Monday, June 29, 2015

Sneak Preview

I just want to take a minute and share a little something with you...

I absolutely LOVE working on every issue of CW Voice Magazine, but I have to say that I particularly enjoy putting these pages together on quiet, calm Sunday afternoons. After a great sermon and morning worship, I feel energized. My spirit is renewed and my desire to reach and bless women with the love of Jesus is refreshed and strengthened.

Every new issue of this magazine is my favorite, and our upcoming July/August issue is no exception - SO many wonderful articles that will speak to your heart with the hope we have in Jesus.

Here's a sneak preview of the cover for our new issue, though this one may be a little late coming out. I apologize. We're working hard to shine it all up and have it ready as soon as possible. Until then, our May/June issue is still available Here!

Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Friday, June 26, 2015

When God Says "Rest!"

Sometimes, it takes a God-sized fear to speak our hearts into surrender.

Sometimes, it takes a God-sized presence to pull us away from our I-can-do-all-things...until-I-drop attitude.

Sometimes, when we tie on our Super Woman cape determined to power through and continue on toward OUR goals instead of the goals God has for us, He gives us two fun-filled, eye-opening days in the hospital to put things in perspective.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

My husband was away on a business trip and I did as I always do. It’s a sickness, really, to think that I have to accomplish something big and awesome while he’s gone in hopes of surprising him when he returns.

Years ago when the kids were toddlers, I took on the challenge of sanding and painting all my kitchen cabinets (including changing out every hinge and handle and the previous owners had painted over EVERY screw head). From there, I moved on to wainscoting two kitchen walls, painting the upper portion and putting up a wallpaper border during his 2-week business trip to Tennessee. It was ridiculous and I vowed to never take on such a huge project again.

This time…while my husband was away on a week-long business trip, I decided it was time to pretty-up the foyer. I was tired of looking at the dated ivy stencil work I’d done years ago. So, I started small. I changed out the broken handles on the antique cabinet in the entryway. From there, I moved on to painting the wall beneath the staircase that faces the front door. Not a big deal and very do-able.

I should have stopped there, but no. I am Debbie – hear me roar!

I decided it was time to give my entire staircase, railing, spindles, etc. a facelift. It looked tired and old and I really thought that I could complete the job of staining every square inch of wood in a beautiful dark hickory stain by doing a little each day after working at my real job!

Long story short: the chest pains started about 20 minutes into the project and continued clear until I’d finished for the day. I’d run out of daylight and energy and it was time to go to bed.

I tried to sleep that night ignoring the pain and heaviness in my chest, but by 2:30am, the pain had traveled from my right shoulder to the left and my left arm was in agony. Both hands were tingling, but I tried to shake it out and find a comfortable position to sleep because I had work early the next morning.

After hours of trying to talk myself out of going to the ER, I finally gave in after remembering a billboard I’d seen along the highway on a recent trip with my husband. It said, “Your health isn’t just about you.” I thought of my husband, my children and loved ones…and drove myself to the ER.

I spent 2 days of constant needles, blood draws, machines, tests involving “nuclear medicine” and lots of waiting in between (and not a drop of coffee to be seen). It was kinda scary, painful, uncomfortable, but I knew I’d made the right decision to go given my family health history.

I’m just so glad that God gives us hymns like “His Eye is on the Sparrow” to play in the background of our fear and uncertainty. I’m so blessed by the friends He provides to see us through our tears and fears of the unknown; the friends who call and text and bring flowers and reading material and look away when we’re at the mercy of an easy-breezy hospital gown.

God is ALWAYS good. He meets our every need. He gives us the necessary eye-opening events to remind us how very fragile this life really is. He loves, protects and guides His children and brings them through the scary times. He slows us down and reminds us that this life isn’t about the rush and the hurry, and the stress of getting things done. It’s about giving each day to Him and accomplishing His to-do list – not ours.

And He sometimes lets the biggest projects go half-done to serve as a reminder to only follow His plan. It’s not my job to go out and conquer the world or even a home-improvement project that’s well above my head. I wasn't created to do it ALL. I will only be victorious over that which God sets before me….and I will look at my half-done staircase…and smile.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Living in the Extreme

As if Father’s Day itself doesn’t bring about a myriad of emotion for so many of us, we’re all still digesting recent, unimaginable tragedies and heartbreak among God’s people. It just seems our entire country is experiencing everything these days to the extreme.

We’ve got extreme heat and out-of-control wild fires blazing here in California while much of our east coast is sweltering in heat, humidity, rain and thunderstorms. Sorry for that brief weather update, but I think we could all use a little sweetness in our lives in one form or another. A pure and simple, refreshing peace that centers us and reminds us that God knows. God sees it all, shares in our suffering and offers His presence during every single drop-to-your-knees-and-pray moment.

He brings the rainbows, but not until the storm passes.
He brings the cool, quiet evenings, but we have to endure the scorching heat of day.
He brings reassurance and relief, but only after the flames die down.

Everything has its season. In fact, it seems everything has a beginning and an end…except one thing: God’s extreme love for His children. His love knows no season. It’s unconditional and from the purest of hearts.

Normally, I would head out to the garden when I want to collect my thoughts and find some sort of balance, but yesterday (the heat kept me inside) I found solace in my kitchen. I came home from grocery shopping and as I put everything away, I cleaned pantry shelves, consolidated food items, cooked up last little bits of things to get them out of the way and had a great time just being busy at home (Titus 2:5). And all day I found myself praising God; praising Him for His provision, His peace and His love for me.

Oh, and then these happened. I can’t take credit for this recipe, though. This is from Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman). These are so delicious and easy to make. This recipe sort of takes the extreme out of the day, as it requires you to press the crust evenly across the pan reaching all four corners. I think any recipe that calls for the use of our hands to fashion or mold has a natural way of resetting the soul. It just helps to sort of shut out the craziness, the chaos and uncertainty of life. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

" to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, 
and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will 
malign the word of God." (Titus 2:5 NIV)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

To Catch a Dream

    I remember spending countless hours as a little girl watching a red and white bobber float along still waters. After awhile, I’d get impatient, reel it back in and cast out to yet another “perfect” spot.
    I soon realized that the weight of the bobber alone wasn’t enough to carry my line out very far, so I learned how to add little round split shot weights to my line so I could cast out farther and stand a better chance at some of the bigger fish.
    It doesn’t take much effort to keep casting our line close to the shore, does it?
    It seems that if we only have faith enough to toss our line within reach, we can only hope to catch the smallest, youngest fish. Sure, it’s safer and easier that way, but there’s really not much of a challenge in dreaming of the small and attainable when there are so many big fish out there.
    It takes the weight of faith on our line, faith big enough to cast our dreams and our goals way out beyond the lapping waves and into waters swirling well over our head where the biggest fish swim.
    It's the strength of that faith that grabs that line and makes it soar way out beyond where we're able to reach on our own. And it's the weight of our faith that allows us to think beyond the shoreline and into the unknown because God's hands fashioned both the shallow and the deep waters.
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied
by action, is dead." (James 2:17)
    I want to encourage you, sweet friend, to add the weight of faith to your dreams. Cast out far beyond the break of waves and into the deepest unknown. You may have to cast out many, many times before you catch what you’re looking for and you might even snag your line in the undergrowth. But don’t let that keep you from trying. Because of Jesus, we have the power and the authority to think far beyond the attainable, reachable goals and into the open waters of possibility. Praise God!
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 1428-31)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Waiting Game

So, I’m playing the waiting game right now...and I don’t like it. I’ve submitted a few articles to be considered for publication in various sources and I’m trying to pretend it doesn’t bother me when junky, spammy emails land in my inbox instead of an acceptance note.

I wasn’t wired with patience, so playing this game when I want answers instead is agonizing for me.

I try to busy myself with other things because as a writer, we’re told to “write and submit, write and submit and repeat.” Great advice, actually. Once we send off little bits and pieces of our heart and soul to a publisher, it’s done. It’s gone. No more editing. No more chances to shine up that first impression. It is what it is and we’re left with those heart-stopping moments at 2am when our eyes fly open and we gasp, “Did I remember to put a title on that thing? Oh, I just know they’re going to hate it. That’s it. I’m washed up. Done. I should just sell my computer and forget about ever writing another word.”

But really, the only thing we can do is move on to the next dream. The next thought and goal. Why? Because it’s what we do. We’re not writing for someone else, really. We’re writing because we have words that kick and wrestle to breathe, to pull back the curtains of our very soul and give light to that which God Himself has nestled deep down in the very heart of each one of us.

God's Word tells me in Romans 12:12:

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

So, I shall.



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