Tuesday, January 25, 2022

In the year that . . .

While reading Isaiah, I came again to this phrase in Isaiah 6. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up . . . “(Isaiah 6:1).

What was significant about the year that King Uzziah died? Why did God choose that year to give Isaiah a special vision?

I’m sure I must have read about this along the way, but I couldn’t dislodge the answers from my memory bank, so I investigated.

After several searches, I found helpful information in a Wycliffe Bible commentary my dad used to teach Sunday School.

King Uzziah started off well, but later his arrogance and pride led him down a dark path and he spent the end of his life as a leper in exile. Wycliffe writes, “Uzziah’s death . . . marked the passing of a golden age of spiritual vigor in Judah (at least until the king’s sin of presumption ten years before his decease); and his ungodly grandson was perhaps already exerting an influence in Jotham’s government. To the discouraged prophet, as he knelt in prayer at the Temple at Jerusalem, the Lord granted a transforming vision of his glory. He thus assured Isaiah that despite the apparent triumph of wickedness on earth, the Lord Jehovah still reigned omnipotent upon his heavenly throne . . .”

So, in the year that seemed as if the best days were in the rearview mirror, in the year that seemed as if evil was prevailing, in the year that seemed there was no reason to hope, God revealed himself in a glorious way to Isaiah.

That experience was transformative, because the holiness of God’s presence caused Isaiah to see his own sinful state which led to confession, God’s cleansing, and ultimately to his responding to God’s question, “Who will go for us?”

His answer?

“Here I am. Send me!”

In the year that . . . 

You fill in the blank from your perspective. 

It’s easy to grow discouraged when it seems the world is unraveling around us, or when things are going haywire in our personal lives. But, we can remind ourselves that just as in Isaiah’s time, God is on the job

God can still reveal himself causing us to fall once more into His everlasting arms and perhaps set us on a new course for Him.

It’s all in our response to God. Isaiah experienced the holiness of God, repented, and answered the call. When we allow ourselves to do the same, God can take us to new places with Him, as well.

So, our best days yet may still be ahead of us. And in the year that we are growing so weary from an ongoing pandemic and much more, that is really good news.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

When you're sidelined

Sidelined.

That’s how it’s been around here.

Just when our beloved Georgia Bulldogs won the National Championship, and we wanted to be right in the middle of it all, Jerry and I were perched on the sofa watching the parade go by on television. It’s not the same as being there and particularly tough for a man who helped win an SEC championship for his alma mater.

Medical issues have paused our interactions for a while except for those related to health. Hopefully, things will improve soon. While washing my hands in a medical building restroom, I scanned the grey walls and hard tile around me. The dreariness of it threatened to invade my spirit, but an image sprang into my mind.

It was of a sunrise when the rising orb’s rays tinge the world with gold. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to shout “Glory.” 

The Lord reminded me of Colossians 1:27, which includes the phrase, “. . . Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Though circumstances and surroundings were anything but glorious, the reality of Jesus changed my perspective. It’s as if when I left that restroom, the sunrise within eclipsed the grey.

Many of you know what it feels like to be sidelined as well. Disappointment is a particularly sharp arrow in the enemy’s arsenal. But remember when you must take a step back, Jesus is taking that step with you. It may seem the world is passing you by, but Jesus is not. He is in you, the hope of glory. And who knows what he might birth in your heart during the time when you are not in the fray?

So, here we are on the bench seeing what the Lord will do. Someone in this house may be wearing his national championship shirts round the clock, though, even if he didn’t go to the parade. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Getting through tedious tasks


Jerry and I have both been battling respiratory infections for a couple of weeks (not covid). To add insult to injury, I’ve also been doing a tedious job with a book manuscript. This post came to mind from a struggle with an earlier manuscript. For those of you who are not writers, I hope it offers practices that might help us in other areas of life, as well.

I have a friend who’s spent many years as a missionary in Africa. She bakes her own bread, and occasionally experiences infestations of grain moths. When these critters find their way into her flour supply, she can’t just dash to the corner grocery, so to provide food for her family; she painstakingly removes the moths one by one. Although, she loves where she lives, and her call to missions, this part of the deal is not very appealing.

For a while now, I’ve been sifting through a three-hundred-page manuscript plucking out bugs which some call “weasel words.” Among them, words like just, so, really, only, and that. Words, which add nothing to the meaning of a sentence, but weigh it down. Words, I am sorry to tell you, I love to use in abundance.

 If only I could just tell you how much I really love using words that mean so much to me.

If only.

Important task--this buggy word removal. However, after days of this, my eyes become glassy, and my brain feels like mush.

I want to run.

I want to quit.

I want to get a job overhauling transmissions.

I suppose no matter what the Lord may call us to, there’s always a downside.

So, how do we face the tedious tasks without bolting?

A few suggestions:

1.       Small Chunks. What works best for me is combining the tedious with the creative. Breaking up the times I spend on unappealing tasks with other more creative endeavors.

2.       Staying balanced. I know why I’m so out of sorts right now. I haven’t been taking the time to exercise as I should. It never pays to skip taking care of yourself. I deceive myself by thinking I’m gaining time. My productivity decreases when I don’t do the things, I know benefit my overall wellness like eating right, exercise, and social interaction.

3.       Worship. Earlier today in my writing group, we talked about how all of life is worship if we allow it to be. Keeping an attitude of worship in all we do makes the ordinary and mundane moments glorious.

When I think of worship during the ordinary, I think of Brother Lawrence. The account of how this seventeenth century monk lived in adoration of God all the while working in a kitchen touches me deeply. Entitled, The Practice of the Presence of God, it includes Brother Lawrence’s prayer, “Lord of all pots and pans and things . . . make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!”

If you haven’t read this Christian classic of conversations with Brother Lawrence, you may read it free online here. It’s only around fifty pages, so you could read it less than an hour. But I think the ideal would be to read one conversation and allow time to meditate on it every day.

Whether sifting grain moths, or weasel words, God calls us to himself. And I for one aim to borrow a prayer from Brother Lawrence during the rest of my editing, “O my God, since thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech thee to grant me the grace to continue in thy presence; and to this end do thou prosper me with thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.”

Amen.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:23).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Be Strong and Courageous

Marsh Glory, Beverly Varnado

As I’ve written here before, I try to read the Bible through every year-ish. I get behind though and spend the first week of the new year catching up. On the day dedicated to historical scriptural readings, I kept coming across the same phrase in Moses’ instruction to the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous . . . “ We see that phrase again when the Lord exhorts Joshua.

In what ways are we being courageous? It’s a good question to ask ourselves as we face the new year. As we reflect on the year past, one answer to that question for all of us is that we are living through a pandemic. That has taken a good bit of strength and courage to get through.

But individually, what ways are we bravely stepping into the future?

Creatively, I know the ways I’m holding back. For example, I really need to make some of the dozens of small studies I’ve done this year available (Like the one above), because if I don’t, we’re going to have to pitch a tent in the back yard. Storage is becoming an issue. I have a tough time letting go. I posted a few on my Etsy store over a week ago, but didn't post on social media about them. The artists I know who are doing a good job with their work often post their paintings.

Also, I’ve finished another book, but still haven’t submitted it, because it’s in a different genre than I’ve written before. I love the story so much; rejection would be hard.

And, as far as this blog, other writers get more success posting directly to social media rather than just posting a link. Links get shuffled to the bottom of the feed. I’ve hesitated to do that because it’s like walking into a crowded room and saying, “Hey, look at this!!” My introverted self chafes at the thought. And yet, it’s not about me. The reason I do all of this is for the glory of God. A well-known primitive artist once wrote that she knew God was calling her to paint and in response she said, “I don’t want to be famous.” She says God spoke to her heart and said, “Yes, but I do.”

If you struggle with this too, here are a few of the messages that may be in our heads that hold us back:

                You’re not old enough.

                You’re too old.

                You don’t have enough experience.

                You’ve never done that before.

                You will be rejected.

                You’re not qualified.

                You don’t have enough time.

                What you’ve done is not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, ad nauseum.

                And sometimes even—you’re not enough.

In truth, our age, our experience, our past, our fear of rejection, our qualifications, our time limitations, and our perfectionism cannot, should not, must not limit what God would want to do through us.

And as for the “You’re not good enough” message. That’s simply a lie from the enemy and needs to be recognized as such.

So, if, like me, you have a bit of a chicken liver stripe, let’s allow the words the Lord spoke through Moses to speak afresh to our hearts:

 “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS . . . “

And then let’s go forward with these words on our lips, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Here's to all the wonders God might do!

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

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