Monday, August 31, 2009

Humility, Rebellion and Pride

How do you know if you're humble?

I've heard that a truly humble person isn't aware he/she is humble. Other people see it, but the humble person doesn't.

How do you know if you're proud?

Everyone sees that.

Including the person who is proud? Not always.

In the early 70s Kenneth Copeland preached a message on pride. Since I felt so bad about myself, I decided I wasn't proud. At least that was ONE sin I didn't have.


It took God about a minute to begin showing me my pride, and for the last 30+ years He's still working on me in that area.

I went to church yesterday with a burr under my saddle. I had no sooner walked into class when I recognized what I was feeling was that ugly pride again. "Greater love has no man. . ." you know the rest. ". . .that he lays down his life for his friend."

Laying down one's life isn't about physically dying for someone. That would be too easy. Laying down one's life is saying, "I don't have to be right in anyone's eyes except God's."

I don't know about you, but rebellion reigns in my heart and has from my birth. My mother told stories of the tantrums I threw when I was little. The day she lay down on the floor and began kicking, screaming and crying just like I was doing, I stopped. Did I see how ugly that was or did I see that I was beaten? Whatever it was, it still reared up over and over in my life, but not in kicking and screaming.

A few years ago we went to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. We had walked through several of the wings viewing works of art and were in the area of European sculpture and decorative arts. In that wing was the Farnese Table, a Roman work of marble, alabaster and semiprecious stones. It was 150 inches long and, as they described it,"a sumptuous table after the design of da Vignola proclaiming the majesty of the Roman High Renaissance." On the table was a small, tasteful sign that said, "Do Not Touch."

I'd been all over that museum with never a thought of touching anything until a sign told me not to. I had to fight the desire to reach out and lay a fingertip on that table. That's plain old rebellion rearing its proud head. That's what Adam and Eve felt when they were told by God not to touch the tree; what the Israelites felt when God handed down the Ten Thou-Shalt-Nots; and what many today experience about laws.

We don't watch Big Brother but I turned it on one night recently. All the housemates are required to be wired the entire time they are on the show. One of the women (who, I've been told, was a problem from the beginning) didn't wear hers. The Producer from somewhere by speaker, told her to put it on. Another housemate handed it to her and the woman tossed it into the swimming pool. They kicked her off the show.

Rebellion lives in our hearts, maybe all the time we're here on this earth. A banker I once knew bragged that he worked around money but was never tempted to steal any of it. However, he stole something from me--something he could have gone out and bought for very little money.

Breaking laws (speeding included), lying, stealing, cheating, believing we're right no matter what. Rebellion and Pride.

God is so good to me that He allows situations into my life all the time that show me how rebellious and proud I really am. All in order for me to learn humility.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Morning Musings

I just put a loaf of banana bread into the oven. Later today we'll serve it to friends after we play a few games of Hand and Foot. The dessert will salve the psyche of the losers and be a prize for the winners. At least I hope it's prize-worthy!

Kennedy's funeral is turned low on the TV. I'm not really interested in watching it, but since it's a "major" event, we are tuned to Fox. Yo Yo Ma is playing the cello. Maybe it isn't he since I didn't know he played anything except the violin. Or is the cello his instrument of choice? All the past living Presidents are there. (Hi! George! I still love you.) We recognize most of them. As for the Kennedy clan. Who are they? No longer are the familiar faces among them--the ones we used to immediately recognize. I'm not even sure if the wizened white-haired woman is a past wife or sister. Are any of his sisters still living? How many children did he have? Which ones are his own and which are nieces and nephews?

We've all seen the bumper sticker or heard the saying: He who dies with the most toys wins. Well, that isn't true. The saying should be: He who dies, dies and can't take his toys with him. Ted Kennedy is gone. All that he had has been left behind. We've read about his "good" deeds and his "bad." Even those won't matter to God when he stands before His Throne. At that time he only has to answer one question. "What did you do with Jesus?"

That's the question we all have to answer. Best to get it straight here and now rather than later. Later might be too late.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's All About Love

I haven't blogged in several days although something has been rolling around in my spirit. I spent yesterday writing and woke up this morning realizing I'd made a big mistake in Copper Penny. I've made some drastic changes to that novel and need to make more. Lying in bed I decided I'd just let it go. If someone buys it, then I'll face making those changes again. This is a small thing in the scheme of life.

One of our close friends is facing cancer treatment. She, her husband and my husband and I had dinner one day last week. We prayed together on the sidewalk of a busy shopping center before saying good-bye. When I hugged her, I wanted to say what I was feeling, but that feeling surprised me so much I didn't. That feeling is what has been going around in my spirit.

I wanted to say, "I wish I could take this for you." Even as I write it, tears come to my eyes because I really feel strongly that I would take it for her if I could. The only other person I've ever felt this for is one of my daughters, and that's only if she had to face something hard, which she hasn't so far. I'd rather it happen to me than to her.

I've been talking to God about all this since that day at the shopping center. Would I really carry it for her? I can't get away from the answer. Yes. I would if I could. In the beginning I wondered if it was because I thought I could do it better than she can. But she's strong. She's been through some serious heartbreak that only made her stronger. I know she can get through this with grace. So why?

What I believe God is showing me is how he felt about mankind. He hurt because we were suffering and knew he was the only answer. He came to earth as a man and saved us. His sacrifice was all about love and redemption.

As I tried to put all this together I came to a conclusion. I'm not God. Duh!
He did it for people who didn't deserve it. I couldn't do it if I thought the person had brought the suffering on himself. I couldn't do it for a rapist or a murderer or even a homeless person. As I let my mind run through all the people I know--all the ones I love, only these two stood out. I could do it for them but not the others. I'm big into justice. I believe we reap what we sow. I've sowed and God has saved me in spite of that. But with others who have reaped and they are sowing--well, justice says they deserve it. Pretty callous thinking and not a bit of grace and love and mercy there.

So, you can see I'm not that altruistic. In fact, I, like so many people, am self-centered. Until it comes to my friend and my daughter. For them I'd give my life and give it willingly if it would keep them from having to suffer. I don't know what all this means. I just know what I feel.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hearing and Listening

Wednesday morning this past week I woke up thinking about one of my daughters. She was heavy on my heart. I prayed for her several times that day but didn't call her. The next morning the same heaviness was there again. Later that afternoon I called her and told her how she'd been on my heart for two mornings. She told me that on Wednesday she heard about the death of one of her oldest friends. She said, "It just broke my heart."

I've had moments like this before. I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but somehow I do believe the connection is made through the Holy Spirit.

A few years before my husband died I had a "knowing" that he was going to die. The knowing was so strong that it scared me because I didn't want it to happen. I pushed it away but it returned. During those years the feeling?--words?--whatever it was, kept coming back. I'd pray and ask God to save him, keep his well--all the things you can imagine a person would ask of God in this situation.

When he was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, I knew he wasn't going to survive. Again I ignored what I knew in my heart. But when he died four months later, I wasn't surprised and was at peace about it. I grieved, of course, and cried, but the peace that was in my heart even then couldn't be denied.

We have a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Never, since the diagnosis have I had one doubt about her surviving this illness.

My thoughts aren't clear on all this, but my trust is sure. God speaks to us in numerous ways. We not only have to hear what he's saying, we have to listen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second Thoughts

I wrote this morning's blog and am having second thoughts. I really don't like to read something that says God is doing this and that to us--always bad things. I don't believe he does bad things to us even though he did in the OT. I believe Jesus took care of our judgement at the cross.

Yet some of the things that are being spoken are probably from God but just misinterpreted. The best part of all this is that God really does have everything under control.

The Vision

In 1973 I read a little book titled "The Vision" by David Wilkerson. I no longer have that book but I've thought about it many times and tried to find it. This morning I woke up thinking about it. I found it on David's website. He's updated it with two chapters now titling the book "The Vision and Beyond." I ordered it this morning.

When I read this book in '73 it scared me. I couldn't imagine our country becoming what David's vision prophesied. But from what I remember about it, I can see many of those things have come to pass. He has other prophecies of the future now.

I believe God does show his people what is to come. He did it all the way through the Old Testament and at the end of the New. Why do we think he no longer is interested enough in us to show us today? I know that many NT churches don't believe or practice the gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians, saying they passed away with the people the apostles touched. I've seen too much to believe that is true and don't read it anywhere in the Bible.

The one part of all this that I doubt is when present-day prophets talk about God's judgement on our country or planet. I don't think God is doing these things. There is rampant evil in the world because we've pushed God aside. Mankind is bringing these things on himself. All we can do is heed what is being spoken by the Spirit and make ourselves ready by drawing nearer to the only One who can help us through whatever comes.

In my life I've heard God's voice in my spirit, known his leading and followed his direction. The things he's told me about the future have come to pass. For the past few years I've gotten out of the habit of truly listening to him because I haven't been in an environment that practices and stresses "living in the Spirit." I want to be there again.

I've attempted to add Wilkerson's blog to my list and hope it shows up. We are told to test the spirits and test the prophecies. I will read what Wilkerson has to say but I will listen to what the Spirit is saying when I do.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sears, Suspense and Scriptures

Sears is here with our new freezer and to carry away the smelly one. I wonder what they will do with the old one. No one could ever use it again and I'm sure landfills don't want it.

Since the last time I blogged I found out the first novel in the Joe Denali mystery series isn't a mystery. I had a pitch session with an agent Saturday and felt like a real dunce not knowing this. She asked for the first 50 pages of both number one and number two-which is a mystery. But I think she was just being nice. I have a feeling she wrote down my name, and when she sees it coming across her email, she'll hit delete. Fingers crossed, prayers said, I hope she'll give both of them a chance as stand-alones. I'm dubbing the first one, Copper Penny as suspense. When I think of suspense, I think of scary, horror or heart-stopping. This one isn't that, but there is a bit of suspense involved for Penny. The second, Plugged Nickel, is definitely mystery because it's a whodunnit. The third one, Turn On A Dime, is going to be suspense, too.

I asked the agent why the series (if I ever write the others) couldn't be the Joe Denali series, and she said because she couldn't sell it like that. If the first one is suspense, then the reader will think the next one will be the same. What if the reader isn't as 'inside the box' as a publisher and likes variety? Oh, well. if I sell one, then the next ones will be easier. Prayers will probably work better than crossed fingers.

Writing problems are secondary to what our friend is facing. She had a biopsy last week and got the news it was positive. She went forward Sunday to ask for prayer and the outpouring of love from our church community was overwhelming. She knows they will all be praying for her. How do people survive without this kind of support? They see a surgeon today, but we're praying she's had a false diagnosis. If not, then we're believing God is who He says--..."for I am the Lord, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26.)

Yes, I know He was talking to the Jews in Egypt. If I believe He isn't talking to me in that scripture, then I can't take anything that is said throughout the Bible for myself because I wasn't there. Jesus was talking to those around Him. Paul was talking to specific churches. Either I take it all personally or I take none of it.

That brings up some of the more troublesome scriptures--about women in particular. We look at those as cultural which makes all of it confusing. Do we pick and choose what we want to believe or take it all? I wish I knew. This I know for sure: "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." That's not cultural. That's truth!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Do We Really Believe?

Have you ever gone to church and or somewhere else and had God talk directly to you? It has happened many times to me and Sunday it happened again.

Because of all that has happened in my life in the past, I believe God has had a Big Hand in where I was then and where I am today. Yet I've complained and been discontented. The last time I felt total contentment was about 7 years ago. I can remember sitting in my sun room and thinking, "I am totally at peace and content." About six months later my life changed and although it's good now, I haven't experienced that feeling again.

The sharp two-edged sword began its journey into my heart a week ago and really stuck in deep last Sunday. The scripture from Colossians 3:17 made a big impact on me. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

I took an older Bible to church Sunday. I'd made many of the scriptures personal. (ex. And whatever I do, I do it heartily with all my heart, as to the Lord and not to men.....for I serve the Lord Christ.)

"Whatever I do in word or deed." Do I really believe that God has a hand in my life or don't I? I can't have it but one way and I choose to believe I am where He wants me or I'd be somewhere else.

"Giving thanks."

My eyes were suddenly opened. I hadn't been giving thanks and it was showing in my life. "What we believe is how we live, and what we do reflects what we believe."
I wish our church had an altar where we could go and confess and pray. But we don't. We don't even admit to our brothers and sisters that we aren't on top of the world.

Well, I'm admitting it here. I have a long way to go but I'm back on the journey.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Critique Groups, Honesty and Laughing

At this moment I'm downloading a 134 single-spaced novel from one of the writers in a critique group. I had dropped out of this group a few months ago but want to get back in it so she sent me her novel so I can read some of it before we meet next week.

The first group I joined when I moved here met once a week. We brought a few pages of whatever we wanted critiqued. The next week each of us would go over those pages with the writer. We looked for typos, but mostly looked for character and story development. If something didn't make sense or caused us to have to stop and re-read, we'd bring that up because we don't want our readers to become confused while reading. This group meets every two weeks now. We meet in a home now but used to meet in the library.

Another group I went to sent our pages as an attached document and we made comments on the pages on line. Word has a place to do that. I didn't enjoy that much because there was no interaction. When we met, we met at the library.

This last group meets once a month. We send no more than 3 chapters as an attachment, critique it then meet and go over what we've critiqued. I like not meeting quite as often--especially if we are going to have to read a lot. We meet in a home.

I haven't gone into the site in depth but Lifehack looks like a good reference for starting a critique group. Googling "writing critique groups" will bring up many sites.

Reading others work inspires me to write more. Being out of a group would mean I didn't have to write at all. I believe it is important to have other eyes read what we write anyway.

If anyone wants to start an online critique group, I'd be open to that. I love reading others work but only if they want honesty. One group I was in didn't give me that and didn't want honesty from me so I got out of it. If I wanted to hear "That's good," then I'd have my husband read everything I write.

I guess being honest can be carried to the extreme, and I may be one that carries it, but I want honesty from others. I want to know if I'm doing something wrong. I don't want people to let me run around with spinach in my teeth and not tell me.

I heard somewhere that the measure of true maturity is when we can laugh at ourselves. Seems like the older I get the more of ME I have to laugh at.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The smelly work is done.

We emptied the freezer, made a list for the insurance company of all we'd lost and have the freezer sitting in the sun.

Before we get another freezer we need to get an electrician to rewire the outlet.

I sent a few pages of the new book to a critique group I'll meet with next week.

We still have to go places and record the prices of the "dead" food.

Maybe, some day, I'll get back to writing in earnest.

Who do you think is America's favorite dancer?

My thoughts are rambling out of control. Maybe that smell has scrambled my brain!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some Thoughts About Our Trip

We're really at home now--not just wishing we were.

After 16 days I'm ready for some "quiet time."

The first part of our journey was to visit my brother and our sister-in-law. While in Kansas we went 650' underground and toured a salt mine, played cards and saw three of our nephews and nieces and their 9 kids. It's always hard to leave my brother. I wish we lived close enough to see each other more often.

Our first stop in Oklahoma was to visit daughter, grandson and great-granddaughter. G'granddaughter is pistol. She's 21 months old and talking a blue streak. Always on the move. G'son wanted to put flowers on his Papa's grave, and we did. While there we visited with some old friends. Old friends we used to see quite often. How I'd love to be able to see all these people more often--especially g'granddaughter. She's growing up too fast.

We ended our trip with a visit somewhere south of Oklahoma City. All I know is that the house of our friends is near Mustang and Norman. It's in the country, along with many other homes, in a quiet neighborhood. These friends were those my husband knew years ago in Spokane. While there the two daughters of the home owners and their families came over and spent the day. Our hosts have two Maltese (Maleses? Malesi?) which they keep trimmed short and call "The boys." One of the daughters has a smaller Maltese and the other one has a Yorkie. Of course all the dogs come to visit with their families. The Maltese don't smell or shed and really pretty cute and well-mannered (as long as you keep the door to the bathroom shut.)

All in all it was a good trip. The worst part of the whole experience was coming home to a defrosted freezer in the garage. The day we left our town had a huge storm which shut off the power for a bit. When it came back on the freezer and fridge in the garage threw the switch and defrosted. The smell is pretty rank. The stuff in the freezer is re-freezing and tomorrow, when the dump opens, Reid will haul the smelly contents away. Then comes the job of trying to salvage the freezer.

One last thought. We attended two different churches while we were gone. I shouldn't have been surprised at the differences in them. One was quite spiritual and the other wasn't. I had just finished reading the book, "They Like Jesus But Not the Church." This experience helped me understand why.