Friday, August 16, 2013

Beyond the Wish List

Have you ever not asked someone a question because you knew nothing would change anyway? My kids do this with me all the time.
“What, honey?”
“Never mind. I already know what you’re going to say.”
I have to confess that sometimes I use this as an excuse not to pray; I tend to have a fatalistic attitude about it. My reasoning is that since God already knows the outcome to everything, praying about something probably won’t change the course of events.
On the other hand, praying is more than just reciting a wish list. Praying is an open door to communication with the One who holds me in the palm of His Hand. It is an opportunity to share my gratitude with the Provider of all I have, a chance to worship Him for being worthy.  I find that when I do pray, even when the outcome isn’t what I was hoping for, I feel different about things.
Prayer brings depth and life to my relationship with Christ; it transforms head knowledge to heart knowledge. Being still and knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He alone is God provides peace and contentment in an otherwise chaotic life.  
This summer, I have challenged myself to spend more time in the presence of the Lord in silence, just worshiping, without so much chatter. I tend to ramble on in my prayers, leaving the conversation before He has had a chance to reply. I’ve been learning to sit quietly; I’m learning to be still.   
Challenge yourself to spend time in prayer without a list. Focus on the sovereignty of God and allow yourself to be second to His desires.
Lord, please forgive our consumer mentality. Lord, help us to come to you just for the relationship, for the certainty that You alone are God. Let us rest in Your presence, soaking in the love You have for us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Feeling Stale?

When a conversation begins with "I've been wondering how to say this without offending you", you know it's gonna be interesting. And interesting it was...

A little while back, a good friend of mine told me that I remind her of her mother.

Now, I don't actually know her mother, but I wasn't feeling a compliment in this statement. I've heard enough stories to know where she was drawing the parallel.

But, in my defense, like all people, I like things the way I like 'em. There is a small chance...teeny weeny...that I might, however, take this to the extreme.

I have nothing against spontaneity as long as we have planned for it and it was my idea in the first place. I tend to have a narrow scope of what elements are needed for an experience to be successful, and if the ingredients step out of those boundaries, I am more likely to give up the experience or opportunity all together. I don't think my friend had any idea how much I would take that conversation to heart.

I'm trying to say yes to things that I know will challenge the structured life I try to live. I know how awful this will sound, but I have even allowed myself to be inconvenienced. Again, in my ever so meager defense, we as a people don't usually do what will inconvenience us.

 Because of that, however, I believe we miss out on some of the wonderful unplanned blessings that could be ours. Life gets stale when we try to control it.

I am grateful for this conversation, even though it came up just as a chat in the course of a visit.

I think.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Seen Jesus Lately?

Wide-eyed wonder played on the four-year-old's face as he looked up in disbelief. Walking toward him was an old man, white beard touching his chest and round spectacles on the bridge of his nose. The boy looked from the man to his mom, looking for confirmation that this was Santa in his regular clothes.

I'd chuckled to myself that day as I watched this exchange from my vantage point on the elliptical machine at the Y; the same thought had crossed my mind.

"Did you ever see Me in him?", came the whisper softly.

"Uh, no," I'd thought to myself, confused. Then the Holy Spirit brought a picture to my mind of this same guy a few months prior. He'd been pedaling slowly next to me on the recumbent bike. His white undershirt was stained and had sweat circles under the armpits, dirty jeans on instead of work-out pants. His beard was matted, and the smell of him made me want to change bikes.

Not one of my finer moments.

"Did you ever see Me?" came the question again.

Jesus tells us what He looks like in Matthew 25:
He is the hungry and the thirsty.
He is the sick and the lonely.
He is the naked.
He is the prisoner.

He is the child on the playground with no mittens or hat. He is the single mom at Wal-mart hoping there really is a Santa to bring her kids presents this year. He is the old woman looking out the window of the nursing home, wondering if anyone will visit. He is the guy down at Frame Park huddled under the bridge. He is the smelly old man on the exercise equipment next to me.

"Oh Lord, forgive me. Forgive me. I didn't know..."

I let my thoughts trail off because I did know. I do know. Sometimes it's just easier to pretend we don't. Again the Spirit brought a verse to me..."You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)"

"Forgive me," I'd whispered that day, slowing down on my machine as my eyes welled up. It is a painful process, learning to see the world through Jesus' eyes, but it is a beautiful pain. I cannot look away anymore.

I am praying not only to see Jesus in others, but thinking that as I learn to do that, they might catch a glimpse of Him in me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On the Grid!

Who remembers Snapple's ad campaign from a few years back? The commercial featured people cheering wildly "We're #2! We're #2!" I loved it because they knew they would never beat out Coke for the number one spot and they were celebrating their accomplishment of making it to the number 2 spot.

In that vein, I am celebrating today! Can you hear me cheering "I'm # 1,605,435! I'm #1,605,435 !"? Well, that would be a mouthful, but that's my rank on Amazon. And you know what? I am just excited to be on the grid!

A few years back, someone made the comment that I should write a book. "Huh," I thought to myself, "Too bad I don't know how to do that."

Then I sat down and some chapters spilled out of my head and into the computer. "Huh," I thought to myself, "That could be a book. Too bad I don't know how to write one."

A couple years passed, and those characters continued to tell me their stories until I finally let them out of the box in my head and wrote a book. "Huh," I thought to myself, "I guess I wrote a book."

As I was wondering what to do with it, God spoke through a verse on K-Love: Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. (Psalm 96:3)

Well alrighty then.

Last night was the Book Launch Party for my first novel He Knows Your Name. I love saying "first novel" because I know I have a few more in me at least. I thank God for the way He inspires me. I will proclaim His name for as long as He gives me breath, then I will do it in person.

Thanks to many friends and family who came out to celebrate what God has done! Thanks to Le Caffe Bistro in Waukesha for their hospitality! Thanks to Crossbooks publishing for making my dream a reality! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Do You Spell Relief?

Today is the big day...the Book Launch Party* for my first novel, He Knows Your Name. In theory I am super excited, but this has definitely been a journey. Even though I have felt the nudging from above and the shoving from a good friend, I still can't shake the feeling that I am in way over my head.

I had a dream a few nights ago that it was tonight. I got to the Bistro in time to see people arriving for the party, ready to purchase their own signed copy of my book, except that I had forgotten to pack them. I tried to stall and figure something out. My friend offered to help and went out and brought back Starbucks for everyone. Great idea, but we were already at a cafe` and I still didn't have any books on hand. It's not the first time dreams have revealed what bubbled under the here to read about my rock star debut dream.

How do I find relief from the occasional anxiety that ambushes me? T-H-E W-O-R-D.

I write down all the scriptures that remind me who God is and who I'm not:
  • "Be still and know that I am God...the Lord of Heaven's Armies is HERE; He is my fortress." Psalm 46:10-11
  • "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the Name of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7
  • "For," says ADONAI, "I will be for her a wall of fire surrounding her, and I will be the glory within her." Zechariah 2:5 CJB
I focus on Him alone. He is the reason I wrote what I did and I have put it on the altar. At the end of the day, it's still all for Him.

So, come on out tonight, drink a coffee with me, and let's celebrate what God has done! I mean, this is pretty cool.

*In case you missed the details, we will be at Le Caffe Bistro in Waukesha from 6:00-7:30. Stop on by! All are welcome!