Wednesday, October 17, 2018

At the Anaiah Press Blog Today

I'm slipping in this morning to share I'm over at the Anaiah Press Blog today with a post entitled, "If You're Longing for a Sense of Place." I'm so thankful for this publisher of The Key to Everything and honored to write for their blog.

HERE for Anaiah Press Blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Miscommunication?


While getting ready for a woman’s brunch at church, I needed to find an easel I’d seen us use before.

The garland and flower on my table at the brunch are made of old manuscript pages from my books.


I searched every closet in the building and found one easel, but couldn’t locate the nice decorative one.

I decided to ask a woman I’ll call Glenda, who had been at the church earlier that day and always seems to know the exact whereabouts of any item there.

“Do you know where nice easel is?” I texted.

No response.

Maybe she didn’t see it, I thought, so I texted again, “Nice easel?”

In a moment I received a text that went something like this, “Hmmm, no. Could it be on Elm St in shopping center where pottery place is?”

Cue Twilight Zone music. What?

Then another text, “Atlanta or Marietta?”

I shook my head and punched Glenda’s name in my contacts to call her. “What in the world are you saying? I’m looking for an easel for the brunch tomorrow.”

Cackling on the other end. “I thought you were looking for a store called Nice Easel.”

Neither one of us could speak for howling with laughter.

Later that day, I was telling Jerry about the crazy easel texts.

He studied me a moment with a blank expression. “What eagle are you talking about?”

I wish I could say he was joking. He wasn’t. You know those little videos people send in text messages? Insert the one with the person banging their head against the desk here.

Well, I never found the easel . . . or the eagle, for that matter, but I do have some good news.

Jeremiah 29:13 reads, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

God promises that when we search for Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him.

We don’t have to plunder all the closets or phone a friend; we simply come to Him in prayer giving Him all that we are.

So, if you’ve been feeling you're in a cacophony of confusion yourself, please know the path to God is clear.  

And that, my friend, is no miscommunication.

 The books:
 
https://www.amazon.com/Beverly-Varnado/e/B00QQRRID8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1539621124&sr=8-1
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

What I learned from a sportscaster about showing up

I get to do so many amazing things because of Jerry being a former college football player as well as a pastor. One of them happened last week. Jerry and I found our seats only a few feet away from the head table for a meeting of an organization that supports college football. Jerry is their chaplain, but I had never been before and was really excited about the event.


The group usually invites college or pro football coaches, players, or sportscasters to be their speakers, but tonight was different. ESPN reporter, Holly Rowe would speakthe first woman to do so in the gathering’s seventy-three year history.

The circumstances were so remarkable, Holly took a selfie with all of us.
 
 

 
She regaled us with her stories of college football players and coaches. But for me, her most inspiring words were what she shared about her cancer journey.

Diagnosed with melanoma three years ago, she had surgery and chemo. During the time of losing her hair, she kept going to games. She didn’t stop when she had a subsequent tumor under her arm removed. She did sideline interviews with drainage tubes and bags taped to her chest. No one she interviewed ever knew. She just kept showing up.

As a cancer survivor, I understood the whole drainage tube thing, which I have had to deal with several times. It’s tricky business to hide them so no one knows.

Then tumors were discovered in her lungs.

She chose not to tell her employer, afraid she might be benched because of liability issues.

She didn’t miss a football Saturday that fall while in treatment and went into the women’s basketball season. She followed that with being a commentator for women’s gymnastics teaming up with now Georgia women’s gymnastics coach, Courtney Kupets. She offered the insight that if she had sat down, she would have missed getting to know Courtney.

Again, she just kept showing up.

All of this reminds me of a book I have read dozens of timesHealed of Cancer by Dodie Osteen, Joel Osteen’s mother.

Diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the liver in 1981, doctors gave her six weeks to live and sent her home to die. Instead of accepting the diagnosis, she kept going. She meditated on scripture daily, visited others who were sick, continued with her household duties, and refused to accept the dire prediction.  She kept showing up in every area of her life and she is still doing that today, thirty-seven years later.

One of my favorite quotes, which you’ve heard here before is from Oswald Chambers. “…our Lord came . . . taking the spiritual initiative against . . . despair and said, in effect, ‘Get up, and do the next thing.’ You may feel weak, inadequate, discouraged, even hopeless, but do the next thing as much as it is possible for you. In every small way you are able to do this, God will meet you there.

So, thank you Holly Rowe for the reminder to keep showing up.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
 


So grateful for all God is doing with Faith in the Fashion District--how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry. If you don't have a copy  or need one for a gift, HERE. 


The Key to Everything has just released as an ebook. Available HERE.
A key can open more than a door. 

A story of forgiveness.  
 

 

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

After the butterflies have flown


The butterflies are gone now, but this one with pollen dusted wings posed for me just before his exit. I’m no expert, but I believe it’s a Red Spotted Purple.

 

When the butterflies have flown, the garden sleepsthe four o’clocks die back, the roses close up shop.

 
Flowers drop their seeds, which lie dormant until temperatures and rain bring them to life in the spring.

That Red Spotted Purple will spend the winter as a larva and emerge again when temperatures warm.


My Japanese Magnolia like many flowering trees has already set its buds and will be the first tree to flower next February or March right along with the daffodils.

So when the butterflies have flown, the promise remains. When fall sets in for good, and winter looms ahead, it’s good to remember spring will once more roll around and all that’s happening now is setting the stage for what will happen.

In our lives, when all the bright colors seem to have disappeared, God’s promises remain to keep up our hope.

A few to ponder:

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken . . . “ (Psalm 125:1)

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”  (Proverbs 18:10).

“The Lord is my light and my salvationwhom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

“He has sent me . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1,3).

“We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:18).

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

When John Newton wrote Amazing Grace, he included a line, “His word my hope secures.” That line comes from Psalm 130, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Newton knew the power of God’s promises.

If the butterflies seem to have gone for you, make your own list of promises. I chose the ones above from many promises underlined in my Bible and if I had to choose my top ten, there would be way more than ten in that list.

Again, I use one of my favorite quotes from Priscilla Shirer, “God is at work right now doing something for you that you cannot do for yourself.”

Keep up your hope, friend, even when you can't see.


So grateful for all God is doing with Faith in the Fashion District--how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry. If you don't have a copy  or need one for a gift, HERE. 


The Key to Everything has just released as an ebook. Available HERE.
A key can open more than a door. 

A story of forgiveness.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When You Need to See Again.

I’m writing over at the Anaiah Press Blog today so please join me HERE for When You Need to See Again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Writing for the Anaiah Press Blog this week


When Anaiah Press offered me a contract last fall for The Key to Everything, I didn’t know much about them, but what a blessing they have been. Instead of my usual post on Tuesday this week, I’m writing for the Anaiah Press Blog on Wednesday. I'll  link to it here, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’d love to have you slip over to the blog of fellow Anaiah Press author, Laurie Wood who interviewed me on her blog this past weekend. The link is HERE. Thank you so much for reading.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Running toward chaos

A well-respected pastor I know, Dr. Brian Clark, says as Christians, “We should run toward chaos, not away from it.”

Brian knows our natural inclination when we see calamity gathering steam is to fly from it. It takes an act of the will and God’s abundant grace to choose to move toward it.

Here in the South, we have abundant chaos.

Hurricane Florence ravaged coastal cities and inland her destructive path has left many areas underwater.  Wilmington N.C., isolated by floodwaters needs food and water airlifted into the area. Rivers still on the rise from torrential rains threaten to set historic records.

Here in Georgia, at first we thought Florence might take a swipe at us, but forecasts changed and she moved more toward the east and north. With sunny skies today, it might be easy to forget our neighbors are living a nightmare.

But let’s not do that. God would call us to run toward this chaos.

One of my favorite ways to do this is through Samaritan’s Purse who addition to their Operation Christmas Child efforts also provides disaster relief.

That’s why I was especially excited to be asked to submit to several collections through Grace Publishing. Authors receive no royalties through these collections and all proceeds are donated to Samaritan’s Purse.

Just last week, the newest collection released, Moments with Billy Graham. When I read the subtitle, I criedAmerica’s preacher whose ministry led to our changed lives. Those words certainly reflect the way I felt about Billy Graham in the piece I wrote for the collection.

I have two new books out, Faith in the Fashion District and The Key to Everything, and yes, yes, yes, please buy them, but now I’m asking you to buy Moments with Billy Graham. Billy Graham’s ministry will continue to change lives through this collection as the proceeds go out to provide relief.
 
In a statement on the Samaritan’s Purse website, I found CEO Franklin Graham echoes the theme of this post, “We don't run from disasters – we run to them. We go to help people in Jesus' Name. We work all over the world like this. And in every heartbreaking situation, I hear people from all walks of life say: ‘We’re just glad we have our lives and each other,’ and, ‘My faith in God is the one thing that’s giving me hope.’”

Billy Graham’s daughter, Gigi, wrote the forward to this collection and in a few weeks, I hope to have the privilege of meeting her at a special presentation in Asheville.

So friends, here’s an opportunity to do one small thing to run toward chaos  and also read amazing testimonies of how Billy Graham’s ministry has changed lives.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

HERE for Moments with Billy Graham.
HERE for more about Samaritan's Purse and volunteering with them.

If you are reading this on your phone and would like to explore more at One Ringing Bell, scroll to click on the web version  at the bottom of the screen.

So grateful for all God is doing with Faith in the Fashion District--how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry. If you don't have a copy  or need one for a gift, HERE. 



The Key to Everything has just released as an ebook. Available HERE.
A key can open more than a door. 

A story of forgiveness.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Living with Loss



 
This sweet picture is of my husband Jerry being kissed by his precious daughter, Alden. She passed into the arms of Jesus many years ago. Today on September 11 as we reflect and remember a day of tragic loss, I’ve asked Jerry to guest post using a version of a message he recently preached. More than anyone I know who has suffered terrible tragedy, my husband lives in the power of the Lord. Our hope is this post  will bring help and healing for those still suffering in the wake of heartbreak. Welcome to One Ringing Bell my beloved husband. Thank you for sharing.

Forty years ago, August 29, 1978, was the worst day of my lifethe day my eight year old daughter, Alden, died from injuries sustained in an accident.

I was no stranger to personal loss. I remember as if it were yesterday one Tuesday afternoon in late November when I was a graduate assistant football coach at UGA. I was making final preparations for practice before the annual Georgia-Georgia-Tech freshman game when Coach Erskine Russell came in the office to tell me my father, only forty-seven years old, died of a heart attack. At twenty-three, I was not prepared to live without my Dad, but I felt I needed to be strong for my mom. I played the tough guy role, pushing beyond. Then, my mother died seven years later after a short battle with cancer.

The death of my daughter was different. This was my child, my first-born, a special delight in my life. This loss was a deep, dark hole from which I thought I would never again see the light of joy. The pain was so bad I wanted to die, but I had a wife and a younger daughter who needed my support. I could not fold up and quit. The gumption, which came from athletic training kept me moving, but it was not balm for my soul. It did not illumine my darkness or heal my hurting heart. It only kept me moving.

Two years to the day after my daughter’s death, August 29, 1980, my best friend died in his sleep. He was only in his forties. At the same time, my marriage failed and I felt very alone, my dark hole had gotten much deeper and darker.  On a bridge behind my home, I met with my friend Jim and asked him how much pain must I endure before God would let me die. Jim told me God loved me and on that same day, August 29, I prayed a prayer of surrender with Jim and asked God to help me live again. After we said Amen, in an instant of time, I felt joy I had not experienced in two years.
 

From these experiences, here are things I learned in recovering from and living with devastating loss.

1.      Remember and celebrate the one you’ve lost. I failed to do this at first and it made things worse. I took pictures of Alden down and felt guilty for ignoring the fact she lived.

2.      Allow yourself to grieve. I didn’t. We have to go through the process of grief. It is easier if we cooperate with the process. A good resource for this is Good Grief by Ganger Westberg. The book helps us understand what we’re going through and not get stuck in any stage of grief.

3.      Don’t Blame God. I was quick to blame God, when I had not given Him the time of day for over a decade. I knew things about Him, but didn’t know Him. If I had, I would have known God is not the author of death but of life. Assessing blame toward God separates us from our only hope of healing.

4.      Don’t Blame Yourself. Most of us try to blame someone. If we don’t have a good prospect, we’ll probably blame ourselves. Even if we are guilty of some judgment lapse, we make mistakes, which brings us to the next point.

5.      Forgive. We must forgive everyone, everything, if we want to be free and appropriate God’s power to help us live with loss.

6.      Humble Ourselves Before God. When I prayed that prayer of surrender, I asked God to give me the faith of a little child. My younger daughter, Mari, and I were driving from Laramie, Wyoming to Denver to fly home the day of my best friend’s death. I couldn’t stop crying, and Mari would wipe the tears from my face with my handkerchief and say, “Daddy, don’t cry, now Alden has a friend in heaven. “ I wanted that faith and in an instant God gave it to me. Death was losing its grip on me as I surrendered myself to the one who overcame death.

The next morning I got out the pictures of Alden and began to celebrate her life and remember the good times we shared. I cried, but this time, they were tears of joy. Now, I not only believed in God, I believed God, so I began to see my loss as temporary. We will be together again, and friends that’s the hope that keeps me going and gives me joy.





So grateful for all God is doing with Faith in the Fashion District--how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry. If you don't have a copy  or need one for a gift, HERE. 



The Key to Everything has just released as an ebook. Available HERE.
 
A key can open more than a door. 

A story of forgiveness.  




 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

When you need to hear about a miracle


 
My phone dinged as we sailed down Interstate 85 near Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta.  

An eighteen-wheeler whizzed close as I clicked on my cell and read the text.

I took a deep breath before I told Jerry. “Things are not going well.” A friend’s mama underwent open-heart surgery, and though she had the best of care, the situation went south.

After many hours in the operating room, the medical staff emerged in the evening to notify the family she might not make it through the night.

The word went out, and so many friends bombarded heaven on her behalf.

The next morning when we returned from out of town, we found she had not only made it through the night, but also stabilized.

Grateful, we continued to pray, as we also counted days.

Two, three, four, five . . .

She never awakened.

Another woman down the hall passed in the night.

We mourned her life cut short. Hearts heavy.

Six, Seven . . .

On day eight, the medical staff allowed two more days before decisions had to be made regarding life support.

Tears flowed and knees bent. The time ticked down.

On Sunday morning as we rode to church, the car quiet, Jerry and I prayerful, he said, “Wouldn’t Sunday morning be a great time for her to wake? That’s what Jesus did.” I thought of Jesus transcending the bonds of death and the  words Paul wrote that we prayed the afternoon before as we stood by her beside, “. . . just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). That same glory, that same power resides in all those who name His name for their salvation (Romans 8:11).

Yes, Sunday morning would be a great time.

A couple of hours pass . . . another text . . . a critical time.

We fly to the intensive care unit.
 
 

Our first sight, a family member in the hall, talking on the phone, mouthing two words to us. “She’s up.”

“She’s up?” we question believing, yet unbelieving.

He nods.

We rush into the room, her eyes flutter, and her gaze focuses on us. She half smiles.

She’s up, all right.

Waking up.

Raising up.

Speaking up.

Getting up.

Healing up.

All because God never gives up. 

On Sunday morning, we witness God’s resurrection glory and power, how it cracks the grip of death and super charges a mortal body.

No fake news here.

God is still God. Jesus is still Jesus.

If you need “up” for yourself or someone else, don’t you give up, either.
 
No, it doesn't happen like this every time. We know this and can't explain the why, but we also know every time God is faithful.

So, friends, if you need to hear about a miracle today, well, here it is.

Glory be to God!
 

So grateful for all God is doing with Faith in the Fashion District--how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry. If you don't have a copy  or need one for a gift, HERE. 




Also coming soon on September 17, the digital release of The Key to Everything. A key can open more than a door.







Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Wood Stork and being all there


In my peripheral vision, movement in the marshsomething big. I braked the spinning wheels of my bike to a halt trying to be quiet, and flipped the kickstand down. Pulling my cell phone from the bike bag, I hoped the zipper noise didn’t carry too far.

I crept over to the marsh edge to see this big guy ambling along searching for breakfast.








A crab scurried in the wake of an outgoing tide and the three-foot tall bird snatched him up. Yum.

I didn’t have my bird guide with me, so I wasn’t sure who this was, but later determined he was a Wood Stork. My first sighting.

For me, it’s a treat to see what I haven’t seen before, to experience the thrill of discovery. I sometimes sense God saying, “What do you think about this creation of mine?”

“I think he’s great, God. How did you come up with this big guy and his lanky legs?”

In these kinds of moments, I usually sense God’s presence in a powerful way.

Beloved Elizabeth Elliot has said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

When I can bring the spinning wheels of my life to a halt and get quiet, I often see amazing things, too, just like I did in the marsh that day. When I can be in the moment, instead of always plunging into or planning the next one, I make discoveries, sometimes things I have never seen.

God is really working on me in this regard. It’s been a lifelong struggle. I have an event calendar that is beginning to rumble a bit. Not too much, but enough so that I’m already struggling with being anxious over what’s on the calendar two months out. Really? Why do I do that, because while I am, I’m missing all that’s happening around me now?

Again, this has been going on a while, but I am determined to get into a place where I don’t waste the joys of now. It seems a tiny door I have to squeeze through, but really it’s all about letting go and letting God be God.

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

If you have a few moments on Thursday morning, Aug. 30, I’m being interviewed on Morning Coffee with Lori Duke Jones on WCHM.com at 7:05 a.m. We’ll be talking about Faith in the Fashion District.

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