A Momentous Weekend

>> Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the 1990's I felt God's tug on my heart. Most of the time, when that happens, it means I will have to stretch and grow. So I said "Not yet. I'm not ready." But have you ever noticed that tug doesn't go away? As the years passed, the tug grew stronger. If I submitted, it would mean standing in front of a group of women and sharing my story.

Doesn't sound scary? That's nice. It terrified me.

Thus began my painful and frightening journey into public speaking. Attending Toastmasters week after week ... reading my speeches ... then memorizing them ... I struggled on. After completing all the Toastmaster manuals, I knew how to organize a speech ... how to talk without filler words ... and to omit the sound of uh from my talk. That's all well and good. I was still scared.

Years passed and I saw no women in front of me, waiting for me to open my mouth and have my story come forth.

That changed this weekend.

God chose a perfect group of women to be my guinea pigs. Of course they were unaware that was their role. They exhibited such kind and gentle spirits ... extending their love to me ... welcoming me with open arms. As I stood before them, they allowed me to shed tears ... and gave me time to gather myself and continue (handing me some napkins for my tissues).

My story is such a wonderful story of God's grace, it still overwhelms me.

And so I sit on a train ... wheels clacking and my iPad rocking ... as I peck with one finger. I'm headed home. But I am not the same. Did I really believe God wouldn't come through this time? Shame on me. I spent no sleepless nights ... suffered no upset stomach ... endured no pounding heart. I had a few notes, but didn't use them. Many people were praying for my time of speaking ... and their prayers held me steady.

God has worked in my life again. He's Awesome.

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB)

Joy

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The Darwin Awards

>> Friday, January 27, 2012

Yes, it's that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us. Here is the glorious winner:  

1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.  

And now, the honorable mentions:  

2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger. The chef's claim was approved.  

3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.  

4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped.   Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride.    He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.  

5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train.     When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.  

6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change.   When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter.    The total amount of cash he got from the drawer . . . $15.  

7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly.  He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run.  So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.  

8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher.  They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."  

9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and demanded cash.  The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order.  When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The frustrated gunman walked away.  

10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage.  A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake.  The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had and the perp had been punished enough!  

Remember . . . They walk among us, they can reproduce, and, they VOTE!!!  

(Authors Unknown)

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Words in a Book

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When I was struggling through the de-programming of my religious training, I stumbled across a book called Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  Upon completion of the book, I immediately read it again … and again.  The thoughts in that book were totally contrary to the beliefs I had been taught.  

Yet, thanks to that book, I learned I did not have to live daily with worry and guilt.  I wore the original book out, but have a copy on my bookshelf today.  The words in that book were an inspiration to me that helped change my life. 

In a book entitled Beyond Ourselves Catherine Marshall wrote a chapter on The Prayer of Relinquishment.  I had been taught to pray telling God what I desired … such as healing … and then He was obligated to do what I asked.  When you pray the prayer of relinquishment, you are, in essence, telling God you are willing to let Him decide what is best for you … another life-changing concept.  

The illumination I received from those words has helped me many times in my life.  I have a copy of that book on my shelf.  

The title of the book was what caught my eye.  Jess Lair, Ph.D. authored a book called I ain’t well – but I sure am better.  It was inspiring to discover that each day I could be better than I was the day before.  I still have a copy of that book on my shelf.  

Rosalind Rinker wrote a book called Prayer: Conversing with God … a truly controversial topic. It described prayer as a conversation with God.  As I began reading it, my fear of the heresy within its pages almost prevented me from progressing through the book.  I knew “prayerese” – using King James language and praying to impress others.  The concept of just talking to God seemed disrespectful.  

The insight I received from the words in that book changed my prayer life forever.  It, too, has a special place on my bookshelf.  

These books … and many others … that hold so much meaning for me were written in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Yet they are still so very special to me today.  How satisfying it must be for authors to realize that their words in a book helped trigger personal growth in someone’s life.  

And of course, there is the Bible, written before 1960. Even though centuries have passed since those words were penned, I continually discover something new and life-changing from the words in that Book. I have several versions on my shelf.  

As a writer, I pray that some day, some where, some how, I will write some words that inspire some one to change their life for the better … words they will carry with them.  

“Write everything I tell you in a book.” Jeremiah 30:2 (MSG)

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Stuart Hamblen, Billy Graham and John Wayne

>> Monday, January 23, 2012

Stuart Hamblen was a popular singer, songwriter, actor, poet, and radio personality from the 1930s through the 1950s. He was first a hit on radio but appeared in films with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Wayne and wrote several chart-topping country songs. Some have called him radio's first singing cowboy.

Billy Graham came to Los Angeles in 1949 for what became an historic evangelistic crusade. Graham's appearance on Hamblen's radio show was arranged as part of the publicity for the crusade, not because Hamblen wanted to poke fun at Graham. Although Hamblen was known for his hard living and drinking, he had been reared as the son of a Methodist minister and warmly welcomed Graham as a guest. It was at that interview that Graham extended an invitation to Hamblen to attend the crusade and he accepted.

Hamblen later contacted Graham at his hotel and asked to talk. The result was that he "surrendered his life to Christ." Hamblen became the first publicized conversion from the 1949 crusade and contributed to the decision to extend the event, which lasted for 8 weeks and put Billy Graham on the map.

It was on a street in Hollywood that Hamblen later ran into John Wayne who asked him about the rumor around town that he'd changed his ways. Hamblen told Wayne that it was no secret what God had done for him and that he could do it for Wayne too. Wayne said it sounded like a song and suggested he write one. The result was one of Hamblen's best known tunes; It is No Secret What God Can Do. It was a crossover song that is regarded as the first to have been #1 in the gospel, country, and pop categories. The original manuscript of It is No Secret is buried in the cornerstone of one of the Copyright Buildings of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

After his conversion, Hamblen announced that he was going to devote his time to "serving Christ" and he started a new radio program titled The Cowboy Church of the Air which became nationally syndicated. A confrontation developed with his sponsors, however, when he told them that he would refuse to advertise alcohol. His much publicized departure from the program resulted in his being asked to run for President of the United States in 1952 under the banner of the Prohibition Party. He accepted and ran fourth to Republican Dwight Eisenhower who was elected president.

(Truth or Fiction)


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It's the Small Stuff that Gets Us

>> Saturday, January 21, 2012

The weather forecast for 6” to 8” of snow was not good … and I had to be at work … early. But upon arising at 4:45, there was just a skiff of snow. No problem. So I followed my normal routine and went to the gym. An hour later the roads were covered, but still doable.  

So I drove to work.  

My office has no windows. Hard at work, it was an hour later when I glanced out the front windows. It resembled a blizzard out there. The flag across the street was standing straight out … and the snow was flying.  

Not good.  

More work … and then another check on the conditions. The flag was obscured by the snow. Between me and home was the Columbia River with a bridge that had a history of wrecks in weather like this. Reports began to trickle in … cars spinning out … highways closed.  

I wanted to be home.  

With the necessary work completed, I headed out … taking an alternate bridge. With a grip on the steering wheel, I stayed focused on everything … road ahead … cars beside me … cars behind me.  

I crossed the bridge and was still moving. Now I had several choices for which street would have the least hills to get me to the west side of town. Choosing one, I traveled slowly through the narrow streets of downtown. Not wanting to come to a complete stop at the stop signs, I kept my wheels turning just a little … glancing all directions. There weren’t many cars on the road.  

Up ahead I could see a hill with a stoplight at the top. I used all my mental powers to tell that light to stay green until I passed through that intersection. If I stopped on the hill, I just wasn’t sure how far backward I would slide.  

It stayed green.  

Roundabouts are tricky. They resemble skating rinks after a few hours of snow and traffic. My mind was constantly thinking ahead to the next obstacle I would face. Finally I was within blocks of my home. Never before had I realized my subdivision had hills.  

And then I turned into my street … with my house up ahead. I began pushing on the garage door opener. I was almost there. As the door opened, I turned the car into the driveway, slowing down for the turn. Too slow. My tires were spinning. Checking my rear view mirror to make sure no cars were parked across the street, I put the car in reverse and backed out into the street. Going way too fast for my comfort … the garage door is only so wide … I gunned my way up my driveway … hoping I wouldn’t slide on the concrete when my tires left the snow.  

It worked.  

Life is so like that. There are obstacles everywhere. We need to be on the alert all the time … watching ahead … behind … beside us … never knowing exactly when the next difficulty will arise. And with that awareness, we keep our minds, bodies and souls safe. Then we relax. Something as simple as our own driveway is certainly not an issue.  


That is when we are most vulnerable … when we think we’ve arrived.  

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.” I Peter 5:8 (MSG)

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Church Humor 2

>> Friday, January 20, 2012

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.


"Reverend," said the young man, "I'm so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip."

The minister chuckled, "I know what you mean. It's the same in my business."

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People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.

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Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about.
The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt."

Needless to say, the Mom was perplexed. Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about.

He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."

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The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

"Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But, you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."

During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up."

At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner." And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!  

(Authors Unknown)


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Two Vessels ... and a Choice

>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The picture of Carnival Corporation’s giant cruise ship Costa Concordia lying on its side is disturbing. That’s just not supposed to happen. And I’m sure the over 4,000 people on board felt the same way. But in a matter of minutes eating was forgotten and survival was foremost. It cost a lot of money to be aboard that vessel. You would think that payment would cover being safe at the dinner table.  

The world watches as this tragedy unfolds.  

This morning our pastor spoke of Noah and his faithfulness. He was told to build a rather large sea-going vessel. There would be no charge for climbing on board … just a belief that God meant what He said. The world of Noah’s day watched as he worked 120 years to build this giant container that could float. But only eight people were inside when God shut the door.  

The cruise ship was equipped with all the latest in technology … the ark had none. Entertainment abounded on board the Costa Concordia … feeding animals and mucking out their stalls awaited those on the ark. And the food … oh the food … served on the cruise ship; lavish and in abundance. Not so much on the ark.  

The cruise ship had Carnival Corporation’s guarantee of a good time. The ark had God’s guarantee that you would live if you climbed on board.  

In our world the majority of people are willing to pay big money to enjoy glitter and opulence. Instant gratification is the goal. But some of us are willing to postpone our rewards while we do God’s work … knowing we can trust His guarantee of heaven.


“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3 (NIV)


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The Window from Which We Look

>> Monday, January 16, 2012

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.


"That laundry is not very clean", she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

"Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look!

(Author Unknown)

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Voice from the Past

>> Saturday, January 14, 2012

The tree in the back yard begged to be climbed. The outstretched branches were just perfect for sitting. But I wasn’t supposed to be in that tree … I was a little girl in a dress. My place was quietly sitting in a corner.  

Growing up, my playmates were my nieces and nephews. Some of them lived in the same town … others came to visit on weekends. Two nieces and one nephew were very close in age … the nieces a matter of weeks younger and the nephew five months younger.  

It was the nephew, Allen, who did me in. We climbed the tree … and wouldn’t you know it … we planted our feet in the same crook at the same time … and got stuck. The consequence eludes my memory, but the tree climbing was a highlight of my four-year old life.

Perfect trees … designed for climbing and sitting … still catch my attention.  

Fast forward to last Tuesday. I had been having computer issues and was unable to post my blog. So I sent a little blurb to my Distribution Lists that I was having computer trouble and would return when I could.  

Tuesday morning … at work … I received a phone call. It was Allen … truly a voice from the past. I’m not sure how many years it’s been since I saw him. 20?  30? But guess what? He works on computers. That evening it was a delight to get caught up … and the tree climbing incident was recalled.  

And he fixed my computer … walking me slowly and carefully through the steps.  

As I thought about this event, I wondered how many people used to have a relationship with Jesus … walking with Him … talking with Him … maybe even climbing a tree to view His world. And then the years passed … distance happened … and you lost touch.  

Now you have issues. He’s a Master of all trades. No matter what is broken, He cares … and wants you to reach out to Him.  

Don’t let Him be just a Voice from the past.


Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 (NLT)


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Church Humor

>> Friday, January 13, 2012

There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.


"Is there anything breakable in here?" asked the postal clerk.

"Only the Ten Commandments." answered the lady.

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"Somebody has said there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who wake up in the morning and say, "Good morning, Lord," and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, "Good Lord, it's morning."

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A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn't find a space with a meter. Then he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: "I have circled the block 10 times. If I don't park here, I'll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses."  

When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note "I've circled this block for 10 years. If I don't give you a ticket I'll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation."

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There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: "I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new gym - fellowship hall building program. The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets."

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While driving in Pennsylvania, a family caught up to an Amish carriage. The owner of the carriage obviously had a sense of humor, because attached to the back of the carriage was a hand printed sign... "Energy efficient vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust."

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A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question, "Boys and girls, what do we know about God?"

A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy.

"Really? How do you know?" the teacher asked.  

"You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "


(Authors Unknown)


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Me ... Afraid ... Again

>> Saturday, January 7, 2012

An invitation has been extended to me … to speak at a ladies retreat. My preparation for my “yes” answer began in 1992. For six years I argued with God, saying “no” to His plan …like that would work. Then I joined Toastmasters so when I opened my mouth, words would come out. And then nothing … no invite …no mention of me speaking … for years.  

Now it was finally happening. But each time I thought of the retreat, I felt a clench in my gut … the fear was back. What in the world was wrong with me?  

So I began to pray … specifically … that the gut clenching would stop. I knew that my fear did not glorify God … that a timid voice could in no way demonstrate to my audience that my God was a big God who had done great things in my life.  

On Sunday … as we sang … there were some words that jumped out at me. In the song, Mighty to Save, I heard these words come out of my mouth.  

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.  

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.  

With all my fears and failures … He would take me that way … if I let Him.  

Then wouldn’t you know it. The very next song had more words for me. In the song, Hosanna, I felt the impact of the words in my heart.  

Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You, we long for You.
‘Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your presence all our fears are washed away, washed away.  

I felt better. Less clenching. But still the excitement eluded me.  

Wednesday morning a group of women met at my home for prayer. One of the ladies is a speaker … getting up in front of large groups … smiling and full of great truths. When I voiced my prayer request, I started by saying how ticked I was at myself for the fear. She smiled … and then told of her journey with tears and fear … before she spoke.  

Well, that made me feel better.  

Last night was our small group meeting … 12 people from our church … who shared prayer requests. As I was prayed for, my spirit felt lighter. I could do this. A scripture was read … and once more the words spoke directly to me.  

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."
1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB)  

As the meeting continued, my iPhone in my pocket began to vibrate … announcing a phone call. In the car, on the way home, I took my phone out … noticed it was an out-of-town number … and called it. It was the lady in charge of the retreat. As she shared the agenda and plans, I learned this retreat was being held in a large house on the beach … so I would be speaking in a living room setting.  

More relief.  

This has been a journey I did not anticipate. I thought I had already fought … and won … this battle. But as I travel through these days, I am very aware that God is right beside me, holding me up and urging me on.

I’m starting to get excited.  

“Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction." Proverbs 18:20 (NLT)  


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