9/18/21

WHEN GOD HAS A DIFFERENT AGENDA

This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--PURPOSE
Five minutes to free write about it
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This week's prompt made me think of Proverbs 19:21 and the many times I've allowed my faith to waver because things didn't turn out the way I anticipated they would. It wasn't that I was out of God's will, but rather that He had a different agenda in mind, which down the road would prove to be much better than mine. 

I don't know if any of you have been following singer/songwriter Jane Marczewski (aka Nightbirde) on the news, but in addition to being the epitomy of faith and courage in the midst of adversity, she is an amazing testimony to how much grander God's purpose and plan can be than anything our finite minds can imagine or think. 

During the audition for this season's America's Got Talent show, she received Simon Cowell's golden buzzer for her performance of "It's Okay," a song she had written for herself in the middle of her own dark storm. However, she had to withdraw from the competition when her cancer took a turn for the worse.

On the night of the AGT finale, she posted on Instagram, "I bet you never saw someone win so hard and lose so hard at the same time. This isn't how the story was supposed to go."

The story may not have played out the way Nightbirde wanted it to, but in no way was she a loser. The Lord just had a different purpose and plan than she expected. Once the door had been opened with her golden buzzer performance, He used a much more powerful agenda to create a greater win than she ever dreamed of.

To date, Nightbirde's song, "It's Okay," has been viewed 200 million times, and the numbers keep climbing. More hearts have been touched by its message of hope and encouragement than just being an AGT winner could possibly have done.

9/16/21

SERENDIPITY


Ser-en-dip-ity -- noun -- the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way -- "a fortunate stroke of serendipity" -- a word of English origin, first introduced in 1754 by Horace Walpole in his fairy tale, Princes of Serendipity, where the heroes were always making discoveries by accident and sagacity of things they were not in quest of. (Google English Dictionary)
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Since childhood, I've always loved doing jigsaw puzzles. There's always been one in progress somewhere in my home. These days, it's on a table in my living room, and is one of the first things people notice and make a beeline for as they enter the apartment.  

My "fortunate stroke of serendipity" came in the form of an unexpected delivery of two stacks of jigsaw puzzles sent over by a friend. They arrived just as I was finishing up the last one in my stash. Thanks to her, I'll have plenty more to keep me busy for a very long time.

9/13/21

MAMA MIMI

 


This photo was taken by my grandson on a recent trip to Rendezvous Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Hard to believe this gigantic interactive sculpture is supposed to be a troll. I think she's way too pretty.

Mama Mimi, a she is called, is the work of Danish sculptor, Thomas Dambo and his crew. Built out of recycled materials such as discarded wooden pallets, and driftwood roots found washed up on the banks of a nearby river, she sits overlooking the pond, in a spot that was once a gravel pit. One of her legs extends over the water to rest on a little island, and serves as a bridge to cross over.

Using this example of turning trash into treasure, Dambo's intent is to get people to think differently about conservation and recycling. (Jackson Hole News and Guide)

QUIET


Today is Day 1 of a five day Instagram challenge initiated by #hopewriterlife. The word prompt is QUIET.

Using my cellphone to write a post directly on Instagram is a novel experience. Quite a challenging one at that, as I try to type the words on a small on screen keyboard.

My first thought was, where does one go to find quiet? A library? A cemetery? A monastery? The great outdoors? Even my empty home is a quiet place, but not so my mind. 

My mind, of late, seems to be in constant overdrive. It's like a sponge absorbing all the drama surrounding me and adding it to my already turbulent thoughts.













Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God!" The closest I've come to that exhortation is on the rare occasion I'm up early enough to witness the break of dawn.

9/10/21

RESCUED BY GOD



This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--RESCUE
Five minutes to free write about it
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Years ago I took part in a time of cardboard testimonies at our church. 

At first I didn't think I had a testimony to share. My conversion experience had been less than dramatic. Nothing like what people who have hit bottom experience when they come to know the Lord and their lives are miraculously transformed. However, during a discussion with friends, I was struck by how great a miracle it was that I found the right path at all, considering I believed I had already found it and was no longer searching.

My memoir, Sincerely Wrong: An Improbable Journey, tells the story of how the LORD rescued me from the darkness that was blinding me. If you would like to read it, you can download a free PDF file to your computer by clicking on the image of the book cover on my blog's sidebar. The short version, however, is that I grew up with a desperate need to feel significant, and after a long quest for  roots and purpose, thought I had found them in New Age and occult doctrines. My vulnerability led me to believe a lie that I persuaded others to believe in as well. It was never my intent to deceive anyone. I was just sincerely wrong.

Don't be deceived as I was into thinking that there are many paths to God, or that we get to Heaven by being good. That is the biggest deception of them all.

Although we were created to have fellowship with God, Adam and Eve's sn caused us to be born into a fallen world. The Bible tells us that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Because of this, a vast gulf separates us from our Heavenly Father, and there is no way we can cross it through our own efforts. Only one path can lead us there, and that is through Jesus (John 14:6).

The good news is that "God so loved the world [you and me included] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It is a gift that can only be received by grace, through faith. It cannot be earned by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and as much as it is not God's will for anyone to perish, He will not impose His will on you or force you to accept it. The choice is yours.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart knocking and waiting for you to answer (Revelation 3:20). I implore you to open the door before it is too late. Accept His invitation to enter your life, forgive you of your sins, and make you a new creation.

9/6/21

CITY LIGHTS


This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--CITY
Five minutes to free write about it
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My first thought was city lights. The way they welcome a traveler home.

I haven't traveled for a very long time, but still remember the sight of them out of my plane window as it got ready to land. Much further back even than that, I remember, as a six-year-old, standing amidst an excited group of passengers crowded around the deck rails of a freight ship entering New York Harbor after two months at sea. 

Those memories trigger emotions I have no words to express

8/29/21

DESPERATE

This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--DESPERATE
Five minutes to free write about it
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This week's prompt is such an apt description of what's going on in the world. My heart feels weighed down by the headlines, and in the face of what so many are enduring, the things I've been fretting over these past few months put me to shame.  What do I really know of despair? 

Never have I felt the kind of desperation that would lead someone to cling to the wing of an airplane about to take off, or jump out the window of a flaming tower.  Those two incidents, though years apart, were both triggered by a terror I've never been subjected to. 

As I pray for the people in Afghanistan and Haiti, I feel both grateful and a little guilty for the freedoms I enjoy in my secluded little neck of the woods--freedom to worship, a safe place to live, abundant food to eat, clean water to drink, access to medical care, a vehicle to get around in. Let me never take these blessings for granted.

8/23/21

LESSONS THE LORD HAS TAUGHT ME


This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--TEACH
Five minutes to free write about it.

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This week's prompt led me on a trip down memory lane, and to be honest, I did not pay attention to the clock as I flipped through the pages of a tabbed notebook started many, many years ago to record what God was doing in my life. So many reminders of His grace, His faithfulness, and the unexpected ways He came through for me when I faced issues that seemed insurmountable at the time. 

I learned much about His grace the day I lost control of my car on a patch of black ice. There was no traffic to collide with as we skidded and spun from one side of the highway to the other, miraculously coming to a screeching halt right before crashing through the barrier.

An extraordinary view of the blazing sun shining through black clouds like a huge ball of fire, in the midst of a rainstorm, gave me a glimpse of God's power and majesty. 

A returned e-mail to a friend that another friend was supposed to forward to her, but who forgot to do so until several months later, finally reached its destination at a time when the friend I was trying to reach was going through major changes and considering becoming a missionary. She called me the day before a missions conference banquet was to be hosted by my church, and accepted my invitation to attend. Coincidence? I think not. To me, it was a lesson in trusting God's timing. His time is always the right time.

My financial issues were what led me to the LORD, and over and over again He has been faithful to provide for all of my needs. The section in my notebook labeled "Jehovah Jireh, My Provider" is probably the one with the most testimonies in it. Not all are about dire needs being met, however. Some are accounts of how God showed me He cares about even the smallest details of my life. Those small miracles meant so much to me.

One of them happened many years ago (when meals cost a lot less than they do today). I was visiting my pregnant daughter while her husband had to be away for a few days. Finances were tight, and as I went for a walk along the narrow stretch of beach that bordered the property they lived on, I wished I had enough money to take her out to eat. It was just a fleeting thought, but as it crossed my mind, a $10 bill came floating across the water towards me.

Another time I drove to an appointment, not realizing that the building was in a metered area. I didn't have any change with me, and got out of the car to ponder what to do. As I opened the door I caught sight of a quarter lying at the bottom of a deep puddle. Just what I needed to feed the meter.

And then there was the God wink just to make me smile--finding a quarter in the middle of a cabbage. 

On several occasions the Lord has helped me do things I would never have thought possible  without a real live person to show me how. Like the time I was creating a handmade gift and wasn't sure how to proceed. I called several friends to ask for help, but none of them were home. It was a time sensitive project, and not knowing what else to do, I prayed about it and then got really still. The Lord guided me through the process by putting thoughts in my mind, even leading me to find a program "by chance" on my computer that did things I never knew could be done, and probably couldn't have replicated if I tried.

Some of the most important lessons the Lord taught me took place during my recovery from a near death experience while hooked up to a ventilator, with acute heart failure and double pneumonia. Not only did He reveal Himself as Jehovah Rapha, healer of my physical body and emotions, but He also taught me about love, friendship, and the power of intercessory prayer. None of these lessons are recorded in my notebook because I wrote a book about them instead. It is entitled Oil of Myrrh. If you would like to read it, you can download a free PDF by clicking on this link. 

8/15/21

ACCOUNTABLE

This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--ACCOUNTABLE
Five minutes to free write about it.
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One day I will be accountable to God for what I have done with the time and talents He gave me. 

My mind is full of regrets over poor choices made and squandered opportunities. I think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:10-14, identifying with the tax collector who would not look up, but beat his breast and asked God to have mercy upon him, a sinner. 

And then I think of the words in Psalm 139:16--All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be--which reminds me that we are all Divine originals, created by God for a special purpose. The fact that I am still here means He is not done with me yet, and He has me exactly where I need to be for this particular moment in His plan.

God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). My self worth is not determined by how other people see me, or by my perceived successes or failures. God does not measure success in numbers. If I reach that one person He intended for me to reach, bring hope to that one discouraged heart, or lead that one soul out of darkness to the foot of the Cross, my purpose will have been accomplished.

The very things I feel most remorseful about are the very things that led me to Jesus. Had it been otherwise, would I ever have felt a need for His saving grace? Perhaps success and fulfilled dreams would have led to a life spent chasing after the things this world has to offer instead of those that have eternal value--a greater tragedy by far.
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Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

8/8/21

GETTING FROM HERE TO THERE


This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--FROM
Five minutes to free write about it.
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Wish I could remember which Livestream I heard these encouraging words on so that I could credit the pastor who uttered them. His message provided just the reminder I needed to lift me out of my funk.

This world is not our home. We will face trials and tribulations as we travel from where we are to where God wants us to be. However, He has promised to be with us, and is just as present in the journey as in the destination.

When the going gets rough, instead of feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, we need to lift up our eyes to the One our help comes from, and remember that He is in control.

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My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is
the strength of my heart and my portion
forever. -- (Psalm 73:26 ESV)

...from everlasting to everlasting you are
God. -- (Psalm 90:1 ESV)

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where
does my help come? My help comes from
the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
. . . The LORD will keep your going out
and your coming in from this time forth
and evermore. -- (Psalm 121:1-2,8 ESV)

When you pass through the waters, I will
be with you; and through the rivers, they
shall not overwhelm you; when you walk
through fire you shall not be burned, and
the flame shall not consume you.
(Isaiah 43:2 ESV)

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when
I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be a light to me.
(Micah 7:8)