My Manifesto

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Writing has been a love of mine since I was a little girl. My first attempt at writing was a version of a mystery I’d read and loved. Shortly thereafter I learned what the word  plagiarism meant. So much for that story.

I wrote often growing up, mostly about what was bothering me on any given day. Those words are long gone, something I’ve regretted. I didn’t learn about proper journaling for many years and I must admit, I’m not very good at journaling every day.

I was brought up in a home where God was talked about. I didn’t much question my belief in there being a God, I just believed. Until late in my twenties. Then I questioned Him a lot.

Coincidentally, at the same time, I realized a few things about myself:

  1. All the decisions I’d made about my life once I left home ended poorly.  I was not the independent soul I longed to be,
  2. I needed help,
  3. I didn’t know where to go for that help,
  4. So I went looking for a church to find answers.

It took a little bit of doing but I eventually found a church I felt I belonged in. Different from the one I grew up in, this church began filling a hole I hadn’t realized was there. Over the course of a few years I realized I was loved and I had purpose. God loves me and He gave me a purpose. Whew! That took a lot to get out on paper!

Purpose in God needs tending because truth takes time. In some instances (ah-hem! Did I say that?) truth can take a very long time to sink in. But, loving Jesus Christ taught me that He’s not impatient and He’s quite willing to hang around with me, waiting for me to understand His love, purpose, and sheer determination to help me get it. Yep, it took time, but I finally got it.

Writing, and a few other creative inclinations I love, was a part of me because that is the way He created me to be. Listening happens to fall into that list of things I do well. Having empathy for hurting people was yet another quality I was given. Finally, after listening to others most of my adult life, as they poured out frustrations, hurts, pains and dilemmas, I began playing with the idea that I had also been given the creative ability to make sense out of people’s lives. Did I believe that right off?  No. Not so easy to think you may have been given a talent to put others at ease even when you’re having trouble doing that for yourself.

I’ve heard the saying that God doesn’t make junk. It was easy to discount for a long time. But when you love to write, you love to listen and help problem-solve, and especially when others tell you they feel better having spent time with you, I ever-so-slowly began to wonder if it could be true.

It has only taken approximately forty years to begin to trust in all this. God has honored my attempts to keep learning about Him and how not to lean on my own understanding. I think I’m making headway and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. I am a writer,
  2. I am a listener and a problem-solver,
  3. I am creative,
  4. And I love to encourage others.

Therefore, this blog is to Just Encourage!

Life Can Be…

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…messy!  I don’t much like the days that are messy.  I received a phone call from a dear friend last night and her news was, well, messy.  Not the fact that she called but that she needed a friend to talk to about life that had suddenly turned messy.

This morning I read, “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”  Psa 48:14

Sigh!  I am grateful for this particular scripture today.  When life gets messy…seek God.  He loves it when we come.  He will guide us, through the thick, the thin, the smooth and the messies.

However, the absolute best part is this:  this is our God, forever and ever!  He is here, with you, with me, always.  I suspect He is grieved by us at times but He promises to be our God, guiding us through the hard days and the sweet days.

I’m not sure what you’re facing today, but I pray God’s love and covering over you.  Remember you are not traversing this alone.  Change the way you think this day: while the trial may be difficult, you are not alone.

I’m reminded of a song I love from days past.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

We are not alone.  Our God who loves us is here, right in the middle of our mess.  And if we keep our eyes upon Him, He will guide us through this one!

Turn your eyes upward today.  He’ll show you the way through…

I Want to See God’s Spiritual Realms in My World

imageI love this photograph.  An amazing creation surrounds created man.  I do not infer man as a gender but as the all encompassing creation of mankind, male and female alike, created in God’s image.

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Gen 1:26-27 Amp.

The reason I love this photograph is because the vastness of the night sky, so beautiful to observe, helps put mankind in perspective to God’s realm.  When I look upward at night, I’m reminded just how small I am in the whole scope of life.

We often forget our true place in God’s creation.  Depending on what is happening in my life, I can erroneously become full of myself and attempt to rule not only my own circumstances but also those of others around me.  When tuned into God and His plans, the Holy Spirit quite capably brings me back, through corrections, to my proper place as represented by this photograph.

The interesting thing to ponder is that this night sky representation shows the vastness of God’s reach.  We catch glimpses of it on clear nights.  We can be set into absolute awe as we correctly realize our true place in God’s economy.  We will go to bed after such observations with a peace that God is in control and all is well in our world.  And then something happens when we wake in the morning.

A new day dawns, bright and clear, and off we go into our life.  If you’re anything like me, it may not be long before I enter into the circumstances of my life, forgetting that God has His ways — and I have mine.  I can easily fall prey to taking back control of my life as the onslaught of issues in this complicated world present themselves to me.

You see, the truth of life is that if I were to look up in the day hours, I wouldn’t see that beautiful heavenscape I witnessed the night before.  It seemingly vanishes from sight with the light of day.  Truth is though it is still there, just hidden from my seeing at the moment.

The same is true of the spiritual realms.  They are with us, always, however they are not easily seen.  God can anoint us to see into the spiritual realms and I believe He loves to open our eyes to this potential.  But, in order to see spiritual realms, we must first realize and acknowledge they are there!  Just because we can’t see them clearly, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  God is a mystery, too glorious to comprehend.  But as He grows and matures us in our faith, more is revealed.  And if we are actively seeking Him (His heart’s desire), I believe He is overjoyed to reveal to us more and more of His economy.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”  Pro 25:2 NKJV

I want to invite you today to join with me in asking Papa God to anoint our eyes to “see” His spiritual world. Perhaps for the first time or possibly in a renewed look, let’s turn our eyes heavenward and ask that He reveal more of His ways to us.  In this way, we open ourselves and give permission to Papa to allow us to take part in more of His mysterious ways.

Would you agree with me that catching a glimpse of His creative and blessed space in daytime would be a most welcome sight?  Who knows what He might choose to show you…perhaps He longs to give you an answer to the question you’ve been asking Him for a long time now.

Moses turned aside to observe the burning bush (Exo 3:3-4).  That singular act, separated Moses from the rest and God chose to show him (Moses) His glory.  Let’s turn aside today, shall we?

Lord, we long for more of You and we long to see Your spiritual realms.  I believe there is something You desire to show each one of us this day.  Help us Lord to see.

P.S. Take a look at the photograph again.  God just gave me a glimpse of His hands in that rock!  Holding us in His hands, protecting His creation in love.  Ahhh.  Thank you Lord.

He’s Showing the Way

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This is it. The end of 2014. The year came…and went. What transpired this past year?  I realize this year has been a year of discovery. Seems silly to say that at this stage of my life, but it’s true.  I can learn new tricks!

I discovered a new vision, hopes, and directions.  I learned how to put a fresh face on my blog.  I discovered a new group of fellow travelers who taught me new ways of thinking and that in turn helped me get out of my box.  I love this.

God never intended us to sit still.  He never said, “wait here while I work in your life.”  No, He intended that we go forward.  One foot in front of the other.  Daring to take risks.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)  As I take a step, He’s there, ready to meet and show me where the next footfall goes.

I am overflowing with anticipation for the year ahead.  This year is gone — but there’s a new one waiting in the wings.  Twelve brand new months.  365 days.  And I am excited.  Yes!

A friend called today and as we talked, a theme emerged.  We each agreed that we want to be intentional in this new year.  It is so easy to march through the days with no particular destination in mind.  God knows I’ve spent too much time in that mindset.  No, this year I want Him to guide me to a higher place, a place that is actually on my agenda.

Take me to another place Lord, a higher place than this I’ve been walking in.  Take my hand and help me arrive there, the place you are delighted to show me.  I want to be intentional about where I’m going, what I’ll do.  I want to go with you, Lord, because all your ways are ultimately for me.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Do you see the way?  Take a step…

God Loves…You!

There are a number of keys hidden away in the Bible.  It used to seem odd to me that the Lord would hide things in the Bible however, over the years, I’ve discovered a few of them and I think I have better understanding as to why they were hidden in the first place.  When something is given to us, we tend to not take as good care of it as something we’ve had to work for.  Now I realize that may be an overstatement because there are always things given to us in our lives that become treasures.  But, as a general rule, I’ve found I take better care of those things I’ve worked and/or searched for.

When it comes to my faith, I feel I’ve had to scratch and work at every bit of truth I’ve learned along the way.  I was one of those skeptics; “Lord, you prove to me that you’re real and I’ll follow you!”  Yes, I was a hard case.  But, true to His nature, He actually answered the hard cries of my heart and my skepticism melted away.

So this is it. God loves me.  Not because I worked for it, but because He loves me and He gave the gift freely.

Let me explain. The Bible is full, literally overflowing with God’s feelings toward us:

-You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psa. 139:1
-I am familiar with all your ways. Psa. 139:3
-Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matt. 10:29-31
-I chose you when I planned creation. Eph. 1:11-12
-You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psa. 139:15-16
-And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
-Every good gift comes from my Hand. James 1:17
-My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jer. 29:11
-My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psa. 139.17-18
-I will never stop doing good to you. Jer. 32:40
-I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jer. 32:41
-If you will seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deut. 4:29.
-I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Eph. 3:20
-For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thess. 2:16-17
-When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psa. 34:18
-One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Rev. 21:3-4
-And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Rev. 21:3-4
-For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
-Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Cor. 5:18-19
-I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Rom. 8:31-32
-If you receive the gift of my son, Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
-My question is…will you be my child? John 1:12-13
-I am waiting for you.” Luke 15:11-32
Excerpts taken from “Father’s Love Letter” by Barry Adams

I could go on and on, quoting scripture after scripture of what God has to say about us. He didn’t say it just to me, but to you too!  And while I was the hard case, I really didn’t work for this truth…it was there all along, just for the acceptance.

God loves you. Tomorrow marks the day that Love came down, from heaven to earth, to serve us and become the sacrificial Lamb so we all might live. I pray that this, the Christmas truth, will somehow touch you. Is there more to this story? Oh yes there is. But you must make the first move.

He’s waiting for you. Will you come?

Merry Christmas my friend.

It Was All Carter’s Fault!

Sometimes the most wonderfully unexpected things happen by means of surprising circumstances!

Our grandson came to stay with us this past summer.  He’s 12 1/2 years old and quickly approaching the age when it just won’t be cool to hang out with Mamaw anymore.  At least this is what my logical mind keeps telling me.  I cherish my time with this young man for he is quite wonderful and amazing.  We both love to laugh at things.  When he was little, I would often launch into absolute buffoonery just to make him and his sisters laugh.  Carter has the greatest dimples and when he laughs long and hard, he often says he’s having a dimple freeze meaning his face hurts from so much laughter.  That’s what I always hoped for; dimple freezes translating into we are having laugh attacks together.

Well, during that week he showed signs of wanting to hang out with Papa some and so they did some landscaping work with a bobcat tractor that Carter got to drive for the first time.  He was loving it and I might add, he took to it more readily than grandpa did when he learned!  Not surprising with today’s youth who grow up on technology, video games and joysticks.  He rambled around the yard with absolutely no problems!  Then Papa gave him a few lessons in the art of the golf swing and they spent a few hours throughout the week up in the shop, swinging away at the little white ball into papa’s golf net setup.  Seems Carter has his daddy’s natural ability to have a pretty hefty golf swing; Papa was impressed.  They also shot at targets with a 22 pistol and all these things added up to wonderful “guy time” for Papa and Carter.

As usual Carter and I had a few laughter moments (the old girl still has the knack!), but sadly, I had to work a bit harder to find the silly space between us.  My moments with him came in dreaming up meals that I knew he would appreciate or at the very least like, helping to plan out what we were all doing, and in confounding the boy by trying to turn facts into secrets or silly untruths.  He’s got me figured out pretty well at this age!

Then came Saturday.  Papa was going to be gone at a golf tournament that had been planned prior to our knowing Carter was coming to stay with us.  What were we going to do for the day?  Carter was pretty agreeable to most anything we discussed and then he had an idea.  “How about we do another one of those treasure hunts Mamaw?”  This statement caused no small amount of contemplation on my part.  You see, a treasure hunt is something of a spiritual exercise.  You pray beforehand and ask the Lord for clues to help you find people who need prayer.  Clues can include such things as colors, locations, body parts (meaning a limp, a cast on a wrist, a brace of some sort, anything physical that can be seen), specific articles of clothing, or any other thing to help you find God’s treasure (the person) for prayer.  We had done one of these with all three of our grandchildren about three years before; the results were pretty outstanding and the day made a lasting impression on these kids.  Shucks, they made a lasting impression on us adults as well!

So, Carter wanted to do another treasure hunt.  As wonderful as they are, treasure hunts can cause issues.  Issues like fear, insecurities, and other such distracting things to surface.  And, since it had been quite awhile since I had participated in a treasure hunt, all the uncertainties of treasure hunts started screaming in my head.  “Oh my goodness, I have to muster up courage to approach people!”, “what if someone yells at me?”, and a myriad of other objections wouldn’t leave me alone.  And yet, here is this 12-year-old looking at me with all the confidence in the world that his grandmother is going to take him out on a God adventure and we’re going to pray for people’s needs.  I simply could not let this moment and opportunity pass.

So, off we went into town, armed with our individual lists of clues that included mostly colors, articles of clothing, and a person with a limp.  First we went to one of the grocery stores in town that is situated in a strip mall.  We took our dog with us since she usually is a people magnet.  No one approached us; the dog was not working her charms that day!  We spotted a couple of people with the right color or piece of clothing, and even a man with a limp, but I couldn’t bring myself to chase them out in the parking lot as they approached their cars.  With much frustration, we commented to each other that this was turning out to be harder than the last time we did this.  Finally, we saw a friend leaving in her car and we promptly waved her down to talk.  We told her what we were doing and she told us we could pray for a need she had this day.  With our pump primed now, she drove off and we decided to go to another store in town.

We left Sophie in the car and went inside.  Looking down the aisles, we finally noticed a woman with a gray sweater, two of the clues on our sheets.  We approached.  I excused my intrusion and waited for the woman to acknowledge me.  She continued staring at the shelves of items in front of us.  Inside, I was dying!  “Oh my gosh, this woman thinks I’m a fruitcake!  We should just walk away,” I bemoaned to myself.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see Carter, waiting for his grandmother to launch into action.  How could I bolt with those eyes upon me?  And so I launched into my speech: “Hi, this is my grandson and we are on a treasure hunt today from the Lord.  You are wearing a gray sweater and that was a clue He gave us this morning as we prayed about how we were to find folks who need prayer.  We believe you are one of God’s treasures.  Do you by chance have a need today that we could pray about for you?”  The woman had remained looking straight ahead at the shelves until I finished talking.  She finally turned to look at me, smiled, and said, “oh I don’t think I have any needs today.”  I thanked her, apologized for interrupting her shopping trip and wished her a blessed day.

As we walked off, Carter said, “well, that was awkward, wasn’t it?”  I couldn’t have agreed more.  I felt that this was a bust idea, but for Carter’s sake I never let on how insecure I was feeling at the moment.  We looked for more treasures for another ten minutes or so and I finally said we should head for home.  I was so disappointed.  I had been sure the Lord would use us because He knows how tentative a 12-year-old’s faith is and I didn’t want the enemy to win.  Somehow my disappointment was quickly being transformed into thoughts of failure, all tied up with my fears and doubts about my own courage in this experiment.  We slowly walked out the door.  Off to my right was a pharmacy walk-up window and there, standing against a short wall waiting her turn at the window, was an older woman in a blue shirt and a flowery, knitted cap, more of our clues.  I knew in my heart that this was a woman going through chemo and the hat was covering her bald head.  I motioned to Carter that she was one of our treasures and he agreed; we approached the woman.

Once again, we introduced ourselves to her and told her of our purpose; “…you are wearing a blue shirt and a flowery cap, two of our clues this morning as we prayed and we wonder if you have a need we could pray for today?”  She looked at us and quickly answered, “I do have a need.  I have cancer.”  I asked if we might pray for her there and she told us yes.  And just like that, the day was transformed from an awkward personal challenge into a total victory for the Lord.  Did He heal her?  We don’t know.  But did He touch her?  I think so.

My day began as most others save for the fact that our grandson was visiting with us.  Carter, with a childlike faith to be used by God and his trust in his grandmother’s ability to lead the way, transformed the day into something magical.  I have every confidence that the Lord smiled down on all of us that day.  The woman in the gray sweater may or may not have had any needs, but I’m positive God will use the moment to cause questions to rise up in her thoughts about people, their willingness to reach out, and about this God who gives them courage to do so.  For the woman with cancer there may be healing or any other number of possibilities only He knows, the least of which could be encouragement on a rough day from two strangers.  For a grandmother with a very trusting grandson, I am humbled.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on the treasure hunt.  Once begun, I felt I was failing God miserably with my fears and lack of courage.  But in the end, the Lord turned it all into victory.  A glorious, full-of-God possibilities, wonderful, victory for two women, a hesitating grandmother, and a brave hearted, God loving 12-year-old.  It was all Carter’s fault!

Without Faith

Out of “Experiencing God Day by Day”:  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  Whenever God reveals something, He expects us to believe Him and adjust our lives accordingly.  What does this mean?  It means we trust Him implicitly for all of our needs because He says He will provide (Phil. 4:19).

Are you trusting God?  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this at times.  Oh, it’s pretty easy to trust God when things are going OK.  It’s when things get sticky that my faith can go right out the window!

I had a realization today.  Years and years ago, I had a dream.  My dream came about when I was a little girl.  Some 20-plus years later, my dream came true.  But in the interim, my faith flagged and actually failed.  I didn’t believe anymore that the dream was possible.  The interesting part as I thought about this today is that the dream was actually a catalyst to remove me from a very dangerous period in my life!  Even though I had given up on the dream, God hadn’t.  And the dream I wanted in my future was able to catapult me into a new reality.  God used the dream to remove me from a dark future and place me in new surroundings with a fresh outlook.  That was all it took and my life was forever changed.

Romans 14:23 says, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”  What has God planted in you?  What dreams did he plant in you years ago?  Are you allowing the enemy of your soul to cause you to sin by not putting your faith in God?  I’m guilty of this but I’m getting stronger and stronger in believing that God will do all that God says He will do.

All things are possible is more than a scripture to me these days…I realize that the strength I carry and walk in is not of my own anymore.  He is able, He goes before me, and He will see me through it all!  Blessings on you this day and may the Lord increase your faith to astounding levels of new joy!