Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sometimes, we need a Farley

I have especially enjoyed the stories my friend, Pat, shares about her Farley. So, Jerry and I  went out to meet him this week. And before I go any further, let me say this is not a political post. This is about a four legged critter and his Biblical ancestor.
 
 

 
Pat's Palomino, Hudson, wanted to get into the picture, too, and gave our photographer, Jerry, a little fun trouble.
Photo courtesy Pat Daugherty

Farley, like all donkeys bears a cross on his back, the legend being Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and later the donkey followed Him to the cross, its shadow falling on his back.

 
 

I appreciate the Biblical story of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam heads to a place that is at best God’s permissive will and not according to God’s original direction. Unseen to Balaam, an angel with a sword stands in his way and the donkey maneuvers to save Balaam. Not understanding the donkey's actions, Balaam beats the donkey. That’s when my favorite part happens.

The donkey speaks to Balaam. “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” (Numbers 22:28).

Shades of Mr. Ed (a cultural reference that’s sure to date me).

Weird, but what happens next is weirder.

Balaam engages in conversation with his donkey. “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now”(Numbers 22:29).

The donkey responds, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”(Numbers 22:30).

Then the Lord opens Balaam’s eyes to see the donkey was saving his life.

Sometimes, we need a donkey.

We’re headed off toward trouble, pushing for our own way, and God allows something to stop us in our tracks. We’ll blame circumstances, our boss, weather, friends, anything, but we still won’t see the real issue.

Then a seeming donkey, or a vessel equally bizarre, speaks.
 
Even then, we’ll argue.

I’m thankful God is patient with us, but watch out for those times God speaks through what seems like only a donkey. God may be saving us from what we can't yet see.

Farley didn’t talk to me, but I could tell he was thinking about it.
 
 






photo courtesy Pat Daugherty

 


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


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

List or Legacy?



 
 
Several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Rusty Wright speak. Rusty is an award winning author, lecturer and syndicated columnist who writes much about connecting God’s grace to everyday life.

One of his mantras is to live intentionally.

It’s much easier to take life as it comes, but to live intentionally, we have to step back for the long look.

For some, this might result in the formulation of a bucket list. The popularity of this approach is evidenced by books that offer a list of things to do before we die.
 
There’s nothing wrong with a list, but if we are to make a difference for a people yet to be born, our lives will inspire others to seek and love God.

Living lives of worship, prayer, and Bible study is foremost but ultimately, we need to put feet on our words.

I know a woman in her seventies who through her writing is trying to reach as many people as she can in her lifetime with the Good News. A classmate from high school helps build houses for the poor, living out her Christian faith in a tangible way. Another of our friends continues to invest his time in the lives of the homeless. A couple of other church friends pour themselves into a food ministry for struggling families. We know missionaries approaching their sixties who are still on foreign soil. Another couple close to us invests much of their time and resources to fund a ministry and seminary in a country suffering financial collapse. Others spend their time mentoring. My own husband flunked retirement and continues in ministry speaking four or five times a week. 

I have heard parents say their legacy is through their children, and that can be true, but it doesn’t mean we get a pass for the years after the kids become adults.

My neighbor, Betty, has been teaching children at church for fifty-six years. She is eighty-six and one of the liveliest people I know. So for all of us who have said, let someone younger do it, well, sorry. Betty inspires me to keep at it doing whatever God calls me to do as long as I have breath to do it.

So, here is the bottom line. Writing a check isn’t enough. We need to be investing ourselves in God’s work with our time and our lives, intentionally doing that until we see Jesus.

So, what will it be―list or legacy? Why don’t we all take a step back and ask God this very dangerous question, “Lord, what do you want me to do with the rest of my life?”

I am convinced God will answer.

Speaking of legacy, Eugene Peterson died yesterday. He left a huge legacy for generations to come in his Bible translation, The Message. I end with a verse from Psalm 78:4 in Peterson’s translation: “We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation―God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.”




The books:
 

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

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.  

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