Images

Images
Wading the storms of Life...together in word.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Life is short....Yeah..it's short.

Life is short, and it moves by so quickly.

I am someone that tends to go in circles.  I suffer often from restless and feeling the need to change direction when what I really need is to just sit still. I loose myself in decisions that I can't begin to know how to make.  I get confused thinking maybe I went in the wrong direction and need to go back to where I started from, start again perhaps, change my mind perhaps, or just stand still not sure where to go or what to do.  Yeah, I go in circles a lot.

The rest of the world seems to move fast in the forward direction.  Don't get me wrong. I see others like myself, a little different, a little slower paced, and definitely off course.  Because the course is indeed what everyone else chooses and says that it is, right?  Yeah, they move forward in fast pace looking back and wondering why I am not where they are.

Some people, some people seem to get what ever "it" is though.  When you meet them, they seem to be very much in peace.  They are not worried about anyone else.  They don't seem to worry at all. They know who they are.  They know where they are, and they know who is in control of it all.  Fear escapes them because truth and trust envelopes them.

Yeah, life moves fast.  And often times so do we.   But I think it is these people who know to live it well.


"Be Still and Know that I AM GOD."   Psalm 46:10

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Decisions...

Life is full of decisions.  We all have them, ranging from what to cook for dinner to "is this the job I should take?" or "the man I should marry?" 

I think our approach to answering these questions are fairly similar. Most of us look at life logically.  What makes the most sence?  What direction should I take is answered by a process "logically" drafted.  We look at the pros and the cons.  We compare and contrast.  We add up the benefits and the drawbacks trying to make the most amount of sence.

What if the decision we are needing to make though isn't grounded in logic?  What if the answer comes from a place that just doesn't make since or is not like ourseles?  Is it wrong?  A few months ago, I had a decision to make.  I felt that it was not wise to take classes. There was no logical reason to say that I shouldn't though.  I kept pressing through thinking that if that were really the case, God would present something logically to me so that I would have a valid reason not to.  He did not.  When it came right down to it, my classes were being scheduled and the fealing in the pit of my stomach was growing stronger. 

For me, I really debated all the odds.  What is the worst that would happen if I was in classes and something came into my life that made it unmanageble?  What would the consequences be?  How would I need to react?  Then I thought about the full effect of setting out a semester.  How would people see me?  Would they judge me, criticize me, call me a failure?  Would it really interferre with my course of becoming a nurse in a major way?

I only needed 2 classes but I had to have at least 2.  So when the knowledge came up that I could not get in the two computer class that I needed, I realized I had a split second to really decide.  I could push through and settle for an online course OR I could take the out that I was being given just trusting that there was a reason. 

I stood on faith and did not take either of the two classes.

For a moment, I feared that I had made a mistake and that I would regret it but then I found enouragement from a friend unexpectantly.  She told me a story about her brother who had a decision to make based on a "feeling" that did not make since to him.  He didn't listen to his feeling.  He went with logic and in return found himself falling out of a tree and landing with a broken back.  My friend's brother was fortunate.  He ended up being o.k.after some time in the hospital and some major pain. Had he only listened to that inconvenient nudging, though, he could have avoided this. 

I do not know the exact reasons for my nudging. Maybe there are more reasons than I realize.  I do know that it was best that I sat out though.  We don't always know what is ahead.  There are so many unexpected things that could happen at any given moment. Only God knows.  I really do believe that God gives us warnings about things. He speaks to our spirit in a way we don't fully understand.  He guides through our trust in Him and our willingness to listen to His truth.  The only way we know what is of Him is by being close to Him, being in His word, in prayer and in surrender of His will. 

I don't know about you but in my life, I want to be lead by the spirit. I want to head to His warnings and His guidance. I want to follow His lead.  I am seeing the importance of discernment.  I am seeing that in order to truly know His will, we have to learn to discern what is being said.  We have to test and approve. We have to trust and obey. And of course....we have to be willing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Judgment…looking at someone at face value.

Picture by Judy Royal Glenn, author of http://walkbyfaithquestionsconcerningdeath.blogspot.com/

What is face value?  Well, according to the American Heritage Dictionary (2nd Edition 1983), face value is “the value printed on a bill, bond, ect.”  To me though, face value is the value you give another human being based solely on what you see at that given moment.

I went to the library today. I haven’t been feeling well and was only planning to pick up lunch.  So instead of fixing my hair and wearing makeup, I grabbed a ball cap and just went. I had had a shower (good thing) but my hair was frizzy and I was dressed like a mixed matched hiker with white legs. We all have had moments like this haven’t we?  Going places looking horrible thinking no one will notice?   Well in my case, someone did.  The very librarian that has been overly friendly to me on my “dressed up days” now gave me a look like she couldn’t even stand to answer my question.  Her face was scowled, her eyebrows drawn, and her ‘should have been’ friendly smile was replaced with a snarl.  It actually made her look just as bad as me. The other gentleman helping didn’t seem to be bothered at all.  He was friendly and smiling, helpful and kind.  I walked out with a completely different impression of the “rude” librarian than I had had the several times before where she had been friendly.

What the librarian didn’t realize and what so many of us don’t realize is the damage that judgment causes. Because of her judgment, I am less liking to want to go to her for help in the future.    

I think we all judge to a certain degree.  We naturally have thoughts and opinions that come across in ways that we do not realize or maybe don’t care to realize. I think we need to be aware of it though, realizing the damage that it causes. 

In the past few years, I have been blessed by different friends and acquaintances coming to me with a burden they have had, asking for prayer and support. I have loved being able to be there for them and pray with them.  What has stood out to me, though, is the number of times that they have said, “I came to you because I knew you wouldn’t judge me.”  Wow!  First off, what a compliment and second off, they were right.  I had no reason to judge what they had gone through or were sharing.  I would have so missed out had I given them a reason to believe that I would have judged them in any way. 

I know a lot of people in my life that I “should” be able to go to.  I don’t though because I too receive judgment and criticism from them. I can see it in their eyes and the way they react to me or even how they listen or don’t listen.  You know who you can go to in life and who you can’t.

As the church, this must be our greatest flaw other than pride,.
Huge groups of people choose not to know Christ because of what they know about us. 

In the book, Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, we see the importance of laying our judgments down to truly “be in the world” being the hands and feet.  On page 132, they state “Christ calls His followers to be active missionaries to the culture.  This culture is offensive, but we cannot take offense.  It is increasingly hostile to Christians and to whom we claim to represent, but we cannot respond with anger when people express their skepticism, and we are not meant to be isolationists.  (meaning to separate entirely, even compared to being quarantined) Jesus described our role most succinctly; we are to be in but not of the world (see John 17:14-18)” 

I think often of the fact of Christ coming to earth.  I think we tend to ignore how drastically Christ came to us and met us in our sins and failures to show love and acceptance. He was God after all, living in heaven and yet still coming to this earth to reach us, love us and serve us.  How then do we have such a difficult time doing that for others? 

Please understand that I am not saying that we shouldn’t be set apart. The bible states clearly that we are set apart and that we should act like His children not doing the things we once did. To be set apart means not thinking and acting like we did before. It doesn’t mean not loving and accepting anymore.  We show evidence of pride as though we have accomplished our faith process.  Pride is never once accepted as a good quality according to scripture, and faith comes directly from Him and not of ourselves that we should brag about (Ephesians 2:8). 
 
My point is this.  When we judge others on face value, we are the ones that miss out.  We are the ones that fail to get the whole story and see the full worth of any person, and in the end we are the ones that look bad.  It is possible that some other reason caused this woman to react this way but I doubt it.  Her facial expression was pretty easy to read, as are so many others. 

What I know from my experience is that I have gained a lot in my painful times of working past other people’s judgments.  It has given me a strength that I need.  I know who I am. I know what I need to do, and I am not going to let someone else's ignorance keep me from doing it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Quit


“Don’t Quit when the tide is lowest, For it’s just about to turn; Don’t quit over doubts and questions, For there’s something you may learn.”

-          Jill Wolf

The last two days I have really been fearfully questioning what it is I am doing.  I have prayed over and over again, “what am I doing Lord?”  Every time I have thought or prayed that I have felt as though He was saying, “trusting me”.  Then it began to sound more like “trust me”.  Have you ever done anything in your life that you were not sure about doing?  It took quit a bit of surrender and following in a direction that you wouldn’t logically go in.  In the pit of your stomach (or heart) you knew you were suppose to but you couldn’t figure out why or how?

In the past few years, I have had numerous friends of mine get married.  All of them at some point wanting to walk away, and that is just in the first two years.  It has been such an eye opener for me.  In some of them, I honestly see their pain and their reasoning; knowing myself, that I would probably walk away too.  But I can’t help but encourage them to stay and work it out.

I look at my grandparents who have been gone now for over a year.  They had a love that all of us dream of, but it came with surrender and a choice not to quit.  When they were young and they had five young children, it was pretty much over for them.  They were even separated.  In their story though, God intervened.  The children ended up with encephalitis and in the hospital.  I know my mom nearly died and I think my uncle almost did too. It gripped my grandfather by the heart.  He fell to his knees and prayed that God would take him instead.  So He did.  My grandfather became a Christian and something in the marriage changed.   I honestly don’t think it was easy from that point out. I know numerous times they had arguments and times they didn’t talk, but it was the working through it that made them stronger.

I watched the movie Fireproof last night with Kirk Cameron. I have always loved him and still do. (smile) I also love this movie.  It shows that there are certain steps that we take or don’t take that make or ruin a relationship.  We are naturally selfish.  When we think we are being so giving and loving, there is usually some very self-centered thinking behind it.  He thought he was being very giving to provide but he didn’t realize the pain he was constantly putting his wife through with habits that he refused to give up. She also had areas to surrender. 

I also watched the movie Premonition.  It is kind of strange that it stands out to me as a movie on making a marriage work because it is a thriller that keeps you on the seat of your chair, but in the midst of it you see Sandra Bullock’s marriage as it is beginning to crumble.  Because of how it all plays out in her mind, she is able to see what is taking place before and while it does.  I don’t want to give too much away because it is a really good movie but I will say there is a scene closer to the end where her anger and resentment or distance to him is replaced by the gratefulness of the fact that he is there.  She comes to him so lovingly and in full surrender, removing his shoes and telling him in silence just how much she loves him. 

I think so many times we fail to say and truly show our love for someone because we cling to the hurt we have felt thinking that forgiveness will say it was all o.k.  But that is not what forgiveness is.  Forgiveness trumps the hurt and pain with a love that is beyond our-selves. That love is what accomplishes so much.  It is not of our-selves to forgive, but it is definitely to our benefit to do it. 

As I question where I am with this book and my writing and whether I am really on track with what I am doing, I know that I can not give up.  I have to put in my full effort.  I have to commit and stick with my commitment.  I have to overlook the times of feeling like a failure or being hurt by the pain of my past and know that there is a purpose to it.

Marriage is the same way.  Becoming one is just that, becoming one.  Getting a divorce or walking away doesn’t change that.  That hurt and pain will always be there. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old.  I am definitely proof of the brokenness it brings.  Overcoming those moments though by actively loving the other person and surrendering yourself builds a love that can only come from God.  It is the kind of love worth dying with.  Just like my grandparents did.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stinky wrapped up mess


I woke up this morning thinking “shoot! I forgot to put my groceries away from work.”

I hoped that I was wrong. I had spent an hour cooking yesterday, part of which involved making cucumber salad with tiny diced up cucumbers, onion, and green pepper.  Sometimes I forget what I have done and I really hoped today was evidence of that.  But as I walked into the kitchen I could see my fully packed lunch basket that I carry everyday and the stench of onion filled the house.

Sometimes I fear that taking this time from school is like leaving my lunch on the table undelt with, at some point I am going to wake up with the stench of regret.  That is a thought and a fear but at the same time I know that I do not have the mental focus that I need right now to do the classes that I need to do. 

I have gotten support from so many people, even my college professor for that class I need to take.  My book is just barely started.  Granted, as I get going I am sure the notes and journal entries from years past will speed the process right along. 

I just don’t want to regret this. 

I don’t want to get finished or somewhat finished and realize that all I have is a “stinky mess” and a waste of time.  Is what I am doing really going to make a difference?  Is my book really a reality waiting to happen?  How do you know these things in life?  I guess you don’t.  I guess you take a chance on them right?  Take a chance…a leap of faith…a prayer that your time spent turns into a delicious meal versus a messed up regret.

You know, it really is true that if even one person finds hope, if even one person knows that they are not alone, then it has all been worth it.  In a way, I think this break from classes only grows my desire in a way that is needed to get through the remaining bulk.  Even in writing and even in sharing, I know I still want to be a nurse.  I still want to work with cancer patients, offering hope and the reminder that they too can face their storm.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Truth Comes out...

For a while now I have known what I really should be writing about and sharing.  It is what I always planned to write about.  Lately though it has been hard.  That painful part of my life, I haven't really wanted to relive.  But my prayer all along has been.."Lord, please use this.  Please do not let this be in vain. Please touch someone else's life with my experience."

I am not a professional writer.  I write because I need to.  All the madness that I live is made a little more clear when I write.  It is like God is clarifying my thoughts. I praise Him for that.  I need Him in that.

I know that I can not be silent about this anymore.  I know it is time to share my story, and for my prayer to be answered.  But it is like revisiting a bad dream, like remembering the devestation of a vast storm.  I know I need to do it and I want to, but it is not easy. 

I am so grateful for my friends and my family.  God has encircled me with love and accountability.  I am so grateful for Him. I am grateful that He has and is holding my hand all along the way.  I plan to start a new tab entitled 'The Truth Comes Out'.  In it you can follow my thoughts and my journey of this path I have been given.  I pray that you understand me a little better through it. I pray that you understand my illness a little better & I pray that you are more forgiving of those who have it.  For those of you like me, my prayer is this..that you too will see the need to be accountable to your own actions and behaviors, that you will see an opportunity to be an example and to help others. 

God says that He does not give us more than we can bear.  In a strange way, this is a huge compliment to all of us, because that means He knows that we are very strong - more strong than we know ourselves.  We are not broken, we are not less and we are very worthy; worthy of Him, worthy of Life and worth of Love.

God is Good. And this too shall pass.....like the darkness of the storm.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Loving the Important things of life....






There is such a beauty in this place.  Day in and day out we run around with the important tasks of the day, feeling as though we will never get it all done.  I am as bad as the next guy, sometimes worse.  When I get overwhelmed with my impossible to do list, I franticly tell everyone "but I have this, this, and this to do".  Ignoring the fact that they really don't care because they also have this, this, and this to do.

Why do we feel all of "this" is so important?

One of my to dos is to write my very first book.  I have wanted to do this for several years now. Now I am in a place that God has clearly said "this is the time".  My prayer was not to miss it.  "Lord, please do not let me push writing out of the way out of business." 

With being a student and setting a semester out, I realize the value of this little bit of time I have to really get started.  I have the opportunity in front of me to let God move and work through me or to make excuse after excuse and find the time pass me by with nothing to show for it.  Maybe your thing is not a book.  Maybe your thing is a parent that needs you or a child that rarely gets to spend time with you but will be grown soon.  There are so many choices we make each day. 

I don't know about you but I would really like to learn not to let "important" things stand in the way of IMPORTANT things.  I love this place too, this place of solitude, this place of accepting, realization, growth, healing and just down right intimacy with the One True Living God!....mmmm..God is good, so good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Unmarried Me!



I was flipping through the bible, reading different verses when I flipped to 1 Corinthians.  Marriage has been a desire of mine since childhood, looming over me like a dark cloud that never rains.  I thought to myself, praying though, “Lord I don’t see it. I don’t know or see one single man that I can see myself with.” 

I had been thinking of the last guy I had feelings for. Those feelings were lingering though I really wanted to see them go.  As I thought this prayer and turned these pages, the words “unmarried” and “virgin” stood out to me.  I had turned to 1 Corinthians 7:34 & 35.  The verse states “an unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.  But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband.  I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Lately as I prayed, “Lord, who am I going to marry?” The answer that echoes in my heart is “Me. Mary me, Laura.” 

It is impossible to say that that is not enough.  So I sit here in silence, loving Him and wondering ‘what is next’?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hugs to my Loved Ones.

My brother and oldest nephew just left. They scurried off to a near by lake hoping to prove themselves as men by catching large catfish. They make me smile.  I remember them both from when they were only running around in diapers and still trying to talk.  Even though one is my brother and the other my nephew, they both act more like brothers who live apart.

Family is good.

It is hard for me to say that.  Not because it is not true but because like anyone, I have had my fair share of hurt feelings and disappointments.  My main regret is how long I have chosen to carry those hurt feelings and not live in love and forgiveness.

I have met a few people recently that have lost a loved one,  and most of them have been parents.  Even my own mother lost her parents not long ago, but when you see someone your own age loose a mother or a father, you realize how close the time is that you may loose one of your own.  I hope and pray as we all do that for me that will be a long way off.  Maybe someday after I am long since married and my children are grown, but then again maybe I need to realize right now that even though what I have may not be perfect, in it's own way it is still good and I am still blessed.  I love my family.  I know they love me.  My prayer is that my actions start to show it a little more than before.

Peace and prayers to you all,
Laura ~

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pile of books....my book.


I look at the pile of books stacked on my dresser, then to the left to those stacked on the floor.  There are so many of them, sitting there as though they were easy to create.  Each one filled with numerous pages of valid information, stories of expression and hope or guidance for the road I hope to take.  How do you get to this place?  How do you get to the place were you have a finished piece of work like these beautiful items setting before me?

It has been my goal for several years now to write and share my story.  I have been told over and over by so many that they would like to hear it.  They want to read it.  There is a curiosity there that even I want to know.  What is my life?  What has it been?  What is it going to be?  I think of the young speaker and writer that have influenced many.  He is a deep encouragement to me now.  His name is Nick Vujicic.  His story is not like mine but then again it is.  A lot of us who write have the same over all story.  This is my life. This is what happened to me.  This is what I overcame and what I hope for you to take away from my experience.  I know it sounds very lame to state it all like that.  But these sentences are what make me think, What makes my story any different?  What makes my words any more valuable than those that are not printed?

There is a doubt in me that overcomes me like a cloud of despair.  I know it is typical for all writers to have these difficult thoughts. “You don’t really have a book.”  “You just think you are better than you really are, more important.”  “When you really start this, you will realize what a fraud you are.  That is what this is all about.  This is just to prove that you are wrong and you are not all that you think you are meant to be.”

There is such a part of me that wants to stop now and say, “I am not who I thought I was. I am no one special. I don’t have anything major to offer. I’m sorry that I thought I did.”  If I don’t put myself out there, if I don’t risk, I don’t have anything to loose…..WRONG!!!  I have everything to loose.  I am going to prove myself wrong. I am going to work through my self doubt.  I am going to write my story and if no one other than my close friends and family read it than at least it was done and I did not chicken away from the idea of failure.   Lord Jesus, please help me.

Laura ~

Friday, August 12, 2011

Living in a moment of AWE!


It has been several days since I have posted. I have not been very good about staying consistent, and as I have seen more blogs by others I am realizing that there are so many changes I would like to make. 

But for now….I will just say this.  “What is there really to say?”

I don’t really mean that there is nothing to write or talk about. I don’t mean that there isn’t something of great need and value to pray.  We all know that there definitely is.  What I do mean is …

…..I sat down a moment ago to pray and realized I needed not to pray.  I sat down just now to think and talk to God only to realize that the silent stillness is all that needed to really take place.  What could give God more pleasure than to simply be still and know that He is God.  What a beautiful expression of love and praise.  What a moment of peace and acceptance!  What a moment of full trust and reverence!  It is like something so pure and spectacular that there are not words to give it justice and you must just sit in awe. 

God the Father, God the Son (Christ Jesus) and the Holy Spirit deserves our awe!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do not let the sun go down upon your anger....Fighting the Marriage War.


“God calls us to make love the core principle of our life. Marriage is the place for us to express love in the fullest manner.  The kind of love God calls us to is more than a feeling, although that’s an important aspect of it. More importantly, it means serving our spouse with a sacrificial attitude and putting their needs before our own. It also means opening our life so they know us completely.  Love should undergird everything we do. Even when we disagree, we can do so with an attitude of RESPECT AND LOVE.”
..Love & Cherish @2008 Lighthouse Christian Products……….

This is on a card I got at the Berean Christian bookstore today that on the reverse side quotes …”live a life of love…Ephesians 5:2”.  

Once I asked a friend about the concern of working through a fight or even “dead moment” in a marriage.  “How do you not let the sun go down upon your anger?  How do you work through the major issues of marriage without letting the very place you rest – your own bed be a war zone?”

This has been one of my big concerns in marriage.  My home is really my haven. It is where I come to relax, recoup, and prepare for everyday life. I do not want my home or especially my own bed to be a war zone with the person I am suppose to love and ‘live for.’  His response was that even when you don’t “feel” like it, you put the other person first. You do something for them that is outside of yourself but meets their deepest need. 

This act of sacrificial love is apparently what it takes to break the brokenness of the original hardened moment.  It sounds so easy on paper.  Will I actually accomplish it though in life?  I guess only time and trial will tell, right?  I pray that you have and are finding success in that today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Strength


Many years ago my cousin who loves to write, wrote about me.  She described me as being strong, like a brick that others broke themselves against.  I was flattered by her description and sweet words but I never understood what would make her describe me like this.  I do not see myself as strong. I see myself as constantly struggling and constantly wanting to figure out the next step, not ever sure of what to do.

It is difficult for me at times. It is difficult for all of us.  We all have our own reasons for distress and disbelief.  Mine is the balancing and coping of everyday life.  Sometimes I do great and really flourish, even receiving compliments from those around me.  Other times I am harsh and distant, throwing hurtful words like arrows to the flesh.  Every day for me though is like walking a tight rope or a balancing beam and across my shoulders is a beam that stretches the length of my arms, carrying the weight of emotions that come naturally to everyone else.  On a calm day I have a lot to balance, but on a busy day or a day filled with stress and decision my risk of “falling” is traumatizing.  I get panicky, harsh and jab at others to stay away.  You are going to cause me to get off balance. You are going to cause me to fall.  You are introducing harm and destruction to the harmonious balance I am trying to create.

I don’t know what my cousin was thinking when she wrote about my strength as though she admired me for it, because what I see is a broken little girl constantly trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and hold them together without anyone interfering in the process.  I wish I was strong.  I wish I was capable of so many of the things that I see others do.  I wish I didn’t have to carry this “load”, this burden with me.  But like I said before, we all have our own distress.  We all have our own failures to overcome and challenges to face.

For me, it has just been a matter of accepting mine and learning to live with and in spite of them.

Laura “silly little girl” Menefee

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Beautiful Mind

I have to admit. The first time I tried to watch “A Beautiful Mind” was when it was in theatres and it lost my interest early on.  I walked out of the theater not even regretting the money I lost by not finishing the movie.  Even now, it can be hard to get through the beginning, but as the drama continues there is an awe that begins to capture you and reel you in.  John Nash was a famous Mathematician.  His discovery while studying at Princeton lead to a change in the field of economics.  He then went on to teach and even earn the Noble Prize in economics.  His history and life is without a doubt impressive. 

What captures audiences in this film about his life though is his struggle with mental illness.  John Nash was diagnosed with schizophrenia after being hospitalized by the encouragement of his wife.  John not only had to accept and face his illness, but he had to overcome it by continually seeking treatment and recognizing the difference between delusions/fantasy and real life.  His life was not easy. Nor was his wife’s but together they fought a good fight and in my mind they won.

There is one line where Russel Crowe who plays Nash states to his long time friend after being asked if he is still affected by the delusions/hallucinations…

            …”They are my past, Martin.  Everybody is haunted by their past.”

Now when I see this movie, I see the brilliance that comes out in the end as his life made such a difference to so many. He really was successful despite the difficulty that he had to face on a daily basis.  

None of us have it easy.  We all have our own difficulties and challenges, but what of that?  Are they not there for any other reason than to define our full potential and capabilities?  We are greater than that which we have been dealt.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I hope that you choose to see it now.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Technique of Victory


"So often, when facing our own giants, we forget what we ought to remember, and we remember what we ought to forget. We remember our defeats, and we forget the victories. Most of us can recite the failures of our lives in vivid detail, but we're hard-pressed to name the specific, remarkable victories God has pulled off in our past."
This is taken from an email from Chuck Swindoll (Insight for Today) entitled "Unique Techniques"
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     I have really come to enjoy watching the pros play golf.  I'm not sure why I like it so much.  I think it has to do with the great talent involved.  These skilled sportsman take a little tiny ball and with a long skinny stick hit it several hundred yards away as close as they can and sometimes directly into a little tiny whole.  It amuses me just restating it like that. 

   One thing I have noticed though is the mindset that they choose to have in the process.  Every single one of them states how they have made it a strong point not to think of the times before when they failed with a bogie or bad stroke.  They instead focus on what they know they can achieve. 

   I don’t know about you but I always make it a habit to think of past failures.  I allow them into today’s thoughts and expectations and I loose to them over and over again.  It is a sad process really.  I fairly recently rec’d advice from a friend stating, “keep your eyes on God and what He is calling you to do and don’t think of those situations or the people in them.”  That statement has really impacted me, and even though it is a constant challenge to think like that.  I have made it a determination to do just that. 

   I don’t think that David thought about all the times he missed the mark as he stood up to Goliath.  I think he made it a point to know and think of how BIG GOD is and what he is capable of.  Then he just did it.  What is your giant today?  Is there anything that you are letting hold you back?
                               

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Exodus

Exodus is a book in the bible going over the account of Moses.  It also means to leave or mass departure (The American Heritage Dictionary).  As I study the book of Exodus and the story of Moses, the terms and ideas of Redemption, deliverance, and forgiveness engulf my heart.  There is something I am meant to see here, something that I am meant to learn.

We as Christians are so use to these terms.  We hear them all the time and for the most part think we know what they mean. But as they are standing out to me more and more, I really wonder how well we know them.  As I read through these chapters and gain new insight to what God is showing me, I want to share it with all of you.  If you have a different opinion or a question, or a thought of any kind I ask that you leave it in a comment.  I would really like for this to be a discussion board as well as a post.

As you already know, I do not have all of the answers but in being in fellowship together, I believe those answers and God's clarity begins to manifest.

I wish you all well and will be praying for you and we take this voyage through the great Exodus!

Laura~

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SHAKE IT OFF!!!.....for no ill effects

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)

I got this scripture off of Marybeth Whalen's blog 'But Will It Make Me Happy?' (June 24, 2001 - Prov. 31 ministries)

I had to share it though because this morning at church I came across the scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that states, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  I thought about all the sufferings Paul went through, all the experiences in general. Paul stepped out to witness, preach and share the gospel and in the meantime was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, bitten by a poisonous snake and ship wrecked.  Time after time things happened in Paul's journey that I am sure were not in his plan.  Yet instead of being frustrated, disappointed or mad, he saw it as an opportunity for God to prevail.  Paul chose to praise God in the trials and sufferings standing in the faith and truth of who God is and all that He is capable of.

My favorite story concerning Paul is in Acts 28.  It states starting in verse 3, "viper...fastened itself on his hand.  When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, 'this man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.' But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects." ~ He SHOOK IT OFF and suffered NO ILL EFFECTS....       Why are we not shaking it off?    I know in my life I have thrown all sorts of little temper tantrums when things did not go the way I expected let alone the times that I simply began to doubt or fear because it did not go the way "I" thought it would go.  Sometimes, A LOT OF TIMES, God has a totally different plan than the one we picture.  We have a choice to SHAKE OFF the negative and accept what He is doing or get in the way by complaining.  I don't know about you, but, I have finally decided that I do not want to get in the way any longer and that no matter how hard it is I am going to do just like Paul and stand in the fact that GOD IS IN CONTROL and this is all happening for a reason, and I am going to work really hard to PRAISE HIM in the process.

LDM~

Monday, May 23, 2011

How do you know when it's the right time?


I bought a new fern last night. I have wanted one for such a long time.  I always planned to buy 2 for the porch I had three years ago and never did.  So even though they don’t cost that much, I finally have one now. 

There are heavy rains pouring down outside and I fear that my new fern is going to be flooded and die. Twice I came close to walking out in the down pour to bring her in but she seemed to enjoy soaking up all that rain so I questioned whether or not it was really necessary.  Sometimes it is hard to know what the right thing is to do in a situation.  You think you know but as you go to do it, you stop unsure of your self and retreat to that safe place.

I have something on my heart but it still doesn't feel quite like a burden.  It did to a degree the first time it came up but that timing was off.  It came up a second time but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it then, timing must have still been off. Then very unexpectedly it came up again last night through a friend of mine.  I am still letting the whole thought of it settle.  It does not at all feel like the right timing.  So I pray.  Lord, is this really something that you even want me to do?  How do I do it, then, and when?

A few minutes ago the storm outside subsided some.  I knew if I was going to pull in my fern that was when I needed to do it.  She is now sitting safely on a side table not as directly in the storm. 

I think about Ruth, about what Naomi told her. Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz was. This was a place that men ate, drank and partied after all the work in the fields had been accomplished, not a place for a woman let alone an honorable woman like Ruth. Naomi told Ruth to make herself available to Boaz because he was her Kinsman Redeemer. Ruth took a big chance to do this.  Her whole reputation was on the line. The safety and security that was provided by him in gleaning in his fields could have been lost.  Not to mention so much worse could have happened.  Yet she was faithful and courageous and did as her mother-n-law stated.  As she approached the situation she was cautious and prayerful looking for just the right time to follow through with the command given.  She followed her heart and listened to the Lord.  When she knew it was the right time, she did it.

I think things are put on our hearts sometime that we fall through with because it really wasn't the right time but God is just trying to get us ready for when it is.  When the right time comes, you will know without a doubt.  Your heart will be burdened and you won't be able to resist.  You will know that if you do, you are really missing out.  I'm not quite to that place yet.  God is still moving, but I need to be ready when it does. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sexual Purity..Worth the wait?


Wow!  For over a week, my heart has not spoken anything to me to write other than love and frustration.  I refused to write about that because one, it is personal and two, why would you care to hear it.  But tonight I am venturing out.

I keep thinking of an analogy for what I want to say and the only thing that comes to mind is  the Heart of the Ocean Diamond on Titanic.  That diamond was so beautiful and so ware.  It was something treasured by many even to the point of searching the depths of the ocean in hopes of finding it, it’s rarity and value so great that few could ever afford it.

Sometimes that is how I feel in the idea of pursuing purity.  The concept is so rare and so unheard of that few even touch it.  They may look at it in respect from afar but say they could not possibly pay the price it takes to have it. 

Choosing purity is definitely a great value.  It is not just an action but an expression of the inner most heart, a way of living.  I haven’t succeeded in purity.  I’ve claimed to for a long time, and I honestly believed that I had a right to, but the bible is clear.  Matthew 5:28 states, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

If you have had or fantasized lustful thoughts, you have in that moment chosen to be impure.

After so many young adults and teens signed agreements like True Love Waits, studies came out that sexually transmitted diseases were spreading more and more rapidly.  The idea was that everything but actual intercourse…was ok.  It’s not o.k.  But how do you live a pure life when so many around you choose not to?  It is so hard.  It is hard anyway. 

I have seriously thought about ALL that I have missed out on because of choosing to wait.  It has cost me the opportunity to date on numerous occasions. I have lived my whole adult life thus far hardly dating at all, just to save it. While everyone else has had boyfriends and live-in boyfriends and people to go places with, I have not.  Not many people choose to date when they know sex is not involved.  So I have found myself at a point of almost regretting having made it such a priority.  The funny thing is, I don’t think that I really claim this anymore.  I know I can not claim it.  There is a point when you have gone far enough that it has just been too far.  As an adult woman not yet married, my initial thought was that now I can finally have that life of dating and sex.  Why not?  If I can’t claim it anyway, I might as well.  But the truth is, I don’t want to do that.  I want purity.  I want a pure heart ready to be used by the Lord and to serve him.  I want what can only come from laying it all down in front the cross.  

I am not good with my sexual desires and thoughts. I have always struggled there. I think we all do. Jeremiah 32:27 states, "Look, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?"   I may not be strong enough but my God is and I am going to give my weakness to Him every time because I want what comes from that rare, pure gift of purity.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day Four I give you Rest



Last night I skipped dinner and the session.  I just needed time to reflect and time alone.  As everyone else walked down to the dining hall, I walked to my car and drove to the nearest restaurant.  The mountains around us are so beautiful.  As I drove, I soaked in the full magnitude of what God was really doing for me.  My life is changing here in this moment and I couldn’t be more thankful.  

When I came back to my room, I sat and reflected.  I spent time with the Lord and I wrote.  At 8 pm as the session ended, I heard a knock on my door and my new found friend greeted me with the concern of where I had been.  She and I spent the next four hours talking, sharing and reading some of our work.  I know a friendship is forming that I will carry for years now out of this one person that “I just happened to sit next to” in the main session on Day One.

One thing that was funny to me was that I shared with her how God has woken me up every morning that I have been here despite my complete lack of sleep and invited me into time with Him at 4:30 am.  Her eyes bugged out.  She said, “The Lord knows, that waking me up at that time is not really a good thing.”  I still laugh thinking about that.  You see, he’s done this before at different times and just as I shared with her it is something that I have fought, trying to sleep through it.  Well, last night as I went to sleep just after midnight with eyes that were blood shot and heavied by purple bags, I prayed “Lord, can I just sleep in tomorrow?”

The answer to that is it is now 4:41 am.  At 4:22 am, I woke to the sound of a sweetly inviting chain whistle. I woke and I thought, “I wonder what time it is?”  As I turned to the clock I smiled knowing that God was kindly and sweetly calling my heart to spend time with him.  I wonder if we even have train tracks near here, but whether we do or not, I don’t think I even care because God has wooed me to his presence and I am so happy to be wooed by the One True Living God.  In that is where true rest comes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day Three


Today is day three of the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference.  This voyage has been like no other.  When I first arrived I was so excited, knowing that there was a reason I was here and that God was really orchestrating my steps.  I had an agenda and view of what I needed to do.  I needed to find out how to go about writing my book and meet the right people to make it happen.  That was my agenda.  The first day alone, opened my eyes to the reality that having my book published is not as easy as God saying to me “I want you to write it.”  Published writer after published writer, editors and even publishers stood on the stage reminding us how difficult it is to be published.  I was surrounded by a room full of men and women that had also been spoken to by God to write there books and some of them were on years 6 and 7 of trying to be published, not to mention all the writings that were out there that never were. 

As I came back to my room overwhelmed by the days events and all that was about to take place, I really thought “Lord, am I going in the wrong direction?  Is a book not really the answer to me telling my story?”  I called someone close to me and talked to him to get perspective and answers that I really needed to hear.  “Laura, have you ever thought your story is meant to be told in the form of an article or freelance, maybe even in devotional form?”  Based on what I had already shared with my friend only days before, he saw something that I was not quite seeing myself. 

Day two was full of confusion and not knowing what to think.  “What is your plan, Lord?  What do you want me to do here?”  I felt so overwhelmed and unsure of myself at this point that being aggressive in my approaches to meet and market myself just was not an option.  I scheduled to meet with one person and only one person in addition to the workshops I attended.  Her name is Janet Roller.  In the small 15 minutes of sitting in her presence and hearing her speak into my life, I heard the Lord say to me “Laura, it is time.”  I have thought for a long time that God was calling me to speak, teach, council, write and pray.  I knew he was forming a ministry in my life to women and young girls based on the trials I had gone through with Bipolar Disorder and the healing that came from it.  I’ve known this for a while and God has really done a lot in that time to prepare me, but as I sat in front of this strong woman of God and heard this message, all I could think was “How do I have any of the credibility to do this?”  I am not a professional. I do not have a degree.  I’m not known by anyone but my family and friends.   I even said to her, “Janet, I don’t know how to do that.  You were Mrs. South Carolina.  You were being asked to speak.  They came to you.  No one is going to come to me, and why would they find me credible to speak?”  I wish I could give you the exact words that she spoke to me but I can not.  All I know is that when I walked away from that table, I left with the clear truth that ‘your experience comes from having lived it and the desire to share it.  They need to hear what you have to say, Laura, and it is not fair of you to put limits on what God is already in the process of doing.’ 

You know just a moment ago I was reading the daily email from Chuck Swindoll and he talked about Moses and the burning bush.  Moses questioned God about being the one to go.  “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?’ (Exodus 4:1) Here God had made a plan.  He had chosen who was to walk it out and it was Him that was going to do it all along.  Yet Moses thought, “I can’t do this.  Why are you choosing me?” 

Today is day Three.  I woke up with a whole new perspective.  I was motivated and full of energy.  God had spoken, I had listened, and now I was curious to know more.  So in my bravery I went and signed up to speak to even more people.  Eddie Melson is the Assistant Director to the conference and a freelance writer and editor.  She is very friendly and personable and I spent 45 minutes getting to really know her and what I can do to begin my writing career.  I shared my story with her. I shared what I wanted to write and why I wanted to write it, and she identified.  My story spoke to even her and I realized in that moment that God really was at work and that He was working out and planning every detail long before I got to it.  Eddie told me in so many words that I do have something valuable to share and that I can do that in many forms.  It doesn’t have to be just a book or just articles but it can be both.  She said you can do one while working on the other.  She gave me so many ways to plug in.  She really blessed my heart and the steps to come.

I also sat in on a very informative workshop with literary agent Jonathon Clements.  We talked about the importance of marketing yourself, your ministry and your writing and ways to do that.  Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging are really essential in the essence of building your market and former future readers.  You HAVE to get your name out there in order to sell.  And selling really isn’t about selling.  It is about being invited in to someone’s influence and sharing what it is you have to share.

Then I met Ellen.  Ellen is my new future writing accountability partner.  I had passed her and said hi several times so as I saw her yet again in the bookstore I knew I needed to meet her.  As we talked and shared all of our thoughts and feelings over the last few days, we realized that we are in the very same place with a very similar task.  God had clearly set this meeting up.  This week is full of encounters like that.  There are many that I haven’t even told you about, and it is not just me.  All of us are experiencing it.  It is so amazing to see how God is working in all of this and how it is not about us at all really.  We are simply the ones he has chosen to use.  It is so amazing.

This week has been unbelievable and I have two more days to go.  This is definitely a pivotal moment for me and can be for you too.  If you have ever considered writing Christian fiction, non-fiction, freelance, greeting cards or anything; you should REALLY consider this event.  It will open up doors that you never thought were possible and inspire you in ways that only the best can.  Plus you can hike. ;)

Janet Powers Roller                                                      Jonathon Clements
www.janetroller.com                                                  www.wheelhouseliterarygroup.com

Edie Melson                                                                Ellen Andersen
www.thewriteconversation.com                                 (new writer)

http://www.altongansky.typepad.com/blueridge/

In The Dawn of that Day


Four thirty am seems to be an awfully early time in the morning to wake up, but it seems to be the time that God likes to speak to me or spend time with me.  Monday night I did not sleep well at all.  So when 4:30am rolled around and I felt like it was time to get up, I thought “no, it’s not.  I need to sleep.”  In nights like that, I always seem to fall asleep soundly just as the alarm is ready to say “get up!”  I should have gone ahead and spent some time in prayer that day, but I didn’t.  So this morning when the quiet but very affective internal alarm went off, I decided to see what God had to say.

            I am glad I did.  I am tired now, but a lot has been expressed in the last 2 ½ hours. 
This is day 3 of this conference and I am beginning to dread the day of leaving because it has been such an amazing experience.  So much has already happened.  I have met so many amazing and interesting people.  Yesterday was a day of revelation to me.  As questions had begun to arise about the exact direction that God was taking me, I spoke to a woman that is a writer and speaker, mother and wife, and has a ministry of her own.  In my conversation with her, I realized that while I had thought speaking was so far off it is actually time to do it.

            I have found out that having a book published is harder and harder these days unless you have it self-published. I also found out the huge importance of  marketing and how that starts now.  Actually it has already started. Having a website, a blog, an active facebook page and speaking opportunities is really what get you the opportunity to be published or have an audience of readers to start with.

            When I spoke to Janet Roller (Mrs. South Carolina 1997) and the mother, wife and minister that I mentioned earlier, I shared with her my concern of not feeling like I have the credibility of being asked to speak.  I am not really trained in anything specific.  I don’t have a college degree.  My job is good but nothing that really stands out.  Why would someone want me to speak?  But what I am finding out is that my story alone and my experience in it along with the desire to speak into the lives of women is where my credibility comes from. So now, I am excited about looking for future speaking opportunities and really reaching out in a ministry of my own.

            What floors me is that I have waited and waited for this day to come, and now that it is finally here I am a little shocked in how it is coming about.  We serve a very big God.  We have a really GOOD GOD.  He is capable of far more than we could ever imagine, and trusting in Him leads to a progress we could never know elsewhere.

            Thank you, Lord Jesus, for having this plan for me.  Thank you for letting me serve you in such a way that is just such a blessing to me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'm Here!!!!!

I don't normally do these type of posts but I can't resist.

Today is my first day ever at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer's Conference held in Ridgecrest NC.  It is so beautiful here.  The weather is phenomenal, almost hot even.  I have no idea what I am even doing.  Writers, publishers, editors walk around me in clothes that really makes me think they are just normal people.  I know though, that they aren't.  Right? 

I haven't even written anything.  Nothing more than a few journal entries and this blog that I don't know how to get out there to the reading world.

I've wanted to write a book for a long time.  I need to write my book now. I really believe that, but even sitting here in the middle of an amazing workshop for writers I don't have the first clue as to what I am really doing or how to do it.  I'm glad today is just the first day.  That means there is still hope, right?

:)  Life is Good and God is so GRAND!!!....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Life on the Edge


  I read a book by Kim Thomas entitled LIVING IN THE SACRED NOW.  It was a good book that chaptered out the in betweens of life.  Kim compares the difference in everyday life such as, between Naked and Clothed, between Water and Wine,  Want and Wholeness, Despair and Hope.  In the very beginning she states, “there is no room for halfway commitment or apathetic involvement.”  She is referring to the act of a flying trapeze and the amazement that she receives in the death defying acts of swinging from one bar to the next without any attachment and sometimes nothing below.  In that brief moment the trapeze artist is living in trust and faith that they will have all it takes to grab hold of the bar in front of them, avoiding the uncertain fall of failure and perhaps death. 

Kim compares life’s everyday differences or in-betweens to see the light of God’s provision in the most basic and most challenging of moments.  My favorite passage in the whole book comes down to one specific paragraph that states:

            “I can see the next trapeze bar I am to jump toward in my life, but timing is everything.  If I let go and reach for the next one too soon, I will fall.  If I wait too long, my chance is passed.  But in the time between this trapeze bar and the next, there is a leap of faith that will set me flying.”

Have you ever known someone that seems to know the timing of this act perfectly?  They are confident, true, they know exactly what to do and when to do it?  Yeah, that person is not me! I so wish I was, though.  They seem to go about these in between circumstances in life with such grace and faith.  Instead, I always feel that I am going to miss the mark.  In fact, usually I sit waiting for the right timing to be so clear that I watch it go right by me, only to live in regret ever after!  All I can manage to do now is pray that God will not let me miss my mark. 

Sometimes you don’t always know exactly what to expect next.  You just know something is coming.  For me, all of these times are more like living on the edge, knowing that it takes more than myself to make it through and that all of it lies in the palm of HIS hands.  Those same nail scarred hands that bear the mark of His love and faith in me.