The Joy of Writing

When I felt led to come out of retirement and begin writing again, I admit there was trepidation. Doubt slithered in…it came from Satan. Though I knew this, I’m human and I harbored feelings about whether I could actually write a book.

So I turned to prayer. Whenever doubts arise, only God can provide the truth. If this was His calling, I wanted to answer yes. For several weeks, I sought God’s guidance. I’m sure He got tired of listening to the same old whiny cry.

Then I decided to step out in faith. If this was God’s will, He would provide everything I needed, including the confidence. I changed my prayer and asked instead if God would bring back the joy of writing again.

I remembered the hours I would lose myself in listening to my characters and seeing their story play like a movie in my mind. Finally, I took action. I opened the book I’d started several years ago. The story line and plot were solid. I knew it would be one of my best books ever.

As I read through the first two chapters, adding more depth to the scenes, I found myself immersed in the emotions the characters felt. I saw them as the scenes played out and lost myself in the joy of writing.

God gets the glory! This story is one He laid on my heart to write and I know He is revealing how it is to be written. I have a lot of cutting to do in the finished chapters and a lot of new chapters to take their place. God revealed where I had gone astray and how I needed to fix this.

Oh, how I’m enjoying the process of creating though writing. Isn’t God awesome?

The Little Faith Sheep

It is Thursday evening as I write this post for Friday morning. I returned home from my small group gathering a short time ago. We were finally able to have our little Christmas party which we postponed several times due to illnesses.

Oh, the wonderful food made by everyone! We had veggie pizza, banana muffins, chicken salad on croissants, cheeseball and crackers, grapes, pretzel candies, apple pie biscuit bombs, and vanilla ice cream. Needless to say we had plenty of delicious food to eat.

Our table conversation had many elements. We talked about fish. All kinds of fish and seafood, including sushi. Should say everyone else talked about fish they liked…shark, octopus, red snapper, crab, salmon…and I just shuddered. I am not a fish or seafood lover. Some of the things they talked about made me wish I hadn’t eaten prior! Like fish prepared with the head and tail intact, including eyeballs! Oh, no!!

Finally we switched to talking about our churchwide fasting and what each of us had decided to give up. We talked about our prayers and scriptures. We all shared different things and what we were doing. I told them about the more in-depth Bible studying I’m doing this year and about my verse mapping journal.

Then we decided to play our game with the presents we had brought. We picked numbers and chose a gift, opened it and then another person would choose, decide if they wanted to open the gift or exchange with someone who had already opened a gift. Not a single person chose to exchange. I was delighted with the little faith lamb I received.

It is sitting by my monitor on my desk to remind me to keep faith as I write. I know God is leading me and whenever Satan tries to place doubt, I will be reminded about having faith and trusting God when I look at the sheep.

It has been a wonderful day and a good week. I’m enjoying the evening quiet time so much. Why did I ever think television was a good thing? Until Monday…may your weekend be filled with God’s blessings.

Tribute to a Homeless Man

I think of the homeless often in the winter months and I pray for them. Knowing their plight could easily be mine, makes me even more grateful for my warm home.

A few years ago, I worked in the office of the church I attended. The biggest blessings I received were interacting with people of many different stages of life. One I want to tell you about today.

His name was Wayne and he was homeless. I’m not sure how he became homeless, but I know he preferred living like this. Wayne often helped out in our Food Pantry, and he often stopped in to ask me for a favor or to see if I had any work he could do.

I would look up addresses for him of people who lived in other states, usually Florida. I understood these to be members of his family. He was so kind and friendly and I enjoyed chatting with him.

Sometimes I would see him walking along the road and he’d wave at me. Eventually he received a bike and after that I’d see him riding from place to place. Wayne lived in a tent and provided for himself by doing odd jobs for people. I ran into him in a grocery store several times. One time he told me he’d been ill with a cold, so I prayed for him to get well.

One summer day, I locked myself out of my car at the local post office. Wayne walked by and stopped to see if I was all right. I explained I was waiting for AAA to come and help. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked what he was doing. He told me there was someone in the little housing area across the road who had a job for him. When the AAA truck showed up, Wayne waved goodbye and left.

One day Wayne came into the church and asked if he could borrow two dollars because he needed to do laundry. It was the first time he had ever asked for money. I felt led to help him. I gave him five dollars. He was so grateful and promised he would pay me back. I didn’t really care if he did or not. He was a friend in need.

Less than two hours later, Wayne returned and handed me five dollars. He had followed through on his word and wouldn’t keep the money when I told him it was okay.

Wayne considered himself a “watchman” for the Lord. He loved Jesus and wrote about how God had called him to be a watchman. He shared those writings with me. Carefully written text on yellowed paper testifying to his calling. Inside were warnings about retribution for sin.

Many people discounted Wayne and even made fun of him, but I believe he was called by God for a reason and he made an impact on my life. I learned not to judge another person because of how they looked or how they lived.

I learned this evening that Wayne passed away over the weekend. I have tears in my eyes as I write this because he will be missed. But I know he has made his final journey to heaven and will receive his crown.

Leaving you with a word to be kind to others and never look down on anyone. The greatest blessing you might receive could come from someone from whom you least expect. Until next time…

My Verse Map Journal

For Christmas, my oldest daughter gifted me a Verse Map Journal. I had heard about Bible verse mapping and even watched a few videos. There were various was to do this, but I didn’t feel motivated to try.

I knew I wanted to spend more time reading God’s word. This year I chose a 3-year Bible reading plan. I needed more than to just read the Bible through again. Along with reading in a different Bible (The Jeremiah Study Bible by David Jeremiah), I would read several commentaries and research any questions arising from my reading for the day.

The first thing I learned was the Bible didn’t allow enough room for me to write all the information uncovered. So I ordered an interleaved Bible, something I’d been thinking about for a long time. This will allow me to record everything I want to remember. In just the first five chapters, I’ve written and gleaned lots of new information. Even though I’ve read the entire Bible several times, each time I learn something new! This year I’m taking time to not just read, but to actually study every single verse. It is very eye opening.

The verse mapping journal my daughter gave me is beautiful. It was designed by Lauren James and is using “The James Method.” You can learn more by visiting her website. The way I am going to use this journal is to look more deeply into a scripture that I want to remember and/or study deeper. I began with a familiar verse hoping it wouldn’t be too difficult. I decided not to worry if it didn’t turn out perfect because that wasn’t the purpose. I didn’t care to make it a showpiece, but to be a record I could turn to in the future.

“A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” (CSB)

My word for this year is Prayer. I know I need to pray before making any decisions instead of acting on an idea without seeking God’s guidance. This verse goes hand in hand with my word (derived after praying until I felt God revealing what I needed to do to change myself).

We are all at different stages in our Christian walk. I believe all the years of raising children, being a wife, a grandmother, and a great grandmother have been spent learning about myself and about God. No matter how many times I strayed, He waited for me to return. No matter the wrong roads I chose, He led me into a better place. He has always been with me, even when I didn’t feel Him there.

Now in these “golden years,” I realize how much I need Him and have always needed Him. He has never failed me. Looking back I see very clearly when He has saved me, not just spiritually, but physically. I am enjoying spending more time with Him in my daily walk this year.

May God smile upon you today. Don’t forget to smile back. Until next time…

Oh, Those Scrambled Words!

For Mother’s Day my youngest daughter gifted me a puzzle book filled with various types of Bible related puzzles. There are crosswords, word search, cryptograms, and so many more. The ones that are the hardest for me are word scrambles.

You’d think these should be the easiest for me since I’m a writer. Honestly it took me a week to solve this puzzle:

My mind struggles to find words that make sense. If each letter was on something tangibly moveable, I’d do much better. But something about doing this visually in my mind becomes very difficult. I want to solve it myself and not refer to the answers in the back. I only look after I’ve finished to make sure I’m right.

It’s my belief that no matter how old we are, we need to engage our thinking processes. I love to learn and I’ve always loved to solve puzzles. Maybe that’s why math was fun for me in school. I planned to be a college math teacher…but my path turned in a different direction. Today I couldn’t solve a calculus problem if I was promised a huge reward!

I love the scripture: “A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” (CSB) Every single day I have plans for what I want to accomplish. Sometimes they come to fruition, other times not. I believe one of the things we need to develop as we age is how to be flexible.

I have a routine to follow. Most of us do. But if we get frustrated when that routine is disrupted, we are not living life the way God would have us live. We need to learn patience, and how to find joy in the disruptions of life. Those can be great blessings in our day or not. In both cases, we need to turn to God and thank Him or to seek His guidance and comfort.

Aging is probably the hardest thing we live through. But we shouldn’t get upset about the wrinkles, the pull of gravity on the body, the gray hairs, and the aches and pains. Instead open a puzzle book, work a jigsaw puzzle, build a model, paint, knit, or find a new hobby to learn! Keep the brain active.

I have a suggestion. Try Bible verse mapping. That’s my newest venture for 2022. Don’t know what it is? Look it up or stay tuned for my next post!

Until next time…

From Hope to Obedience

If you are like me, you have quite a few people on your prayer list right now. My heart aches for so many. This spotlights how blessed I really am. These days before the new year, I’m focusing on how I can be obedient to God. This word is on my heart a lot and I believe it is from God.

Every year there is a word that God gives me to focus on. This year’s word has been hope. As our church prepares for Christmas, the last sermon series has been on hope. Biblical hope. As I focused on trusting God and hoping in Him during this tumultuous year, I didn’t understand this was Biblical hope, but I like this title. It’s not like I hope you have a good day, but I have hope in God. I trust Him and know He is in charge despite what the world would have me believe.

My blogging week is ending today. I want to lay out a blogging outline for next week as Christmas approaches. Not sure what I will do yet, or even why this is on my mind. Just sure God will show me the “what and why.” Lifting my cup of tea on this cloudy morning and feeling very hopeful about what God will do in the coming year.

I Used To Do That!

Another cold morning. There was a time when cold and snow couldn’t stop me from heading out to work or an appointment. I used to shovel snow from my sidewalks and driveway. The cold invigorated me. Not so any longer.

I’m grateful to live in a home where the clearing of snow is not my concern. I appreciate placing my trash can outside my garage door without having to move it to the street to have the trash collected. These things made me feel grateful when I moved.

Now as I’m aging more, I’m even more grateful, but also a little sad. When I was younger, I never pictured myself as an old lady who would need help with things I used to handle with no difficulty. Sometimes I even feel a little guilty for being able to stay inside and keep warm. My mind thinks I could probably shovel snow, but in reality my arms aren’t that strong, nor is my heart.

I’m doing my best to age gracefully with God, but I admit it isn’t always easy! At times like this, when I begin to zero in on being an elderly widow, I need to get busy and do what I can! It is warm inside, and there are housecleaning chores to tackle. God provided the perfect snow-kissed and cold day for me! So I will rejoice and be glad in it! Now where is my duster?

December Sadness and Joy

Though the month of June is a heavy month for me due to my husband being called home in June after a 10 day hospital stay, the month of December is a mixture of sadness and joy. I love celebrating the birth of Jesus, singing hymns about Him, and the nativity scene beneath the decorated tree.

But I’m missing the earthly presence of my husband. I know many other widows and widowers feel the same. The house seems much quieter during December despite the Christmas movies, Christmas carols, and Christmas cards. Tears press lightly against my eyelids.

The only One who can bring relief is Jesus. Spending time with Him in prayer gives me comfort. I might shed a few tears occasionally, but that is when I feel His arms holding me.

The last thing my husband would want is for me to be sad. He would want me to remember he is whole again with no more suffering and pain. He received God’s promise. And one day we will be together again.

This is all part of aging gracefully as a widow. We gather strength from Lord, trust in His promises, and move forward one day at a time, one hour at at time, one minute at a time. We put smiles on our faces when we are with friends and family. And we give thanks to the Lord for each new day, for our work here on earth is not yet completed.

Lifting my cup of tea this morning with a reminder that life is a gift and God wants us to enjoy it. We need to keep our eyes and heart open to the opportunities He opens and do what we know He is asking of us. Our suffering can help others if we use it wisely. God bless!

A Quiet Life of Trust

Looking back over the year, I cannot fathom how quickly December 1st has arrived! In all honesty, I can’t recall any significant changes in my life since December 1st of 2020.

Perhaps this is typical of my age group. I live a rather quiet and serene life. Hobbies fill most hours in each day fitted around errands, appointments, lunches with friends, laundry, housecleaning, church worship, small group study, and reading the Word.

Accepting the limitations of my aging body is part of aging gracefully. Whining and complaining are not productive. Prayer is what fills my mind and heart with peace. There will be sufferings in the days I remain on earth, but all is part of God’s plan. I’ve learned not to live in anxiety, but to trust Him and give Him my worries.

The greatest benefit, while on earth, is the peace that comes from trusting God. Lifting my cup of tea with much gratitude.

Aging Gracefully with a Conflicted Mind?

I can at this moment call myself fully vaccinated for Covid. Yet, I still see signs requiring masks to enter establishments, or strongly recommend everyone wear masks. Sigh. The older I get, the less I trust anything. I received my flu shot last week, but nowhere does it say I need to wear a mask to protect against flu.

So I hear that vaccinated people can pass Covid to other people and that is why we need to be masked. What is the purpose of getting vaccinated if we can still get or pass on the virus?

Honestly, none of it makes sense. Sigh. My reasoning is because my doctor got his, I decided to get mine…before it becomes mandated. Our world is a crazy mess of contradictions, so I am trusting God.

The eye twitching issue I suffered with for over two months is fully relieved as of this morning. My doctor never did call me back after asking two other doctors for consultation, and sending me home with no resolution and a promise to follow up. He didn’t want to address the other issue I wanted to discuss with him until this one was resolved. I may be trying to age gracefully, but I’m a little miffed that my insurance company paid for this “wasted” visit. My friends and family prayed for me and God answered. He is the Great Physician! I owe this relief to God only!

In our crazy world today, it is difficult to age gracefully. To age with dignity, peace, and kindness. It is a way of life to be practiced daily with prayer. Lifting my cup of tea as November ends and I pray for a December that fills our hearts with hope.