Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ah! Regular Readers, I Have Not Forgotten You

I know you've been pinging, and I know how many times. So sorry everyone. The past week, I was inundated with finishing my deadline magazine articles. I am having major abdominal surgery on Tuesday and have had to focus solely on getting my home-based business ready for a long absence. Thankfully, all the work is now finished, and I am taking these last two days to fully relax before the operation.

I will be posting another entry or two, tonight and tomorrow. And then it may be a minimum of a week before I am able to do another one. As I will be bed-bound for two to three weeks, I'll have lots of time to write and reflect ... but again it depends on pain levels and medications.

Thanks for your patience & loyal following. I'll see you here later today or tonight.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prayer Among the Palm Trees

June 1998.
My hotel room.
St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

I am 33.

I toss my suitcase on the bed and make my way to open heavy blinds and turn on the A/C, the stuffiness of the room mirroring my heaviness of heart.

Vacationing solo, I have arrived at a writers' conference on this quaint Georgian island, as loaded with Spanish Moss and Kudzu as it is with antebellum homes.

But I'm not excited to be here.

I know that when I get home after this week away, I will break up with my boyfriend of two years. He is Jewish. We have reached an impasse in our relationship. He feels that if we get married and have children, we should not discuss Jesus with them.

I feel oppositely.

So here I stand in my conference hotel room, with a week of solitude looming, and dreading the pain I'll feel when the relationship has finally been severed.

Music fills my mind -- a tune of sheer grief. I've never actually heard this song before ... it's something that my mind has conjured suddenly all on its own. It's as if my soul has transformed into the music itself, that I am the music personified. It bathes me in my sadness.

I stare at the palm trees. They bend in the oven-like wind. I focus on the swaying palms and dwell on the time when Jesus marched into Jerusalem on a donkey, while people waved palms in His face and hailed Him as King. I ask myself, "Am I willing to put Him back on his throne, make Him King in my life again?"

I am. I pray among the palm trees.

"I know it's not possible for me to stay in this relationship. If I do, I will always doubt any decision he makes for You. I will always wonder. If he tells me in the future that he has changed and is now a Christian, I will doubt it. I would rather spend a lifetime apart from him, knowing that my distance from him might someday help him to give his life to you, unreservedly. I am in the way right now. I am his hurdle. I will remove myself from his life completely, in the hopes that someday he will find You."

And I do. I end it on my return home.

I tell him I will never marry him. But I keep the reason to myself. Giving him the reason will further be an impediment for his belief.

I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than allow that to happen.

And I pray. I pray for a decade. Each time my old boyfriend comes to mind, I pray that he will not die before he meets Jesus. I plead for his salvation. We are apart for good on this earth, but I have not let go of pleading his case before God's throne.

Eleven Years and Two Months Later.
My home.
Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

I am 44.

I'm happily married now. My husband loves Jesus, and we lavish our faith and love on our 6-year-old son.

But within the past week, I have had Internet correspondence with my old boyfriend. He found me on Facebook and then saw me post a note that my pastor would give a very special talk: "What happens 30 seconds after you die?"

So on Sunday, he logged onto the church Web site and watched live. He chatted with online moderators about the meaning of the message. When it was over, he emailed several questions.

This morning, he told me he was ready to give his heart to Jesus.

I close my computer laptop, my hands shaking.

Did this really just happen?

It did.

And the best part is ... it happened without my pressure or cajoling. It happened without my presence in his life. It happened just as I had hoped it would -- a full and complete submission to the heart of Jesus, sans me.

It happened.

Tonight my friend goes to bed, covered in the amazing love of Jesus, his sins washed clean. Tonight I can sleep for the first time in 11 years, knowing that God is faithful, even in circumstances that may seem dark and ominous.

Look at what He just did.

I saw my prayer among the palm trees answered today. I was able to move on with life. I was able to meet my husband, the man of my dreams, and receive the golden gift of a child. The blessings have been ten-fold since then.

And now I have a new blessing for which to be thankful: my friend's salvation.

Is someone in your life who needs to know Him? Don't give up hope. Keep praying. Keep the faith. Don't stop. Even if you are miles apart emotionally and physically, remember the reason you cared for them in the first place.

So what about you and the people in your life who don't know Jesus? How can I pray for them?

How can I pray for you today?

Monday, September 14, 2009

An Oatmeal-Encrusted Body & A Pileated Woodpecker

My home.
Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

We are two seconds from leaving our house for church, when my torso starts to feel hot and then begins to itch.

I scramble into the bathroom to inspect for the cause. I'm horrified by the mirror's reflection.

My stomach, back, arms and legs are covered in a red rash. Suddenly, my entire body is on fire with the pain of it.

Grabbing my Aveeno oatmeal bath supply, I make a paste and smear it where ever there is discomfort.

"I can't go to church like this," I tell Brent. "I'm sorry."

And I am.

I have been looking forward to this particular church service for a week. Our pastor Pete His is going to talk about what happens to someone 30 seconds after they die. I've been hyping the event on my Twitter page, my Facebook page and my other blog, Kingdom Treasures. Already I have been fielding questions about it from my friends and followers.

The rash, though, is the cherry on top of horrific days. I've been battling a sinus infection, plus I have been in extreme pain and will undergo surgery at month's end. My entire week has been spent in my living room recliner, mostly feeling sorry for myself.

And now. Now I have this .... RASH.

But I quickly learn there is a reason I am allowed to suffer.

I open up my church service on my computer, where I can see it live. I am surprised to discover two of my facebook friends there. They have all kinds of questions as the talk about death and our immorality unfolds. I realize ... I'm an instrumental part of their lives. Sure, anyone could speak to them in the chat room, had I gone to church and not had this rash. But to be present for them -- to be able to interact with them as they processed the somber message -- is a gift straight from Heaven.

Suddenly I hear a faint rustling at my dining room door.

I look up from the computer to see a Pileated Woodpecker, sitting on the edge, staring into my eyes. He cocks his head to the side, studying my house. He is beautiful. His shock of red feathers top his crown like a Robin Hood beret.

And then he takes flight into the trees.

He is my second gift from Heaven.

I don't know how things will turn out with my friends, whether they will fully absorb all of the information they received yesterday -- and whether they will admit it into their hearts.

But I can tell you that in that one moment when I saw the woodpecker, I was grateful for my illnesses. Had I been to church, I would have missed all of this!

When you have a bad day or a health scare or a disappointment, where do your thoughts go? How do you accept what has happened?

"All things work together for good," the writer of Romans tells us.

Do you believe that?

I can honestly tell you that despite my oatmeal-encrusted body, I was living with joy -- joy from the ability to share with my friends and joy from the ability to see such a beautiful and rare creature ... on a day when my first choice to go to church had been painfully demolished.

What about you? What are you struggling with today? Do you see the blessings in the midst of hardship?

How can I pray for you?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Engaging Hate


It's what we encounter when we present the Name of Jesus to skeptics and to different religious groups. If you ever doubt the veracity of Jesus's claim to be the Son of God, ask yourself why the mention of His Name is so objectionable to most people.

I've had some interesting discussions lately with Christians who are befuddled by this rancid attitude, and I thought I'd share some coping methods I've adopted. I don't know if they'll help you, but these are some ways that I deal with frontal attacks on my faith.

1) Remember who they hate. Take yourself out of the equation. Their argument is not with you but with God Himself. Their views reflect the war in their hearts against Him. When you remove yourself from this battle, you can deal with their anger rationally and without fear.

2) Engage them with love. That means, don't argue for the sake of proving you are right. This is your pride at work. Take the discussion to their personal lives. Find out who they are -- what are their interests? Do they have children? What do they do for a living? When you ask these questions, they become a person to you, not an adversary. You can't help but love them. The result is that your responses will be more in keeping with Jesus's heart.

3) Are they throwing questions at you like darts? Take those questions in small chunks. Explain that you want to answer their questions but that it is not possible to tackle every one of them in one fell swoop. This is logical, and anyone who has a smidgen of a fallow heart will follow your point. If the person refuses to allow constructive dialogue on each question, they will not be won. There's no point in continuing the discussion. Tell them you will have to agree to disagree and move on.

4) Engage only the people who are willing to courteously listen. There is a difference between someone who is arguing for the sake of arguing and someone who is arguing for the sake of answering questions in their minds. The former will hurl insults, profanity and diatribes at you. The latter will appreciate that you are taking their questions seriously. Even if you are ploddingly slow at answering them, they will understand your sincerity and respond in kind.

5) Don't get sucked into trying to convert someone with whom you have a sexual attraction. If you're single and this person is a potential boyfriend/girlfriend, back off completely. Allow the arguments to be handled by a strong spiritual leader in your life. Otherwise you will fall into the trap of entering or staying in a relationship "to convert" them, and this has absolutely no good end for you.

6)Pray. Pray. Pray. If you are online in an instant message discussion, pray as the person types their notes. If you don't have an answer, disengage, explain that you have to pray about how to answer and then contact them when God makes it clear to you. It serves no purpose to keep talking if you are not allowing God's Spirit to pepper the conversation with His grace. He has to be the one speaking through you. When you sense that you have taken over the conversation from Him, it's time to request a break from the discussion. Promise the person you will get back to them. Then pray.

Do you have your own methods for dealing with skeptics? Questions? Post them here! Let's open up the discussion so that we can support each other and pray for each other.

How can I pray for you?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Miracle after the Pain

Wracked with pain, eaten with frustration, dizzy with weakness, I slump in my recliner.

Tears of self-pity wash my face, their saltiness a bitter reminder to me of what I am missing.

For months I have been looking forward to this weekend, anticipating the moment when we will open doors to our new church and also throw a big festival party for the city of Lexington, Kentucky. The object of this annual event is to get more people interested in coming to church and hearing about Jesus.

I have yearned to hear my favorite band, Third Day, bring home the message of God’s love. I have been anxiously praying for people who will process these ideas – perhaps for the first time in their lives.

I was supposed to volunteer at this event.

I was supposed to help shepherd kids in their entertainment corner of this large festival. I was supposed to also hop online with other Web chatterers and talk to people viewing the event from around the world. I was supposed to take Neil around to carnival rides and buy him a funnel cake and help him play games.

Instead, I languish. I wilt. I droop more than the tomato plants that are dying at the base of my porch steps.

I am ill. I have discovered this week that I will have surgery. At first it was thought I had cancer – a type of which only 50 percent of women survive the first five years. I gritted my teeth and worried for 24 hours until it was determined the abnormal growth in my body was not cancerous … but then I found out I would still have to subject myself to the knife.

It will be the fourth time in four years.

Then, one day before this big festival occurred, the pain overtook me. It pummeled my body. It was relentless. It ate at my insides like shark teeth.

It. Never. Quit.

And so I quit.

And here I sat, on Sunday morning, my husband and son off to the church, off to the festival, while my dog buried his web nose in the palm of my hand and licked the salt from my cheeks.

“I am useless. I can’t be used. I am done.” I said to God.

Resigned, I opened my laptop to watch the first online service at my church, which was being broadcast live on the Internet.

And that’s when she came.

My friend, far away.

I had so desperately wanted her to watch. And she was there, in the chat room, watching. She began asking questions. She chatted with others. She processed the story of the Prodigal son. She began to grasp the meaning of God’s unconditional love.

She said she will be back next week.

Later tonight, I chatted online during the festival, also broadcast live.

And as the band Third Day praised Jesus, I also began to praise Him, typing in messages to the chat room about His Glory, His Beauty, His Grace.

Others followed suit.

They too started talking about their experiences with Him. They started sharing how He had changed their lives. We dug deep together, clinging to each other via the light of a computer screen, united only by our thoughts and our hearts.

And that’s when people started to write that they were moved, that they were crying, that they needed prayer.

That’s when I realized … I am being used! He is allowing me to participate, even though I thought I had been tossed to the sidelines like a limp rag doll.

Others sent me emails. They told me that my prayers had helped them. They said that they had grasped a formerly difficult concept about God for chatting with me.

They said I had brought a smile to their faces.

I’m not writing this to you to brag.

I writing this because I want to show you, to tell you – God can use you, no matter your circumstances.

God allowed my body to be used as a punching bag for illness so that I would become weak this week … so that I would learn from Him.

What did I learn?

He is the one who brings people to Himself. We are helpless to do it without Him. And despite our weaknesses, His strength is made perfect through us. He uses us anyway, no matter our limitations! He loves us! He guides us! He prods us to help others!

And with His Mercy and Grace, with His infinite strength, we are allowed to become His vessels of glory. We are allowed to be used to draw others into His arms.

The Miracle after the Pain … that He would deign to use even me.

I can sleep, knowing that every second of suffering … was worth it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Did I Mention Funnel Cakes?

Another commercial! Drum roll please ....

You are cordially invited to attend the biggest party ever -- and if you can't be there in person, you can check it out online, live!


We're going to have carnival rides. Funnel cakes. Carnival games. Funnel cakes. An American Idol copycat contest. Funnel cakes. Group 1 Crew, Jars of Clay and Third day. Funnel cakes. Fireworks. And to top it off ... a chance to hear more about how you can get to know God personally.

Oh! Did I mention that we're having funnel cakes???

For information on tickets and also about logging in to view it ... The event starts at 4 p.m. on Sunday and goes past midnight. Hey! It's a holiday weekend! You can do this!

Also, I will be on the Web chatting team. You can chat live with me starting at 8 p.m.

Hope to see you there!!! If you hop online, please ask for me so that we can meet!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making Sense of Mysteries

A brief commercial ... drum roll ...

So you like reading blogs about the Bible but you have trouble reading the Bible itself?

Look into Bible Study Fellowship. It's terrific! You get to dig into the historical context, the cultural context, the original language context ... and everything else in between ... to get a full understanding of the Bible as you've never read it before.

Go to to find a program near you.

This year, we're hitting the book of John.

Check it out!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Have a Cupcake on Me

Pink chocolate cupcake against a pink background photo

Hi Readers!

I am in the midst of a writing marathon, with a dozen stories all due on Friday. As such, I won't be blogging for the next few days.

In the meantime, have a cupcake on me! :-) This one has absolutely NO CALORIES!

Here are wishes for a sweet and joyful day for you.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Attacks on the Mind, Body and Soul

I know that as Christians, we're supposed to live victoriously.

This week is particularly hard for me.

Ironically, on Sunday, I prayed with some people at my church about this very thing.

This coming Sunday is a big day. We're opening our new auditorium to the public AND we are throwing a big party for the city of Lexington, Kentucky, with bands in attendance like Third Day and Jars of Clay, plus carnival rides and games -- even funnel cakes and fireworks.

We volunteer for this event so that we can be part of the remarkable experience of leading people closer to Jesus.

Problem is, when I approach these types of events, I do so not with joy but with dread.

I can predict like clockwork that I will face attacks -- on my mind (my relationships), my body (my physical health) and my soul (lots of "accusations" about my reactions to circumstantial hardships).

So on Sunday, I chatted and prayed with some wise people from my church about it.

They told me to live victoriously, that Jesus had conquered these problems and that I could rest in that. Finally, I thought, I've been able to voice the thing that has been bothering me for so long.

But then the attacks began, almost immediately.

On Sunday night, Brent became extremely angry with me for a financial mistake I'd made back in January.

On Monday, I received some disheartening news. I had ordered a new Muppet to do ventriloquism for children at the festival. But the committee in charge of children's ministries decided that the Muppet was "not approved." I felt discouraged that as much as I have tried to offer my volunteer services, I'm blocked from giving them.

And then today, Tuesday, I went to the doctor. I've had a nagging pain in my right side and am also anemic from inordinate blood loss. Turns out I have diseased organs that may also be cancerous. Surgery is not far off. This will be my fourth operation in four years.

I know that we all experience hardships and frustrations. This is part of life. I have to tell you, though, that mine seem to pile up right before or right after a spiritual experience or a time of significant closeness to Jesus.

I don't have answers for you on why.

I'm actually just venting here.

Do you go through this, too?

How do you deal with hardship?

How can I pray for you?