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

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                                        

Edie Melson                                                                Ellen Andersen                                 (new writer)

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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maintenance List

A few days ago I called the office at my apartment complex asking if they could fix a few things.  At first I only mentioned the most needed items, a shower faucet that isn’t working and a sink that is stopped up.  But as I listed the items, the girl working said “what else”?  I listed item after item as she continued stating those two little words.  Her point to me was that if they could fix things while they were still just little inconveniences then they would not turn into major cost causing problems.

            Yesterday I came in from work and the four items that I described over the phone only days before were now realities.  It was so nice to see them fixed.  I could easily slide my screen door to my porch.  My refridgerator now opened the way you would expect it to.  My sink was fully drained and didn’t stop up, and I expect that my number one problem of a shower faucet that doesn’t work is also fixed.  It is so nice for these little things that I had gotten use to in my everyday life to no longer be an issue.

            Sometimes our lives are the same as my maintenance man list.  We have these “issues” that we have become accustomed to and we learn to live with them every day because it is easier than taking the time to look into them further and getting them fixed.  Healing is a process. A friend of mine has stated that true healing is like pealing away the layers of an onion.  With each layer you peel, you have yet another new layer to deal with.  At times, that alone makes you not want to start the process.  There have been so many times that I have thought, why am I even bothering?  Isn’t it for the best just to have this calloused unhurtable heart? 

            I had a conversation with someone the other night that really helped me see the value of working through these layers though.  I realized in my conversation with him that I really had experienced some divine healing.  Those that troubled with the same issues that I always had were still in a place of hurt and cycled brokenness where as I was finding myself in a whole new realm of living.  It was hard to make those decisions to heal and to work through it, but in the end it really has paid off.  I’m finally fully grateful that I went through the process.  Just like coming home and finding the list of maintenance items fixed, I have found a life that too can be fixed and in many ways has been.