Mystery Blogger Award!

I was impressed the other day running across a blogger’s statement that he wasn’t blogging for awards and, although appreciating those who nominate him, he wouldn’t be accepting any of them.

I wish I could say the same about my blogs.

But I can’t. I LOVE awards! I’m honored by them! I’m thrilled by them! They validate what I’m doing in a way few other things can. The recognition I feel from someone walking the same road I am is simply amazing!photogrid_1476365612975

And I was just nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! Thank you On My Way Home for the public pat on the back! I am especially honored and thrilled to receive this nomination from a published author of children’s books – a goal I aspire to soon!

In the words of its creator Okoto Enigma :

“WHAT IS MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?
Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma”

THE RULES

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

 

Now on to what you really want to read…

Three Things About Me

  1. I used to hate writing. Reading, yes. I could and did read all day. But writing? No thanks! Funny how God changes you when He calls you for a new job.
  2. I love to sew. Stuffed animals, quilts, pillows, bags, soft sculptured dolls – pretty much anything except clothes. I currently make and sell memory bears in my Etsy store and am working on starting a new store to sell inspirational bags as soon as I get more time.
  3. I’m about to be a first time grandmother!  Aryn Jade is due early July and I’m just about ready to self-publish my first children’s picture book in her honor!

 

Questions to Answer:

  1. Why did you begin blogging? At first, it was a way to practice my writing skills as I worked on my novel. But it has since changed to be a way to glorify God, inspire others, and share my testimony of God’s faithfulness in my life.
  2. Your philosophy of life?  Like my husband is fond of saying, “Life is hard, and then you die.” Everybody is struggling with something. We need each other and we need God. And what we do on this side determines what our life on the other side will be like. It’s like our life here is school preparing us for our future after we graduate.
  3. What would you do in life if you were sure of success? join a Christian soft rock band and go on world tours
  4. Your favorite dessert or other guilty culinary pleasure? coffee ice cream with chocolate chunks!
  5. Best childhood memory? When on a field trip to an amusement park, the wind blew my brand new hat off my head. I watched with dismay as it blew over the fence in an area I couldn’t access. However, my big brother climbed the fence and retrieved the hat for me. I don’t remember if he got in trouble over it, but I know that every time I looked at that hat, I remembered how he cared enough to chance it for me. Oh wait… maybe it was the time this same brother tried to push me out of a roller coaster car just as it made a fast turn high in the air…

 

My Nominees:

Joe Rodriguez at Lighthouse Devotions by JR – love his use of photos of lighthouses to illustrate spiritual matters

Celestial – who sees God in everything

BibleBloggerGirl at Teen, Meet God –  a teen leading teens (and some old people like me)

God Inspires, I Write – she doesn’t blog daily, but when she writes, it’s good

The Focused Heart – short yet powerful

Pastor Randy – love his uniqueness and how he makes connections

Be Blesstified – it’s always good

The Godly Chic Diaries – inspiration for women

Dani at God in Real Life –  practical blogs on living the Christian life

Love Joy Balance – another good one filled with practical posts

Heavensreef – unique use of questions to get us thinking

Matthew Winters (Comeback Pastor) – always an interesting read, and love that he shares his personal life with us

 

Five Questions for My Nominees:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your best achievement in blogging?
  3. What has been the craziest things you have done while traveling?
  4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  5. My weird question:  jello or pudding?

Bella, part 1 –  Heart VS Brain

Bella paced in her small apartment. She wanted to go, but then, maybe she didn’t. What if that had been a onetime thing? What if they weren’t happy to see her again? Worse, what if it had all been her imagination?

She remembered the kindness in their eyes. Kindness and love. No one had ever looked at her that way before.  And her heart was crying out for another encounter with that love.

After leaving the church, she had gone straight home. She hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone until she had had time to process her experience. What was that place? Who were those men? How could such a thing even happen?

Not finding the answers inside herself, she began searching on line and reading everything she could find on churches that are bigger on the inside. She was amazed at how many references there were to that.  And how many opinions there were about it – from awe such as she had felt to passionate condemnation, and everything in between.

How was she ever going to find out the truth?

“I’m just going to have to go back,” she thought as she paced.

You don’t want to do that.

She stopped as a new thought entered her mind. The thought itself wasn’t too bad, it was the fear that accompanied it that made her pause. Maybe I don’t want to go back there. Maybe they won’t be the same. Maybe they won’t even let me in the door. After all, I had trespassed that day. They might be angry at me, now that they’ve had time to think about it.

And they’ll force you to talk about Disneyworld.

Fear continued to build in her as she thought of Pastor Toby’s question about Disneyworld. What if he tried to get her to talk about it again? What if he wouldn’t let her go until she did?

Shaking now she decided not to go back. Ever. Not knowing what would happen, she couldn’t take the chance that things wouldn’t turn out so good a second time.

That’s a smart decision. You are so wise.

Feeling self satisfaction creep in, replacing the fear, she tried to ignore the cry in her heart. Her heart had led her wrong at times. It was her brain, her intelligence, that she needed to rely on. And her brain was telling her the wise thing to do was to forget about the church.

But way down deep inside, she could hear another voice.  One calling to her heart as if responding to its cry.  “Come back,” was all it said. But it was enough.

Undecided, she stood in the middle of the room.  What should she do? Should she chance returning to the church? Or take the safe road and stay home?

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(Bella’s first visit to the church is found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 2 )

 

 

 

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day Three

This is the third and final day of the Three Day Quote Challenge, which I was nominated for three days ago by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God 

This challenge takes place over three days. Each day (or night), I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day to continue the challenge.

My third quote is this…

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“God is good even when you don’t feel it. ” from iBelieve.com.

So much of what we think is based on how we feel. This quote reminds me God is bigger than my emotions. His truth doesn’t change based on how I’m feeling.

God is GOD. He doesn’t fit in any of my boxes. He’s not bound by my feelings. He’s not limited by my understandings.

He is GOD.  And I am not.

The security that provides me is beyond measure!

 

My last nominee for the Three Day Quote Challenge is Amy Blount, at A New Life. I love how open and honest she is in her blogs. Such a strong, courageous, and encouraging woman!

Is God Too Busy For the Little Things?

She listened as the people around her talked.

“We need to do what we can before we ask God to help,” one person said.

“Yeah, you know what they say, ‘God helps those who help themselves.'” said another.

“God’s too busy with requests from so many people for us to bother Him with little things or things we could do ourselves.” said a third, shaking his head adamantly.

And they all nodded their heads in agreement with each other.

She’d had heard similar comments most of her life. They didn’t surprise her. What did surprise her was where they were coming from. These were all Christians, all professing a personal relationship with God… yet saying He was generally too busy for them.

Were they right? She didn’t think so. She knew in her own prayer life, nothing was too small for God. And He was never too busy for her. Yet there were times He was quiet. She had thought it was to grow her faith. Or because it was something He had already told her. But now she started thinking maybe it was because He was pretty busy and hadn’t had time to answer her.

She went to the only source of truth she knew – the Bible. “OK, God, are You too busy for the small things?” she asked as she opened it.

Eph 6:18 “… pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Phil 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Hmmm, she thought. All occasions. All kinds of prayers. Every situation. That doesn’t sound like just the big things. God wants us praying for everything – small as well as big.

She had a new question for God. “Can You really hear us each time we pray, or are You too busy sometimes and You miss some of our prayers?”

1 Peter 3:12  “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.”

Ps 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Ps 33:18 “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His unfailing love.”

So, she thought, His eyes and ears are always open to my prayers. That doesn’t sound like He misses any of them.

She had one more question. “How can You listen to so many people and still have time for our little things?”

Is 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways… as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Eph 3:18-20 “…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ… and to know this love that surpasses knowledge… able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”

I get it, she thought. He’s not limited like we humans are. We may try to understand God as if He were human like us because that’s all we know, but He’s not human. He’s God and He is BIG! Big enough to handle every one of our prayers – no matter how small they might be!

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Three Day Quote Challenge – Day Two

This is the second day of the Three Day Quote Challenge, which I was nominated for two days ago by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God 

This challenge takes place over three days. Each day (or night), I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger to continue the challenge.

My second quote is this…

“While you’re waiting, God is working.” by Rick Warren

God had done some incredible things in my life. But it seems in between those times, there are long seasons of waiting. I don’t know why we have to have those waiting seasons, although I have several theories, but what I do know is that there is a lot going on in heaven that I can’t see while I’m still on this earth. Yet, all too often, I rely on what I see instead of what I know is true.

Rick’s quote reminds me that God is not idle just because I don’t see constant amazing things. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity going on every day!

Waiting is never easy or fun, but that doesn’t mean I have to be miserable while I wait.  🙂

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What helps you get through those seasons of waiting for God to do what He’s going to do? How do you spend that time? Share your thoughts – it just might be something someone needs to hear today!

 

And now for my nominee… His Perfect Timing.  Perfect timing… waiting on God – how could I not choose this very inspirational one!

Mary’s Heart in Martha’s Body

She couldn’t go back to sleep. Why did they say that? Did they think her friend loved Jesus more than she did? And here she was carrying the greater load in serving them? It was totally upsetting and hurtful to her and she resented them for it.

To be honest, she didn’t really get that bible story anyway. If Martha didn’t serve, who would? Certainly not Mary, who didn’t even lift a finger to help. Actually, she had always thought of Mary as being lazy and self-centered – she wanted to spend time with Jesus so she did, not caring in the least that she had left everything for her sister to carry. Forcing her sister to carry more than she should have had to carry. If Mary had stayed with Martha to help finish the preparations, they both could have sat at Jesus’ feet.

And she was being called a Martha? Like she would rather stay in the kitchen serving than be with Jesus? Like she didn’t love Him enough to want to spend time with Him?

She still didn’t get it – but what she did get was a revelation of her resentment towards people who forced her into the Martha role.  It wasn’t fair for them to do that to her. The injustice of it hurt her. That and other injustices done to her over the years, especially when she was a young child, kept returning to her as she lay in bed not sleeping.

So she did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed.

“Jesus, I don’t understand all this. All I know is it hurts. But I forgive them for saying what they did and ask that You deliver me from the resentment and pain that has filled me.”

She fell back asleep and dreamed of a barracuda. A poor innocent barracuda that was about to be sacrificed in the name of entertainment. Upset at the injustice, she went to the people in charge and told them it was wrong and that she would tell the authorities about it if they didn’t stop it.

She woke again, puzzled.

“Lord, what’s this about?”

“Injustice. You have been treated unfairly in life.  I can release you from the past, to free you for the future. Just don’t worry about things so much.”

“So I really am like Martha?” she asked, heart sinking.

“Yes, daughter. Sweet daughter,” He said, voice full of love. “You are like Martha in that you get so worked up about things. You don’t need to worry if things will get done.  I’ll make sure what needs to be done does get done. I am here, involved, and I will bring about all that needs to be done. Relax in Me. I will give you the desire to do the things I want you to do. The rest I can handle. Don’t sweat over it. ”

“Do I at least have Mary’s heart? I love listening to You.”

“Yes, you have Mary’s heart. I know your love for Me. But you have been forced into a role I didn’t create for you. IMG_20180511_161925872As you are freed from the past, you will be free to be who I made you to be.”

“How do I get free?”

“Give it to Me -your resentments , your pain. Continually give it to Me. Forgive those involved. Listen for My directions. Practice letting go. I won’t treat you unfairly. As you see My faithfulness, you will be able to relax more.”

As she got ready for the day, she thought about His words. And came up with a plan. When things had to get done, instead of trying to get everything to happen herself, she would say…

“I wonder how Jesus is going to make this happen.”

Then all she needed to do was wait and watch and listen. Like Mary.

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day One

I was nominated for this challenge by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God  Thanks so much for the nomination, Shae.

As you may have guessed, this challenge takes place over three days. Each day, I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day.

My first quote is this…

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“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” by Jack Canfield

I can’t think back far enough to know a time that I wasn’t full of fear. From my earliest days, I was terrified of the unknown. That included people, places, and events. If one of my few friends suggested a new game, fear would immediately fill me. If my family visited a new place, I would be nervous until the trip ended. Joining girl scouts was too scary to stay for long. Making new friends? Impossible. Fear kept me from so many things for so long that it became a intricate part of me. I couldn’t imagine not being afraid. Even after I met Jesus and He had time to work in me, fear remained. It’s been over 40 years now, and I’ve been set free in so many areas. Yet fear still rises its ugly head when I’m faced with something new. Like writing a blog. And publishing my first book. And meeting with a local writing group.

Sounds hopeless?

No way! Fear may still rise up at times, but it no longer incapacitates me.  Quotes like the one by Jack Canfield help me remember I’m not the only one who has to deal with fear, and that fear doesn’t have to hold me back. And best of all, Jesus is slowly teaching me to replace fear with faith.  He doesn’t want me – or you – or anyone – to live in fear.

And that’s the greatest hope of all because what Jesus wants Jesus eventually gets!

 

And now for my nominee… I choose William Pierce aka wordcoaster8550 at Walk With God. I love his artwork and poetry!

Sometimes Muddy Water is a Good Thing

 

Emotions churned inside her as she bowed before the Lord in prayer.

“Jesus, I don’t know what’s happening inside me. It’s such a mess. And I don’t even know why. Everything seems to be going well right now – job, family, health. So why all this turmoil?”

“Just a little cleaning up.”

She frowned, not understanding. How can cleaning up make her feel bad? She thought about it for a while. What exactly WAS she feeling? So many emotions all mixed up inside her. Pain and confusion from her teen years that still plagued her. Doubts that she was actually hearing from God and that it wasn’t just her imagination, and fear that she would lead others wrong as she began speaking out for Him.  Depression that seemed to cling to her no matter how hard she tried to fight it.  Very low self-esteem, more like no self-esteem.  The list seemed endless. She struggled to put a name to it.

“Muddy water.”

Muddy water?

She thought of her small garden pond. She enjoyed going outside to sit by it each day and watch the fish swim around. The pond looked beautiful – clear shiny water with green flowering plants growing in and around it. From time to time she would add a little water to compensate for the water that had evaporated.

She remembered a time she had not gone outside to the pond for several weeks. When she had finally made it there, she had been dismayed to find the water level to be as low IMG_20180510_000206722as it was. So she had taken the hose and watched as the water refilled the pond. Almost immediately the clear water had gotten cloudy as the running water churned up the dirt that had settled at the bottom.  Within minutes she could see leaves and pine straw swirling around in the very muddy water. Yuck. She decided to keep the water flowing and as the water flowed over the top, it had taken the mud, leaves and pine straw with it until all that had remained was clear clean water. Her pond was beautiful again, only this time it wasn’t hiding a bunch of dirt and debris at the bottom.

She made the connection. She might look good on the outside, but deep inside her heart,  a lot of dirt and debris had settled over time. Jesus had turned on the hose in her heart, filling her to overflowing with living water!

Amazed at the way He helped her understand, she thanked Him for the work He was doing. It might not look so good at the moment, she thought, but when He gets done, my heart will be clean and clear and truly beautiful!

OK, Lord, Let Me Have It!

She knew she deserved it. But she wasn’t looking forward to it. “How badly does God yell at someone anyway? As bad as my dad?” she wondered.  “God could get pretty rough with the Israelites.”

She thought back to what she had done earlier that day. God had told her not to share a particular book with a friend. But she thought she knew better and argued with Him. “She needs this message, Lord! I AM going to share it with her today at church!” But her friend hadn’t been at church. So God had won. And she felt really bad. Not just a sad or disappointed bad, but a distance-from-God kind of bad.

He was angry at her, she was sure. She could feel something unpleasant in her spirit. Probably Him scolding me, she thought. She tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t go away. In fact, it grew stronger as the day progressed until she couldn’t avoid dealing with it anymore.

She took a deep breath, and prayed, “OK, Lord, I’m ready to listen. Let me have it.”

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His answer was not what she expected. Instead of the angry voice she was expecting, He spoke in a gentle whisper.

“I won’t ever ‘let you have it’. I will never scold you. But I will let you know when you’ve strayed. The feeling you got today was caused by your rebellion – not My scolding. I was not withholding My love. However, our connection was broken when you closed your ears. You didn’t want to listen so I had to get stronger until you couldn’t ignore Me any longer. I have promised to help you stay on the path, to not stray. So when you do, I will let you know. Others who have not given their lives so completely to Me – who have not given Me the permission you have – can sometimes wander a while before calling on Me. But you have given yourself to Me completely, and in return, I made you a promise. Do you want Me to change this?”

She was amazed at the sense of security that filled her with His words. She belonged to Him and He would always be there looking out for her. Even when she was the one to cause the problem.

“No, Lord. I don’t. I am completely Yours, whatever the cost. Thank You for Your promise, and for Your tight rein on me. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

When Bad Luck Is Not Luck

She prayed, “Lord, even though I’ve been walking with you for years now, I feel so spiritually immature. Can You help me mature a little bit more?”

Not hearing anything, she went to sleep.

The next day, everything went fine at work and she forgot about her prayer.  But after work was a different story.

Stopping at Walmart, she couldn’t find most of the things on her list. It was made even worse because she had her two kids with her and they fought the entire time. Trying to rush, she grabbed what few things she could find and got in line to check out. It turned out the only line not moving was the hers. “Just my luck,” she thought angrily.

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Finally getting home, she started dinner. Preparing muffins, she broke an egg only to have it squirt out all over her shirt. She managed to break the second egg into the muffin mix and put the mix in the oven, then went to change her shirt. When she got back, she found the muffins didn’t rise.  More bad luck, she thought.

Frustrated, she took the kids to Pizza Hut, only to find that Pizza Hut wouldn’t honor the coupon she had. Of course they wouldn’t, she thought. Not with the luck I’m having today.

By the time she got back home and put the kids to bed she was so stressed and tired that all she could do was hide in her room and cry.

But then she remembered that God had said to come to Him when she was weary. And she had read that praising Him in the midst of trials was important. So she tried it. After some time, she began to feel better. Although still tired, the stress had left her. She picked up her Bible to read a little before bed and opened to James 1:2-4.  ...trials produce perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature.

The words struck deep into her heart as she remembered her prayer from the night before. All that bad luck wasn’t luck after all. Amazingly, she had even asked for it.

“Lord,” she prayed with a smile. “Thank You for answering my prayer. I know it’s not over yet, and it’s definitely not the way I would have handled it, but I trust You know best. And thank You for being kind enough to wait until AFTER work to answer it!”

And when she fell asleep, she was still smiling.