HL Pic Series: 5-Ashley

img_3939

Ashley stared at the flap-like piece sticking out of the gigantic formation. She’d heard about the strange growth from some of her cycling friends, but did not believe them. Instead, she decided to ride out into the desert by herself to see it; proof was in the sighting – or so her parents had always said. So, she loaded her backpack with a towel, sunscreen, snacks and water and rode her bike eight miles out of town to get a closer view of Paddle Rock. It’s weird! I wonder how that happened.

Ashley had been raised by atheistic scientists who had an answer for all of her questions – up until she had become a teenager. Then she would ask questions they could not answer, like from the Big Bang Theory: How could something come from nothing?

She fought with her parents as they tried to convince her, which created distance between them. Their theories did not make sense to her, so she began a spiritual quest to fill the small void she felt in her chest. Searching the book store, she bought books on Druids, Wicca, Kabbalah, Astrology, New Ageism, Becoming a Shaman, Crystals, Tarot, Mystic Wisdom, Buddhism and many others. Over time she read them all, but each time something still felt missing.

At college she ended up on a dorm floor with a bunch of Christians, some who were bicyclers, like her. She was uncomfortable talking to them about her lack of spiritual upbringing, even though a few were interested in her story. Sometimes she got really frustrated with them because there were days when all they talked about was Jesus. If he is so great, why doesn’t everyone follow him?

One morning, after an extremely difficult exam, she awoke with a headache. She decided to skip class and stay in bed. Waving goodbye to her roommate, who would be gone for several hours, she rolled back toward the wall and closed her eyes.

As she lay in a half-dream state, the face of Jesus, sheathed in luminescence, floated before her and said, “You are my child. I formed you in the womb and know every bit of you. You are well loved.”

Ashley woke up. Her head felt groggy, so she sat up, shook it, rubbed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself. Did that really just happen? Did Jesus just talk to me? That’s weird, my headache is gone already.

Since she was not sure if she had just had a dream, or if it was indeed a vision, she got up, walked over to her roommate’s desk and borrowed her bible. She had heard the girls talking about the New Testament, so she opened up to Matthew and began to read. The words rang of truth and she began to feel the hole fill.

Bible Verses and Perspective

I grew up in a fairly strict church environment, where I learned to feel much guilt and shame. Back then, religious education was about being damned to an eternity of hell fire while living in fear. Man, I am glad perspective has changed in the churches I attend today. They now talk more about God’s love. This brings to mind a verse I memorized as a kid:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, and whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Why didn’t I focus on this verse more as a youth? You know, the part about how much he loved me – rather than focusing on the idea that I may perish.

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion about sexuality recently. The only comments I really have on this topic are that the ways and words have changed since I was a kid and it can be hard to keep up the specifics of the topic. However, I believe whole-heartedly that whatever our beliefs, people who identify other than heterosexuals should be treated with respect, just like everyone else. God says so.

In the New Testament, Romans 2 talks about people judging others – mostly that we are all fallible and God will be the one to judge each and every one of us. Verse 11 says, “For there is no partiality with God.”

I feel that Romans 14:1 also reinforces the respect point, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” And again in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Giving people respect is one form of expressing love. Focusing on the love aspect when dealing with people by using forgiveness, kindness, patience, consideration and compassion saves us… ourselves. Love. Saves. Us.

It’s simple math: God saves us + God is love = love saves us.

He loves us. What is more profound and awesome than that?

Peace.

 

People Seeing God

Since I received my enlightening experience from God (which you may read about in my book, “You Are Forgiven”), I have been enraptured by other people’s divine experiences.

My harmony chords were struck when I first learned of Akiane Kamarik – God’s prodigy child painter. God spoke to her when she was just four years old, even though her parents were atheists, which began her creative journey that has blessed all of us. At only 8 years old, she painted her now famous painting “Prince of Peace.” The first time I saw this work, my heart felt as if an arrow had pierced it as the eyes peered into my soul. I check in on Akiane every now and again, to investigate her new art because it is truly unusual and amazing.

If you want to see other work by Akiane listed by age, she has a web page here: https://www.akiane.com/store/

Another story that touched me is that of Colton Burpo. You have probably heard his story from the book, “Heaven is for Real,” or the movie version, but if not, it is basically that as a 4-year-old, he became extremely sick and while in the hospital went to visit heaven and see Jesus. Lucky kid.

I recently went to see the movie “Miracles from Heaven” about a 9-year-old girl, Anna Beam, who falls into an old dead tree. Rather than breaking her neck from the impact, she was healed of a digestive disorder – a genuine modern day miracle.

The Internet is full of stories. There are those that have been made up – like that of Alex Malarkey. They are sad incidents indeed, but I don’t believe anyone should discount all modern stories of God just because of a few lies, for which the enemy is known.

Matthew 19:14 states, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The amounts of detail that can be recalled and the talent given to these children must surely point to a truth. God’s truth. He is real. He is here. He is now.

Matthew 18:3 says, “…Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Be like little children. Be a Light.

Peace.

 

 

 

91 (a Musing)

Today I was going to write my classic Tuesday poem, but I’ve been bombarded by the number 91 recently so thought I would see what the Internet had to say about this number.

In the last month two people unrelated to me have both brought me the message to read Psalm 91 and this morning my writing buddy has had 91 floating around her brain as well. These are signs.

Psalm 91 comes up as the first thing online when I Google it. The psalm is about keeping focus on God so that He will cover and protect me. I need that – yes I do.

A couple of restaurants came up when I googled the number, a Doctrine from the Mormons, a hotel company, a role-playing game, a magazine, a taxi company and this Wiki definition:

“Year 91 (XCI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Glabrio and Traianus (or, less frequently, year 844 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 91 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.”

Only the Psalm seems to have much significance for me, but I am reminded about all the information available at a simple touch of the fingertips. It makes me want to Google all the numbers, and maybe the letters too! But I must keep reading Psalm 91.

Peace…

OCD and other things.

I’ve been struggling over the past couple of months. I’m not going to get into the details here, but I feel like evil and temptations have been removing my peace. I need to regain my peace, man! And I think I’m on the road to peaceful recovery.

Balance. That is the thing that gets out of whack sometimes. Being a wife, a mom, a home manager, a writer, a gardener, a chef, a hostess, a friend, and a chauffeur all need my time and attention. I wouldn’t give up any of those positions (well maybe chauffeur and chef), but not giving them all the correct amount of time and attention caused me to become unbalanced, and something had to fall through the cracks.

My OCD for writing pushed other positions to the side for a bit and created havoc. I’m happy to report that God gave me a smack-down. I’m just human, I make mistakes. I am so grateful for the grace that grants me forgiveness though – from friends, family, and God.

God interfered in my chaos when He set me up for a new Bible study, Priscilla Shirer’s “Armor of God.” I knew right away when I saw it advertised by a friend that I needed to sign up, because throughout my life I’ve heard God call me a warrior – even though I did not know what He meant by it.

I have only attended this particular church’s Sunday service once, so I found it a bit strange that God had a specific purpose for putting each one of these ladies at the same table as me. Only the leaders at the table had been in Bible study together before, otherwise everyone that sat down at our table had not previously worked together, and most did not know even know each other.  In three sessions I have felt true love and support from people that have gone through many of the trials that I’ve been facing. I don’t know why I’m still amazed when I see God work so thoroughly, but He still does amaze me.

What I’m learning is that I need to apply God’s armor that he speaks of in Isaiah and Ephesians, to strengthen my resolve when the enemy interferes in my life. The more I grow in relationship with God, the more likely I’m going to be under attack. I need to arm myself with truth – which coincidentally is my word for 2016. Imagine that! I need to keep the gospel of peace, righteousness, salvation, the Word, and my faith strong and accessible. It’s not an easy task, but that’s why God provides support systems and pillars for us.

I am humbly grateful again that the Lord has shown me back to my path.

Here’s wishing peace to you… and peace to me too.

The Reverend Todd Young Meets… (a Short Story)

BAL32

The honorable Reverend Todd Young arrived at the conference for “The Correlation of Midwest Pastors” in Dayton with his broken suitcase thumping behind him. As he entered the lobby of the hotel, several people turned to look at him. He bowed his head to a few individually, and then went to check in.

Afterward, as he sat on a settee in the lobby awaiting a porter, a man in a golden suit sat down next to him.

“So I see your bag has a broken wheel,” he said, tipping his hat.

“Why, yes, indeed,” scowled the Reverend. “The young man who drove the shuttle from the airport dropped my suitcase and broke it.” He shook his head, “Kids, these days…”

“That is unfortunate.” He held out his hand and said, “I am Lu Helliere.”

“Reverand Todd Young,” he responded shaking the man’s hand. He lifted an eyebrow and looked at his hand as he felt a slightly burning sensation. “That’s an interesting hat you’ve got there.”

Mr. Helliere removed the hat and held it out toward the Reverend. “Take a look. It’s a gen-u-ine Panama hat. I actually got it down there. I enjoy the warmer climates,” he said as he winked at the Reverend.

The Reverend pulled at his collar as heat crawled up his spine. “So what brings you to the conference?”

Helliere chuckled, “Well, I’m a preacher too. I tend my flock and work toward discipleship at my church, and wherever I may.” He winked again.

“Oh, yeah?” The Reverend squirmed a bit as the settee grew warm beneath him.

“Of course. I’m from down south. As I said before, I prefer a warmer climate. You know, I could help you with your bag.”

The Reverend looked around. Nobody paid any attention to them. He looked back at the man and realized his golden suit shimmered. He was not exactly sure why he felt so uncomfortable in this man’s presence, but he wanted to get away from him. “I appreciate that, but it’ll be fine for this trip. I’ve got another back home.”

“Are you certain? You seemed very aggravated when I sat down. Seems like I could lift your burden here, if you allow me to help you. Maybe we could make a deal. I could give you a new suitcase as I happen to have an extra, if you wouldn’t mind saying a few words in this conference on my behalf.”

The Reverend tugged at his collar again. The air seemed to have left the room. “Why, sir, you might be right. I was just a bit annoyed, but he was only a young man and he will learn better manners. I thank you for your generosity, but my case will be fine for this trip.” He nodded at Mr. Helliere and stood up to greet the porter.

As they walked toward the hallway, the Reverend turned around, but the man in the golden suit had disappeared.

 

“You Are Forgiven” Goes Live

Good morning friends,

I’m so excited! My book is now available in print edition in the U. S.! It should be available in the U.K. in a few days as well.

I have just signed up for a drawing class to hopefully regain some of the skill I had back in high school. I can’t say I’ve ever really stopped drawing with all the crafting projects I’ve done over the years, but I am hoping to polish off the dust. I want to draw the covers for my Christian Tompta books. Hats and shoes baby!!

Hope your week is going great! Peace.

#6 in Category!!!

I’m very excited this evening! After only one day, my book “You Are Forgiven” has made it to #6 in one of its categories. Thank you, Jesus!

Today I also entered the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest. Pray for me, I want to win that one!

God Bless YOU!

http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Forgiven-Testimony-Christian-ebook/dp/B01BMZSYXQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1455240682&sr=8-2&keywords=You+Are+Forgiven#customerReviews