

If they can’t get beyond my brokenness, Christ loves me.

If I let them down and took a different path than they did, Christ loves me.

Funny, looking back doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did …

because Christ loves me.