Convenient Life

It makes me cry to see November

All life past a continuous blur.

Defining moments of a convenient life?

Can there be, will there be?

 

From one degree of pleasure and milder pain.

To another height or valley.

Defining moments of a convenient life.

Can there be, will there be?

 

When did time assault me?

It used to be my friend as I

Begged each year to grow me up

And experience to make me wise.

 

I climbed few mountains, notched few years

As critical memories. For each day fades.

How does this change? My current is strong.

Is middle, mediocre where I belong?

 

Or what impact would I have?

Do sleepless nights parade dreams

Of wealth and status?

Have I missed a lucrative calling?

 

Or have I buried dreams of sacrifce?

Goals of pouring out the fullest measure?

Will my mark be left on people or economy?

Who would define a convenient life?

FREE STARBUCKS

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the first, free Starbucks gift card giveaway! Let’s get chatty! All you have to do for a chance to win is talk with me here this week. Tell me about a mentor or someone you have mentored.

Tell me about your prayer life – how do you intercede? do you pray the scriptures? with music? do you kneel? do you pray intentionally?

I’m anxious to hear from you and I wish we could share a cup of coffee personally!

World’s Most Generous Blog, Thank You Very Much, Here’s a Freebie!

One of the things I learned from Margo Dill in Blogging 101, is that every successful blog has a theme. Her advice proved salient and my readership has more than quadrupled since taking her course. Thanks to YOU and to Margo!

That said, she also gave her students permission to go with the flow, follow our whims and enjoy the growing, morphing, evolving trends of our writing. So, as you and I move into another, fast-escaping month, I want to introduce a new theme.

 Graceful Giving with Gratitude

Do you see the influence of this month’s holiday? God has been opening my mind to so many ways of giving lately.

I’m involved in a ministry at my church called “Heart to Heart.” This is a mentoring ministry, pairing mature Christian women with generally younger believers to help them grow righteousness. I’ve spent hours working on rosters, praying for the right pairing of people, reading about the ministry and visiting with my co-leader. On an individual level, Heart to Heart is going to require an immense amount of gracious giving – of time, energy, resources, encouragement, hope and honesty.

God doesn’t believe in coincidences. Therefore, neither do I. On a recent In the Market with Janet Parshall broadcast, I listened to Janet interview Dr. Kevin Leman about his newest book Have a New You by Friday. Janet frequently takes calls from her listeners. One particular caller tore at my heart with her story. I once believed the same PREDATORY LIE.

 “The best word I can use to describe myself is incidental,” the caller whispered. Pain seeped through the cracks in her voice.

Incidental: happening or likely to happen in an unplanned or subordinate conjunction with something else. (www.dictionaryreference.com)

I have felt that way. I just happened to be in my family. I didn’t need to be there, no one would miss me if I was gone. Sure, I was a nice appendage, but certainly unnecessary.

Isaiah is an intimidating book of the Bible. But one verse sealed the tomb on my pain and has worked amazing freedom and joy in my life. “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O [Abby], he who formed you, O [Abby]: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are mine.” Is. 43:1 and in verse 4a, “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”

It is my heart’s determination to extend grace to all women out of gratitude for the freedom and purpose that Christ has given to me.

So, here’s the plan for Thanksgiving’s honorary month:

Each Monday I will share a different story of a woman who invested herself in my life. There have been so many, using so many different means, in so many different places, with so many varying levels of intentionality. Many do not even know how much they impacted my life.

On Wednesday I want to pray with you. I am an advocate of Scripture prayers. They keep me from losing my train of thought or meandering into “if it’s your will territory.” If I’m praying according to His word, then I can be confident that I am praying within His will.

But there’s a catch. On Wednesday, I want to begin establishing a new reputation as the  WEB’S MOST GENEROUS BLOG. Every Wednesday, I will draw a name from the past week’s participants (commentors). Each week, someone will win two $5 gift cards to Starbucks. The condition is that you must take someone else to coffee. Extend God’s grace to them and invest in their life. I’d love it if you want to pray with them! Then, write me and tell me about your experience.

Finally, Friday. I think I want to keep Friday as a free day – for pictures, poems, sharing your stories or guest posts by friends who enjoy the grace of God in their own lives. Friday will often offer another chance to win a free… CD? Gift card? Book? After all, this is going to be the WEB’S MOST GENEROUS BLOG!

So, what do you think?

FREEBIE!

 I’ve been reading a book called Sun Stand Still, by Steven Furtick. We’ve done two other book reviews on this blog, so this one will end with a giveaway as well.

The book’s premise is that many Christians are afraid to pray big prayers like Joshua’s prayer in Joshua 10.  Moses’s successor had a lot to live up to. As he chased the Amorites over hill, God pounded them with large stones from heaven. The Israelites had already won the victory when Joshua spoke God, “Make the sun stand still!”

Do you ever feel like you’re asking too much of God? He has already done so much for you. Do you really have a right to ask for one thing more? Joshua believed he did. “God, even though your enemies are already on the run, crush them for your glory. Do a miracle so big, that in your name this battle will go down in history!”

Do you ever pray under your breath? Are there some big requests that you’re too timid to share? Do you finish all your request with caveats and loop holes just in case God doesn’t answer the right way or fast enough? 

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel…” (Josh. 10:12) IN THE PRESENCE OF ISRAEL. If God didn’t stop the sun in its tracks Joshua was going to look pretty foolish. How much confidence do you have in your God? How much confidence do you have in your knowledge of His will and the sound of His voice?

It’s a symptom of the Christian Atheist. I’ve often realized, with remorse, that I trust God with my eternity, but I don’t trust him for my today. For me that can mean I don’t believe he can get me through a family dinner, or a missed workout or a piece of birthday cake. But of course, I believe Jesus redeemed me for heaven. See the discrepancy?

I have a relationship hurdle in my life right now. I’m at odds with someone really close to me. It’s a relationship that I can’t just let go. I’ve prayed, a million ways, a million times and frankly, I don’t see a whole lot of improvement. Sometimes I’m not afraid to pray big, I just feel too worn out to pray. Kind of, “God you know what I’m thinking, but I’ve said it so many times that…” My attitude is a pessimistic, if God hasn’t answered yet, maybe I should just give up. 
I do have to admit though, that I feel closer to Father than ever before. I see more of my sin. I hear from the Holy Spirit more often than ever before. Many times it is reproof. But His voice is so sweet. Even when what He has to say stings, I am so thrilled that God speaks to me! I wonder if without heartaches, would I have cried out to God the way that I am now?
It’s funny, because what began as disbelief and resignation about God’s interference in this situation, has increased my belief in God in other areas of my life and come full circle to increase my belief in His willingness and ability to make this relationship worthy of His glory.
Ps. 119:71-72 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”

So here’s the deal: You need to leave a comment on this post. You have one week. In your comment tell me about your own Sun Stand Still prayer; or you can share your personal struggle with Christian Atheism. On Nov. 2, we will draw a winner from the commentors and they will receive a copy of either Sun Stand Still or Christian Atheist – winner’s choice.

It Hurts So Good

Yesterday was golden. The kind of day that defies memories of torrential downpours, days of frying eggs on the sidewalk, windstorms that toss trees like toothpicks leaving gargantuan voids in the front yard.

 

Yesterday’s temperature balanced between perfect and sublime. The cherry on top of a day that would have been wonderful anyway, was that I spent it with Lisa. I haven’t seen Lisa in about 2 years. God has plotted my life about two dashes behind her since we first met in North Carolina. When she moved to WA, I followed and when she got to Virginia, I showed up there, too.

 

Even though I’ve now lived here for 10 months, we just got together. We tootled down King Street in Old Town Alexandria. There were sights to see and stores to browse. The glass player was in his traditional spot by the Torpedo Factory, swooning tourists with his rendition of Mozart on goblet shaped glasses. It was also the final weekend for Bilbo Baggins’ Oktoberfest beer selection. But we missed it all.

 

Lisa shared so much of Jesus with me that it was all I could do to soak it up in the 3-4 hours we had together. After a Starbucks to start our saunter, we finally sat at an outdoor cafe and refreshed with sparkling water, tomato juice, fresh fruit and bread – and we talked.

 

It’s an amazing thing to have a friend who can convict you without you even knowing it. When we said goodbye, she hoped that she hadn’t been to harsh – never! I heard love and encouragement and empathy. Much of what we talked about was for our ears only. Suffice it to say, our husbands will be thrilled and honored that we spent the day together.

 

Lisa did confide a couple things to me that I would be remiss not to proclaim more publicly. At one point, Lisa stopped me amidst the flow of people and said, “The Lord wants me to tell you that He is in the business of building, not breaking.” That hit me in a certain little wound, but it might strike you somewhere else. In one way, often it feels like God’s anvil or potter’s hand is destroying us. God’s way of refining us sometimes feels brutal. Remember, He is building you, improving you, making you useful and beautiful.

 

Lisa also confided in me that God has been increasing her generosity. We were approached by at least 5 people asking for money. I have never been approached by a beggar on King Street or any metro stop. I’m sure it’s not that unusual, but I had never experienced it. Usually, no matter where it happens, I tuck my purse a little closer and try to pretend I didn’t see them. I give to 501C3’s, I give to tax-deductible causes, I give where I’m ministered to. Lisa didn’t see it that way.

 

I was shocked to see her pull out her wallet and give the first beggar a few bills. Then, the next one. Then, she asked me about my usual response. Since she had already observed it, I was honest.

 

“God has really laid it on my heart that when someone asks, I should give. Regardless. It’s not what they do with it that matters, but the condition of my heart,” she said. Lisa told me stories of one man asking for $4. She had exactly $4. She told me about turning around in traffic because she had missed her opportunity and the Holy Spirit was insistent.

 

As we sat grazing outside the little cafe, one more girl came up to us. In Spanish she kept asking for money. She had a little folded piece of paper that translated her need. Truthfully, her clothing belied her words, but, it’s not what she does with the money that matters, it’s the condition of my heart.

 

I need to wrap this up, but God dovetailed yesterday right into Sunday’s sermon. Our church is planning a huge building project. In 2+ years we have doubled in size but our building has stayed the same. (I’m also reading a book right now about praying big, Sun Stand Still prayers.) Pastor Marty said that we need $2,000,000 to pay for the project out right. He also confirmed my belief that we should remain debt free.

 

Pastor Marty offered an equation. If each person gave a certain amount, we would meet our goal in two weeks. And that’s what he is praying for. Is it ironic that the amount each person might give is exactly the amount that God had laid on my heart to give toward the building cause?

 

Faithful God has been teaching me so much lately. In pain, real pain, He has drawn near and loved me so much closer. And He is enabling me to hear Him. And bless the Lord, He is speaking. Let me listen.

A Few Changes

I think it’s time to implement some changes around here, so I welcome your feedback. Starting in October, and maybe just for October, let’s lighten the mood and lessen the load. I’m only going to post three days a week during October – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with the occasional page-vomit in the middle when I just can’t keep my words to myself (:

I want to devote some extra time to researching related blogs and making some friends in the blogsphere.

So,  if you’re interested in the content you read here and would like to guest post on Predatory Lies, or have me write for your blog, please contact me. Also, I am available for hire to write for Christian blogs, blogs covering health and fitness or poetry; blogs discussing eating disorders and blogs about being a military spouse .

We will also explore some different content here. For the month of October:

Monday will be a “healthified” recipe. I call some of my personal creations “recipes for recovery” as they have encouraged me to find ways to eat and enjoy foods that used to be triggers or fear foods for me.

Wednesday will be my Weakest Moments. Here I am going to be really vulnerable. I am truly seeking the Lord right now for conviction in any hidden areas of my heart. I want to know where my thoughts or behaviors are threatening my intimate relationship with Jesus.

And Friday will be a FREEBIE! Anything I want to share. Funny or otherwise, poetic or prose. Original or content so good it must be repeated. Also, FREEBIES might mean giveaways more than once too! So make sure to leave your comments!

I hope you don’t mind the variety for one month. After that, we’ll re-evaluate if Predatory Lies should return to the original format or morph into a combination of phases one and two. Please, leave your feedback – your opinion is what matters most.

The Good, The Bad and God-sent Imagination

This morning I was reading my devotional in Table Talk. I was not really surprised to see the Holy Spirit illuminating truths about imagination. I love the way God repeats Himself. He is loathe to let us miss anything important. How many times did Jesus say, “Truly, truly,” (translated: listen!). How often do you read, “If you will obey my commandments things will go well with you,” and didn’t God list the 10 commandments at least twice?

Here’s a quote from Table Talk:

Will you let an unsanctified imagination stir up potential scenarios that argue you  out of obedience to the Scriptures and the Spirit’s promptings? The good news is that the gospel invites us into the freedom, joy and confidence of if God.

Here is the dangerous side of imagination – it’s like a little kid in the dark – all the big, bad, terrible possibilities are out to get you! My story: For years, my number one fear was getting fat. The rabid thoughts of anorexia were loose in my mind, where I allowed them to run rampant. They took my imagination hostage and began to produce lies like, “If I eat what the dietician is telling me, I’ll wake up 100 lbs. heavier.” “My parents have finally given me up for dead, they don’t care anymore.” “If I don’t run 50 miles this week, I won’t be able to run 5 next week – I’ll be instantly fat and lazy.”

What’s your story? Has an unsanctified imagination begun to spread fearful lies in your head like, “With the economy sinking so fast, we’re going to be destitute.  I’m failing to care for my family.” “If I don’t have a career outside the home, I’m worthless, just a baby-feeder.” “Until I lose 15 lbs. I shouldn’t even be seen in public, let alone in shorts or a swimsuit.” “I will be lonely forever.”

But, there’s a wonderful element to imagination, too. That’s what Michael Card’s book, “Luke, The Gospel of Amazement,” is all about.

Another quote from Table Talk:

“The longer you play it safe and avoid risk and the potential of loss, the more you will accept the present and lose your capacity to dream about and shape the future. When you give your fears more authority than the Spirit of God, all chance of God-exalting valor and generational impact is lost.”

Simply put, to know Jesus requires an imagination. Isn’t creation incredible? Could you dream up the gospel story if you tried? It is going to require a big, creative imagination to accept what God has planned for us – no eyes has seen what God has planned for us – God has an imagination! (Is. 64:4) I believe that the gospels, God’s good news, incredible good news, enhances our imagination.  Seriously, can you believe, can you imagine that God would send His own Son to die for us and redeem us to Himself?

Imagination proposes itself as IF, WHAT IF? Let God answer you,

“If God is for us, then who can be against us? He who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

“if God so clothes the grass, which is alive today and is tomorrow thrown into the fire, how much more will He cloth you?” Luke 12:28

The Amazing Gospel of Luke – A week-long book review

Last night I started reading Michael Card’s new book, “Luke, The Gospel of Amazement.” My interest was piqued when I heard Michael interviewed on In the Market with Janet Parshall.  In case you haven’t noticed, I reference Janet’s show quite often. She is a wealth of information, from current events to book reviews, close looks at biblical prophecy and its impact on today to how to survive our wobbly economy, from estimating the value of your record collection to understanding your family’s dynamics. She is a skilled orator and passionate lover of Jesus Christ. And she’s a writer. In short, she’s the woman I want to grow up to be!

On to the book…

OH, one more thing…don’t miss a day here this week. Like the week-long review of Will Davis’ book, “10 Things Jesus Never Said,” we’re going to take an in-depth overview (oxymoronic, but true) of this book. When you finish reading my blog this week, you are going to have to read Michael’s book. And lucky you! I am giving away a copy of Michael’s book on Friday. So make sure to leave your comments each day so you can be entered in the drawing.

Now, on to the book…

Remember the dazzled, amazed look in a child’s eye when their imagination really gets going? When you’re reading that silly book with talking animals and they look up at you with a query like, “Can dogs really talk?” That’s the purest form of imagination.

Dictionary.com says imagination is: the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

Dictionary.com: Informed: having or prepared with information or knowledge

In Michael’s book he calls on the reader to use his “informed imagination.” My first collision with Michael’s use of the word “imagination” in reference to the Bible, had me concerned. I know people who consider the Bible to be a moralist, fictional story. They believe it was composed by various writers’ lively imaginations and strung together to make a point: live a good life. Fortunately, as I continued to read, that is not Michael’s approach.

The Bible calls upon us to love God with all of our hearts, souls and minds. In secular circles, it is largely believed that Christians employ their hearts and scientists employ their brains. But Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And to keep his commandments, it follows that we must KNOW what they are and UNDERSTAND the person making these demands. So somehow, we must bring our hearts and minds together. Michael says that, “the imagination is the vital bridge between the heart and the mind.” (pg. 13)

Michael calls on readers to prepare their minds with facts about the culture, the geography, the society of the writer’s time (information). Then, to combine this with “mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses” (imagination). As a writer, I hope that people read my work with a mind toward original intent. Obviously, everything I write is predicated on the world around me. The same is true of biblical authors, in this case Luke.

In the introduction, Michael lays out a few basic facts that an informed reader knows about Luke.

1. He was not an eye witness of Jesus’ life.

2. He was a doctor

3. He was a Gentile

4. He was a companion of Paul

There are more, but I want you to read the book! Next, Michael begins linking these facts with social norms like, the relationship between doctors and slaves, (now your curious – right?) how individuals got their nicknames, and why there are so many songs recorded in Luke’s gospel. These aren’t things that are spelled-out in Scripture, but they are logical deductions that help us to engage with the TRUE story of Jesus in the gospel of Luke.

Keep reading!

 

Journal like God

It’s at the top of the list in a string of 20 questions: If your home was burning to the ground, and all of your family and pets were safe, what is the one thing you would want to rescue?

 

That’s easy, but do 11 journals count as 11 things?  Not to me.  They are the chronicles of one life, one story, the cumulative personalities of one person: me.  At first, I thought I should grab my Bible, but then I remembered I can get another one.  There is no way to reproduce the the contents of my journals.  Even if I could remember every thought, every moment recorded, I couldn’t put tear drops on the right pages.

 

There is intrinsic value in the written word.  I imagine the Bible is God’s journal.  It records His thoughts, His movements, His plans, His anguish and joy.  Then, He gave it to us, His children, so that we can know Him.  What better way to know God than to read His journal?  And if God journaled, should we?

[Join me this week as we take a look at the value of journaling both for today and the future. We won’t be looking at journaling everyday (I have a short attention span) but today, Thursday and Friday will focus on this topic.  At the end of the week, I am going to give away a beautiful, leather journal, so make sure that you comment on one, or all three days for your chance to win.]