Tuesday, February 19, 2019

When you're looking for peace


The tuxedo Wilbur occasionally sleeps in his own bed . . .


But more often than not, he’s in Lucy the Aussiedor's space,
night . . .

 
. . . after night.

 
And sometimes, Carl even joins them.



Poor Lucy. She can’t even get her bed to herself, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Lucy is Wilbur’s home plate, his touch point. In this house, where you see Lucy, you will most often see Wilbur. It never occurs to Wilbur that Lucy outweighs him by sixty pounds and that she could puncture him with her giant teeth. Wilbur trusts Lucy without reservation. He is at peace with her.

Lucy sees Wilbur as a member of her pack. In the past, if another animal showed malice to Wilbur, Lucy was quick to defend him so as Wilbur lies there, his tummy exposed in his most vulnerable position, he is without fear. He knows Lucy will protect him.

All analogies break down at some point, but in a much greater and far more important way, the relationship between these animals causes me to remember God wants us to be at peace with him. He desires for us to be in such a trust relationship with Him, that in our most vulnerable moments, we know our defender will rise up on our behalf. He wants us to know peace in the core of our being . . . no fear.

This past week, Jerry wound up in the ER with cardiac issues, which after a few days of testing in the hospital turned out to be atrial fibrillation. It was the least of several issues they were checking him for, so we were glad no further procedures were required and we could leave the hospital with only a medicine change. For a man who already has several heart stents, this was great news.

I said all of that in just a few sentences, as if it were no big deal. However, in the middle of the process, with him still having cardiac symptoms and doctors having no answers, I had to make a decision about whether I was going to trust God or have myself a little freak-out. In my vulnerable moment, the freak-out was awfully appealing. However, I opted to trust and not allow myself to fall victim to controlling fear.

I reminded myself of what I wrote about last week that God is faithful. God has never abandoned us. God saw this coming and had a way through it. And He did.

Our hearts are full of gratitude for all God has done and what He continues to do.

So, my friend, you may be going through something right now, and be tempted to have your own freak-out. You may be feeling incredibly vulnerable. I have two words for youtrust God. Don’t let the fear win. No matter what happens, God can enable us to hold on to peace no matter where we are . . . in the emergency room or any room.

Remember Wilbur and his upturned white belly lying next to that big brown dog, and take comfort God watches over you. Curl up next to Him. 

Shalom.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

If you're looking for faithful


I love this collection of Valentines. The two larger ones were sent to me from my grandmother when I was child. The three smaller ones were given to my dad by schoolmates in the 1930’s.

One of the attributes we most desire in our Valentine is to be true to us, to be faithful. Faithful is a word I’ve been pondering the past few days.

Replacing our roof in January allowed me to get rid of buckets in my office I’d used in the weeks previous when it rained. But of course, the damaged ceiling from the leaks needed to be replaced, too.

To clear the way for the workers to tear out and replace the sheetrock, I needed to move nearly everything. Since I did, I decided to sift through files and toss a few things.

I neared the bottom of a container when I spied two journals from so long ago, I’d forgotten they existed. They were from the years just before I surrendered my life wholly to the Lord.

When I cracked them open, I read about a woman who was confused, lost in sin, nearly in despair, and felt in the dark even when standing in a sunbeam.

I remembered I initially kept those journals as reminders of how awful those years were, in case I was ever tempted to go back.

But praise God, it has been decades now, and I have never been back. Oh, I’ve messed up plenty of times, and I’ve been down, but never without hope. My way has been cloudy, but the light of Jesus has always been with me. I have never, ever been lost again, because I know who I belong to and where my true home is. None of this happened because of me, but because God is faithful.

So, I had myself a victory party.

I ripped the pages from those journals and shredded them, and said, “Take that Satan. My God is faithful.”

As I reflected on those journals, I remembered a song, “He’s Faithful” by Carol Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

It’s been the soundtrack in my brain for several days.

Later, as I read the scripture readings for a Bible study I’m doing, I came on these words from a man who knew the faithfulness of God, “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Corinthians 1:8-9).

And here from The Message, “. . . God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” (I Corinthians 1:8-9)

This Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking for someone whose love is always faithful, let me introduce you to Jesus who embodies the heart of God. Take encouragement from these words, my dear friendsNO MATTER what the future holds, God is faithful. No situation will surprise Him, and none will be beyond His ability to handle. He will never give up on us. His love will never fail.

God. Is. Faithful.

Have a happy Valentine’s Day and take a moment to watch, “He is Faithful" by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Keeping Company


You’ve had the experience.

You’re reading verses you’ve covered many times, and one pops out like a 3-D topographical map.

It happened in verse eight of Psalm 13 last week. “… for God is present in the company of the righteous.”

First, let’s point out we have no righteousness of our own. As believers, Jesus has imparted His righteousness to us because of His work on the cross. If God is present with us, it’s not because of what we’ve done but because of what He has done.

When I read this verse, I remembered a turn of phrase my mother used. “Are Sally and Tim keeping company with each other?” she would ask. Keeping company is decidedly an old-fashioned thing to say. Maybe she got it from my grandmother who still used Elizabethan English for some words like holp instead of help.

Today people hang out together. I think I like keeping company better. How wonderful to think of God keeping company with us.

photo courtesy Brent Smith


When I read this verse, a song from a few years back also came to mind―”You Raise Me Up.” Two of my favorite renditions are from Selah and Josh Groban. I love the lines about inviting someone to come and just be with us for a time. Sometimes it helps me during difficulties to have an empty chair near me as a reminder when I’m praying that God is present―He’s keeping company with me.

Most of all, I believe God being present in the company of the righteous is a promise in the same way as words we find in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” We don’t have to wonder about this. It’s written in red in my Bible, so God himself has made this declaration. I pray for a greater realization of this promise in my own life.

I'm so thankful for kept promises, keeping company, and His presence.

And let me not forget . . . 3-D verses.

Selah "You Raise Me Up" video

Now available in print! Good news, The Key to Everything, previously only available as an ebook is now available in print HERE.

 
 



 



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A skid, a snow bank, and whose side are we on?


One morning last week, a social media post alarmed me. My dear friend Brenda posted a picture from inside an airplane and wrote, “Stuck in a snow bank on the runway in Ft. Wayne. Our plane slid right into it on some black ice.”
 

used by permission

This happened the evening before. I didn’t see the post or the national news about the crash until the next morning. When I texted her, she had finally arrived home in the wee hours. More pictures revealed emergency responders filling the runway, which was shut down most of the night.

Though news reports didn’t say this, she feels the GIS (geographic information system) may have diverted the plane to keep it from taking off on black ice.

Other heartbreaking items in the news last week also brought alarm. Sometimes, it seems culturally we are skidding on black ice heading for something far worse than a snow bank. 

Yet, as the Apostle Paul said, “. . . I am cast down, but not destroyed . . . “(2 Corinthians 4:9). I will not give up hope, because there are many still laboring in the field and voices still resounding with the truth.

God is still God.  

Abraham Lincoln once said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” God is our GIS for life and he can rescue us from skidding on black ice if we will choose it. He sees everything and knows the outcome. It’s not about political victories or getting our way. It's not their side or our side. It's whether we will choose God's side instead of our side. It’s about God having his way, about being on His side even if it means sacrifice on our part.

The way we find out whether we are on God’s side is through reading the Bible, through prayer, and through a living relationship with Him.

I'm grateful to God my friend Brenda and others in the plane with her were safe. God used GIS  to rescue them just as he can rescue us no matter how bleak our situation . . . if we will choose His side.

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Your January Survival Guide

It looks like the weather here is stretching out cold for several more weeks, so I dug around in the archives and pulled out my January Survival guide from a couple of years ago. I needed to read it and maybe you do, too, to make the most of the cold January (and February) days. The verse I used here was also the verse I used last week in my toxic air post. It's one of my favorites. Stay warm.

January is always a challenging time, because I am not a cold weather gal. In fact, I’m thankful my son and a couple of friends decided to have their birthdays in January to give the month a little happy. When January 1 rolls around, I have to get proactive to fight the cold, dark, often rainy days. You could book a flight to a tropical island and spend a month basking in the sunshine if your resources allow. But most of us have to figure another way to navigate nature’s nasty nods at the beginning of the year.





So here are ten suggestions in no way conclusive or in any particular order.

1.       Flowers. If you haven’t already done this, go to a plant nursery and walk around. See what’s blooming and buy it. In my area, that’s probably going to be a camellia, which comes in all kinds of amazing colors. When the ground warms up to the point you don’t need a jack hammer to dig a hole, plant the shrub and look forward to something wonderful blooming in January next year. There’s nothing like having a pink bloom in your yard smiling at you on a gray day. If you live in an apartment or are just not a gardener, go to the grocery store and spend five dollars on a bouquet for your office desk or dining table at home. Best money you’ll spend this month.

2.       Set a creative goal for the month. For me, that often means beginning a new fictional story. I also plan to complete a couple of paintings this month. When February rolls around, it may have been gray outside, but I’ll have something wonderful to show for the time spent indoors.

3.       While we’re talking about goals, this is a good time to set goals for the year. What do you want to accomplish? Get a list going. Put them on your calendar so they stay before you.

4.       Read a happy book. Or reread a happy book―nothing where someone gets a terminal disease. Anything by Jan Karon usually works ( or dare I suggest my recently released book, The Key To Everything). I especially loved Karon's  Come Rain, or Come Shine. Or read gardening books, if that works for you. If I can’t actually plant flowers, I can dream about what I will plant.

5.       Especially focus on what God is saying. That means keeping his word before you. So, make a point of reading your Bible and devos every day. Keep yourself spiritually strong. I often will jot a verse down and put it over the kitchen sink or on my desk. You’d be surprised how quickly that verse gets commited to memory.

6.       Try to keep the exercise going. Usually there’s at least part of a day that works for Lucy and me to make our rounds.

7.       Go to T.J. Maxx and study the new home furnishings (They do not pay me to say that). I don’t usually buy anything, but I get a few new ideas for how to freshen up what I already have. I can’t tell you how many times that involves spray paint. While reading a Martha Stewart Gardening book, I find she’s a big spray paint gal, too. Even made a couple of Styrofoam garden containers look like burnished copper with the stuff. Brightening the space you live in can help you and your family find a refuge against the cold in more ways than one.

8.       Take a class. My daughter is starting a new oil painting class this month. January is the time new art, gardening, Bible Study etc. classes usually begin, so check online to see who’s offering what. Many classes are very affordable or free.

9.        Be intentional about setting up lunch dates. It’s a good month to really connect with friends after the blur of December activity.

10.   Finally, put some thought on this verse, because I think it helps set the tone for the month. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse . . .  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:8-9).
Happy January, anyway!

The books:

 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

When the air turns toxic


My phone buzzed in my pocket. I pulled it out, saw it was my doctor’s office calling, and clicked it on.


“I have good news and bad news,” the nurse said. 

I held my breath.

“First, you don’t have pneumonia.”

I exhaled. That was good news.

“But you do have two broken ribs.”

Not much of a surprise. The pain caused from the cough induced breaks had grown exponentially worse in the past days. Earlier that morning, I texted a few friends and asked them to pray. Why could I not get well from the respiratory issue that had plagued me for a month? Round after round of antibiotics, three steroid shots, and doubling my inhalers for asthma didn’t seem to budge it.

Then a day later, our furnace went out. At the same time, I smelled natural gas in the house, so we called our gas provider.

When the gas company man emerged from the crawl space, he told us a switch had gone out on the furnace. He smelled gas, too, and discovered the exhaust pipe from the furnace had rusted through dumping carbon monoxide into our crawl space and our home. Only God knows for how long. We had a detector, which went bad a while back, and we intended to replace it, but . . .  

We were probably dealing with a low level of carbon monoxide but people with asthma like me, are particularly sensitive and the fact I was already sick made it worse. Even our dog Lucy had seemed lethargic. Jerry had been traveling some and does not suffer from asthma, so he was less obviously affected. Yet, who knows what the insidious gas may have been doing to him, as well.

We threw open doors and windows and aired out the house.

This whole episode made me think of another way we breathe toxic air--when criticisms and judgments are hurled our way.

Sure, we need to evaluate to see if there’s something to be learned from the comments but most of the time, we need to let them go. It’s hard not to take them to our heart. No denying the hurt is real. Creativesartists, writers, photographers, musicians are particularly susceptible because we’re putting things out for others to see. If you scan Amazon reviews, almost every author has a few bad reviews. The challenge is not to let those bad reviews , those hurtful comments take hold in our heart.

According to this source, hemoglobin in our blood adheres to carbon monoxide about “230 times stronger than it does to oxygen, which is a problem since carbon monoxide does not provide any benefit to the body. It doesn’t take much carbon monoxide in the air you breathe to get carbon monoxide poisoning and it takes a lot of oxygen to get rid of it. . “

In the same way, something in many of us wants to focus on the negative comment in a string of good ones. We latch on and won’t let go. We make a choice to hold on to the negative. Like carbon monoxide, those remarks don’t do one good thing for us and it’s going to take a whole lot of oxygen to get rid of them in our heads.
 
For the believer, oxygen is the truth of God.
 
 
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, graciousthe best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message).

We have to make a choice to focus on the truth and not let comments, sometimes from people we don’t even know, get to us.

Dr. Brené Brown in her book Daring Greatly offers a great tip to handling this, “Take a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you-those people who love you, not in spite of, but because of your vulnerabilities and imperfections. If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

I have God first on my one by one scrap and then family and friends who are in this life with me for the long haul, who love me unconditionally, and don't require performance for love. Then when someone launches(often trying to make themselves feel more important), I can pull out that scrap and check to see if their name is on the list. If it’s not . . . well, then, I’m moving on. Not breathing the toxic air.

I’m breathing easier now, in so many ways. Friends, I hope you are, too,  but on the practical side, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector!
 


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What's real right now


A friend is going through a difficult time. In fact, I have rarely known anyone who has faced circumstances that are more challenging. However, she is choosing to reframe those circumstances in the context of what good God might bring from themand how her thoughts might fall short of what God would want to do.

The situation makes me think of this verse, “No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it―what God has arranged for those who love him” (I Corinthians 2:8-10).

I don’t think those verses just apply to heaven out there, but also heaven breaking through here.
 


Legendary writer, Elizabeth Sherrill wrote a book entitled, All the Way to Heaven.  (recently rereleased as Surprised by Grace). About the book, she writes it is “the story of how heaven, which I used to think of as an imaginary realm-in-the-sky, has become more real to me than the ground beneath my feet. Real in the past, real for the future, and best of all, real right now.”

Real right now―even in the middle of pain and feeling the earth is shaking beneath our feet.

In her book, Elizabeth quotes Henri Nouwen, who ministered to those suffering intellectual and developmental disabilities, “The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. In the midst of the sorrows is consolation, in the midst of the darkness is light, in the midst of the despair is hope.”

Even our bleakest moments are not entirely without light. The glories of heaven pierce the shroud around us and reveal the goodness of God.

Some of you are going through those bleak times.  We look at the year stretching ahead and wonder how we’ll make it. But friends, no matter what happens, God is good. Heaven is not just pie-in-the-sky but is meeting us here in all of our hurting places. God offers his consolation, light and hope to us. It is real right now.

The last words of John Wesley were, “The best of all, God is with us.” Our heavenly Father never abandons us. He promises, “. . . surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

So here’s to a new year, and the things God has prepared for those who love him.

Here’s to heaven breaking through.

Let’s watch for it.   



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

If you lost a key, too!


“I can’t find my keys,” I called to Jerry as I searched through the sofa cushions.

“Did you look in the sofa,” he called back.

“That’s what I’m doing.” Yet, no keys.

Not in the sofa,  under the sofa, on the kitchen counter, in my office, under the car seats, or any number of other places including the trash bags I retrieved from the outside cans and plundered through. Mercy. Losing the keys should have been a clue my life was running a bit out of control.

 

I went to church that night where my little buddy McCoy offered to pray. “Oh Holy God, please help Miss Beverly find her keys. Amen.”

Later as I left church, my young friend Landry said, “Maybe you’re just not supposed to go anywhere right now.” We laughed but something about what he said grabbed me, like there was a thread of truth in the hyperbolic statement.

McCoy’s prayer worked and I did find my keys a few days later. In retracing my steps, I remembered I'd stopped at a grocery store. I called and sure enough I'd left them there. Don't even know how.

The morning of the dress rehearsal for the symphony chorus I sing with, I woke with something. I couldn’t even describe it. I didn’t have a fever, so I pushed through the weekend, but whatever that something was went into the next week. On the Wednesday I was to drive to Atlanta for a high school football state playoff to join Jerry who is the chaplain for the team, I knew I was weak and my breathing a little labored. I could have watched the game on TV, but no, I went. On the two-hour drive, I started wheezing, and by the time I reached Atlanta, it was so bad I knew I would not be able to walk from the parking garage to the stadium. I turned around and drove straight home to my doctor’s office.

It took another two weeks, an urgent care visit, an asthma specialist, and a whole lot of medicine to get things under control with my asthma worse than it had ever been. Frankly a little scary. Then two days after I began breathing easier, I developed vertigo, an unrelated issue. Then there’s the matter of the rib that’s moving because I coughed so much.

“Maybe you’re not supposed to go anywhere,” Landry said. Well, I haven’t been anywhere much for quite a while.

I’ve just been here thinking about the post I wrote a few weeks back about being a quart low, and wondering  how I did this againwore myself out that I became vulnerable to all kinds of stuff. Instead of a quart low, I think my oil pan has been leaking. The word hypocrite has dogged my heels because I guess I have done exactly the thing I said I would not do.

The words of someone else who struggled with this come to mind, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15-16). Amen, brother Paul. I want to slow it all down and enjoy the moment more, instead I ramp it up, taking on more than any human can do. Because of that, I not only missed that state playoff game to which I had so looked forward, I missed the play I help write and direct at church, I missed my writer’s group party and I missed just being with a lot of folks.  

I am contemplating what drastic changes I’m going to have to make so this doesn’t happen again. I can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. This has been years in the making. Years of adding just one more thing to my list--good things. Wonderful things. That's why I need the wisdom of God. I’m wondering if you’re reading this and seeing yourself in these lines. I’m thinking yes, because of the response I got after the quart low post. We love doing all the stuff and making Christmas special for others, but there has to be a way to celebrate Christmas without getting sick.


“. . . slow down and breathe tonight. Let the goodness and mercy that follows you every. single. day. of. your. life.—no. matter. what.—why not slow down and see how the goodness catches up to you? ‘I don’t have to work for the coming of the Lord--I don’t have to work for Christmas. The miracle is always that God is gracious. I always get my Christmas miracle. I get God with me. That’s really all I have to get for Christmas, and He doesn’t keep any truly good thing from me. Because the greatest things aren’t things! Jesus is all good, and He is all mine, and this is always my miracle—my greatest Gift!”

So, here’s to the New Year. It’s going to take more than a plan for a different result. It’s going to take a revolution of slowing down and seeking His presence most of all. And this doesn’t just have to do with Christmas. I can throw the hurry switch on a moment’s notice. I’ve never been a good slow person, but I’m going to learn. Somehow. Someway.

Of all the keys I’ve lost, maybe this key of slowing down is the one I most need to find, so thanks McCoy for that prayer. It meant more than you knew.

Slow down with me, friends. Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

No ponderings today, but since I sing with a symphony chorus, I wanted to share a piece from our recent Christmas concert--one of my favorites,"Little Drummer Boy." More of the performances from this wonderful concert are available on the same you tube channel.

From our house to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

 
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Gifts of comfort and love


Last Christmas I opened one of my packages from Jerry and found these inside:

 

Two Christmas themed handkerchiefs he saw me admiring in a gift store. He went back and bought them for me―a sweet gesture.

I love vintage handkerchiefs and ones that appear vintage. I have a whole box I’ve collected over the years, many with handmade lace.

One of them inspired the handkerchief noted in this excerpt of The Key to Everything.     

          “Harriet eased from the exam table and gave Genny a hug. 
 'Hurting people hurt people. But first things, first, honey.’ Harriet took a lace-edged handkerchief from her pocket and offered it to Genny.

            Genny stared at it a moment, the lace appearing to have been handmade. It was almost too beautiful to use, but she dabbed her eyes anyway not wanting to reject Harriet’s offer.

            Harriet fixed her gaze right on her. ‘Remember what I said about the legacy. You think about what your grandmother went through.’

            Genny nodded. It was a lot to forgive . . .”

You’ll have to read the book to learn what Genny found a lot to forgive.

But as for the handkerchief, it sends me back to another time, when time and love went into the crafting of them. They often found their way into the hands of a bride, a special purse, or brought comfort in drying a tear.

For many years, my husband would hand out his handkerchief at the altar when praying with someone. Many later confessed they kept the handkerchiefs. One woman who flew home to be with a sick relative took it with her on the trip. There were so many stories like this.

After my dad died, I was going through a coat of his and found one of his handkerchiefs. I cried when I found it and consider it one of my most precious possessions.

The Christmas handkerchief with bells is on my desk. Of course, this blog is called One Ringing Bell, and when I see that handkerchief, I’m reminded to ring out the good news in my writing.

So here I am doing just that, ringing those Christmas bells, and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace . . . " (Luke 2:14). And I’m praying you, my friends,  would both give and receive gifts this Christmas that bear God’s comforting power and speak of His love.


Today, as part of the Anaiah Authors 12 days of giveaways, I am giving away a digital copy of The Key to Everything, a mug, a bookmark, a small chalkboard, and a scarf.  Click on this link to register.http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/afb0250b6/?

And please consider Faith in the Fashion District or The Key to Everything for those on your Christmas list.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

When you could be cheated out of giving (and a giveaway)


The forecasters weren’t doing us any favors. Predictions called for frozen precipitation from winter storm Diego this past weekend the dates scheduled for our community symphony and chorus Christmas concerts. We’d been practicing for months and foregoing the opportunity to realize the fruit of that practice made us all a little sad.
 
 

I’ve always seen these weekends as a great big gift to our community. The tickets are free and once they become available, thousands of them are gone in less than an hour. It is a tradition for many families to attend the concerts together. Several in my own family as well as friends planned to attend.

But the bad weather threat continued to hang over us. We prayed for a reprieve from it.

It made me think of something my pastor friend Warren wrote to me decades ago when he was mentoring me back from the train wreck I’d made of my life. 

“It’s a terrible thing to be cheated out of giving,” he penned.

Oh, how those words stung when I read them. Unlike the situation with the weather which was out of our control, it was my own selfish actions that had caused me to be cheated out of giving. A deep resolve formed in me not to allow that to happen again.

Paul quotes Jesus in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Seeing the joy a gift is to others does indeed bring a huge blessing to us. In this season of giving, it’s nice to stop and remember why we do what we do. We love because He first loved us. We give because He first gave to us.

It turned out that the snowy weather went a little north of us and our concerts went on as scheduled. The audiences seemed delighted they were able to open their gift from us.

As for us, when the last note had been played and sung, we went home full of Christmas wonder and gratitude because we were able to give. 

And speaking of giving, I'm having another giveaway this week on my blog. Please comment here or on Facebook to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Faith in the Fashion District and a mug. And please consider Faith in the Fashion District or The Key to Everything for those on your Christmas list. The contest ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2018.

The contest is closed. Susan Davis is the winner of a copy of Faith in the Fashion District and a mug. Congrats!!
 

Also, this Thursday begins the giveaway with Anaiah authors. Please join my new  page, Beverly Varnado Readers Page,  here  to keep up with the giveaways.



 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you're running a quart low


I can still see my dad back when I was in college with his head under the hood of my car. He’d unscrew the radiator cap and check the water, tug on hoses to make sure they looked good and occasionally say when pulling the oil stick out, “You’re running a quart low. Go to the service station right now and get a quart. “ That was back when gas stations pumped your gas and did things like clean your windshield and check your oil. My dad, however, didn’t want me heading  out of town to college without scrutinizing my car himself.

It’s that time of the year again, and I sense my heavenly Father saying, “You’re running a quart low. You need to stop what you’re doing and get your tank replenished.”

Last year after Christmas, when I suffered from shingles six weeks at the first of the year, I made a decision I would not allow myself to get under the kind of stress again that would cause diminished health. But even with all the safeguards I‘ve tried to establish, still I’m running a quart low.

A quart low of what?

In my experience, stress diminishes our joy.

 
  
How ironic that joy is the very thing the angels announced the good news would bring us, and yet the stress in our attempts to celebrate this good news decreases our joy. Mercy.

Nehemiah said, “. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

When the joy starts draining out of us, we can become weak and vulnerable, so how do we replenish?

By taking the time to rest, to pray, and offer our gratitude to the Lord.

I can hear you saying the same thing I say, “Oh, I’m too busy this time of year. I’ll pray more in January.”

That was true for me after this past Christmas when I was confined to the house for a week because the shingles caused me to be contagious for chicken pox. I sure did pray more in January.

So, here’s my plan:

1.       Pray more now rather than later.

2.       Stop and give thanks for all God is doing.

3.       Be present in the moment rather than planning for another day.

4.       Try to stop being in a hurry all the time, one of my biggest challenges.

5.       Pare my list down to something doable rather than working off one that stretches into infinity.

 I hope this Christmas season, I can allow God to pour the oil of joy into my life and stay strong. I pray you will, too, friend. 

Consider Faith in the Fashion District for those on your Christmas list--the story of how One Woman's Life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry.

 

 Also we have giveaways coming up including The Key to Everything. Please watch my Facebook page, Beverly Varnado Author, for more information.


 
 





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