She Could Have Walked Away: Don’t Miss Your “Ruth” Blessing!

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

– Ruth 1:14-17

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The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth and Boaz

One moment in time. A bereaved mother, and her two daughters-in-law, on their way back to “the land of Judah” (Ruth 1:6-7 NKJV) from Moab after the deaths of both her sons. Two women, grieving for their husbands. One moment that would change everything and alter the course of history. Urged by their weeping mother-in-law to return to their people, both young widows had a decision to make at a moment’s notice that would change their lives one way or the other. With tears in their eyes, they wept, wanting to stay with her. Broken in her grief, with nothing left to offer them, the woman could only urge them to go back to the life they had known. The one kissed her and turned back. The other stood there, no doubt, with tears running down her cheeks as she watched her sister-in-law walk out of her life. She could have just walked away. But the choice she made in that moment would change her life forever. Her name was Ruth.

Have you ever had a “Ruth” moment? I am sure at one time or other, we all will at some point in our lives. For some, it will be the right choice they make in that moment. For others, it will be one they will regret for the rest of their lives.

For Ruth, it was the right choice. She could have chosen to go back to her people in Moab, and their gods. In the eyes of Naomi, her broken-hearted mother-in-law, there was no more reason for either of her daughters-in-law to stay in her life. The tension builds as they both look to her, weeping as they have, at this point, intended to go back with her to her people (Ruth 1:8-10 NKJV). It’s pretty clear that Naomi is thinking of their future, even in her grief, still weeping as she cries out, asking why they would want to stay with her, seeing she is past childbearing age, and knowing that even if she could have more sons, they couldn’t possibly wait until they were grown. The one, Orpah, finally kisses her mother-in-law and walks away. Naomi, looking to Ruth, can only try to get her to see the obvious pointlessness in her staying with her (Ruth 1:15 NKJV): “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Yet, in that pivotal moment, the young, widowed Ruth couldn’t walk away and leave the poor woman to go on alone. In a dark time of faithlessness and everyone doing whatever was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25 NKJV), she chose to be faithful to the God of Israel, and spoke the well-known words that have now been used in many weddings as wedding vows (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV, see above). It was settled. Ruth chose in that moment to let it be firmly known that she would not leave her. In time, she would see God’s reward for her faithfulness.

As the two women reached the city of Bethlehem, you might say they had a pretty big welcome. Yet, when the women asked about her, calling her by her name, Naomi changes her name (Ruth 1:19-21 NKJV) to Mara, which, in Hebrew, means “bitter”, saying God had dealt very bitterly with her. Click here for the meaning and history of the name, “Naomi”.  So, this is a woman who is truly devastated at this point (Verse 21). Yet, before it was all over, God would turn her situation around.

You see, if you think about it, with the state of grief she was in, she could have adamantly ran Ruth off. Yet, instead, she chose to let her go on with her. Verse eighteen of Chapter One reads, “When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her (or, I guess you could say, she saw no further point to argue with her).

But here’s where it gets interesting. In those days, Jewish custom, or law, said that when a woman’s husband died before she could conceive, his brother was to marry her in order to raise children in his brother’s name. For example, in Genesis 38, we read of the story of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah. So, you see now, why Naomi is so grieved for her daughters-in-law, thus, her emotional response to their pleas in verses 11-13 of that first chapter of Ruth:

But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Yet…I’ve gotta say it! BUT GOD!!!! (You had to know there was a “but God” coming!) 😀 So, Ruth was in the right place at the right time. God placed her directly in the path of Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband! You can read the Book of Ruth in like 5 minutes, but I love what he says to her in Ruth 2:11-12, after she asks why she has found favor in his eyes, that he should take notice of her, since she is a foreigner (Verse 10):

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

More and more lately, I believe, as Bishop T.D. Jakes has well said, Nothing Just Happens. In this message, at about 8:10, Bishop Jakes mentions Orpah and Ruth, and talks about this story, so if you’re interested, you can click the link and listen to this excerpt of his message on this. The footsteps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord (see Psalm 37:23)! So, as God’s reward for Ruth’s  undying loyalty to her mother-in-law, and her faithfulness to Him as the God of Israel, she was rewarded with an honored place in the bloodline leading up to the birth of Christ, through (of course) the Tribe of Judah.

The story of Ruth has to be one of the most beautiful love stories in the Bible, (2nd only to our Jesus and what He did for us, of course). So, Boaz married Ruth, and they had a son, who was named, Obed. Here, from Ruth 4:13-22, is the wonderful ending to their love story, as only God could write it:

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron;Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab;Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.

Remember when I mentioned Tamar earlier? Well, Perez was one of her twin sons. Even the well-known geneology sites can’t touch this! So, think about this story if you ever have a “Ruth” moment, and trust God. He only writes the best love stories.

So, Naomi found joy again, and no doubt, got lots of cuddles in with that new baby boy. Ruth took her place in history, in the bloodline through the Tribe of Judah, leading to the birth of our Savior. She was the great grandmother of David, and another page turned in Biblical history…

…And she could have just walked away. 

A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

When There’s Nothing Left: Dwelling in God’s Peace – 5 Things We Can Learn From Job #BibleDwellers #BookofJob

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At trails park, my husband in background.

So I was going through some of my pictures, trying to pick out one or two to use for this post. I came across these I took on a summer outing to a local trail park with my husband and grandsons a couple of years ago. The dandelion reminded me of when I would pick one when I was little and try to bring it to my mother. It always made me almost want to cry when all the little thingies blew off before I could get it to her. But now, looking a little closer, I decided it would be perfect for what I want to discuss in this post…the story of Job, one of the “Dwellers” in the Bible, as was the subject of the message brought this past Thursday night at our church. If you think about it, all those little “flyers” that float through the air when you blow on it (my youngest grandson still likes to do this) could represent all of the things that Job lost during his trials: his family, his health, and everything he had. Actually, we’d probably need a hundred or so of them to more accurately represent his losses. After a child or someone blows on it, all that is left is the stem…just the way many of us have felt at times in our lives, right?

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My youngest grandson, Julien, at the trails park, blowing a dandelion. We call him “Juju”. ❤ 

Now, more than ever before, God’s people are going through difficult trials, and Jesus said that during the last days it would be this way (See Matthew, ch. 24 and Mark, ch. 13). Being realistic, most of us will go through traumatic events, tragedies, and difficult times at some point in our lives, and all too often, we turn to man-made solutions, and everything else but God. I’ll be the first to admit, I have done this, more than I’d care to admit. Now, I am learning, more than ever, what it means to really “cast our cares upon Him” (see 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22). My faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I have learned to pray for others in my church family and community, and not just myself and my family (see Romans 2:11, Galatians 6:2, Phil. 2:2-4).

Most of us have to admit that at one time or another, we’ve referred to ourselves or someone we love as a “modern day Job”. But have we really taken the time to read the book of Job and take into consideration all that he went through? Better still, for those of us who feel we have endured similar circumstances where we’ve suffered such significant loss that it’s left us feeling hopeless, like nothing matters anymore, what could Job teach us? How could we learn from his story and how he handled it all? Perhaps we would be more inspired to learn from him if we were to read his story and see how his faith paid off in the end. Truthfully, I can’t think of a better one to learn from than Job, if we ever have to face a time when there’s nothing left…

Would You Still Trust Him? Have You Been “Considered”? (If you are serving Christ, and you haven’t, you most likely will be)…

First, before I go any further, let me give a special shout out to my sister in Christ, Rev. Tamika Clark, who inspired this post. She brought a powerful message on the “Dwellers” of the Bible this past week at our church. Basing it on Psalm 91:1-2, she named several throughout the Bible who were dwellers, men who chose to dwell securely in their faith in God, and saw His answers to their prayers.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2

During the message, she gave a challenge for us to go and read the book of Job, and learn from it, and perhaps post what we learn. So, being one who loves to accept a challenge, the next day, I did just that. Then too, I am a writer, this is what I do. But I must give credit where it is due. I have to say, I woke up Friday morning with some things coming to me about this, and I just had a knowing that God was placing it in my heart to do this.

Soooo… after starting my day in our prayer room, and my husband and I had finished our morning devotions, I sat there and read the entire book. I want to say I have read it before, but it’s been a while, so I went ahead and read it through again. In reflecting on Job’s story after I had read it, some interesting points came out to me. As I prayed about it and thought it over, I found that it spoke volumes on trusting God in the midst of suffering and trials, and paints a picture of a man who remained steadfast in his faith and love for God, all the way through to the end.

In all that he suffered throughout this whole trial, yet Job never cursed God. As Rev. Tamika brought out in her message, we have to each ask ourselves, could we still love God and stand strong in our faith and loyalty to Him if we were to be considered as Job was? (See Job, chapter 1.) Would our faith stand strong through the trial, as his did? Would we still love Him and trust in Him, even if we reach that point that there was nothing left? Then too, this can happen in many different ways, divorce, job loss, divisions in the family, debilitating accidents (such as the one I went through, click here for more info on my upcoming book) as well as tragedy.

To summarize the book of Job: As the book begins, two times, the devil goes before the Lord, and each time, the Lord asks him if he has considered Job: “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” – (ch. 1, vs. 8). He is told that all that Job has is in the devil’s power, only do not lay a hand on his person. So, Job loses his livestock, his servants, and all of his children. Then, of course, the devil cannot resist, so going back before God the second time, he gains permission to further torment Job, and so, Job loses his health. As the story unfolds, Job is then visited by his three “friends” who proceed to voice their opinions on the matter, accusing him of being a hypocrite, speculating as to whatever great sin Job has committed to deserve all of these calamities that have befallen him. All three are convinced he has to have committed some terrible sin against God to bring all of this on himself. Yet none of them are getting anywhere, as he has something to say each time, so they finally give up. Then, finally, when they’re done, another young man is angered and decides to get his two cents worth in. He is angry at the other three because they have condemned Job without cause, having found no answers (his “rant” begins in ch. 32), and at Job because he “justified himself rather than God”.

Meanwhile… God is just waiting patiently for all of these to get through, and in chapter 38, it says He answers Job out of a whirlwind, and His response, His challenge to Job, is recorded in chapters 38 through 41. I found this part quite interesting. Here are the first 5 verses: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” Job’s response quickly follows in chapter 42, verses 1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

In the end, Job repented of his anger and hasty answers before God, and so God forgave him, and let the other 3 know that His wrath was aroused against them (chapter 42, verses 7-9). God also restored to Job twice as much as what all he had lost, after he had prayed for his friends. Interestingly enough, in verse 16, it says Job lived after all of this one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.

Interesting Points: 5 Things We Can Learn From Job…

  1. Unshakable Faith in our Redeemer… In chapter 19, verses 25-27, in answer to Bildad, the Shuhite’s accusations, basically insinuating that he “doesn’t know God”, (thus, all of this befalling him), Job makes it plain that even after all God has allowed him to go through, he still proclaims his faith in his redeemer: For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Are we building up our faith in Him through studying His Word and staying in prayer and fellowship with Him, so that if we were to go through such a trial, our faith in Him would remain unshakable? The key is to keep trusting Him, no matter what, and not listen to our “flesh”. Job saw beyond the flesh, choosing instead to focus on the end result, as we can clearly see by his response here. 
  2. Trusting God’s Righteous Judgments… It is interesting to read the “rant” from Eliphaz the Temanite in chapter 22, then note Job’s response in chapter 23, especially in verses 10 -12, where he clearly lets him know he trusts in God’s righteous judgments: But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Do we trust Him no matter what? More than anything or anyone else? Job knew there obviously had to be something God wanted him to learn through all of this. He knew that even though he couldn’t understand it, or why it was all happening, He trusted in God’s righteous judgment in allowing it, and He trusted that God would work it all out for his good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Isaiah 55:11 further confirms this: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” His Word will not return to Him void! All things work together for our good, no matter how hard the devil tries to make us think otherwise. Job believed in what he could not yet see (see Hebrews 11:1), and that faith worked for him, just as it will for us. Just as in Job’s case, what the devil intends to destroy us, God will use to make us stronger, AND, He will vindicate us for our losses, and turn it all into a powerful testimony, if we only trust Him, even through the pain.
  3. Repenting for his family/children… Going back to the beginning, in chapter one, (this was also brought out in Sister Tamika’s message), Job would regularly offer burnt offerings for them all (before the time of Christ on earth), so he regularly prayed to God on their behalf. How many of us, when we feel we have been wronged, whether by friends, co-workers, or even family, can we pray and repent on their behalf? Note again here, in the end, in that last chapter, Job’s losses were restored to him, even more children, after he had prayed for his three friends and forgiven them himself, basically repented on their behalf. Of course, we know those who have wronged us will have to repent on their own to God, but again, Job’s vindication came from God, for all he had suffered, not only after his own repentance, but in offering the prayers for forgiveness for his friends, as if you read God’s initial response to them in chapter 42, verses 7-8: And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 
  4. God Knew the Devil Would Lose this Battle… We have to remember here, that God knew how this whole thing was going to turn out from the beginning. (I’m actually picturing God, shaking His head, with a big grin on His face as the devil walks off.) In reading chapter one, we have the conversation between God and the devil: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” Clearly, the devil thought he would no doubt, win this whole thing, and get Job to turn against God. But think about it. He is clearly being offered a chance to get at the most Godly and faithful man there was, on earth even! Yet, through it all, it says in verse 22: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Even in chapter 2, verse 10, (after being struck with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head) when his wife asks why doesn’t he just curse God and die, he answers: “…“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” It further reads, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”. And even through all the torment he went through with the “debate” with his three “friends” and all their accusations and speculations, and his defense rants he retorted back to them, yet his faith was never shaken. Why should it be? He knew God Himself was his “Attorney”, and that His judgment was the only one that mattered. Throughout all that he lost, he never cursed God, and in the end, after he prayed for his friends and forgave them, even as he knew God had forgiven him once, God restored to him twice all that he had lost. Job’s faith was tested in the fiery furnace, and because he never lost faith in God, (as God well knew that he wouldn’t) and indeed, continued to praise him, even after the loss of his children, his health, his wealth, and everything, he came out “as fine gold”, just as he had said he would (ch. 23, vs. 10-12). He did, and we will too, if we keep our faith, and our focus, on our Redeemer, and not what others say. Like Job did, we must place our trust in the One Who laid the foundations of the earth, and what His Word says about us, not what our naysayers think. 
  5. The Boils – What We Can Learn From His Pain… If you’ve ever known anyone who has had them, they are no doubt likely some of the most painful kind of sores you can get. As I woke up and went into the prayer room that morning, the Lord brought to my mind an insightful comparison on this. If you apply this in a spiritual context, many of us are walking around with deep emotional wounds that we’ve managed to hide, even from ourselves. Only after going through some fiery trials myself during the past few years have I finally begun to see this. Like many others, sometimes it seems after a “wound” is almost “healed”, there is always something else that happens, or is thrown upon us, or someone who hurts us, in a way that seems to “rip the scab” off again, leaving us “bleeding” emotionally, or in a spiritual sense. We can’t understand why it happens, after we’ve prayed about it, fasted, and prayed some more, yet still, it happens. (We must understand here, that when we “hide” our wounds, instead of giving it fully to God, the enemy sees this, and he will hit us where it hurts.) Many times, instead of really trusting God, we say we’ve prayed about it, but then, we still keep “nursing it”. No doubt Job, in his initial discourse, was in enough pain to regret the day he was born. Yet, like Job, we must remember, God, our Healer and loving Heavenly Father, will bring us through these painful trials, and bring us healing and deliverance, in His time, not ours. In my own personal experience, I found myself at times, feeling sorry for myself, (even sometimes, calling it “prayer”), in effect, “nursing” those wounds again, when it finally occurred to me the more I sought the Word and prayed about it, that He can’t “heal” all those old wounds I’ve been covering up and hiding, even from myself, until I completely turn it all over to Him. Then, there won’t be an old “wound” for the scab to be ripped off to start with! When we get in the Word, believe it, and speak it over our situation, this breaks the enemy’s power to use it over us any longer! God wants to heal all those old wounds in our hearts, and use it all to make us stronger, but we have to open the door of our hearts and let Him in so He can!

When There is Nothing Left…

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Another encouraging reminder, on the wall in my work room.

In reflecting on my own journey through life, I’ve gone through some “Job” trials, and before it’s all over, no doubt, I will go through more. Jesus said as long as we are on the earth, we will have trials. In John 16:33, He said: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”. At age twelve, I lost my nine year old brother, Charles, in a tragic freak accident, and at twenty, I was in a horrific automobile accident that almost took my own life. The road to recovery for me was a long and hard one, and because of the choices I made early in my life, it was a lot harder. There were times I almost threw in the towel. Even in more recent trials I have gone through as I work toward getting my books finished and preparing for my ministry, I have had times I felt like that. Yet, through God’s grace I am still here. We will go through those fiery trials as long as we are on this earth as we work while we await our Lord’s return. But if we:

  • Never lose faith in our Redeemer
  • Trust His righteous judgments as Job did (in other words, stop second guessing Him and questioning why He lets things happen-again, see Romans 8:28)
  • Open our hearts so He can go in and heal all of those old “wounds”,
  • Study His Word, and let it build our faith, then…
  • Speak it over the situation!…

…It is then that we will have developed the truly unshakable faith that Job had. It is then, as we are passed through the fire, that the impurities are removed, all those weaknesses we had before are purged out, and then that we will come out tried as fine20180708_171051 gold. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, God knows that sometimes, it is in reaching our lowest valleys in this life, when we feel we have lost everything, when there is nothing left but God Himself, that we finally see that He is all we need. Perhaps that is what motivated the previous residents of our home to put this on the wall in our laundry room: “When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough”. Job’s point, exactly.

All Writers: Hats off to the Late, Great Natalie Babbitt! #childrensauthor #tuckeverlasting

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In memory of Natalie Babbitt, 1932 – 2016

I write for children because I am interested in fantasy and the possibilities for experience of all kinds before the time of compromise. I believe that children are far more perceptive and wise than American books give them credit for being.  ~ Natalie Babbitt

You may remember from my past posts that my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, was in part, inspired by the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, which was actually adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbitt. To be honest, it was also inspired largely by a walk I took one day. I came back in and sat down and felt it coming to me. It has been more than a few times that the ideas for the projects I have been working on so far have come to me from the Great Author Himself, and such was the case this time. It has seemed that this has happened right at the times I was about to just give up and “throw in the towel” on it all. But, I also know that I wouldn’t be the author and writer I am now if it weren’t for the inspiration I have received from other authors.

As writers, they are our teachers, and we can learn much just from reading their work. Natalie said as much in an interview I was able to find. You can read it here. Indeed, she has been one of my greatest teachers. I was doing an internet search for something pertaining to what I was working on and happened to see the news headlines that she left our world on October 31, 2016. She was 84. Read it here.

Although she did not start out wanting to be a writer, but rather, an illustrator, she wrote several books in the span of her writing career and illustrated many others. Here is a listing of her books as well as a bio about her.  You may have seen this movie that was adapted from her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. Here is the movie trailer:

I think I can speak for all writers, who aspire to be great authors one of these days, that we can say, “hats off”, to one who has truly been a great teacher and inspiration to us all. Thank you, Mrs. Babbitt, for all you have taught me as a writer myself, and for the great works you have left us. May they continue to inspire future generations of young readers, as you have inspired us! In one of her quotes from the story, I believe it was the father in the “Tuck” family who says, to “Winnie Foster”, “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I choose to live, live my life to the fullest and to celebrate the gifts I have been given, and what all I can accomplish with the time I have left on this earth. After all, there are plenty of teachers who have paved the way before me, and the Great Author Himself, to guide my way.

I also took advantage of the anniversary edition of her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. I may not be a child reader, but then, there is still a little bit of our childhood left in all of us, I think. Besides, to all of us as authors, reading the works of those who came before us is how we learn. To quote my character, “Anna”, who also narrates the story in “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, I think this is probably one of my favorite lines in the whole book:

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…but that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” 

Why not take a journey back down that path, if but for a little while…

Click here to read a sample of the 40th Anniversary Edition of “Tuck Everlasting”. 

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.  – Ray Bradbury

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” —Robert Benchley

cropped-cropped-kimg15561.jpgHi again, everyone! I hope everyone’s enjoying this lovely Saturday – and yes, I do plan to get out with my husband and enjoy it a little myself in a little bit. But first, I wanted to share with all of you other writers out there, (or would  be writers, hey what are you waiting for?) my second installment of “Book Writing for Procrastinators, Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks”. I also have a little surprise I want to share with you, a podcast on this very subject I happened to stumble across. But before I get into all of that, I would like to suggest that if you haven’t read my first post on this subject, take a moment to go here and read it.  It’s loaded with tips on what has helped me, and 8 ways to learn from the pros, and get started writing that book, along with some links to resources from some more experienced writers who have been some of my greatest teachers, so be sure and check that out for some good advice on how to quit procrastinating, get started, and write that best seller! Hey, I know I’m not quite there yet, but we’re all writers helping writers, right? So without further ado, let’s dig in to what I have for you today!

How Procrastination is Born: Overcoming Mind Blocks…

In the last post, I mentioned that I have PTSD from a terrible car accident years ago. That’s just it, I have it, it doesn’t have me! As I mentioned in that last post, for years I struggled with lack of confidence and other issues, which mainly stemmed from the PTSD. Of course, I am doing much better now than I was a few years ago. Now, through my faith in a God that will never leave us nor forsake us, and the love of my wonderful, sweet husband, who is also my high school sweetheart, whom God recently reunited me with after all these years, I am doing much better. You can read some of our story here! Here is a sneak preview of my book on faith that is coming out soon, which will have my story of my near death experience and what I’ve learned on my road to healing. So, with 2 books now under my belt, I want to share with you what has helped me…

Mind Blocks: Finding the Root Cause of Procrastination…

My point here is, you just wouldn’t believe how much things like this can affect you. I know it did me, for a long time. Besides that, for years, I suffered from low self esteem, in large part due to the fact that I worried too much about what other people thought about me, among other things. What I didn’t realize was, over time, all of this just kind of conglomerated into a mind block. This, together with the bouts of depression that come from going through “the change” (I am a grandma now), along with my tendencies to become easily distracted, caused me to develop a mind block that nearly derailed my ever getting much of anything done, that is, until I decided enough was enough. I prayed about it, and I talked it over with my husband. Then, I came across a powerful podcast from Kary Oberbrunner. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a very influential author, coach, and speaker working to “help other writers, people, and others just like you and me to discover who we are, why we are here, and how to become souls on fire so we can share our message with the world.”  Visit him and check out his website and some of the resources he has available here.

So, Check This Out…

Over time, this stuff can really “clog your mind up”, just like an old, nasty air condition filter in your home that needs replacing. You pull it out to replace it and say, “Wow, I didn’t know all of that was in there!” Well, that’s how our minds get sometimes, and eventually, it causes you to form a mind block, like I did. That lack of confidence in yourself can spill over into an addiction to social media and email, etc, which is what Kary Oberbrunner talks about in this podcast, which I found to be very helpful. So, I will just share the link here with you, and you can go check it out for yourself. So, since he explains it better than I can, here you go, head on over and just listen to this. I know it helped me.

How to overcome an addiction to email and social media, by Kary Oberbrunner 

For me, as well as the rest of us in the undiagnosed generation of people who likely suffer from an adult form of ADD – or Attention Deficit Disorder, it can be a challenge to get things done that others find so easy to just breeze right through. After listening to Kary’s podcast, I began to realize that it was my own lack of confidence in myself, among other things, that led to my eventually letting things like email, social media, and other things provide that “sense of accomplishment” he refers to here. Now that I understand a little better what the root of my problem was, I, like others who read this, can begin to become friends with myself again, and work to cut out the “time wasters” that have distracted me. I can work to put myself on a schedule that will be effective for me, just like I do my young grandsons when they come to stay with “Mamaw”, and I can finally believe in myself enough to overcome procrastination and get those books written, and I think you can too!

You Can Do This!

It is in exploring the root cause of procrastination, that we will finally begin to understand it better, and thus, overcome it, and the mind blocks that come with it, and eventually replace it with a focused plan and a schedule. It is in doing so, that we will finally understand who we are, why we are here, and what our message is that we have been put here to share with the rest of the world. That is where the renewed confidence in ourselves will come in, and we will become a powerful and unstoppable force, moving forward to the prize before us.

Well?…

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Okay, so I snitched this pic from Facebook. So what’s your story? And why aren’t you writing? Let me know when your book comes out! Until next time, happy writing! Now, if you will excuse me, I have some writing to do, and I think you do too!

Thanks for reading, hope this helps someone! If it’s helped you, then please feel free to share it with someone! Then, get to writing!

Click here to read Part 1: Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller!

 

Happy #Mother’s Day 2015! #lastminutemomsgiftideas

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my flipagram I did for my mother. It’s a free app you can download with your phone, and create a video slide show to music you like from your pictures on your phone.

I really don’t know if I could have gone through all she has gone through and remain as strong as she has. I am everything I am because of the things she has taught me, and because she never gave up on me. If you would like to do one of these for your Mom, the app is free to download. This one’s not perfect, after all, it is my first one, but here you go. Enjoy! And here’s wishing everyone a safe and Happy Mother’s Day! Oh, and at 3:57, I’m in that pic, you just can’t see me yet!

Want to make your own? Hit the button at the bottom of this one.

https://flipagram.com/f/VHG42wM2Q7/embed

http://flipagram.com/f/VHG42wM2Q7

Easter Reflections: Through a Grandmother’s Eyes

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I am taking a moment to venture from the usual fare, of books and writing and so forth, to share my reflections of this past Easter. After all, without our risen Savior as my guide, I most certainly would not be where I am now. I have been many things, but I share this with you, through my eyes as a grandmother.

At first glance, when you look at this picture, you might think of it merely as a nice picture of a buttercup. (Yes, I am a flower and nature lover). But then, look closer. There he is, in the background, a simply adorable little boy who was also enjoying the park with his parents, and a photographer.

The park I am referring to is more of a beautiful garden that was created by the owner in memory of his wife as a tribute to her. It is located in Lillington, NC. At the stop light, instead of turning right onto Main St, turn left and it will be down on the left. I am quite certain weddings have been held there as well as other family celebrations. I recently spoke with the lady who is now caring for it. If I remember correctly, he was her father in law. He has now passed on, but the beauty of this lovely place, that few seem to know about, remains to be enjoyed by anyone who desires to stop by. It is where my husband, Keith, and I had our engagement pictures taken, and has long been sort of my “secret place” to go to. It was also part of the inspiration for another of my books I am working on, “Love’s Timeless Garden”, which will be coming sometime in the near future.

After we got out of church on this beautiful Easter Sunday, my husband, Keith, and I prepared to go to visit my daughter and her husband, and my other daughter and my grandsons. We hid Easter eggs and enjoyed watching my young grandsons hunt for them. It was also one of my grandsons’ birthday, so we brought him his birthday gifts as well. We grilled out and took time to visit with them and talk with the children about school and other things. It was a good visit, and we drove back home feeling tired but blessed.

We were also blessed with a wonderful Easter Service at our church. We enjoyed singing with the choir and celebrating our Risen Savior! In addition to the other songs we sang, I sang one that I have always wanted to sing. With the choir joining in with me at the end, once again, the morning of the first Easter came to life with this song, one of my favorites, that has been performed by Dolly Parton as well as others…

Then, as the Pastor brought the message, we took the children back into the fellowship hall for Children’s Church. Although we didn’t actually count them, I am certain we had around twenty or so. As we both have had experience as substitute teachers, our experience came in handy. We did some fun things with them to help them learn what Easter is all about. All in all, it was something we enjoyed doing, and we emerged more confident because of how much easier it is to work with them considering our experience. Here’s where my grandmother radar kicks in.

As a grandmother, I have had many “teaching moments” with my grandsons. We as grandparents look for those little moments to take advantage of. Whether your grandchildren call you “Mamaw”, as my grandsons call me, or “Memaw”, “Nana”, or “Nanny” as we all called my grandmothers, or “Papa”, “Pawpaw”, or “Grandpa”, our greatest treasures in life are in looking back and treasuring these times with our grandchildren as they grow older, and in knowing that those little “life lessons” we have taught them will go with them throughout their adult lives. It is in knowing that we have taken every opportunity we could find to teach them, and to do it in a fun way that will stick with them, and one day become the treasured memories that they in turn will hand down to their children and grandchildren, that we can truly know we have served that name well, whatever it is they call you. It’s in knowing we have done this to the best of our ability that we can be blessed in seeing the smiles that come to their faces when they get to come and see you. Some of my fondest memories are of going on “dinosaur walks” with my grandsons. The sticks were the “dinosaur” bones. Other favorite times I have enjoyed as “Mamaw” are in reading them stories, especially some of the same ones I read to their mothers when they were little, and in sharing fun memories of their mothers and their uncle as they were growing up. Other times, I have taken a moment to take one of them aside and sit and talk with them about their feelings, when they needed to learn self control. I have enjoyed watching their individual personalities and intellectual abilities develop as they grow older.

We could go on all day sharing these memories, but the one thing we know for sure is, once you are a grandparent, you never see children the same way again. Perhaps that is why I have now begun to have a new attitude towards all children. Just like with my own grandchildren, I find myself wanting all children to have those priceless “grandma” or “grandpa” moments. You may not be a grandma or grandpa yet, and your own children may still be small, or maybe even teenagers, but the memories you are creating today are the “grandpa” or “grandma” moments you will one day share with your own grandchildren. Make them great ones, and make them count.

Perhaps that is why the picture above is priceless to me. Sure my husband knows I am quite the “shutterbug” when it comes to taking pictures. He even stopped for me to take photos of some beautiful pink dogwoods I happened to notice for the first time on that lovely Easter afternoon before we got ready to go and visit my daughters and grandsons. Call it one of those priceless moments. The family that was with the little boy, there at the lovely and timeless garden of love that was created out of a man’s love for his wife, seemed to be totally immersed into the moments with this adorable little boy, who looked almost angelic in his Easter outfit and the hat he wore.

Being the “picture taking nut” that I am, I was just itching to ask if it would be alright with them if I took a picture of him. Yet, in respect of their privacy and not wanting to disturb the peacefulness of their moments, I refrained. Yet there he is, in the background of this timeless photo, unintentionally preserved forever in a picture I was merely taking of a buttercup.

Like I said, being a grandparent changes you…forever.