Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting old? There's good news!

This may not seem like it makes sense but hang in there with me.

Light can make a huge difference, can't it?  The power went out briefly today in my office and it was really hard to work.... not to mention the fact that the iPhone flashlight came in very handy in the bathroom!

In Proverbs Chapter 4 in the Message it says:
The ways of right-living people glow with light;    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
You have heard me talk about my mom so many times, and this is the truth!  The older she gets, the more she glows with light... and the brighter she shines.

I'm not finding a lot of reasons to be grateful that I'm getting older, but if I'm going to shine brighter each day that I live, that's a good thing.

I shared this song with you in August of 2016 but it’s worth sharing again.  And I am sure I have shared this quote, and it too, is worth sharing again. It is one of my all time favorites. The two go together so read first, then listen :-)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Three Responses to Infertility

Infertility is not something that we talk about publicly ... we don't bring it up at a work gathering or talk about it at parties.  It is often a lonely, scary, emotionally horrific journey that is only understood by those who have experienced it.

Over the years I have gotten to know many women, personally and professionally, who have shared part of their infertility journey with me.   As a mother of twelve who has never been pregnant, there are often people who broach the subject with me.  I have noticed in talking with these women or couples that there are three basic ways in which people respond.  I recognize that breaking anything as complex as human emotion and behavior down into three categories will miss something but in generalities here is what I have found.

1)  Determination.  Probably the most popular response is determination.   With the medical options available to infertile couples, jumping into a mode of "I am going to make this happen... I can do this..." and the journey begins.  This response often comes from women who have always been able to get things done and to make things happen at work, at home, and as a volunteer at a church or other organization.   So this is their default -- get things done, make things happen -- and becomes their approach to infertility as well.   The dangers of this response is that the more unlikely conceiving becomes, the more angry and frustrated the couple becomes.   If taken to it's extreme, this response leads to a desire for more and more control in every part of life because the infertility battle is being lost and the woman feels she has less and less control.  The relationship is damaged, finances become an issue, and I have even seen situations where women have had mental health breakdowns because they have not been able to achieve what they have determined is the MOST important and suddenly the ONLY important goal.

2)  Depression.  This response can weave in and out of bouts of determination, or for some people is the immediate and only reaction they have to news of infertility.   Life starts to lack joy and seeing other people with children brings immediate tears.  Women going through this depression spend less and less time with other people and more time home or even in bed.  The couple begins to see how it is taking a toll on the marriage as the husband is attempting to be positive and helpful and his efforts are thwarted. Again, taking this to an extreme and the relationship is fractured... sometimes beyond repair.

3)  Relinquishment.   If any couple battling infertility is going to move on and live a life filled with joy and purpose, there is a point in time when they have to "let it go."   Whether you are a person of faith and this means completely putting it in God's hands and not taking it back, or you simply recognize the power of accepting life as it is, moving on is necessary.   This ability to relinquish the idea of giving birth leads to other options and a whole world of possibility.

I think most couples who have gone through the infertility journey will tell you that the above responses are mixed up, not in order, and can all be cycled through in a single day.   It is incredibly complex and there is no "by the book" answer.

But here is the bright side:  I know many people who have gone through the infertility struggle and have come through to the other side better people.  They have learned compassion and grace, they have taken on incredible adventures in life, and they have found a way to make sense of it all.  Those people would tell you that their lives may even be better, richer, and more joyous than a lot of others who have been able to have as many children by worth as they ever wanted to.

In small print (pretend because I'm not sure how to do that in Blogger)  (and you may have known this was coming), the novel that I just wrote addresses infertility.  It is called "Little Did She Know" and you can download it at our website   In fact, you can download it and read the prologue and first four chapters for free -- just download it and apply the coupon INTRO and you will have a zero balance.   I'd love to hear your response about the way that the characters deal with their infertility!

Where Do I Start?

When you look at your to do list this week, are you asking yourself, "Where do I start?"  I certainly know the feeling.  In fact, I am dedicating most of my morning just to organize all the things I need to get done and prioritize them so that I can pack it all into this week.

Fortunately there is an answer to the question "Where Do i Start" in the very first book of Proverbs.  In the Message, Solomon tells us:
Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

Next time that the words "I don't even know where to start" pop into your mind, I hope that this verse does as well.   Start the to do list with God -- a short prayer, a reminder that He's got you and that with his strength, wisdom and courage, you can accomplish whatever it is he has planned for you today.

Just that one thought makes everything seem a lot more manageable, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday Summary July 29, 2017

The weeks seem to rush by when I am posting a summary every week.   I've always loved living life at a fast pace, but my body and mind keep sending me signals that I'm getting older and that I will get tired if I don't slow down.   And then I don't slow down and I get tired.  :-)

I will start where I left off last week.  I left that quiet hotel room and when to present at NACAC which I blogged about here.   It went well.  Yolie is awesome and I think people were encouraged by the session.

I then started for the long trip home which was supposed to last 5.5 hours but lasted a little over seven due mostly to some traffic issues near Charlotte.   I came home pretty tired.

Sunday we had church and then that night Bart and I had supper together and then headed over to our friend's porch to hangout.

Monday through Thursday at noon were a blur of work.  It included all day meetings in the Boys and Girls Homes department, which were super exciting and Tuesday was my typical day of back to back meetings.  Wednesday a co-worker and I drove to Richmond for a meeting and even though it was a lot of time in the car, it went fast and we had a great time.  The meeting was well worth attending.

Thursday I had meetings all morning and then headed back here where I tried to help Bart with several things, including yet another trip to the Sprint Store with yet another shattered screen.  Unfortunately my kids seem to have a need to shatter their phone screen at least once before they believe me that they need a screen protector.  Some of them have shattered more than one screen.

We also had to replace our 23 year old fridge as it died and was beyond repair so that was part of our evening.  That and watching the Reds lose.  Again.  Poor Reds.  I am feeling bad for them lately!

Yesterday after my time at the gym, I came home to try and complete work projects while rallying the troops to clean the house for company.  Our friends Jeff and Cheryl came over for a feast of Bart's famous Hay and Straw (Fettucini with ham, bacon, peas, and mushrooms) and it was amazing as always.  If you have had it you know I'm not lying.  It was SOOO good.  And we had a great time with our friends.

There hasn't been much drama on the home front lately, other than the continued discouragement of living with kids who are not always helpful.  But they scored some pretty big points with me yesterday and I'm feeling better about that.

So here it is Saturday morning again.  I'm getting ready to head to the gym and then Bart and I are going to Greensboro to get hair cuts and have lunch together.   And the rest of the weekend will be a mix of child care for adorable grandchildren, work projects that I can fit in here and there, and more Reds baseball.  I also have a stack of books that is getting very high that I want to read.

So there you have it....  a week in the life.   How can anything be that boring and that busy at the same time?

Oh, and one more thing if you have made it this far... I have sold 97 books.  If I sell 125 I will write a sequel.  So if you haven't bought one you should.   And if you have bought one, liked it, and want to read the sequel tell your friends to order one.  Or order one for a friend.  Or order more than one for a friend.

OK, you're getting the idea.

How's NACAC Year 9: It's What You Put Into It.

For many years we have been presenting at NACAC -- the North American Council on Adoptable Children.   Prior to when I started blogging, we attended conferences in Minneapolis and in Chicago.   And then in 2005, when presenting with Bart in Pittsburg, I wrote a legendary blog post called, "How's NACAC?" that was quoted in a NACAC publication. It was from the perspective of a parent. Since then I have attempted to blog a post about each year.

In 2006 I blogged from Long Beach, California from the perspective of a professional.

In 2007, Year Three, I blogged from Tampa about "Support from the past and the future".

2008 we somehow ditched NACAC, but in 2009 we were in Columbus,Ohio and I blogged about how NACAC is about connection

In 2010 I wrote from Hartford, Connecticut about how NACAC demonstrates that everything is intertwined..

In 2011 we were in Denver and I referred to NACAC as the resurgence of hope.

In 2012 I blogged from Washington DC about how NACAC is the re-ignition of passion.

We took a break from NACAC for who knows what reasons and and then last year in 2016 we were in Nashville and I wrote a post called "How's NACAC?" Year Eight:  It's About Remembering."

This year I realized that NACAC, like all things, is about what you put into it.  Things were quite convoluted this year, and I ended up going alone and wanted to see friends on the way. With my limited schedule, and without Bart,  came for literally only two and a half hours of the conference.  The night before I had dinner with Pat O'Brien, as you know, but that was at my hotel which was not the conference hotel.

While I was there I attended only my own seminar (which I did with my friend Yolie and I think it went very well) and I ran into a few people I knew, but I didn't have time to catch up, learn anything, or make the connections I usually do.

I realized then that NACAC is what you put into it.  Just like everything else in life, you have to be fully engaged to get the maximum benefit.

Next year the conference is in Minneapolis and hopefully we will be selected to present.   We may even see if any of our kids want to present with us.   That would be super cool now that they are adults.

I'm determined that next year I have a bit more to say about NACAC than "it's what you put into it."
But after blogging for so many NACAC's I felt like I needed to, albeit ashamedly, post something about this year.

Next year will be better!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Spitting in the Wind

Spitting in the wind is a pretty disgusting thought.   In fact, I really don't want to dwell on it.   So the fact that the Message uses this phrase multiple times in Ecclesiastes both amuses and troubles me.

The first time is in chapter one.
I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.
It appears that Solomon did a really good job of examining life for those people who believe they are the only one in "their own little world."  When we look at life from that perspective ... it's nothing.  It's smoke.... and spitting into the wind.

However, when we open our eyes to the bigger picture everything changes.  Most of the time an entire blog post isn't about the song I feature, but today it is.  I encourage you to listen to this song and the message that it brings to us.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Can't Shut Up

Do you know someone who can't shut up?  I have a couple kids like that.   They just can't stop talking.  And I'm pretty sure there are some people, my husband and kids included, that might say that I am one of those people who can't shut up.  

In Psalm 89 (the Message), it reads:
Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it!    I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are.I’ll never quit telling the story of your love—
Wow!  Someone else who can't shut up!  But pay attention to the story the Psalmist is telling forever.... the story he never quits telling.  It's the story of God's love.

What would our lives look like if we told this story forever.... if we never quit talking about God's love ... if we never shut up in regards to this subject.

And then, what if on top of all that, we LIVED God's love and never quit....

My guess is that we would be a huge blessing to those around us and that the quality of our lives would improve greatly!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps?

We live in a society that teaches us to rescue ourselves in times of trouble.  If we see a person who is having a hard time, we often think that they should "get it together" and "Pull themselves up by their bootstraps."  We put an awful lot of confidence in human strength.

I love the way that David puts it in the Psalms when he says:
So why should I fear in bad times, hemmed in by enemy malice, 
Shoved around by bullies, demeaned by the arrogant rich?  
Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 
The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn't guarantee.  
The cost of rescue is beyond our means.   But the beauty is that we have One who paid the that price -- the price that is beyond our means.  

Paul sums it up best in Philippians three when he says:
The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it.   
If we recognize that whatever we are in the midst of, trying harder, pushing harder, thinking harder isn't the answer.   Instead, filling the air with Christ's praises and working away at our ministry, whatever it is that God has given us, and recognizing that He is the one who paid the price... that is the answer.

For after all, He is the one who is mighty to save.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What are you running out of?

Energy?  Time?  Resources?  Ideas?  What are you running out of?

Running out of things is part of the the human condition.  As long as we are relying on our own strength, we will always find ourselves coming up short.  There will always be a lack of resources when we rely on ourselves.

But God?  That's another story.  He never runs out.   In the Message Psalm 107:1 says:

Oh, thank God—he’s so good!    His love never runs out.

I don't know about you, but for me that is REALLY good news!

Missing Something?

If you are over the age of 50 you may suddenly be realizing that you are missing things.  Sometimes it can be a literal thing -- like your keys, or your earbuds, or your phone charger.   Other times it is a fact, a name, a person that used to be lodged securely in your brain but now you can't find it there no matter how hard you try.   It's a sign of aging and annoying at best.

Lately I'm finding it very comforting to know that I'm serving a God that doesn't miss a thing.  He is paying attention.   He's clued in to what is happening around me -- and to what is happening inside me. He knows me, He sees me, He loves me.

I love the way Psalm 11 reads in the Message:
He’s in charge, as always, his eyes    taking everything in, his eyelidsUnblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood    inside and out, not missing a thing.
So if you are in a time or season of life, regardless of your age, when things seem chaotic or changing, remember that God is unchanging.  He offers security, stability, and calm in the midst of any storm -- outside of us or inside of us.

And on top of it all, in top of knowing us completely, He loves us more than we can imagine.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday Summary for July 22

Greetings from a very quiet Atlanta hotel room.   Quiet possibly this morning because of how late everyone on my floor was up last night.   :-)  But  I have a White Noise app (a must for any parent of multiple teens and young adults) and so I slept just fine.

I am here for the NACAC conference and in about 30 minutes I will be heading over to meet Yolie (my co-presenter and friend) and then by 10:30 I'll be heading back to Danville.  I haven't seen my husband and a week and it's time!

So.... the last week .... not a whole lot of news on the kid front.  Wilson went with Bart on our church's missions trip, Dominyk was suspended from his job for two weeks because he saw a bass in the lake and had his fishing pole with him, and just couldn't resist the urge to fish, sigh.  So he went down to Danville for the week to babysit Salinda's kids so she could work (and to spare my coworkers of a bored Dominyk with OCD/ADHD).    Not a whole lot of news from home except Tony and Jimmy got in another stupid fight in Minnesota -- they like to scream at each other and lock each other out of the apartment.... hopefully Tony is telling the truth and is moving out soon cuz it is hard to break up a fight from a thousand miles away even though that is somehow their expectation.  At least this fight was during the day and not at 4:30 a.m. like the last one.

And hey guys -- if you're reading this -- remember the saying from when you were kids:  If you don't want me to blog something stupid, then don't do anything stupid!

Bart had a lovely time on the missions trip.  He was the cook and he texted me multiple times about how blessed he feels to be be pastoring the church.  It is great to hear him so happy.

Another great week at work.... things are getting more and more exciting there and I am hoping to be able to tell you more about that soon.  

Book sales are not going well... which only makes me sad from the perspective of how much I like the book and how much I think others would if they read it -- not from the how much I'm making off of it, though that is sad in a whole different way.

On Thursday I started my journey down here and I got to spend some time with some of my favorite people on the planet.  Dr. Bob Black was favorite professor and he officiated at our wedding.  He and his wife Judy remain great friends and I was able to spend time with them and their daughter Jenny, who I knew best when she was 9-11 years old.  Her daughters, now ages 9 and 15... were delightful in their own respective ways.

I did a three hour meeting via google hangout for work yesterday which was incredibly exciting!

I also had a great time in Central with the Wood Families.... Dan and Kelly and Pete and Kim.   I could write paragraphs of all of our great shared experiences back in the late 80s early 90s but it was fun to spend time with their grandchildren.   Their daughter was one of the children I babysat during that time phrase and now she has kids that are 8, 6, and 3.... who look a lot like her and her brother John, who died five years ago.  Her kids are the same age as they were when we hung out at their house two or three times a weekend.   It was a great time of reconnecting and being together.

Then yesterday I battled Atlanta traffic, now one of my least favorite things to do in the universe in 105 degree heat.   Last night I had dinner with Pat O'Brien.... who we have now been friends with since 2006.  If you would like to read about how star struck I was by him back then you can read this blog entry.    Now he's just a great old friend and a true legend in older child adoption.

By the time I get home tonight it will have been a very full week but a very good one.  I am so very thankful for my job, my family, and all the great friends and memories God has given me over the years.  I am so very blessed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Not Giving Up...

Did you grow up in a church where you learned Scripture?  Was it part of everything you did?  Did you memorize the books of the Bible and memorize important verses?

I certainly did.  And if you are one of those people you know that Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible and that each one of the verses in it… all 176 of them, has some mention of God’s word in it.   Verses like “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” and “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee”  (can you tell I grew up in a church that used the King James?  :-)

I have been listening to the book of Psalms in “the Message”  In fact I listened to chapters 119 through 150 yesterday on my way to South Carolina.  It was a delightful ride as the way that Eugene Peterson paraphrases things often catches my attention.

Yesterday verse 92 caught my attention.  It says in the Message, “If your revelation had not delighted me so, I would have give up when the hard times came.”

That is so true in my life.   The words of Scripture that are hidden in my heart coming right to the surface when times are difficult and they convince me not to give up.  When I run to God and His word when I’m facing challenges, they get me through.

So if you have had a life where there have not been many hard times, I encourage you to start storing up scripture, delighting in God’s revelation, because when they come, and they will, you’ll have the ingredients that will keep you from giving up.

Delight in God's word.... and when the hard times come, you won't give up!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Picking Teams

Were you ever the last person picked for a team as a kid?  I always was.   Hated it when we chose sides in P.E.  because I was never one who anyone wanted on their team.

David talked about picking teams in Psalm 101...
I refuse to take a second look at corrupting people and degrading things. I reject made-in-Canaan gods, stay clear of contamination.The crooked in heart keep their distance; I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.I put a gag on the gossip who bad-mouths his neighbor;  I can’t stand arrogance.  But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people — they’re the ones I want working with me;Men and women on the straight and narrow — these are the ones I want at my side.
David had it figured out.  He knew exactly who he wanted on his team.  Maybe you are the same way.  You have an idea of the people you want on your team.

The interesting part of this for me is that we all have lists of how we want the people around us to act, but maybe we are asking the wrong question.  Maybe we should be asking, "Am I the kind of person that others want on their team?"

Am I making sure that I'm not crooked in heart, do I plan evil.  Do I gossip or bad-mouth my neighbor? Am I arrogant?

Am I a salt-of-the-earth person who is on the straight and narrow?

As I listened to this Psalm I concluded that it's my job not to look for good team members, but to be one.

Do You Believe You are Awesome?

A healthy self-image is something that psychologists will tell you is a good thing.   Of course, there are people who take it too far and get a little carried away... I'm probably accused of that at times .... but a healthy self-image is a gift.

But it's one of those things that you really don't have control over.... at least to start with.  It's kind of like metabolism, which if you know me well, you know I have issues with.   People who can eat whatever they want and not gain a pound .... well, let me just say that that is WRONG.  I'm not going to name any names here, but REALLY, PEOPLE!   

I remember about five years ago when Wilson was eating a super-sized triple whopper combo at lunch and I said to Bart, "Why is it that Wilson can eat anything he wants and not gain a pound and I can't eat anything without gaining Wilson.  Wilson overheard us and said, "Because God loves Wilson."  Little punk  :-)

THAT IS NOT TRUE.  I mean, yes, God loves Wilson, but He also loves of all of us who smell a triple whopper and gain 3 pounds.  He made us all.  And why He chose to have people have different metabolisms is beyond me.  But I digress.

Self image is the same thing.  Initially it is given to you by your parents and you didn't choose them.   It could be that your parents did not have the skills to instill it in you, or maybe they were in a bad situation during the first few years of your life that didn't allow them to give you the attention that you deserved.  Or possibly they did a great job, but you had a particularly bad adolescence and it was crushed.

You can't control the things that happened to you, but you can recognize one thing.    God made you glorious.   He made you awesome.  He made you wonderful.  He created you to be awesome.   All of life is a journey to learn that, to embrace it, to let it become part of who you are...

So today, if you aren't feeling so awesome, that doesn't matter much, because regardless of how you feel, you are.



A Shout Out to My BWC Family...

This is for all the people I call family who attended Bartlesville Wesleyan College or their antecedent schools or Oklahoma Wesleyan University, as it is now called...

Monday, July 17, 2017


Going through something that scares you?  There are some verses in Psalm 91 that might be just for you:

Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.

Those are pretty amazing promises.   They are true.   I can hear you saying right now, "but......"  and then filling in the blanks.

We are tempted to think that if bad things happen to us that it is because God isn't taking care of us.  But He is..... He says that evil can't get through the door -- that doesn't mean that it won't come right up to the door and pound on it until you don't think you can take it any more.

And it doesn't say that you won't stumble, it says that if you do, the angel's job is to keep us from falling.

Look back at that last time when it SEEMED like evil was winning -- that it was standing at the door pounding.  Did the angels protect you then?  What about the last time you stumbled?  Were you able to keep from falling?

Those angels.... they aren't always going to protect us from the things that life sends our way.... but they will make sure that we don't hit bottom -- because God is good, all the time, and He's got us.

God's got you.   And so do his angels.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Reluctant to Buy My Novel?

Why not check out a section for free as an ebook and then decide if you want to buy the rest?

Just click here and use the coupon INTRO.   :-)

Just Keep Sowing...

You may remember in the movie "Finding Nemo" that Dory kept chanting, "Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming."  I can hear her voice in my head.

I've decided to replace that with "Just Keep Sowing, Just Keep Sowing" after Bart's sermon today.  He talked about the parable of the sower and he made one very good point.

He said that the parable isn't about the sower.  Or about the seed.  It's about the soil.   And we never really know what kind of soil it is.... but that's not the the issue.   The sower the seed are givens.  Regardless of the soil, we are supposed to keep on sowing.

This weekend I was kinda pouty.  I was looking around me at the results of the sowing I have done and not seeing much fruit.  In fact, it seems like there are is so little growth I am tempted to just stop and give up.

But I realized today that I need to stop all that.  God didn't ask me to make the seeds grow.  He didn't ask me to prepare the soil.  He didn't even tell me to choose the right kind of soil before I started to sow.   He just asks me to keep on sowing.

So if you are looking around and not seeing growth in the soil around you, don’t worry about that.  That’s God’s deal.  

Just Keep Sowing..... Just keep Sowing.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Summary for July 15, 2017

It's Saturday again and the week has flown by.

Here are some highlights:

1)  We spent last weekend and most of the week shipping out books for the pre-order sale for my first novel.   I did the math today.  On a majority of the books I made 11 cents or less.  Guess I should have done the math before I did the free shipping AND five dollars off deal.  Oh well.  I hope that the enjoyment people receive and what they learn from the book makes it worthwhile.

2)  Cool stuff happening at work.  Can't reveal it all yet, but it is awesome.  AND it is going to revolutionize Virginia.... seriously.  Big vision, lots of work ahead, but cool cool stuff.

3)  Got to spend some time with some awesome people this week.  On Thursday Bart and I had lunch with Paul and Heather Mills.  If you know either of them, you know what a great time we had.  Dr. Mills has been my mentor and friend for over 30 years and every time I get to see him it is a blessing AND hilarious.  He is a HUGE part of who I am (but will tell you loudly that he does not assume responsibility for that!)  We have so many shared memories that are just phenomenal.  I had not seen Heather since she was about 21 so it was good to see her.  She's only 2 hours away so I am committed to seeing her more often.

4)  Yesterday Bart and I had brunch with Lewis and Carol Williamson.  Lewis is a pretty amazing breakfast food maker and we had a lovely time learning about life in the Bahamas .... it was really fun.
Then last night Bart had a hospital visit to make and we went out for dinner in South Boston.   It was a cool place and we really enjoyed it.

5)  I have been to the gym here in Danville every morning that I have slept here since June 22nd.  I don't know that I'm losing much weight, in fact I know I am not, but I am trying and it feels good to know that I am doing something about my health.  It makes me feel better.

Today Bart and Wilson are getting ready for the Missions trip.  I am busy trying to market my book in addition to some other work projects.   I'm in a bit of a slump emotionally and not sure why, but I'm sure it will pass!

A sneak preview:  This coming week I get to head to Atlanta to speak at NACAC and stop and see my friends in Central SC on the way and the way back.  Now THAT will be fun!

How Much Money Am I Making Selling Books?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Are you forgetting something?

Have you ever kicked yourself for forgetting something important?  Not literally kicking yourself, because that would be physically challenging to do it correctly, but mentally saying, "UGH!  I can't believe I forgot about that."

As Christians, we often forget the most significant things.   And the sad thing is that we are not the first God-followers to do that.   Some of the coolest things that God ever did He did for the Isrealites in the book of Exodus.  The Psalmist reminds us of what happened in Psalm 78:

They forgot what he had done—    marvels he’d done right before their eyes.He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents    in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan.He split the Sea and they walked right through it;    he piled the waters to the right and the left.He led them by day with a cloud,    led them all the night long with a fiery torch.He split rocks in the wilderness,    gave them all they could drink from underground springs;He made creeks flow out from sheer rock,    and water pour out like a river.  
All they did was sin even more,    rebel in the desert against the High God.They tried to get their own way with God,    clamored for favors, for special attention.They whined like spoiled children...

God couldn't have done much more to show them that He was God and that He was going to get them through the mess they were in.  Splitting the sea, splitting rocks, providing food and drink from nothing...

And their response?  They sinned even more, they rebelled, they tried to manipulate God, and they whined like spoiled children.

Why?  Because they forgot what God had done.

If you are in the middle of a difficult season, it isn't your first is it?  Remember the last one?  What did God do for you?   Don't forget...

Don't respond like the Israelites!   Remember, God's got you like He did before.  He will always have you.  He never changes.

If you are going to forget things, don't forget this one thing:  God is faithful.  He always has been and He always will be.

So avoid the path of the Egyptians... don't sin, rebel, manipulate or whine.

Just remember.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is Something Not Right in Your World?

If you woke up this morning and everything was right in your world, you should consider yourself fortunate.  

Most of the time, even if we aren't looking for it, there is something that isn't quite right.   So if you are one of those people who has something not quite right going on in your world, I have a verse for you from Psalm 11:

God’s business is putting things right;
He loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
    we can look him straight in the eye.

I love this verse because it has a twist to it.  God loves putting things right.... but it often involves Him setting us straight.  

So today, pray that God puts things right... and be ready, because in the midst of that He might have to set you straight.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Heart-Shattered Lives and Post-Traumatic Growth

Would you ever use the word "shattered heart" to describe a time in your life where something so horrible occurred that you were not sure you were going to make it through?   Maybe it was the tragic death of someone close to you, or betrayal in a relationship that was so piercing you felt you might die. It could be the incredible disappointment of raising a child who you have loved for years who is now living a desperate, estranged life.   Or maybe the realization you had when you realized that an addiction that you were sure was just a bad habit you could break any time had taken over your life.   Those are all heart-shattering moments.

A term has surfaced in research that has recently caught my attention.  It is called "post-traumatic growth."

Here is how it was defined by a couple researchers (Calhoun and Tedeshi).
Post-traumatic growth is positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning. These circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual, and pose significant challenges to their way of understanding the world and their place in it.  Post-traumatic growth is not about returning to the same life as it was previously experienced before a period of traumatic suffering, but rather it is about undergoing significant 'life-changing' psychological shifts in thinking and relating to the world, that contribute to a personal process of change, that is deeply meaningful.
As I look back on my life I realize that I have had some of this occur.   But for those of us who are Christians, there is another layer to all of this.   When we hit bottom we learn who God is and we learn who we are in relation to Him.  We learn to say, just as Job did,  "You are God and I am not... I put my hand over my mouth."

Psalm  51 in the Message says this:
I learned God-worship    when my pride was shattered.Heart-shattered lives ready for love    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Having our hearts shattered eventually leads to psychological growth.  But more importantly, when our pride is shattered because we result in learning to really worship God.    Like Job, we realize that His thoughts are higher than ours and that "the Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away."

And I love the way the verse ends.  Heart-shattered lives are ready for love.   Broken, open, waiting, exposed, raw.... those are the lives which don't for a moment escape God's notice.  He sees us.  He knows how we feel.  He reaches down to provide healing and hope.

If you are in a period of time where you feel like your heart it shattered -- know that this is the beginning of a journey.  A journey towards growth... but also toward worship, towards healing, towards wholeness, towards hope.

It's a guarantee.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Who is Writing Your Story?

If you could choose someone to write your biography, who would you choose?  Someone who knew you well or someone who is a bit of a stranger so that they would leave things out that you didn't want people to know?  Or would you not trust someone to write it and insist on an autobiography?

If you follow me on Facebook or you have been writing my blog you know that my novel just came out…. and it was an amazing journey to write a story — to make up people from nothing.   I had never written fiction before, and I was surprised at how cool it was.   The characters became my friends as if they were real.   And fortunately, they were willing to let me write their story.

We are in God’s story and the story is amazing IF we actually let Him write whatever He chooses…. if we don’t push back, if we give ourselves to Him, asking Him to be the writer ….

I love these verses from Psalm 18 in the Message:
God made my life complete    when I placed all the pieces before him.When I got my act together,    he gave me a fresh start.Now I’m alert to God’s ways;    I don’t take God for granted.Every day I review the ways he works;    I try not to miss a trick.I feel put back together,    and I’m watching my step.God rewrote the text of my life    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Life doesn’t get any better than when we give him free reign to right our story as He sees fit.