Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dreams Really Do Come True!

As most of you know who have followed the saga of the publication of "The Rhyme and Reason Series" it has been a twenty year long journey.
I can still clearly recall the sleepless night in our Sherman, Texas, apartment when I was looking at a full moon that hung like a Chineese lantern outside the bay window in our bedroom. For some reason I held my hands up in the moonlight and said, "Lord, what do you want to do with these hands?" Mind you, I was plenty busy being a wife and mother to three small children, but there was a deep restlessness in my spirit and a conviction the Lord had even more in mind for me to do.
Most of you know the story. The instant the words left my mouth the Lord spoke five words that would set the trajectory of my life. He said, simply and clearly, "I want you to write."
Now I had read enough of the Bible at this point to know that God rarely fulfills His purposes quickly! The promises to Abraham, Moses and David spring immediatley to mind as being prime examples of folks who had been given a great and specific promise and then faced years of adversity before the word spoken to them had been fulfilled.
I have no idea why I thought it would be any different with me, but I guess I did because I jumped out of bed and grabbed my legal pad and the ridiculous rapidiograph pen I used to write with and ran downstairs to wait for God to tell me exactly what it was I was supposed to write.
We're so cute when we are sincere, aren't we?
As I sat waiting for inspiraiton to strike, I thought of a couple of things I needed at the grocery store and flipped the page to jot them down. Then flipped back to the first page and waited. I did this a few more times until finally the sun began to come up. The first page was blank, but I had written a grocery list.
But I never forgot those five words.
About ten years later, which was about ten years ago, my mother-in-law invited me to Bible Study Fellowship, a large Bible study she attended. I went and stayed for eight years until I finished all the studies they had to offer. The last day of class is called "Sharing Day," and it's a time when anyone who wants to can share--in three minutes or less--what impacted them during the course of the study.
The year we stidied Genesis I was laying awake on yet another sleepless night thinking of what I wanted to say to the women. Suddenly a rhyming couplet sprang to mind and it went like this, "This is the true story of how it all began, God was talking to Himself and came up with a plan." I kept running over and over in my mind and I couldn't get it to stop so I got up, went to the kitchen, got a piece of notebook paper, wrote it down and went back to bed.
Another line came, "In six short days when He shouted the command, up popped the stars, the trees, the seas and land." Again, I got up, walked to the kitchen, wrote it down under the other lines and went back to bed.
No sooner had I laid down when, "Now don't think He's finished with all that He has done, 'cause next come the people and the fun has just begun!"
Finally, I decided I'd just go ahead and write everything that came to me so I could try and get some sleep. But this time when the sun came up, I had summarized the entire book of Genesis in rhyme! Truth be told, I was pretty nervous about reading it because I was afraid people would think I was showing off and I was certain I would go over the three minute limit!
Anyway, I sped read it with trembling hands and an amazing thing happened. As soon as I finished the entire room full of over 300 women burst into spontaneous applause! I was both shocked and delighted. Afterward, dozens of them came up to me and asked if they could have a copy. This was in the dark days before e-mail, so I took their names and addresses, typed it up, made copies and sent it to everyone who had asked.
One of the women said, "Have you ever thought of making that into a children's book?" I just laughed and said I hadn't thought of any of it until three o'clock that morning!
But it planted a seed and I began to entertain the idea. And one day while I was praying, I heard the Lord say, "Why not write them all?"
I immediatley dismissed the idea as absurd and impossible. Why, from just a strictly practical standpoint I wouldn't live long enough to do a nine month Bible study on every one of its 66 books!
Still, I opened up my Bible to the table of contents and counted the books I thought might lend themselves to that format, even though I knew it was a ridiculous idea. Psalms and Proverbs were out, so was Song of Solomon and most of the epistles. Still, I counted 25-30 that I thought I might be able to do. Maybe. Possibly. Praobaby not. At least that was my attitude before I learned that when God has an idea, He also knows the way to make it happen.
I joined another Bible study and was going to two at a time. At the end of each year, I would put the book we studied to rhyme. I have seven of them done now, and three others I started before I got discouraged by the nearly impossible task of getting published.
I joined a writer's group and a critque group. I learned what a querry letter was and a "Christian Writer's Market" and sent thirty- five querry letters along with a copy of Genesis to every publisher I thought might possibly be interested.
I learned what a rejection letter was. Thirty- five times.
The search for an artist was one lost hope after another until I finally gave up and quit looking. I told God it looked like my kids were the ones who would fulfill the dream and I let go of it and tried to think of what else I was supposed to be doing for the Kingdom.
And then suddenly, everything began to fall into place!
I found the perfect prayed for artist right down the street in Broken Arrow! He did some pencil sketches and I had him make a mock-up of the book.
It's funny, because when I showed everyone the mock-up they would get all excited and ask me if I was excited. I wasn't. Because it didn't mean anything, really.
But the Lord had spoken to me at the first of this year and told me when He began to move, I'd better put on my seat belt! He was right. And I found out it's a good thing I have a shoulder strap too, because things are busting loose!
Here are just a few of the things that are going on:
  • Kerry, my publicist with Evergreen Press has a commitment from American Family Radio to interview me and is in the process of getting several other radio and television interviews arranged and set up.
  • The Daily Oklahoman and The Tulsa World both want to do a feature article right when the books come out in mid-October.
  • Last week I met with the pastor of the church I have been attending since the beginning of the year. The church is completly revamping their children's program and he wants to show Genesis and Matthew to the pastors over that department and see if they want to use the books in their curriculum.
  • My good friend Paula Carter and her husband serve on a board with James Dobson and she is going to send him copies of both books!
  • She is also hosting a dinner for me and inviting folks who give generously to The Scott Carter Foundation to see if any of them would be interested in contributing to "Rhyme and Reason Ministries International" and help to "get these books in people's hands, so people's hands will pick up the Book."
  • I completed an interview with Shirley Mears of "The Gospel Stations Network" which she broke into four 3-minute segments that are slated to air the third week in August. (If you are interested in listening to them, go to: www.thegospelstation.com and click on the Ministry Interview tab.)
  • There will be a downloadable read-aloud version of the book available on my website for a small fee and we are going to the studio to record in August. The woman who is doing it is fabulous and the background music she chose is the perfect touch!
  • My other publicist, Cyndy, is busy trying to promote both my speaking schedule and the books.
Everyone is excited about everything that is going on, but no one more than me! Now that it's really here and things are finally happening I am trying to enjoy every minute of the journey. I am living proof of the faithfulness of God.
I hope all of you reading this can draw courage and strength for whatever you have been waiting and hoping and praying for the Lord to do in you, for you and through you.
Just remember, He's never in a hurry, but He always comes through!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Life Worth Living

Yesterday my husband sent me an e-mail notice that the father of one of the men he works with had passed away at the age of 92. It turns out this gentleman was a member of "The Board of Direct- ors," of the Daylight Donut shop in Owasso.
This is the same group of retirees my father-in-law gathers with every morning (and I do mean every morning) to cuss and discuss current events, relive past memories, give each other a hard time and, I suppose, on a deeper level, satisfy the deep and basic need every human being has for fellowship.
Jay's father told him that over half the people who attended this man's funeral were from the donut shop and mentioned that he was buried in his Daylight Donuts Shop ballcap. My father-in-law thought that was "nice." Jay found it sad. I thought was it darn near tragic.
Moments after I read that e-mail I opened up the morning paper and read of another death, that of Juanita Hardgrave at the age of 89, "who was honored as an Oklahoma Community Senior Citizen of the year in 2006 by Govenor Henry for her work with people in crisis."
Now let me make it perfectly clear that I never met either of these two people and don't know anything more about them than the facts just stated.
However, as I let my imagination speculate about these two very different individuals who lived almost the same number of years, I couldn't help but wonder how one had died with accolades and the other with a donut shop ball cap.
Regardless, it reinforced my detmination to beseech God to let my life count, and not for just anything, but to count for the Kingdom of God.
I was reminded of a semon by John Piper that Jacob had his father and me listen to where he rails against the tragedy and the mis- taken American notion of "retirement." As I recall, he actually says something about how God did not intend for us to spend our gold- en years playing golf and looking for shells on a beach.
Nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves, of couse, but they are not to become our next vocation after we've retired from our first.
We are called to serve God and our fellow man until the day we draw our last breath. I'm sure we have all heard it said that the word "retirement" is not found anywhere in the Bible, regardless of the translation.
That should give us pause. Or at least have us ask what's found in the Bible regarding what God tells us we should be doing in our golden years.
My Bible says, "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Mt. 28:19) There is not a single footnote, cross reference or qualifying verse that says, "Until you are between the ages of 62 and 65, or unless you opt for My early retirement package."
My Bible says, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white for harvest." (Jn. 4:35) And then laments "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." (Mt. 9:37)
Here's a random thought: What if all the able bodied Christians who have retired from the daily grind decided to make the Kingdom of God their focus rather than their leisure activities? What if they laid aside their golf clubs and knitting needles for a sickle?
And what if all those who weren't as able bodied, even the bedrid- den, understood what a powerful, eternal, Kingdom thing it would be to pray for those who were going and doing?
Can anyone but God calculate the impact on His Kingdom?
Just like all of you, no doubt, I long to hear my Lord and Savior say to me, "Well done good and faithful servant!"
Because I doubt very seriously anyone will hear Him say, "Hey! Nice shell collection!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hostility Toward Unbelief is a GOOD Thing!

In what shall forevermore be referred to as "Lessons From the Dogs" the Lord continues to teach me about us and about Him by watching them.
The weather has been so unbelievably cool for July, especially in the mornings that I have been having my prayer times outside. Naturally I take the dogs with me. This means I have to walk around and pray in order to keep track of them at all times and see where they are breaching the wall, so to speak. It is a huge distraction to my prayers and I feel like I have to keep putting God on hold while I make sure I know where they are.
Here's what boggles the mind. They are obsessed with getting out! Hobbes particularly runs the entire perimeter of the yard looking, poking, pawing, trying to climb over or push his way under whatever is blocking his exit. At one point he almost climbed over the chicken wire we have stretched over the iron fence so I had to go get some of those plastic thingys that you thread through an eye and ratchet closed.
I immediately thought of the talk I give where I recount what the Lord says in the book of Proverbs about the state of the human heart. It is described in various verses as being, "wicked, cunning, perverse, deceitful, evil, unwashed, disloyal, straying, stubborn, dull, foolish, proud, crooked, raging, envious, destructive, heavy, hard and as a heart of madness."
Yikes! These are the words the King of all Creation uses to describe the crowning glory of His creation. If a medical doctor used similar terms to describe our physical hearts, it would, no doubt, be during an autopsy!
Now I don't want to take the dog analogy too far, because I know they aren't moral beings, and our dogs in particular aren't all that bright. (I figure you can't expect too much from anything with the brain the size of a walnut.) But still, it shocks me that they are so determined to leave the suitable confines of safety to venture into places of unknown dangers that could easily end in their painful and untimely demise.
So I was thinking about that this morning, but remember, I was praying too and I have been praying a lot about the additional provision I need to place a larger book order. And I started wondering where the devil began to create the idea in people's minds that instead of being our gracious heavenly Father who wants to meet every need, God is some angry old man with a club in one hand and a rule book in the other.
So I started thinking about who God says He is. He is a Spirit (John 4:24); who dwells in unapproachable light (1Tim. 6:16); who alone possesses immortality (same verse); whose throne is a chariot ablaze with flames, it's wheels burning fire (Dan.7:9) and around which proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder (Rev. 4:5); who has named all the stars (Isa. 40:26) yet sees every sparrow who falls (Matt. 10:29); who IS love (1 Jn. 4:8).
I thought about the angels who, right at this very moment, are declaring the holiness of God (Isa 6:3, Rev. 4:8). About how they never take a smoke break or ask for a vacation or sigh and look at their watches wondering when they can go home for the night. No! They have spent eons singing God's praise and they delight in the privilege of continually declaring His uniqueness and unending goodness! It's inconceivable!
That made me start thinking about how He redeemed us when He could have, and should have, annihilated us, and the many times He implores us over and over to trust Him, to believe Him, to rely on Him, to ask Him for all that we need.
I realized afresh how much He longs to prove Himself faithful, to pour out His love and power and provision and deliverance if we would simply look to Him and ask Him for it.
And then I laughed out loud at how stupid and ridiculous unbelief is! The evil one has blinded us to the truth!
God, our God, the great and mighty God of the universe who radiates shekinah glory, longs for us to ask Him for what we need.
Salvation? Done. Forgiveness? Sure. Provision? Coming. Protection? There. Understanding? No problem. Revelation? Listen. Wisdom? Ask. Emotional healing? Of course. Deliverance? Lay hands. Comfort? In abundance.
What does He say? "Ask and it shall be given to you." (Matt. 7:7, Jn. 14:13-14, Jn. 15:7 and 16).
I know, I hear you and I see you wagging your finger saying, "But remember, we have to ask according to His will..."
Right. I know that. Which of those things listed above are not His will?
God is taking me to new places of faith and trust in Him and it is an exciting journey. But I want you to join me because it is always more fun to go places with friends!
So let's change our thinking and begin to believe God for all the good things He longs to give to us, His precious children!
What are you waiting for? ASK!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"The rest of the (dog saga) story."

I find it utterly amazing and somewhat amusing that of all the inspirational, thought provoking, humorous, and insightful things I have posted on this blog--or at least that was my intent--by far the one that has gotten the most response is the one about the dogs!
All of you want to know what happened and have begged me to tell you the rest of the story. Well, beg no more. But the truth is, when that posted, I didn't yet know the rest of the story.
The dogs had been missing since 9:00 that morning. Jay and I had both driven around looking for them. Jay canvassed the neighbor- hood on foot, talking to many of our neighbors, including one old fart with whiskey on his breath who said, "Yeah, I see the little shits all the time. They are always getting out and getting into my yard. I went up to your house a couple of weeks ago and took my dog so your wife wouldn't think I was a pervert and told her they were getting out."
I remembered that encounter with the pervert and thought I'd found where they were escaping and secured the yard.
When it started getting dark and there was still no sign of them we drove around again. There was no sign of them anywhere and I told Jay to take me home. It was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Both of us were pretty frantic by this point.
We got ready for bed and Jay decided to look on Craigslist under the lost and found section. Sure enough, some woman had a post up saying she had seen two dogs of Callie and Hobbes' description on I-44! She and another woman had stopped to try and get them off the road. They got Hobbes, but they couldn't get Callie. No surprise there since the only person she will come to is me, and only then if I am sitting or laying down. Earlier in the day Jay kept saying he just knew they had gone into someones home, but I knew there was no way, since Callie won't even come into our home if she can see you near the door.
Jay called the woman and she told him the whole story about seeing them and stopping and trying to get them off the road. She said she'd taken Hobbes to the pound. So at least we knew he was safe, but this bit of news made me even more worried about Callie. I was sure she would be lost and frightened without Hobbes, wasn't sure she could find her way home, and was afraid she'd end up a slick spot on the highway.
I left the back door open a crack "just in case" and went to bed and cried and prayed for the Lord to keep her safe and help her find her way home.
It's just amazing to me how attached we humans get to our little pets. And I knew Hobbes would be heartbroken if he lost his little wife and the thought of that made me cry even harder. There was no way we could explain things to him!
Then, unbelievably, about 3:00 in the morning, Callie jumped into the bed with me! I couldn't believe it! I grabbed her and hugged her so hard she yipped and woke Jay up to tell him she was home, her feet wet, but none the worse for the ordeal. He couldn't believe it! "Oh, Praise God!" was all he could say.
The pound opened at noon and we left in time to be there when they unlocked the place. We took pictures of Hobbes, his outdated shot record and his collar. The drone at the front desk told us to sign in then go on "the dog side" and see if we could find him. I was shocked at how many pens there were. We separated and went up and down all the isles looking for Hobbes and calling his name. I finally spotted him and called to Jay.
Needless to say, Hobbes was beside himself and was yipping and jumping, wedging his nose through the fence and trying to stick his head through the space under the gate.
Jay told me to stay with the dog and he'd go pay his bail. It took forever, but he finally came back and asked for the checkbook.
I noticed that Hobbes' pen didn't have a padlock on it like the rest of them, so I lifted the latch and reached in and grabbed him then stood by the pen and waited for Jay.
A bit later one of the workers came by, looked at me, looked at Hobbes, looked at the gate tag, looked at the paperwork in his hand and said, "How did you get that dog out?" I explained that it didn't have a lock on it and I got him out so I could hold him. "That dog belongs to somebody," he blurted. "I know," I said, "He belongs to me!" I explained that it was my husband who was up at the front trying to do whatever needed to be done.
Finally, one rabies shot later, we were headed home.
"How much did it cost?" I asked.
"You aren't going to believe this! I got ready to write the check and the guy said, $275!"
Of course, twenty-seven years of marriage has convinced me there is NO WAY Jay would pay that kind of money to spring Hobbes. Heck, he probably wouldn't spend that kind of money to spring me!
I nearly drove off the road. "What on earth for?" I shouted.
"$150 fine for not having him neutered, $75 fine for being loose and $50 for a rabies shot. I tried to reason with the guy but he kept saying his hands were tied. I finally said, 'He's not neutered because we are trying to breed him.'"
Barney Fife didn't skip a beat. "There's no provision for that in the city."
Poor Jay! He was getting really exasperated yet trying to be respectful. Then, a revelation. He yelped, "He's sterile!"
Barney: "Can you prove it?"
"Look," Jay said, smiling through clenched teeth, no doubt. "We bought a female who we know can get pregnant because she'd had a litter before we bought her. She's been through four heat cycles and despite Hobbes' best efforts, he hasn't been able to impregnate her." (And we can all thank God in heaven for that, this blogger adds.)
Barney said he'd have to talk to his supervisor. He took three steps and peeked into a doorway. Out comes the supervisor and Jay repeats his sad tale of woe.
The guy says, "They're really cracking down on us. For all I know you work for the Mayor's office." Jay managed to stay in his skin and says, "Oh my gosh! You're kidding me! I work for American Airlines! I can prove it."
So, thinking he had the trump card, Jay said, "Fine, I'll just wait three days and come back and adopt him."
"Probably not," Barney chimed in, "You'd be second on the list."
(Okay, stop right here for a minute. Who could have possibly decided they wanted to "adopt" him between Friday evening and us getting there when the door opened on Saturday? Hmmm? Sound a little fishy to you too?)
Then, right before Jay reached his tipping point, he said, "Look, all I knew was that my dogs were playing in our yard, we couldn't find them and I checked Craigslist and some woman had posted that she'd found our dog and brought him to the pound."
This seemed to change everything. "We didn't pick him up?" the supervisor asked?
"No, some woman brought him in."
At that point, compassion raised its lovely head, the guy tore up the paperwork and redid it, only charging us the outrageous sum of $50 for the rabies shot, though by that time it looked to be a bargain.
On the way home Jay said, "It will be interesting to see what kind of impression this had on him." I can tell you exactly what kind of an impression it had on him.
The minute we put him in the yard he made a bee-line for the spot where he'd been getting out and tried to nudge the chicken wire up so he could slip out again. We looked at each other and shook our heads. Then we secured the fence.
It made me think again of what I'd said in the previous blog. We have a nice, safe yard, full of all kinds of bushes and tress--just right for peeing on; all kinds of rabbits and squirrels and birds to chase; even the occasional turtle or possum to bark at; a mailman and UPS guy they alert us about; fresh water; all the dog food they need; the occasional treat, etc. and all Hobbes does is whine and skulk around like a P.O.W.
I want to explain to him the dangers of 31st street one block to our north and of I-44 and the logical outcome of a collision between a one ton steel car and a six pound dog.
I want him to understand how much we love him and how heartbroken we would be if anything happened to him.
I want to tell him he owes us $50, and he's darn lucky he doesn't owe us $275, not to mention all new carpets and a more than a few pairs of shoes and jeans and underwear, but that I knew there was no way he could pay us so we'd will gladly let him off the hook. I want to beg him to just stay in our nice, safe yard where we can meet all of his needs and we can laugh at his antics and enjoy watching him and Callie run and play and tussle together.
And, of course, all I can think about is all the times I've left God's yard of protection and provision and wandered into unknown dangers. Of all the times He's rescued me from my own rebellion and stupidity. Of all that I owe Him that I will never be able to repay. Of all the times I've resisted His kindness, rejected His help, ignored His voice and His pleas to obey.
But I'll tell you one thing. I GET IT NOW in a way I didn't fully appreciate before. And it breaks my heart and floods me with overwhelming gratitude to our great and compassionate God all at the same time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

From The Quote Garden

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating comsists mostly of building enough bookshelves." Anna Quindlen

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dog Lessons

I have a serious love/hate relationship with our two Chihuahuas.
We bought Hobbes for Jessie as a Christmas present the year Jordan died and Jacob went off to college. She needed the company of something living and breathing, but I didn’t want to do it.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I am simply hard-hearted, you have to know that we had pretty much worked our way through an entire menagerie: fish, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, rabbits, miniature pinchers, bull dogs, alley cats and Bengal cats.
I was done with a capital D. Or so I thought.
Jessie had her heart set on a tea-cup Chihuahua. I wasn’t about to give in. No way. But every time I prayed about what to get her for Christmas the Lord would say, “Get her the dog.”
Of course I soundly and loudly rebuked the devil nine times over and had a foot-stompin’ fit every time the thought entered my mind.
Why, it was ridiculous! Not only would she be leaving for college the next year, but I was DONE with animals, remember? I was not about to have her dog responsibilities become my dog responsibilities!
Still, every single time I prayed about what to do for Jessie for that awful Christmas the Lord would say, “Get her the dog.”
I finally gave in and shouted, “Fine! I’ll get her the damn dog!”
And so the search began. She wanted a fawn colored dog, but the minute we walked into the vet’s office in Chandler, Oklahoma, and I saw his teeny little one pound white self with black ears and two “wing” shaped spots on his upper back, I knew he was ours.
We left him with the vet until the day before Christmas, drove to Chandler to pick him up and I slept (or didn’t sleep) with his tiny, shivering body tucked in beside me in the bed. We put him in a box with the lid folded over, stuck a bow on top and walked down the hall to the living room so Jessie could “open” her present.
She squealed with delight, of course, and for a fleeting moment I felt like we had done the good and noble and right thing.
Then he refused to be house broken.
He ruined every carpet in the house.
And he chewed his way through countless pairs of jeans and underwear and shoes and…well…other things…
I hated him! But then he’d jump in my lap, wag his skinny tail, and look up at me like no human being ever has and I’d turn to pulp.
We bought Callie right before I left to spend a month in Thailand.
I knew enough about dogs to know they are pack animals and I didn’t want to leave Hobbes all day, every day, for a month and have to come home and put him on Prosac.
So the second great dog search began.
Of course if Jay was going to lay out any kind of money, he wanted to see a return on it, so we were looking for a female with the intent of providing the world with more Chihuahuas. You can thank me later.
Jay saw an ad a few days before I was scheduled to leave and we drove out to the doggie farm. They had two females, one black and white like Hobbes, who promptly started hissing at him like a menopausal cat, and a tiny fawn colored one who was scared to death of her own shadow.
“That’s just her ‘submissive’ posture” the woman who took our money told us.
It sounded reasonable. And besides, what the heck did we know about dog’s temperaments?
So we bought the darn thing at a discount and learned why she was such a bargain later. Her “submissive” posture is her constant posture.
She won’t come to anyone except me and only then when I am sitting or laying down. Three years later, she’s still the most skittish dog you have ever seen in your life. But you know what? I lover her! And so does Hobbes!
They romp and chase and play together so beautifully it makes me laugh out loud! They groom each other, sleep curled up together and look over one another like they are playing out Song of Solomon. It’s the sweetest thing I have ever seen!
When Callie can’t be found, Hobbes whines around the house like a rejected lover. It’s pitiful and I feel obligated to stop everything I am doing, find where she might be and relieve his distress.
So….imagine my distress when they both went missing for most of the day during the hottest part of the day!
It’s 104 degrees in the shade around here and they are wearing fur coats.
I jumped in my car and drove slowly around the neighborhood so many times I’m positive everyone thought I was casing their houses.
There was absolutely no sign anywhere of the little darlings and I started to get really upset (even while realizing I could take down all the kiddie-gates I had put up to keep them from peeing in various rooms in the house).
I knew they didn’t understand about 31st street and how busy it is or about cars. And they had no understanding of leash laws or the dog catcher, and I knew they would be terrified if they were picked up and taken to the pound and I wouldn’t be there to pat and comfort them and bring them home.
I worried that they wouldn’t be able to find their way back to the house and that they were probably hot and tired and thirsty and miserable and there was nothing I could do about it as long as they were away from me.
And then I realized just how much it paralleled our situation with God.
He has given us a lovely “fenced yard” to play in with everything in it that we need and has promised to meet every need we have. But there are parameters we are asked to comply with for our own good. There are things about our design we might not have complete understanding about so we need to simply take God’s word about how He tells us to live and operate. And there are forces in the universe that are too strong for us to withstand if we get hit by them, that God wants to protect us from.
But in our ignorance and rebellion and foolishness, we wander outside those boundaries and no matter how much power and provision and protection is available to us from our heavenly Father within them, we will not be able to partake of any of it if we aren’t where we should be.
Fortunately God is more than a pet owner and He can find and heal and restore us so that we are able to see the benefits of the yard and learn that it’s better not to wander off. He instructs us and reminds us that being next to Him and depending on Him is the greatest, safest place we can be.
Now if I could just get Hobbes and Callie to understand the same thing about us!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Don't know if this made your papers or not, but the Tulsa World printed an article about a debit card problem of astonomical proportions. (My thoughts are in parnethesis.)
"A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars. (If ever there was motivation to "kick the habit" this would have to be it.)
Joseph Muszynski said he checked his account on-line a few hours later (good thing) and saw the 17 digit number--$23,148,855,308,184,500--twenty three quadrillion, one hundred forty-eight trillion, eight hundred fifty-five billion, three hundred eight million, one hundred eighty four thousand, five hundred dollars. (How is this even possible? The federal government hasn't even figured out how to do that yet!)
Muszynski says he spent two hours on the phone with Bank of America trying to sort out the string of numbers (but here's the best part) and the $15 overdraft fee. (!!) The bank corrected the error."

Perspective shift, anyone?

I need $20,000 by the end of this month in order to increase my personal book order for, "The Rhyme and Reason Series: Genesis" from 2,000 copies to 5,000.
There. I said it.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I can sell every single copy between the mid-October release date and Christmas.
Still, twenty thousand dollars seems like a lot of money. Probably because it is a lot of money.
So in my prayer time this morning I was sitting outside in the cool morning air, courtesy of a thunderstorm last night and having a conversation with the Lord about it. Reminding Him, as if I were negotiating with Him, that this whole thing was His idea to begin with, that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and if our son asked us for bread would we give him a stone and how much greater does He love us, and all that faith-building gyrations I periodically put myself through thinking it will help when my faith needs a little boost.
Then an interesting thing happened. I quit blabbering and casually looked around. I heard the Lord ask me how many different varieties of trees and plants and flowers I thought there might be in just my yard. I counted well over fifty before I quit.
I heard a bird in a tree near me, saw a squirrel on the telephone line above me and watched a rabbit dart along the back fence and laughed as our two little chihuhuas gave futile chase and I heard the Lord ask me how many varietis of animals I though there might be on the planet.
That made me think of the first time we ever went snorkeling in Hawaii and when I put my face into the water, an entirely different and glorious world appeared before my startled eyes and I saw all kinds of vibrantly colored fish and coral and I heard the Lord ask me how many different kinds of sea life I thought there might be in all the oceans of the world.
I looked up and saw the dim outline of the moon in the morning sky and I remembered Psalm 147:7 and Isaiah 40:26 where God declares that He has named all the stars and I heard Him ask me if I could even fathom the number of stars in the galaxies and beyond.
I felt an itch on my arm and looked down to brush a bug off and then back up at the moon and I heard the Lord ask me how long I thought it took him to design an eye that could focus clearly and instantly on a bug close up and a moon thousands of miles away then to the raindrops on the leaves that were rustling in the breeze just above my head.
I was reminded of the astonishing photography one man took of snow flakes and I couldn't get over the infinite design, order and beauty of each and every one and it made me marvel that the Lord makes zillions of snow flakes in every snow fall and that no two are alike and then they are gone forever when the sun melts them away.
I remembered reading somewhere that there are over a thousand varieties just in the lily family and I heard the Lord ask me if I had any idea how many varieties of flowers He had made and how He had picked the colors they would come in.
And suddenly, I just knew. I knew the money would come. I didn't have to "manufacture" faith, the Lord just filled me with divine assurance as I reflected on the extravagance and beauty of His creation and basked in His presence and I understood all over again the truth of Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen." And it made me laugh out loud at the silliness of ever fretting or being anxious about anything!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Continual Repentance

Since I have nothing original to share with you today, but wanting to keep my new promise to myself to blog every day, I bring you a prayer from "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I often begin my morning prayer time with one of these because they often speak my heart more eloquently than I am able.
"O God of grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitue,
and hast imputed His righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom's robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggrivations of sin;
my receiving of the Spirit is tincturned with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiveing change of raiment,
for Thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, "Father, forgive me,"
and Thou art always bringing me the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
and every evening return it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lost sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace."
And all the people said, "AMEN!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Iron and Wine

If you like music (and who doesn't since God thought of it the same day He thought of sex...I'm pretty sure of it...) and powerful, moving, engaging music most of all, I would highly encourage you to buy both "Iron and Wine" CDs.
I keep them on replay and could listen to them all day long except it drives the others in the house crazy when I get on a merry-go- round that won't stop.
But this guy is good. Really good. He has poetic lyrics, mezmerizing melodies, and an across the board appeal for every- one from grandmothers to kindergarteners. Check them out and let me know what you think!
Publish Post

What a Ride!

It's been a long time since I indulged myself by reading a book in one sitting, but such was the case yesterday with Logan and Noah Miller's book, "Either You're In of You're In The Way." It's the incredibl true story of identical twins who made a vow to their homeless, alcoholic father just before he died that they would make a movie about his life.
Just a few minor problems. They had never written a screen play, had no money, no equipment, no connections and no support. All they had was a promise that became a burning desire.
But as Dorothy sang, "Dreams really do come true."
By the time it was over, they had managed to write, produce, direct, and act in their movie and get four-time Academy Award-nominated Ed Harris to play their father.
They proved Anatole French's statement that, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but dream; not only plan but believe."
It inspired the heck out of me.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I love books. They comfort me. I read them, and afterwards they are my life-long friends. They take me places I have never been, introduce me to people I have never met, and inspire me with ideas I have never thought of. I know all of this has been said before in much more eloquent language, but always, regardless of the book or the genre, I learn and grow and think and my mind and imagination are stimulated.
I decorate with them because a room filled with overflowing bookcases creates a comfortable, inviting environment more effectively than anything else I can think of. Especially if there are a few strategically placed plants in the room.
And while new books, with their crackly spines and pristine pages, have an intoxicating smell all their own, an old book, with its faded cover and ear-marked pages is like a favorite friend around whom you are completely comfortable.
I was raised around books. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother sitting on one end of the blue hide-a-bed in the den, taking small sips from a tiny 6 oz. bottle of Coke in one hand and long drags from an L&M cigarette with her other. This was before a massive stroke stole her taste for Cokes and made reading laborious instead of relaxing.
A few years before I was born, my grandparents custom built a home in the tony Nichols Hills area of Oklahoma City. The long hall leading to the master bedroom had built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves running the entire length on both sides. The shelves were deeper than normal and held two rows of books, one behind the other.
The back wall of the family room which was split by a doorway leading into the kitchen, had another set of floor-to-ceiling shelves and added to the hallway collection, they held thousands of books. My grandfather had read them all. This didn’t include all the books in his law office. I never understood how he had time to ply his trade. How he could do anything but read all day, every day, in order to have read all those books. He must have been one of Evelyn Woods’ first students.
I learned to love to read the summer I turned 14 and stayed a few weeks with them in their tiny cabin in Como, Colorado. It was filled with all the books that would otherwise have been homeless since I couldn’t imagine where there would have been room for them in the primary residence.
One day, bored out of my mind, and gazing at all the volumes stacked above me, I asked my grandfather to pick out a book he thought I might like. Without a moments hesitation he walked over to the shelf left of the window and pulled down “Harpo Speaks” by Harpo Marx. I had no idea who Harpo Marx was, but it was obvious he was long-winded. The book was massive. Up to this point, I had never read much more than the color-coded, timed, reading comprehension cards that I devoured in parochial school and a few easy to read mysteries. This was supposed to be a vacation.
I asked him for something else. Something shorter, maybe. He walked off in a huff. Since he was usually the most agreeable sort and I was already deeply entrenched in people pleasing, I needed to make up for my offense. I heaved a deep sigh, sat on the sofa, and opened the book. I had no idea how long it would take me to get to the last page, but there wasn’t much else for a 14 year-old girl in Como, Colorado, (population: 25) to do. So I read.
And an interesting thing happened that would repeat itself a thousand times over. I couldn’t put it down! I was riveted to every page! I read it at the dinner table. I read it until my eyes were tired and dry. I read it in the car when we went somewhere. I read it until I was too tired to keep reading and then I couldn’t wait to wake up and start reading it again. It was magical. I learned who the Marx brothers were. How they came to America. The dream of Vaudeville stardom that danced in their mother’s head. I learned about Vaudeville, about New York City in the 1900’s, about immigration, segregation, prejudice, poverty, dreams, show business, the early days of Hollywood and the names that were made famous there. More than once I would read a passage and laugh out loud. Oh my gosh, how I laughed! There were times I would laugh so hard I’d close the book with my finger between the pages so I wouldn’t lose my place and I would howl until my eyes spilled tears!
From then on, I was hooked.
When I moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where I lived with my aunt and uncle for three years, books again played a huge role in the family dynamics and discussions. I remember my Uncle Ned and cousin Bob reciting dialogue from “Catch-22” and laughing together with the same gusto with which I had laughed by myself in Colorado and I learned that a good book could be a shared experience.
Not surprisingly, my house is filled with books. I have read most of them and make inner vows to not buy any more until I have read all the ones that are waiting to be read, but it is a vow I can’t keep. They are my guilty pleasure.
It occurs to me that it should be no real surprise that I also write books. Books are my heritage and they will be my legacy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Revelation 3:1 explained

Alex Himaya, the pastor at The Church at Battle Creek where I have been attending for several months now, preached the first sermon of a seven week series. I found it very interesting and want to share with you what I got out of it.
I have always thought Revelation 3:1 where it makes reference to "the seven spirits of God" was a very curious verse. After all there is only one Holy Spirit, not seven, so I have never been able to satisfactorily understand what that verse really meant. Until today.
Alex explained that it refers to seven facets of God's personality, which are imparted to us, the crowning glory of all creation who are created in the image and likeness of God, in varying degrees, in what he called "the personality gifts" found in Romans 12:6-8.
They are prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership and mercy. It hit me with a jolt that I hope didn't disturb those seated near me, that these seven "spirits" or "facets" of God's personality make us who we are and express God's own personality back to Him as we "fan into flames" the spiritual gifts He has given each of us "to the building up of the body of Christ." What a beautiful circle of expression, giving and service! Him to us, us to Him and then us to each other by the power of the Spirit!
Alex went on to explain that the personality gifts define who we are, while the ministry gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers--Ephesians 4:11) define where we serve. God gives us these gifts then infuses us with His power, by His Spirit, so that we can operate in both our personality and ministry gifts for the benefit of all.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministers, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
He also made the important point that our job is to define, discover, develop and display our gifts as good stewards of that which has been bestowed upon us by Him.
These become the fulfillment of Romans 12:1 where we are encouraged to "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
Beautiful. Perfect. Satisfying. Just like God Himself.
Thank You, Jesus, for creating us in Your image and likeness, for bestowing on us facets of Your own personality, and for empowering us with Your Holy Spirit to reflect You back to You and to reflect You to others for Your glory and their edification.
As the song says, "You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words." Truly. I stand in awe of You and bow before You in worship, thanksgiving and praise.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A blog a day....

I have heard more than once recently that if you blog regularly you will raise your status in the various search engines. Apparently people who keep track of such things take notice of websites and blogs that have a lot of content.
So, in conjunction with my ongoing efforts to increase my speaking opportunites and do my part to stir the market for the release of "The Rhyme and Reason Series: Genesis" I am going to make the determinded effort to blog every day.
I have good intentions--I always have good intentions--but now I have sufficient motivation. We will see if that encourages me to be disciplined and consistent. Even at my most optomistic I would say it's a highly doubtful goal since self-discipline and consistency are continuous areas of growth for me, but maybe I will at least be more regular. It really doesn't matter if anyone reads the blog, which makes it seem a little silly if I end up only writing to myself, but I will make every effort to post something at least moderately interesting and thought provoking just in case any one decides to read it. I know several of you are faithful readers, and hopefully that number will grow as the previously stated objective is reached.
Naturally, I will also be using this forum to announce the progress of the series and any upcoming interviews or articles pertaining to the books.
To that end, I had an eventful Thursday! I drove to OKC and met with Shirley Mears, Director of Marketing and Outreach for "The Gospel Stations Network" and recorded an interview. It will be edited into three, three minute segments and each segment will air three times during the same week. Apparently they like that number.
I will have the electronic files to post on my website or send to people as a promotional piece and they will be kept in the station archives as well.
Afterward I met with a wonderful woman named Cyndy who is now my secondary publicist. The primary publicist will be Kerry Dierking of Evergreen Press, but it is going to be highly beneficial to have two since Cyndy has connections Kerry doesn't and vise versa. She was a mover and shaker in Hollywood before she left her high profile life and moved back to Oklahoma to be near her four grown daughters and all of her grandchildren.
That fact alone spoke volumes about her heart and her priorities and I knew I wanted her to help me promote both the books and my speaking schedule.
Fortunately for me, she agreed, and is very excited to be part of the adventure "from the very beginning" and I am thrilled to have someone of her caliber and ability on the team.
She gave me the contact information for a woman at "The Daily Oklahoman" who is excited to do the first feature article about the books. I called her and we have a meeting set up for the second week in August.
That made me think of Bill Sherman who writes for "The Tulsa World" and spoke for "The Fellowship of Christian Writers" while I was the chairman of the group. I called him and learned he is on vacation but expect him to return my call when he gets back.
And so, my faithful readers, that's it for today. God is moving, the books are going to press at the end of the month and there is finally an air of excitement to this journey!
I am SO glad you are taking it with me because it's no fun to travel by yourself!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Shall we?"

God is good. This we know. For the Bible tells us so. Right? It's true, of course, for those of us who believe and it will eventually be true even to those who don't.
But there is something so very heart-stopping when the generic becomes specific. When you see the goodness of the great God of the universe manifested to you personally without having to barter or beg or cajole. Not that it would work anyway, but the idea seems to always be there percolating in the back of our heads, doesn't it? Or maybe it's just me.
My reaction to these moments of divine reality on my behalf is to feel both flattery and disbelief. As if the cutest guy in the entire high school--the one every girl had a secret crush on--had just asked me to dance at our senior prom. The first impulse is to look over your shoulder and see whom he is actually asking.
But then you realize it really is you he is extending his hand toward, and suddenly you are Cinderella at the ball, dancing on a cloud as you are swept up into the rhythmeic movements of another more confident and experienced dancer. That's what today was like. Thank you, Jesus. Let's dance again soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brave New World

I'm not quite sure at what point the average adult brain begins to find it difficult, no...impossible, to learn new things which, in the past, it would have been able to learn without effort. I have no idea when I crossed the imaginary boundry, but I did and unfortunately, I am now one of the people I could never imagine being when I watched my parents struggle to learn how to program their VCR.
My children become completely exasperated trying to teach me even the most basic computer skills. I don't blame them. I am exasperated myself. It just doesn't seem like it should be as hard as it seems to be. Even if I understand at the time how to do it, by the time I need to do it again I have forgotten how and we have to start all over again. Needless to say they get tired of this routine fairly quickly.
They work with the speed and ease of someone with innate knowledge. The other day Jacob was helping me do something and I just shook my head and said, "How do you know how to do that?" There must have been some midnight trianing sessions under the covers with a flashlight that I wasn't aware of.
In the effort to help market and promote "The Rhyme and Reason Series" my publicist told me the other day that I had to Twitter. "It's non-negotiable," she said.
I didn't even know what Twitter was until a couple of months ago and I swore on the spot I would never do something that seemed like just so much electronic clutter. I hate clutter. I am always getting rid of stuff so why would I want to add more to my life?
Besides, I am just getting used to Facebook and one big adjustment at a time at my age seems more than fair.
She wouldn't budge. "It's a tool," she said, "You have to take advantage of what people are using to communicate." Geeze, I thought. What's wrong with a good wall-mounted phone?
So now I Twitter. And I'm on Facebook. And I blog and e-mail and instead of feeling hip and cool and on the cutting edge, I just feel like I need a long nap.