I am on my way to Atlanta where I will be sharing with a book club that has been reading my book this month. I’m very excited to hear their thoughts and questions. I’m thinking this may be the jumpstart I need to begin the second half of Grace’s story.
I just re-read my book in order to help me hear Grace’s voice as I consider the next events in her life and how best to share it. Curious, do you have any questions you’d like to ask? I’d love to hear!
Mother’s Day used to be a day we celebrated without much thought. Each year our Moms were there. Each year our kids were with us. It was so routine I didn’t appreciate it until everything changed. Now Mother’s Day is more of a challenge to guard my thoughts and watch my attitude. Because it’s so easy to take the spiraling downward emotional roller coaster of self-pity and discouragement.
Within the past five years my two older kids moved to other states and my Mom took her last breath in this life. Now Mother’s Day is a holiday fraught with temptations of all sorts.
But this year is different. God has planned a very special surprise for me. I’m hosting my First Ladies retreat of 2016 beginning on Sunday, and on Tuesday I got a phone call from my mentor and friend who has been like a spiritual mom to me my entire adult life. She said God made it clear He wanted her to come to my retreat!
So, on Sunday I will be able to spend extended time with my dear friend and I am grateful to God for taking thought of me.
It was 40 years ago today that an event took place that would set the course for the rest of my life–it was Jesus 76 set up on what would become Disney property. It was a cow pasture where thousands of young people gathered to hear the Gospel proclaimed in terms relevant to our generation. We heard it preached by C.J. Mahaney, Larry Tomczak, and Jamie Buckingham to name a few. And we heard it sung by 2nd Chapter Of Acts, Barry McGuire and Lamb.
It was a time like no other in the church. Our parents weren’t sure about it, but they liked the results, young hearts captivated by the love of their Savior.
We didn’t know the Bible well, but we had met its Author and we were changed. While many of our friends in school were experimenting with free sex and drug use, we were finding a different kind of high and we wanted to tell everyone about it.
It was an amazing time in history.
Looking back I can see how God arrested my heart. It began when our Baptist Youth Pastor loaded us all up on the church bus and took us to Wilmore, Kentucky, for Ichthus 75. I didn’t know it then, but I was being introduced to the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I saw people my age and a bit older completely sold out to live for Christ. They raised their hands to God in worship. They took notes. They marked up their Bibles. And they talked about what they were learning. It was contagious!
So Happy Birthday, Jesus 76. How I thank God for the celebration you began in my heart 40 years ago. Oh, and thank you for introducing me to my future husband as well. My, how God has used you in my life! And I’m eternally grateful!
I had the privilege of speaking to a group of ladies at Bethel Fellowship Church in Minneota, MN, a couple of weeks ago. Because I’ve journaled for years it has helped me connect the dots allowing me to sometimes see the bigger picture of what God is doing. As I shared this I realized what a gift it is when God allows us to see this.
In Genesis 50, the account of Joseph provides a great example of connecting the dots. Listen to what he says when he gets it:
I love how Joseph humbly weeps realizing how good God was to him through all the pain, hardship and years of waiting with unanswered questions.
Writing Christian historical fiction is like this. It’s telling a story that is set during a time in history that connects the dots of God’s faithfulness to the characters portrayed. What lessons we can teach; what examples we can set; what a privilege it is to do this.
Before we can write about it it helps to experience it for ourselves, writing with the voice of one who has been there.
How have you connected the dots of God’s active work in your life? If you’ve never considered this–ask Him to show you. He loves to make His name and presence known in all the circumstances we face. Those who are looking for His hand will find it was there all along pointing the way.
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Minnesota where we were asked to speak to a church on marriage and other topics. I was asked to share with their women’s ministry about my life–the field was wide open. I decided to talk about how journaling became such a significant part of my life.
Journaling is easier now than ever–at least the decision to journal is made easier because the plethora of beautiful journals available make keeping a personal journal inviting–but buying a journal and keeping a journal are two different things.
How many journals have you purchased and never used? How can we go from wanting to journal to actually doing it?
I think the answer comes down to how you answer the why of journaling.
“Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things? it’s certainly not through me that You know them. But I’m stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say, great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised. I tell my story for love of Your love.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
I have found that after decades of keeping a journal it helps me connect-the-dots of God’s faithfulness in my own life. He accomplishes what He sets out to do. All.the.time. Yet we often miss it because we forget. Journaling helps me remember dots I’ve previously lived and connect them to today.
I have a personal conviction from God to keep a journal. And this is what fuels my discipline in this regard.
It’s this way with all things of a life-changing nature. We set out to do something new because we’re compelled that it will make a lasting difference in our lives. Consider the conviction it took for us to…
Choose who we would marry
Start a family
Accept Christ as our Savior
Move to a new city/state/country
I realize that journaling is a much smaller decision to make than the ones listed above. Journaling won’t change your life in the way these bullet-points will, but it will change how you view your life. I’ve found that when I think with my fingers it helps my mind not only remember my thoughts, but it gives me a different vantage point from which to consider. I change as a result.
When was the last time you sat and considered your life and the circumstances currently challenging you? Why not take that beautiful journal off the shelf and write what’s on your heart? Your fingers may have a lot to say.
I think with my hands–which means I have to write out my thoughts to fully understand what’s going on in my heart and mind. This is one of the reasons I blog. It helps me stay focused on a certain aspect of my life and also helps me sort through the noise of my often cluttered mind.
I want to introduce you to my new blog.
While this one is focused on my writing and the importance of knowing your family’s history, my newest blog is focused on living far away from my 7, soon-to-be 8 grandchildren. It’s titled, The Faraway Nana, a phrase which made me cry for the longest time. I avoided this label until I realized that this was God’s choice for my children, and I know that they’re where they’re called to be. Who am I to question God’s wisdom? So, instead of avoiding the title, I decided to embrace it by starting a blog by the same name, sharing my journey in this new, long-distance role.
I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!
This week we were watching The Tonight Show with host, Jimmy Fallon, when he did something that brought tears to my eyes. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so take a moment and listen in as he shares this special bit of his family’s history…
Honoring our parents for the sacrifices they have made for us is fitting, and it’s Biblical.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
(Ephesians 6:2-3 ESV)
Do you know stories about your parents’ or grandparents’ that are worthy of honor? If you don’t, why not ask them a few questions and find out. Most of our elders don’t like to talk about themselves, UNLESS they know we really want to hear it. Starting the conversation with a good question is the best way to convince them of our interest in them. Not sure what to ask? This is why I’ve provided a list of questions in the back of my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace, to help you in discovering their stories, which are ultimately your stories.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
Did you ever meet anyone famous? How did this come about?
Did you serve in the military? If so, what is one thing you’ll never forget about that time in your life?
Have you ever received any awards or commendations for service in the military or elsewhere? Tell me about it.
Everyone has a story to tell, but for them to be remembered someone has to take the time to listen. I encourage you to do so before there’s no one left to ask.
Last week we had a Memorial Service for my Aunt Hazel. She passed away this year after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. My Uncle Arnold passed away in 2001 from Leukemia. In honor of Memorial Day on Monday, we share with you their story:
The war was in full force and Arnold Lopez Gray had enlisted in the Army. After graduating from the Air Forces Navigation School in Texas on April 22, 1943, he married Hazel on July 26th 1943. It was shortly after their marriage he was sent overseas to fly combat missions against the Germans. Little did he know on his 10th mission he would have a story worth repeating for the rest of his life…
His plane was shot down over the North Sea by the Germans, and although he survived the attack he was plucked out of the icy waters by a German U-boat. He…
Most everyone who is 50+ is familiar with the song by the same name as this blog post. In fact, you’re most likely singing it now that I’ve mentioned it–you’re welcome! 🙂 But did you know that whatever circumstances signal our tears also cause those tears to look differently under a microscope? I recently read a fascinating article that not only described these differences in full detail, but also provided photographs of the different types of tears to highlight how different they look.
Take the photograph at the top of this post; they are basal tears–those shed as a reflex to pain or atmospheric irritants. They actually look like rain falling and forming a river, don’t they?
Here’s another one:
Any idea what caused these types of tears? It is the tears of change–something I’ve been shedding quite a bit these days. Something Tom tries to understand, but often struggles to do so. The same changes have affected him, but he doesn’t cry nearly as much as I do. Which brings me to my next point…
Another fascinating aspect of this research is how different men and women are in regards to shedding tears. Of course, everyone knows the differences, but what you may not realize is why.
One substance being studied in connection with crying is the hormone prolactin, levels of which increase in women during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, as well as when we’re under stress. We average up to 60 percent more prolactin in our bodies than men. William Frey, Ph.D., biochemist and author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears, theorizes that prolactin lowers women’s emotional bar by stimulating the endocrine system, which makes us more prone to tears.
And we do cry more — on average, 64 times a year, compared with 17 times for men. We cry when we’re sad or frustrated or angry, whereas men cry at major losses, like death; when they get frustrated, they just get mad. Ask a man the last time he cried in front of someone else and chances are he’ll have a hard time remembering. A woman won’t.
But a funny thing happens as we reach midlife. Women cry less and get angry more — just as our levels of female hormones drop off, leaving a higher concentration of the male hormone testosterone. In men, a decline in testosterone makes for increased impact from their female hormones. And guess what? As guys get older, they get angry less — and cry more. (source: How Crying Works, by Alia Hoyt)
Isn’t that amazing? Of course this research bypasses the spiritual aspect of our tears, which we know is the most important part of who we are. God created us human, and every detail of our being glorifies Him–even our tears.
“You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” – Psalm 56:8 ESV
And the best of news is that He keeps track of every tear we’ve ever shed. Whatever you’re facing today, know that God has made your tears to help you through it. And they are not wasted tears. He counts them and marvels at them, writing them in His book. How often do we pour our hearts out to God in prayer for help in a desperate situation? Maybe you’re doing this quite regularly and are being tempted to think it’s of no account. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Our tears are accomplishing in us exactly what God wants them to accomplish. Give Him your concerns, your tears. Trust that He hears us when we pray.
I think of Mary Magdelene who took a vial of very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her tears. What she was doing was an act of thanksgiving and surrender to the One who had loved her most. Do you see your tears as an act of surrender, a sacrifice of praise to Him who has ordained every step? I have recently, and it has made all the difference in the changes I’m facing. What were tears of grief… (Doesn’t this look like something broken?)
…have turned to tears of joy. (Doesn’t this look like a fireworks display?)
“The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:3 ESV
The weather is quite volatile today. As I’m typing the wind is howling through a cracked window; it sounds like an effect in a scary movie.
It got me to thinking of the storms I’ve experienced in my life. Back in 2004 when Hurricane Charley plowed across the entire state, I happened to be at a conference in Maryland and missed the whole storm. When I got home I was shocked to see the damage it had inflicted on our neighborhood. Tom rallied with neighbors to help clear the roads. But what’s funny is my reaction to the whole thing.
The last big hurricane to hit our area was in 1960 when Hurricane Donna hit Cuba and then made a bee line north damaging much of Florida. I was only one, but I remember bits and pieces of the storm because of its impact on our neighborhood.
I am a native from Orlando so whenever something big happens I want to experience it too. When I missed Charley I felt a strange since of disappointment. Two weeks later I was able to experience what I’d missed – Hurricane Fran hit Orlando, only to be followed by Ivan and Jeanne in two week increments! I finally said, “Enough already!”
Tom jokingly says that I got my wish! Yeah, I sure did! I felt bad for even expressing a desire to go through a hurricane. This must have been how the Israelites felt when God granted their wish for meat. They had so much quail it made them sick! We must be careful what we wish for.
This leads to my next question:
Question #19 – What severe storms have you experienced? How did it impact where you lived?