Monday, October 24, 2016

Unborn Christians

I bet you read the above title and thought Doesn't she mean REborn Christians?

Nope. I mean unborn. These are Christians who don't know they're Christians...yet. At least until we talk to them.
Unborn Christians are those who don't know about Jesus, or kinda-sorta know about God, but don't know enough to claim His promises. That's where we come in.

Scary, isn't it?

You never know when you'll influence someone to come to God. It's not always about brandishing a Bible and praising God at the top of your lungs; sometimes it's that way people see you acting (and reacting) with your co-workers. Or family and friends. Or your children.

One woman is a homemaker. Her and her husband raised three kids in God's word, and when they were grown, they brought fifty-thousand unborn Christians to God through ministry. Is her job any less important because she only influenced three little people? What about her neighbors and friends? They saw God through her eyes and actions and came to Christ, and are now influencing their own kids in God's ways. One little homemaker influenced the future of thousands of unborn Christians.

Another woman works in an office. She not only influences her co-workers, but also the clients she works with. Not all of them come to God, but the few that do wind up influencing their co-workers, bosses, and clients, who them go home and talk to their husbands and wives and then their children...

You get the idea. There are a lot of unborn Christians out there- and all we need to do is talk to them.
Or pray for them. Let them see God through us.

Even though we screw up. Especially when we screw up. That's probably the hardest and scariest part of all because those who are usually the closest to breaking and finding God are our hardest critics, keeping an eye on every thing we do. You know those cynics are watching when a Christian messes up- just wondering what we'll do and how we'll act.

The funny thing is, if we act out of God's will, this is usually the opposite reaction that the cynics expect. And that's usually the best time to talk to these unborn Christians!

Your co-worker asks,"Why didn't you try to get out of it? You could have (list excuse here)...." Your answer will tell her everything about your Christian walk. And that it's not a walk of the perfected- quite the opposite in fact. People might not break down that day and give their lives to God, but you brought them one step closer because you acted in God's best interest.

Living life God's way isn't easy- not by a long shot. But unborn Christians need to not only see us triumph over the struggles of life, but triumph over struggles we're still going through. That is what gets their attention the most. I can't tell you how many times unborn Christians have gone up to my husband and asked, "How did you get through it?" His answers brought many into God's fold.

We both have our moments where God's light doesn't shine as much as it should. We both struggle with staying in God's sight. Honestly, he's quicker on the draw when it comes to admitting mistakes and learning from them, but he's teaching me as I trip along my merry way. Or should I say His merry way?

I'll be meeting a lot of unborn Christians by the time God calls me home (I hope), and I pray I'll be a good example of what God wants me to be. And if I'm not, I hope the cynics see a repentant heart, a submissive spirit, and a humble attitude. I want them to see God working through me.

Who knows how many people we influence each day? But wouldn't it be great to see those unborn Christians of today in heaven when we are called home?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

God's Hint and a Half

Have you ever had God tell you to do something and though you knew what He wanted, you still wanted to do things your way?

Have you ever had God remind you to listen to Him when your thoughts strayed from His will?

A while back I told you I fasted and prayed for an Answer- and God told me to write.
Write books.
Write all of them.
I did what He wanted. I was behaving. Until I saw our dwindling bank account.

Then a mild panic set in and I started brainstorming new ways to bring in extra funds, since I stopped driving for Lyft (for good reason) and the other driving jobs dried up entirely. As of this past Friday, I'd made a decision to call about a possible job driving special needs students to and from schools. I talked it over with my husband, and he thought it should be okay to go forward (because dropping off the kids after school would interfere in family dinner time.) We'd just have to adjust the schedule a bit, so I could drive. I could write and prep dinner in between pick-ups...right?

God decided I needed a hint.

Throughout the week, my bible readings were full of 'the people of Israel were told to do this, and they didn't listen'... 'the people of Israel were told to do that, and they didn't listen'...'Then God got mad and punished them, and they still didn't listen'.

All week God knew what I was thinking, and told me through scripture that His way was a better way. But I was looking at the bank statements and not Him.

So Sunday morning comes and God hit us with a hint and a half. The lesson not only spoke of obeying God, but will He not also provide what we need as we obey? God was blunt enough that even I understood His meaning, and after services My husband and I both talked and agreed that I should bide my time doing what God said to do. 

Besides, what if the journals and planners I'd been working on (as fast self-publishing books) was the answer to our financial dilemma? I would have missed out not only on the blessing, but lost experience practicing self-publishing! Frankly, it doesn't matter how He'll take care of things- it just matters that He will. Just like the sparrows.

I took the hint. I didn't want to know what God would do next if I didn't listen. He's not always so subtle- and I'd rather not find out what His not-so-subtle hints would be! Listening is a much better prospect, don't you agree?

So here I am, writing this blog and sending out my first planner through the vast cyberspace to be judged worthy of publication. I'd never have gotten to this point if God hadn't pushed me. 
I won't tell you that I'll never think another 'get an outside job' thought again- because I'm still human, with a stubborn will of my own. But God will be guiding my steps through it all, and I hope to completely trust in Him without those thoughts in the future.

And I won't stop counting the blessings on the way!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Smelling Myself

I was listening to one of the Pastors giving a small talk before communion. He spoke about how Christians can seem when posting online, but act differently in church. Sometimes what is posted can be misconstrued (and let's face it, it often is!), but it also can show the heart attitude of a person.
He asked for us to imagine our Christian attitudes as a scent. Is that scent pleasing aroma to God, or do we stink? Some people sit in church praising God while hating the brother or sister sitting next to them.

Ouch, Pastor!

One thing I love about my church is the diversity of our pastors. This one doesn't pull any punches and gets right to the point. I love that.

The moment he uttered those words, he might have been speaking directly to me- and from the expressions of most of the congregants, they felt the same as I did. Did my heart really stink?

So after church, I gave my inner self a sniff or three. Oh yeah, there was some stinkification in my heart. Fortunately, I knew what attitudes needed changing- unfortunately some people got a bad whiff of me a few weeks back, and it's something I can't change. There is no 'Undo' button. No 'Replay'. No 'Reload your game'. I screwed up and I can't take it back. That just makes my spiritual redo harder.

Though not impossible!

I smelled a lot of good things too, but those aren't my main concern. I need to clean the bad spots before I can improve the whole- like bleaching a shirt. A little spot cleaning here and there before you toss the whole thing into the wash.

And sometimes you need to rewash. More than once.

I've been reading Leviticus and Numbers, and God talks about 'a pleasing aroma' a lot in those chapters. God likes Himself a good smell! He's also willing to help us with the spot cleaning, so we smell good to Him again. Gotta love that...right?

When people want to know what a Christian is, I want them to give me a sniff and come away smiling, not holding their noses. Too many times I've seen unborn Christians (people who aren't Christians...yet!) with their noses crinkled as they passed by, not realizing I was the reason for their reaction. 


Help me be a pleasing aroma to You, Lord. Help me find the stink and eradicate it. Let my life in reality, online, and in my writing reflect You and glorify You in all aspects. I want to smell good not only to You, but to those around me too!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Forehead Swatting God

Sometimes I wonder why God puts up with us.

He made us. He gave us free will. We are His children. But instead of being grateful and doing what He asks, we tear off the diapers and run all over the neighborhood, screaming 'FREEDOM!' and flashing all of the neighbors.

This is when God swats his forehead. Free will...why did I give them free will??

It's happened throughout biblical history.

"I know You said not to eat the fruit, but the snake said..."

Forehead swat.

"I'm tired of manna- I want meat! We'd be better of being slaves in Egypt.."

Forehead swat.

"The land of milk and honey? But there are giants there! No way am I going in there!"

Forehead swat.

As I look back on my own life, I can tell you I probably caused God to swat His forehead more than I'd like to admit. Why is it so hard for us to listen and obey Him sometimes?

Because His will be done- not mine, And I have free will, so that makes me extra stubborn and selfish. I mean really- who is He to tell me what to do anyway? My way is so much better!

I also can't tell you how many times I sold myself on that bit of tripe.

So here I sit in my self-righteous misery, wondering why life is such a big, stressful mess. This is usually when I pray the hardest. The funny thing is, God still answers. The funnier thing is, I still don't listen because many times the answers aren't jiving with what I want!

When it happened again, I decided to actually try and listen- and obey. I tell you that last part has to be the hardest thing to do. Ever. 

I was given an Answer. 
I listened.
I obeyed. 
And I sacrificed what I needed to achieve His Answer.

Sweet cheese and crackers, Batman! what happened next had me completely flabbergasted.

I felt a peace I hadn't felt in a very long time (probably the last time I listened and obeyed!)
I felt calm for the first time in ages, despite the fact that my life wasn't matching my ideal.
I felt content. Do you know what contentment truly feels like? It's that small smile you make when you're doing something that you truly love. You feel satisfied, productive, and happy.

Because I knew if I listened and obeyed, God was going to handle the rest.

Now that doesn't mean bad things won't ever happen. It doesn't mean I'll never feel sad or angry. It means that no matter what happens, God will be there with me to get through it, whatever it is. I'm telling you, it's the most awesome feeling in the universe!

Looking back through my life, I can see God helping me stay sane.

When my mom and I were both out of work and we had no food in the house.

When my husband was severely burned in a work accident.

When my mom, my husband's mom, a cousin and a family friend all died within two weeks.

People still marvel over that last one, 'How are you not lying in a fetal position completely depressed?' people have asked me. 
Well, the truth is I did get depressed. Only God kept me upright and got me back on track again. All He wanted me to do was go to Him in prayer. I just had to ask and He was right there with me, telling me what to do.

Do I still want to tear off the diaper and run about the neighborhood? Absolutely! (Not literally people- Pampers doesn't make diapers in size Bodacious- besides, I don't like the crinkling noises!) But when I start feeling rebellious, I make myself look back and see His hand in everything good in my life, and instead of tearing off the diaper, I read the Bible and pray. Much better choices for me- and my neighbors!

Hopefully God will not have any more forehead-swatting moments concerning me, but let's face it- I still have free will and am still stubborn and selfish. 

But I know that when I cry out to Him, He will always be there.

Probably swatting His forehead.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Trouble With Being Multi-Talented- Part Deux

I wrote a post a few years back about being multi-talented (2011- Egad! Where has the time gone?!?), and now, I feel I must expand on this. Because the issue has gotten worse, not better.

I am multi-talented. I'm not bragging or one-upping anyone- trust me- this is more of a burden than a blessing most of the time! I like to do too many things, and when I find something new I like to do, I tend to dive in and get good at it fairly quickly.

For instance:

I went to a women's fellowship meeting. We were given play-doh and asked to make something within ten minutes. This is what I made.
I used a pen cap to make the face and paws.
And yes. I watch waaay too many Pinterest videos.

Want to know the weird part? I'd never sculpted a thing in my life. Great. Go ahead God, add another talent on the pile. 

Why do I sound so snarkish about all of this? Because I have no idea what to do with all of these gifts! Think of a juggler. It's easy for a juggler to juggle two balls in the air, but how about five? Or ten? How about trying to juggle twelve or twenty balls? That's basically what I'm trying to do- and failing miserably.

Sometimes I get a bit miffed at God. Why did You give me all of these talents? What am I supposed to do with them all? It's not like I can give them away or sell them on Ebay. Yet when I don't use them, I feel like I'm doing God a disservice. That's why being multi-talented can feel like a curse more than a blessing. How can one person use all these talents to glorify God? 
I can't be a novel, blog, and children's book-writing, paper-cutting, quilting, sculpting, teaching, speaking, humorist, ventriloquist videographer! Well, I could be, but then the nice men in white coats would need to put me in a cell where there's no Pinterest. (GASP!) Trying to be everything would also suck out the joy and thoroughly mess up the life God has in store for me, because any down time would be spent sleeping!

Some choices have to be made. 
By me. 
With God's help. 
Lots and lots of God's help.

Lucky for me God sent me a guy named Bob, who still answers my phone calls (maybe he doesn't have caller ID?). I talked to him about this very subject. Bob is a wise-guy, but also a wise guy, and his words of wisdom were these; Think of using your talents in seasons- let God help you choose which talent is in season right now, and see where He takes you. Do what brings you and God joy. He'll tell you when you're ready to enter into the next season.

I'm glad he answered the phone. He's brilliant.

So I put time aside this week, fasted, read His Word, and asked God what He wanted me to do. After a long, heartfelt chat (read: me with my face buried in my pillow begging for an answer) He finally said something. 
Write books.
"All of them?" I asked, incredulous (because I'm all over the map genre-wise).
Yes. All of them.

Whew! I know what ball to focus on! 

Yes, I have a lot of genres. I even have two books ready to go (minus the artwork)! But there's nothing stopping me from writing them all. Just not all at once. If I'm in a puzzle mood, I'll write puzzle books, Flesh out children's story notes. Work on that fantasy world. Write proposals and one-sheets for the finished works (also Bob's suggestion). Just...write books. 

This isn't surprising news. He's told me this before. But being the distracted, multi-tasking person I am, I get off-track and then need Him to tell me again. Write. Write books. Write all of them. That alone will take me several lifetimes- especially if I keep going off-track. But if I work on the big stories a little at a time, and finish a lot of small stories, by the time God calls me home, I should have a library's worth of books on the shelves. 

I'm so very glad God is patient. I'm also glad he gave me these talents, despite my earlier groaning. Maybe He gave me the artsy talents to use as recreation, to bless others or the church, or use them to help with the family finances until the books take off- I have no idea. But I have them, and I'll use them when He tells me to. I just have to wait for the right season!

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Am NOT Your Mother!

I never thought of myself as Youth Impaired. Yes, I'm a bit big around the britches, but all in all, I'm young at heart.

Apparently my outsides aren't reflecting my insides.

I took my husband to the doctor a while back. He was dizzy and had no business driving, so I went with him and helped him into the doctor's office. The nurse smiled and asked "So, what's wrong with your son today?"
My son? What was she talking about? My son was in school, and...wait...oh no she didn't! This woman did not just assume I was my husband's mother, did she? I gave her another chance. "Excuse me?" I asked, raising a brow in warning.
She nodded towards my husband. "Your son- What's wrong with him today?"
That's it. She was on my hit list.
I smiled oh-so-sweetly. "My husband is having dizzy spells, like vertigo."
The nurse hid her incredulousness well. "Your husband? Oh- sorry about that."
Not well enough though. I could see the look in her eyes.
It said Humph. Cougar.
I sat my husband down, trying not to swat the little grin off of his face, and turned to the nurse, my composure riposted by a deep breath. I smiled again. "That's okay- we just had our nineteenth anniversary."
Let her chew on that for a while, I thought. Cougar, my Aunt Fanny.He's only five years my junior!
The nurse remained quiet except for a few medical questions, and then we went back into one of the little sub-offices to wait for the doctor.
When he came in, he greeted us and started asking much of the same questions to verify what the nurse wrote down. Then he turned to me and asked "And what's Mother's health history?"
Seriously? Did he just imply the same exact thing the nurse had?
This time I didn't miss a beat.
"I don't know about 'Mother's' history, since she's back at her place, probably gardening. You'll have to ask my husband about her health history."
"Oh!" he exclaimed, looking deeper into the paperwork. "He's forty-one, not twenty-one! He looks like a college kid."
Yeah. Thanks a lot, Buster. I heard my husband snort. I sat in the second chair, folded my arms and and gave a disgruntled snort.

Yet this wasn't the first time this has happened.

My husband had to return something to a local home improvement store, and as I sat on the bench (due to a pulled muscle in my hip), he went up to the returns cashier to get his refund, chatting with her about our impending lunch date. The young girl glanced at me and smiled at my husband. "Oh! You're so sweet to take your mom out to lunch!"

If my hip wasn't bothering me at the time, I would have vaulted over that counter and let her know what's what. Darn hip.
It didn't help that he grinned like a Cheshire cat through the entire lunch, telling the waitress what had happened. She thought I didn't look old at all and that we were a very adorable young couple. 

I gave her a big tip.

Now it's a big family joke. Anytime anyone refers to my husband as my son, we just laugh and tell the offenders the other stories and share the joke. The kids especially love to share the stories. But there's a little more to the stories than this!

Sometimes my daughter is called my husband's wife- and I'm still his mother. I'm my daughter's mother-in-law, despite the fact we look a lot alike.
My son is referred to as my husband's brother- and I'm still considered their mother.
Apparently I look my age. At least these people don't think I'm ancient. They just think my husband is my son, my son's brother, and my daughter's wife.

Nothing confusing about that at all.

It could be the grey hair the three of them gave me. My husband has a tiny bit of grey in his sideburns, but no one seems to notice that. Mine is a lightened blaze at the top of my forehead, and one single curl on the side (like a reverse dalmatian) which apparently can be seen via satellite.

I hope it becomes that pretty white kind of grey and not that 'non-color' grey- I'd have no idea what to put on my renewed driver's license under 'Description'. Maybe 'Platinum Blonde'. Yeah. I like the sound of that.

To my darling husband...I am not your mother. You don't want me as your mother, trust me- just ask the kids!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Get Over It...NOT!

Has anyone told you that you just need to 'Get over it' when you lose someone?

Maybe he felt that six weeks was enough time to mourn, no matter who it was.
Maybe she felt you were milking your sorrow, trying to garner extra helpings of pity.
Maybe they felt like you were wallowing too long, and needed a mourning 'intervention'.

The fact is folks, when you lose someone, you never 'get over it'. Ever.

That person, the one you were close to, was a piece of your life- and you can't 'get over' the memories that come when you're reminded of that someone, or when thinking of them on occasion. 

'Get over it' could possibly be the worst thing anyone could say to someone who suffered a deep loss.

But there is a dawn after the darkness.

Sadness fades. Scars heal. Memories start to make us smile instead of cry. The pain becomes a ghost of its former self, and the good things start showing through. It's not something to 'get over'- it's something to get through.

And yes, sometimes it takes more than six weeks.

If you know someone who has lost, the most comforting words to say can be "I'm sorry."
Then give them a hug.
Listen as they talk.
Offer them a shoulder to cry on.
Then give them a tissue, because shoulders aren't very absorbent- unless you're wearing shoulder pads.
Then hug them again.

You don't need longish speeches, the right words, or spout inspirational Bible passages to make someone feel better. All you need to do is be there when they need you. Hug them when you see them. Ask if they have any stories about their loved one. Listen. Cry together. Hug again.

You will never know the blessed impact you'll have when you do.

I'm beginning to remember the good stuff. I'm reminded of mom whenever I see okra (her favorite fried side), and though there's a little hint of sadness to my smile, I remember how much she enjoyed it- and the joy on her face when I got her an extra order to take home.

And I wouldn't be at this point if it weren't for the huggers, listeners, and people with very absorbent shoulder pads- and a boxful of tissues.

The wound is still too fresh, but it's healing slowly. And when it does, there will be even more blessings when I share her stories. Her passing is something I'll never fully get over. But with God and the friends He gave me, I'll definitely get through!