Tuesday, October 27, 2020

When you're looking for a new season

November 6, I have a new Christmas novella releasing, A Season for Everything. The story is about two characters that are challenged to move on after having suffered through very difficult years. As you might imagine, the scripture used in the book comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

I know many of us are growing weary in this present season of difficulties. At one point in the book, a character thinks it feels as if some seasons never end. There’s probably not one person on the planet who hasn’t thought that in 2020.

I first remember hearing this verse from Psalm 30:5 when it was quoted to me by a spiritual mentor more than forty years ago, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

There has been much to grieve this year―friends and loved ones who have passed, relationships that have suffered, too much time away from family, lonely days for many, political strife, a pandemic that just keeps going and so much more.

But friends, joy is coming. And not just in heaven. The great hymn writer, Isaac Watts, called the “Father of English Hymnody” once wrote in “Marching to Zion” (Come We that Love the Lord), “The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets before we reach the heavenly fields, or walk the golden streets.” It’s one of my favorite verses in any hymn. I find Watts included this verse so that the song might communicate both the joys of heaven and also “the blessings of God on earth.” One writer wrote, “This hymn gives us the opportunity to express the beauty of the life we are living, as well as looking forward to what is to come.” 

If these 2020 hills are going to yield something sweet, it’s because God’s people are praying and hoping and believing. God is at work this side of heaven, even when it may not seem apparent.

Of this I am sure―there truly is a season for everything.

May his joy be yours, friends.

The book cover for A Season for Everything released yesterday. Hoping this book brings a little bit of Christmas to you when it releases November 6. If you haven't read the other books in the series they are HERE. 

The preorder page for A Season for Everything has just gone live. It is HERE. 

 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

When life seems upside down or backwards

The eighty-five pound Lucy in the cat bed and the twelve pound cat, Wilbur,  in the dog bed.

I came across this post in the archives this week while searching for something else and Paul's words seem especially poignant for today. I updated the photo, which used to be Lucy and our poodle Charlie who is no longer with us. Some things never change as I found Lucy and Wilbur in almost the exact circumstance. And yes, during this politically charged pandemic, so much seems upside down, but his unfolding grace continues and what is eternal never changes. Many blessings, friends.

Ever had one of those weeks? Maybe it’s one of them now.

So what goes down the drain should stay down. Right?

Had some plumbing problems, and we thought they were resolved.

I went upstairs to straighten a closet, and in the few minutes I was gone,  when I returned downstairs, I found the washing machine had emptied twice all over the hardwood floors we installed only a couple of years ago. 

I waded to the laundry room, grabbed several beach towels, fell on my hands and knees, and started mopping gallons and gallons of soapy water toward the back door.

I didn’t even stop to call Jerry, only kept praying, “Oh, Lord, don’t let this water ruin the floors.”

A neighbor friend called. I answered robotically, “Can’t go for a walk--can’t talk--have to keep mopping.”

She arrived a few minutes later with a mound of towels in her hand and mopped, too.

When I finally had a moment to call Jerry, he came straight home and went to work unstopping the blockage that had evidently resulted because of our prior problem.

Exhausted, with the water finally pushed out, and windows and doors open to let air circulate, my neighbor and I had a few moments to sit.

Jerry turned on the water to a pulsing bulb mechanism he’d slipped into the plumbing, and the pipes bellowed wild moaning sounds.

Soaked to the skin from the knees down after becoming human sponges, my friend and I melted into laughter.

 The Apostle Paul wrote, “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17 The Message).

A rainbow of assorted beach towels took two days to dry on the patio grill—the aftermath of our unfortunate plumbing fiasco. And though the hardwood floors threatened to buckle at some of the seams, after a few hours with a fan blowing on them and a little time to dry, they seem to be calming down a bit.

Someone will probably buy this house one day, rip out the floors we worked so hard to save and install the latest thing they’ve seen on HGTV. As Paul said, “…here today, gone tomorrow…”

In the future, I’m most likely not going to remember how important it was to rescue the floors, but I’ll remember the crazy vibrato of the plumbing, and the laughter my friend and I shared.

I’m latching onto His unfolding grace and keeping what’s eternal in my sites even and especially in this upside down, backwards week. Because Paul’s right, this stuff doesn’t matter compared to what God’s bringing in our future.

 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for me. The release date for my new Christmas novella, A Season for Everything, has been changed to November 6. I am so thrilled for this and am looking for a team of people who will help me promote the book. If  you like writing book reviews, are on social media, and would like an advance free digital copy of the book, please contact me through my website HERE, private message me on my author page HERE, or contact me through Instagram @BeverlyVarnado. Spots are limited, so thank you for responding quickly.

The Cover Reveal of A Season for Everything is coming October 26. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

20 Years and Counting


That photo above taken a couple of days before I had the big surgery to deal with my breast cancer diagnosis captures a moment frozen in time for me. That day, so many questions hung in the air. Would the surgery deal with the problem? Would there be a reoccurrence? Was this a hereditary cancer? There were many more riddles, but the one that loomed largest in my mind was would I live to see those children reach adulthood?

And here I am. Twenty years later and counting. The answers to those questions are yes, no, no, and a great big YES.

Every year, I try to write at least one post in gratitude for all God has done and as an encouragement to those just being diagnosed.

As I wrote last year in my Relay for Life post, when I was first diagnosed, I needed to see someone who had made it awhile. I searched for survivor sashes at Relay with multiple pins. Today, my sash is heavy with pins. I want that to be an encouragement to those of you who are living with many questions as I was the night that photo was taken.

It is for sure because of the grace of God I am here, but I must give a shout out to incredibly skilled doctors who set me on this course―doctors whom God is continuing to use to save lives. I also salute researchers who are in the labs day after day, year after year doing work that no one sees at the time but has the potential to change everything. I was one of the first in this area to benefit from sentinel node mapping which has saved many women from dealing with lifelong issues surrounding lymph node removal. Research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute led to this remarkable discovery.

The actual twenty-year anniversary was back in May but at that time we were dealing with many issues, it seemed the wrong time to write a post like this. But, now, even though we are still dealing with much, I felt that I would be remiss in not posting during breast cancer awareness month. In my area, because of Covid, preventive mammograms were suspended for a time, but now they are up and running again. I’ve just scheduled mine. Early detection gave me such a good prognosis, so if you women haven’t had yours this year, please do so.

One of the verses God gave me at the time of my diagnosis which brought me much hope was, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters” (Psalm 18:16). We know people at this moment who are in those deep waters. Our continuing prayer for those of you in that circumstance is that you would sense God’s hand on you and that He would indeed draw you out. With him, nothing is impossible.

For the rest of us, let’s put on our pink shirts, schedule our mammograms, and encourage those who might be dealing with a diagnosis. Due to the pandemic, many of the research related fund raising events were canceled this year, so you might consider donating to one of them.

So, thank you Jesus, for these twenty years. Glory be to God!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for me. The release date for my new Christmas novella, A Season for Everything, has been changed to November 6―a month earlier than originally planned. I am so thrilled for this, but the time to prepare is short. I’m looking for a team of people who will help me promote the book. If  you like writing book reviews, are on social media, and would like an advance free digital copy of the book, please contact me through my website HERE, private message me on my author page HERE, or contact me through Instagram @BeverlyVarnado. Spots are limited, so thank you for responding quickly.

The Cover Reveal of A Season for Everything is coming October 26. 



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Wobbly knees and when it's all over but the shouting

I'm reposting this piece I wrote several years ago. As we face these challenging times, I thought it might resonate. I love the pictures of these 150 year old live oaks on the Georgia coast that have stood through many storms. The hard winds have blown against them but they are still reaching for the sky. Good images to have in our minds as the winds blow against us. 
The prophet Isaiah wrote about knees. So did the apostle Paul. They knew there’d be times when our limbs would quake. We’d open our eyes to the events of the day and find it hard to stand.


 
“Strengthen the rubbery knees,” Isaiah writes (Isaiah 35:3 The Message). Paul echoed Isaiah’s words in Hebrews 12, “. . . strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Perhaps it’s a time of discipline that’s left you wobbly, as it was when Paul wrote these words to the Hebrews. Or maybe, it has nothing to do with a choice you made. Maybe, it’s a boatload of stuff you didn’t see coming at all. One event after another blindsided you —a health diagnosis, a financial reversal, a family heartache. You’re tottering, looking for something to hold, trying to breathe. Maybe, you face a challenge larger than anything you've ever dreamed, and overwhelmed doesn't begin to describe the way you feel.

Isaiah went on with consoling words for those who are having trouble staying upright. “Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right.’”

He’s right here. He hasn’t lost your address or forgotten he made you. Though your knees are shaking, you’re still standing. In that critical chapter Paul wrote about putting on the armor of God, he says, “ Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet”(Ephesians 6:13).

Years ago, when the tragic loss of a friend to suicide coupled with a trauma from the past led to posttraumatic stress, one of the first and the most enduring symptoms I had was shaking knees. And though God has brought immense healing to my life, still today, if a piece of my armor gets loose, and I don’t allow God to shoulder burdens with me, that symptom sneaks back in. It’s a way God allows my body to indicate I’m not allowing the Lord to do what only He can do.

So, friend, like you, some days with my wobbly knees, I’m just standing. But, when it’s “all over but the shouting,” standing for the glory of God is a great thing, and remember, He's right here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in September for me. The release date for my new Christmas novella, A Season for Everything, has been changed to November 6―a month earlier than originally planned. I am so thrilled for this, but the time to prepare is short. I’m looking for a team of people who will help me promote the book. If  you like writing book reviews, are on social media, and would like an advance free digital copy of the book, please contact me through my website HERE, private message me on my author page HERE, or contact me through Instagram @BeverlyVarnado. Spots are limited, so thank you for responding quickly.

The Cover Reveal of A Season for Everything is coming soon!!! 

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