Monday, August 14, 2017

The Novel

In memoirs and biographies I have read that writers lead interesting, often solitary, lives. I've read accounts of authors who sit for hours and smile at blank pages as the hours tick by as if they were mere minutes. Writers must live in the real world but they flavor it with a hearty helping of fantasy. They are present yet absent; engaged yet disconnected.
This view of the writer's life is one I used to have only from afar but not anymore. Not since I became a writer. Well, not a published and printed "writer" but still a writer. I haven't sought the input of a literary agent for confirmation on that status. I haven't needed to. My writer's designation has been God-given, flowing from the thoughts He has pouring into my mind and nurturing my spirit. He has given me this duty to put a pen to paper and it is an honor to fulfill that call.

It has taken seven years for me to release my need to "be" something and someone according to the world and let being a writer be enough. It took the schooling of life and the experience of struggle to shape me into a writer. Patiently, God has been molding me for this position by teaching me how to listen, obey and follow. I've far from mastered the art of these principles but God is faithfully honing my writing skills, and, more importantly, honing my heart to be fixated on Him alone.

As God has been teaching me, pruning me and perfecting my writer's hand (a process that is destined to be life-long) He has entrusted me with little projects to work on along the way. It began with telling the story of Pippy and her training. Or, more accurately, my training. When I look back on the revelations experienced in those writings, the truths found in teaching a puppy how to sit, stay and refrain from peeing on the carpet, I see how God had a much bigger plan for Pippy and I than I ever imagined. He used my Pippy Love to train and discipline my heart, not just my Schnoodle puppy.

Over these seven years my writings have numbered into the thousands and an overwhelming number of them have been born out of sickness and illness. So many of my writings have been laments of physical anguish. My pain poured out on the page. Writing as been the avenue in which I've been able to best explain the unexplained and process the confusing. God has transformed writing into an act of spiritual renewal where I lay my burdens down and pick up His truth, His faithfulness and His promises.

Over the past seven years my hand has scribbled with ink in countless lined journals and written every thing from one-liners to entire (unpublished) devotional books. On my computer I've typed in the morning, in the evening and occasionally in the middle of the night. In writing I have exposed my heart and been witness to glorious glimpses of God's.
In all of this writing, over all of these years, I've explored writing in many forms but never fiction. The very thought of writing a novel has intimidated me. How does the novel writer ever come up with a thought that will capture a reader's attention for hundreds of pages and dozens of chapters? How does the author keep a consistent voice and weave story lines and character plots into one cohesive book? How do they remain dedicated to the process? How do they know where the novel is going to go? Do they know where the novel is going to go?
Overwhelmed by the thought of such a literary endeavor I never even contemplated writing a novel. Little did I know God would hand me a pen and tell me to get going on the task during year seven of my never-ending writer's education.

As I've heeded the command the most remarkable truths have been revealed as I've embarked on this writer's journey. More significant than the answers to my questions about writing a novel, God has been answering questions of my eternal spirit and heart. Questions about following Him, walking with Him and making it to the end of His story.

That is so like God, isn't it? He doesn't come right out and answer our questions with points A, B, and C. He gives us a task, a challenge, and promises to help us complete it. Meanwhile, in the completing of it, He assures us that all of our questions will all be answered in the end. We don't get the answers at the start. In fact, we usually begin with absolutely no idea where the story is going. The plot and course of our life's journey is revealed much the same way a novelist's story is revealed as they put pen to paper. Novel writing, like traveling through life with God, requires dedication, trust and faith to see the process through to the end.
God is writing a story with each of our lives and He has filled our pages with the unexpected. He's written for each of us a page-turner to keep us on our toes, captivated by the possibilities of what's to come next. Is a new character about to enter our plot? Is the scene about to transition into an entirely different place? Is there a climatic chapter up ahead or is the next chapter simple and sweet? Will there be a lull in the action or a predicament on the next page?
God doesn't give us hints. He likes surprise endings. He likes twists and turns. He likes to include the unexpected. He takes great pleasure in filling the pages of our stories with riveting tales that give testimony to His goodness and honor to His great name. 

When God is given the pen and entrusted with every line, we can rest assured that the plot is going to be riveting and the ending is going to be glorious. With God as the Author we need not know how we get to end. We can simply rest in the journey and let it unfold, page-by-page.
That's how novels are written, one page at a time, and that's how life's journey with God is written, too. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy National Bowling Day!

Happy National Bowling Day! How are you celebrating this special holiday? Throwing a few strikes at the local bowling alley? Sending pins up into the air like party balloons? Reminiscing about your history with gutters and your preference for bumpers?

I've chosen the last option and taken a trip down gutter ball memory lane. My bowling history is truly pathetic pathetic. In my youth I resorted to the squat and roll technique. I would approach the lane, kneel down and push the ball down the lane. Throwing the ball would have been an option had I not been so woefully inept at the concept. I couldn't throw the ball straight to save my life - or my score. I was a doomed gutter girl. Without the help of bumpers I was completely hopeless at getting a strike or even enough pins to maintain a credible score. My numbers were so pathetic they were ridiculous, not a serious player in the game. So when I bowled I took my turns with silliness and rolled in 50 points purely for fun.
Suffice it to say, I never became a very regular, or skilled, bowler. When I've bowled I've always needed bumpers to keep me out of the gutters and a lot of grace to let me stay in the game.

...Funny how things haven't changed much...

It has been years since I've stepped foot in a bowling alley, let alone attempted to take down a pin, but I'm still in need of bumpers to keep me out of gutters. I'm in need of merciful grace to keep me in the game, playing on God's glorious team to claim the ultimate prize.
Along this alley way of life there are gutters that lead straight to destruction, ruin and devastation. Much more than points are at stake. Now eternal life is on the line. The alley isn't a part of some silly game. This is the way to eternity.
I've made so many bad throws and pathetic pushes to get down my alley of life. I've taken throws without proper form or preparation and without the help of my bumper. On my own the ball always goes for the gutter. A few times its course has looked promising enough. It goes straight for a few feet but the fate of my ball - my plan, my agenda, my will, my way - always ends up right where my bowling balls did in the bowling alley. The gutter.
The truth is I am in more desperate need of bumpers now than I ever was in my occasional bowling days. I am in desperate need of God's bumpers that keep me out of life's gutters. I need God to put up His hedge of protection around me to keep me on track. Without His steady hand leading me I have no hope of a strike. Apart from God keeping me on the straight and narrow path I am doomed to end up in the gutter of defeat.

The good news is God provides bumpers. He has not set me in front of this slippery, slick alleyway and left me to take the pins down alone. He's come along to not just help me, but to guide me. He isn't just going to teach me how to throw the ball, He is going to protect it once it gets rolling. When I bowl with God He gives me the protection I need to make it safely to the end of the lane. His path comes with bumpers that keep me steady, stable and safe all the way to an eternal strike.
Now that's a holy-day I can celebrate.

Truth Wins

Another morning, another day for the Devil to tell his lies. Did you hear him like I did this morning, whispering such ugly slander and wicked deceit? ... This is hopeless... You're never going to overcome this... Uh, oh, you've slid back down the hill of progress again... God didn't answer that prayer and He's not going to...
Lies! Every word, complete and utter lies!
Who is the devil to say anything is hopeless? What would he know about hope? He wouldn't know hope even if it hit him in face.
And overcoming? The only overcoming he enjoys is when he comes over life with death. His type of "progress" leads right to a hellish grave - the very same place he'd like to send every heart broken prayer sent to God on high.

Dear Friend I hope you didn't listen to that serpent, that snake, that cunning, evil, deceitful, father of lies. I hope you didn't give him a moment of your ear because he's a liar. He knows not a single word of truth, let alone how to speak it.
The Devil knows nothing but dishonesty, destruction and defeat - they are his devastating trifecta.
The Devil is the teller of lies and the twister of truth. He's a faker and author of falsehoods. He is the deliverer of darkness, depression and doom - he is the devastating trifecta.
The Devil is the enemy. He stands in opposition to all that is good, beautiful, peaceful, restful, beneficial and eternal. He fights to tear down; never to build up. He tricks and loves to deceive. He takes pleasure in stealing, killing and destroying.
The Devil is pure evil. If a word is hateful or a thought is damaging you can be sure the Devil had his way in its making. If an act is hurtful or a deed is deadly, you can be sure the Devil is wearing a smile. He loves a good scene of destruction.

But God is the Father of Truth...
God is the Giver of Life...
God is the Author of Beauty...
God is the voice of love...
God is the Light who illuminates the darkness...
God is the King who claims victory over every enemy and sends evil into retreat...

This morning the Devil showed up with his trickery and vile words. But God showed up, too, and silenced the lips of liar. The truth of the Lord spoke and sent my enemy fleeting for the darkness and evil running for the hills.
The Lord our God has claimed the victory.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Praise Report

Every now and again God puts chains on my hands to keep them from writing. He freezes my fingers and presses pause on my mind so I can step back, raise my arms and just simply praise Him.
Right now in my life I am in one of those blessed times.

You may have noticed that lately my fingers haven't been hitting the keys to share stories, observations and lessons learned on life and faith. But don't worry, these fingers haven't given up. They've risen up in joyful, exuberant praise and gratitude to God.

So, naturally, you may be wondering, what have I been thanking God for? What praise has captured my hands and my heart?
Being alive.
Having breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart sustained by the very hand of God.
Having hope because I know and have full in confidence that God's plans are perfect and His ways are always good. The future that God has in store is so brilliant and glorious that it fills me with unspeakable joy and peace. And thanks, so much thanks.

In my Lyme journey the praise report continues. In just four months amazing victories have already been won in my body. The muscle spasms that plagued my daily life for years have been slashed in their frequency and intensity. My blood sugar swings are in retreat. The coming and going of the "claw foot" has disappeared entirely. The episodes of optic-neuropathy that taunted my vision are no longer having their cruel way with my eyes.
The war being fought in my body is being waged one life and death battle at a time. But praise be to God because life is winning every one. God is claiming every victory.

To all of my prayer warriors, thank you for going to battle with me. Thank you for taking up arms on the front lines and fighting alongside me. I am abundantly grateful and thankful for each of you and your support.

As challenging and trying as the last four months (and entire seven years of health warfare) have been, I am overcome with thanks because God has sustained me every step of the way. It is only by His power that I have survived and only by His power that I am right now, in this very moment being made well.  

Tonight friends I encourage you to pause and offer God your praise and your thanks. Praise Him for the journey. Praise Him for life. Praise God because the battle is already won and our Lord, Jesus Christ has claimed the victory!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Healing Poultice

Natural remedies have long been my medicine of choice. I regularly take homeopathic antibiotics instead of pharmaceuticals and apply essential oils instead of chemical creams. I believe in sweating out a fever and that most any skin ailment can be cured by either Manuka honey, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Oil or all of the above combined.
Given my affinity for natural health sites and books on the subject I thought I was well versed, or at least semi-versed, in nearly every healing protocol. I thought wrong. It turns out my natural remedy arsenal has been missing a key component of the ancient medicine cabinet. The herbal poultice.
These incredible, and simple, compresses made of clay and herbs have been natural medicine stand-bys for centuries, known to heal practically every ailment from burns to hernias and everything in between. Hippocrates used them and so did my Great Grandma. Bottom line, if you have a problem, you need a poultice.
Given the rich and successful history of the poultice remedy I decided to employ the practice for my own stomach ailment. Each night I lay down in bed and affix to my stomach a sticky, slimy compress made of herbal powder, silver, water and various kinds of bark. With plastic wrap, an ace bandage and a silent prayer for healing, I secure my poultice and settle in for a night of internal repair.
The first few nights with my poultice were a struggle. The ace bandage poked me and the plastic wrap kept slipping out of place. I was up and down all night like a yo-yo, aggravated with my poultice. Annoyed at being woken up, I admit I even cursed the ancient poultice practice. This is so ridiculous - sleeping with clay on the stomach! How could this be healing me? Hippocrates can keep his poultice!
But each morning, as the sun has flooded my room with light, a renewed hope in the poultice has flooded my heart with hope. As strange as it is, I've come to cherish the sticky, slimy, clay poultice and not just because it has internal healing properties. I've become a believer and lover of the ancient poultice remedy because it draws me to an even greater, more powerful poultice - the one covering my heart. 
Jesus' Holy Spirit is the poultice that has healed my heart and gives me new life. I was damaged and broken, in need of repair and His love brought me eternal restoration. The hand of Jesus has been laid on me, healing wounds only He could ever see or touch. Because Christ's Spirit has saved me and dwells within me I am made eternally well, healed from the inside, out.
With a prayer in my heart and a poultice on my stomach, I am drawn back to the Great Physician who has made me new by breathing His life into my dead soul. In His medicine cabinet I have everything needed for healing, from a poultice for my damaged stomach to the everlasting, glorious redemption of my lost and failing soul.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A child's tale gone right

As youngsters growing up we hear the classic children's tales...and how they all went wrong.
One boy who cried wolf and all the town's people came running...but not for long. When he kept on crying wolf the people stopped caring and ceased their running to his aid.
Then there was a girl who went and broke into a bear's house. She tried out the bedroom mattresses and tasted every bowl the breakfast porridge...but not for long. When the furry home owners returned the young intruder went running away petrified and scared.
And then there were those couple of kids who traveled up a hill for a simple bucket of water... but not for long. The boy fell down and...well, you know how this story goes. The little girl went tumbling down after.

Why is it that every nursery rhyme ends in some sort of calamity? Even when the beginning is as sweet as a frolic through a forest or playful as skipping up a hill, the end is always bitter.
But not my story. Not my rhyme. No, this tale is destined for a much better ending.
No matter how dreadful the fate of my tale my appear today I know that my Author wrote a happy ending for my life's tale. I have an enduring hope in the final stanza of this rhyme because I know the story won't end in a calamity. This story ends in victory.

Because I trust the Author, I can rest in the assurance that I will not end up like the boy who cried wolf that no one came to save. God will always save me. He will always hear my cry and come running to my rescue.
Because I trust God with every line of my life, I am saved from being a real-life Goldilocks (with short hair), always searching and running scared. With God as my peace and protection, my story is free from fear and discontentment.
Because God is my stability and my firm foundation I know I am destined to going fall down like Jake or Jill. I might trip and stumble but God will never let me go tumbling away from His safety. He will continue carrying me even up hills, over mountains and through the deepest valleys. And God will keep my crown from breaking, too.

This world is God's nursery and my life is His real-life rhyme. I don't know how it ends and I don't need to. It is simply enough just to know it ends well. My life's story is destined to end perfectly because God never writes rhymes without hope. God is the exclusive Author of stories with bright and beautiful futures and tales with eternally happy endings.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Finding Puzzle Pieces

Healing is like putting together a puzzle with a million pieces and no picture on a box to follow. Just when you think you've gathered them all, that there couldn't possibly be another piece to add to the puzzle, another shows up. God presents a missing piece you didn't even know you were missing. He drops it into your lap and it takes you by such surprise. It isn't the size or shape of the puzzle piece that shocks you. It is the remarkable realization that you've been so long in missing such an important piece to your puzzle.
A thousand times on my journey to complete my own healing puzzle I've thought I had all of the pieces. I was sure that it was just the placement that was off. What more could I need to be whole? What more could my heart be missing? What more could my body be needing?
With my own eyes and without the precise picture on a box to follow, I've never been capable of seeing the missing pieces I need. Only God has been able to reveal them in His time and by His mysterious methods.
The discovery of a new puzzle piece is always exciting, invigorating and even humbling. It is exciting to be one step closer to a whole image of healing perfection and invigorating to hear from God. But it is humbling to see what massive puzzle pieces I've missed for so long. Pieces of forgiveness, joy and laughter. Pieces that would have brought me peace and other pieces that would have lifted burdens. Along this journey I've picked up precious pieces of my physical body's healing puzzle but the pieces I cherish most aren't the pieces that have helped put my body back together again. My most precious pieces are those that have healed my heart.
The pieces that would have transformed my eternal life are the pieces of salvation and mercy. They are the center pieces of God's grace and love. It's these everlasting pieces that have not only renewed my health here on earth but have put the puzzle of my eternal life together.
God's puzzle piece placement and timing is perfect. He delivers the pieces just when I need them, when I have the eyes to see them and the place in my heart to put them. My puzzle isn't complete just yet. This side of heaven it never will be but one thing I know for sure. The image at the end, on the other side of the gates of perfect healing, the image of complete restoration will be worth every moment spent collecting puzzle pieces along the way.