It's that time again. Yep. You guessed it. Blog time. I'm gonna be a bloggin' fool and I'm happy you are joining me on the journey into the deep, dark recesses of my mind. Yes, I know the implications are frightening, but for your safety and comfort, I promise to edit myself.
The goal is to invite you into my life, to share with you all our great God is doing, to encourage you to keep pressing on in what He is doing in and through you, and to have a dialogue with as many of you as are willing.
There is so much going on I'm not sure where to start. This might be a rather long blog, but once I get you caught up on everything I hope future entries will be a little shorter.
God, all on His own, with no help from me other than years of earnest prayer and "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," has recently brought two teams of people into my life. These are people who have been mysteriously moved on by the Lord to come in as Aarons and Hurs and lift my arms in the battles at hand. With few exceptions, these are people I didn't even know a year ago and now we are running the race side by side. What could be more exciting?
What battles, you might be asking? Ask away. The battle to see "The Rhyme and Reason Series" finally become a reality, and the battle to see an increase in speaking and teaching opportunities.
I must tell you I feel as deeply humbled by all God is doing as I am excited by it. There have been many dark days where I wondered what He was waiting on. I never doubted the call on my life, because it was so dramatic in its presentation that there has never been any room for doubt. The frustration has come because, as per usual, God's timetable is drastically different than mine!
But it seems we are moving closer. The members of the "Speaking Team" or Thing One if you prefer, are my friends Tara and Kristen.
I met Tara when she worked for Community Spirit magazine and picked my entry from among thousands (well, I think there was more than one) to win a workout contest the magazine was sponsoring. She of hilarious e-mails and I hit it off brilliantly and have been friends ever since. Best of all, I don't think she holds it against me that I have completely lost all the ground I gained during the six months I was working with a personal trainer. No, our friendship is based on much more important things than my lack of self-discipline.
I met Kristen through Tara--they are currently roommates--which makes it easy on me when I visit. Two for the price of one. And they are a blast!
They are my thirty-something, nimble brained, computer savvy friends who set up the blog for me before I went to Thailand and encouraged me to write. They are the ones who updated the look to what you now see, helped me get my "domain name" and have pestered...ummm... encouraged me to write this blog. They probably weren't expecting me to write about them necessarily, but they are part of the story so they deserve top billing right under the Lord Almighty. We are in the process of uploading three two-minute promotional clips taken from the DVD I had made the last time my wonderful pastor let me have the pulpit. They even want to put a ten-minute clip on YouTube! Those girls.
Any who know me on even the most casual level will fully grasp the fact that I couldn't have done this without their help. My brain is simply too old and rigid. There are not many pliable spots left in it for learning technical skills. And they are doing it all from the goodness of their hearts because they believe in God's call on my life. We all know that no one--particularly one as inept as me--can do everything by themself. As the Apostle Paul said, we are all different parts of the same body and are dependent on one another. I am certainly dependent on them for their help, their enthusiasm, their knowledge and expertise. I am richly blessed to have them in my life and count them as great freinds.
Tara is actively helping me pursue speaking opportunities and asked the right people some questions and immediately hooked me up with the Oklahoma chapter of the National Speakers Association. It just so happened they were having their monthly meeting the next Saturday. I arrived, breathless, wide-eyed and eager. I can promise you this: I have never been in a room with that many outgoing, Type-A personalities in my life. It was great. I was totally out of my league. But I gained a ton of useful information and made some valuable contacts with people who get paid to speak. A dream come true for someone like me! I am working toward having twenty-five paid speaking engagements in a year so I can meet the criteria to officially join. So far I have one. Next month. With a fifty dollar payday. No matter. It's a beginning. I'll keep you posted.
The second team, or Thing Two, is also being led by two women I didn't know before last August. Lucia is my core leader at this year's Community Bible Study and while I knew of her, having seen her around in previous years, I didn't know her. It was my secret ambition to be in her core group and God gave me the desire of my heart. Yeah, I know. He can be like that. Cherry is her life-long friend who is in the group with us.
Somehow, and I really don't remember why, I sent the Genesis text of "The Rhyme and Reason Series" to Lucia who saw its potential and sent it to Cherry. We met for lunch, because that's what women like to do, and discussed how we might get the financing we need to see this series finally become a reality.
Due to previous fundraising efforts, Cherry knows of a book titled, "Grants and Foundations in Oklahoma" and we are going to look through it for potential partners. They encouraged me to write a letter of proposal, which I did. Nothing like politely begging for money. I've even had the opportunity to send it to a couple of folks which ended up just being practice for the real thing rather than the real thing, as they declined the offer to help. But God knows who the right person is, so we continue to wait and pray and eat lunch.
Added to this team is the illusive, long-awaited, and much prayed for artist. His name is David Wilson and he is just a few miles down the road in Broken Arrow. I had been praying for years for someone who would be as passionate about this project as I am. I knew he was my guy when he told a mutual friend that he had hoped and prayed for years to be able to illustrate a children's Bible. Are you noticing a trend here? Seems sometimes God lets us pray for years for what we know is of Him and for His kingdom. I guess He wants us to labor over the vision until it creates an unquenchable passion within us.
I also have an agent named Keith Carroll who is a wonderful man of God who knows the Bible, the overview of Scripture and the heart of God, and who spent many hours with me on the phone getting the Genesis text to the point it is ready to be published. He has established relationships with various publishing houses and will help find that home as the art work is completed and the financing becomes available.
My cousin Bob, also a writer and hands down the funniest person I know, has offered to help me with the meter of the rhymes. He feels a tremendous sense of obligation because I labored for weeks editing and making suggestions to the seven hundred unnumbered pages of the first novel in a trilogy he is writing. It's great stuff by the way, and I'm not just saying that because he might read this. As I was reading it and praying to God it didn't get knocked off the table and the pages hopelessly scrambled, I could easily picture it on the big screen.
I'm not sure how all of this is going to play out. The books opening the door for me to be able to speak to wider audiences about our great God, or the opportunities to speak creating a groundswell of interest in the books. Quite frankly, that's God's problem. My job is to pray, worship, believe and obey.
Lastly, we have been studying the book of Matthew at CBS this year. We are coming to the end of the book and the end of the year. This past week we looked at the gut-wrenching events our King and Savior endured as He was beaten, scourged, slapped, spat on, ridiculed and humiliated then brutally nailed to a cross beam, jostled and lifted into place as his beaten, broken body was hoisted and secured into the notch on the upright beam.
We heard about the horrific pain He was in, how His arms and shoulders were pulled out of their sockets, how He had to push Himself up with His feet, raking His shredded back against the rough wood to catch a breath, then collapse back down under the strain.
We read how creation itself cried out in agony for its Creator, how the sky turned black, the earth quaked, the rocks split and the thick, iron like veil in the holy of holies ripped in two from top to bottom the instant Jesus cried out, "IT IS FINISHED!" breathed His last and died. For the first time in all eternity the great God of heaven was separated, the heavenly Father having to turn His back on His precious Son, who created the men who murdered Him. The Son experiencing what for Him had been unfathomable--separation from God. And, I believe, the reason He was in such deep agony to the point of sweating drops of blood in the Garden just hours earlier. The perfect Lamb had been slain and the light of the whole world had gone out. He did it all for us, so that not one single person would ever have to be separated from Him, in this life or the one to come.
One of the questions in the study was, "If Jesus had come down from the cross as He was continually taunted to do, what effect would it have had on us?" Who can fathom such a scenario? Forget about us. What effect would it have had on the entire universe? Jesus would have sinned if He had disobeyed the will of the Father. Just think of the catastrophic events that transpired when Adam and Eve chose sin in the Garden of Eden. If Jesus sinned I would imagine the entire universe would implode and discentigrate.
He would not have ascended into heaven, the Godhead would be eternally split apart, there would be no hope of redemption, satan and death would not have been defeated. The world and eternity would be dark and desperate places indeed.
But thanks be to God! Jesus accomplished all He came to accomplish! He paid the price, He ransomed us to Himself, He offered reconciliation with God. I weep as I write. It's too much to take in. It's to wonderful to fully grasp. I don't think we will ever quit expressing our heart felt gratitude.
It is this God whom I love and serve with all my heart, mind, soul and strength as He fills me with the power of His Holy Spirit and leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Let's take the journey together; loving, helping, serving and praying for one another for our sakes and for His glory.