Monday, October 24, 2011


…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…Philippians 4:11b

I’m going to be happy when—I find the perfect soulmate, buy my first home, graduate college, and the list goes on and on. We’ve all felt this, even if we haven’t voiced it aloud.
Happiness is like a butterfly. The more one chases it, the more it eludes. Happiness is a by-product of the way you live your life, not the end game. However, contentment is not only possible, the more it’s pursued, the more it’s attained.

The Apostle Paul said he learned to be content in all circumstances. Does that mean you have to be thankful you can’t scrape together your mortgage payment? Or grocery money? No. But we can be thankful for the things that are going right in our lives in the midst of the hardships. Look around and see what blessings you can count, no matter how small they are.
Paul’s contentment came from living his life through the lenses of Christianity.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength…Philippians 4:12-13.

We can try to be thankful for the trial—for what God wants us to learn as we pass through it. I say try, because that’s a hard concept to wrap your brain around—one I haven’t quite mastered myself.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…James 1:2-4.

God cares that you are struggling. He cares that we live in a fallen world with all its hardships. This wasn’t His first choice for us, but in order to make our relationship with Him sincere, He had to allow an alternative choice. Sadly, many have opted for the alternative, and our world reflects this.
Take comfort in the fact that life won’t always be a struggle. Eternity will be perfect.

Meanwhile, you might not be doing the Snoopy happy dance about your life, but you can rejoice that your Father knows your needs and has your back. I care and want to hear from you. What trial do you want me to pray about with you? What praise report do you want to share? Feel free to comment or send me an email.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

Do you remember Tiny Tim singing this song while strumming his ukulele? I don’t know about you, but there was something a little disturbing about watching him sing. His demeanor seemed to belie his words. Tiny Tim didn’t seem genuinely happy.
I try to encourage others. This is based on Romans 12:8, and my belief that God has gifted me in this area. I don’t believe in false hope or saccharin sayings, but rather extending my hand to a person who is hurting. Hope in despair—hope for the future.

Some of my approach is borne from raising children, experiencing extended family illnesses and deaths, and my medical transcription career over the past few decades. Nothing humbles or puts one’s life into perspective more than sitting in a pediatric cardiology clinic (which I’ve done with both of my children), pediatric neurology clinic, speech/language pathology, occupational therapy, genetics clinic, cardio-thoracic surgery clinic, ER visits, or watching my husband perform CPR on my child, then riding in the back of an ambulance holding my child’s hand and praying he will live. Have I left anything out? Most certainly. I could tell you much about the anguish and heartache I’ve experienced over the years. I could tell you how in a three-year period, we lost eight people in our immediate family. Cancer, old age, suicide.
But the bottom line is—so what?

Erase my problems and fill in the blanks with yours. I’ve typed hundreds of medical reports with far more ghastly, heart-breaking scenarios. I’ve sat in countless waiting rooms with my children in clinics and witnessed other kids with abnormalities they weren’t going to outgrow. Some eventually died, no doubt. I’ve listened to people share heartbreaking family situations. Then I’ve prayed for their problems. While I was at it, I prayed for strength to deal with my own.
Despite what curve balls life throws me, what right do I have to do anything but encourage others from my experiences? God gave me an incredible gift when He chose compassion. I’m not going to fall apart on you, even if my heart is breaking. I’m not going to sugar-coat your problems or my response. In fact, I may give you some tough love. But when you read the verse following the one on encouragement, Romans 12:9, says, “Love must be sincere.”

I hope when you visit my blog or share your problems through e-mail that you will find sincerity. Regardless of how upbeat I try to be, problems visit me regularly. But that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t big enough for yours, too.
As for Tiny Tim, apparently he had his own heart problems. He died doing what he’ll be remembered for most—singing and playing his ukulele in front of an audience...tiptoe through the tulips with me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”  Psalm 139:1-4
Every day, we face decisions, some so small they’re made on an intuitive level without much conscious thought. Other decisions require careful thought and prayer. The few times in life I’ve acted in haste and followed my own judgment, often not my best judgment, poor choices followed. I’ve learned the hard way to carefully weigh the consequences and pray for wisdom.

I often feel overcommitted because of my inability to say no, along with my belief that one should squeeze every ounce there is out of life. Time wasted can never be regained. But as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, “Chasing Dreams,” the quality of life can suffer in the process. At some point, a line has to be drawn and the word “no” spoken.
No is a tough word for writers. Most of us have so many irons in the fire we don’t know which one to grab first. This comes from years of trying to break into the business—much like any other artist.

Saying yes for the right reasons is as important as being able to say no. Which begs the question—When we take on projects, are we over committing or becoming more fully committed to God’s purpose for our lives?
According to the verse above, no one knows us as intimately as God. He has the answers.

As I weigh my choices, I flip through the Bible, reading passages as God leads me, and then I spend time in prayer. When I reach a point of peace, my decision is made.
God has gifted me with the talent of writing, and I never seem to lack for opportunities in that realm. But in recent weeks, I’ve asked God to expand my ministry of encouragement and redirect my steps, if need be, in doing His work.

Last month, I joined a fantastic critique group (as all writers need-Psalm 27:17) through ACFW, which led to another opportunity to join a smaller, more concentrated group of published writers. Two groups—twice the work. An editor called this week and offered me an opportunity to assist with her devotions website.
One thing you can bank on—if you pray to do more for God, He will provide.

Not by coincidence, God led me to another step in my decision-making process. I flipped open the Bible and the passage that jumped out was Psalm 139. I read it over a few times and then prayed. Each time I do this, my decisions become clearer. God’s peace washes over me, and I know He will guide me to accomplish those commitments.
Do I have time to take on another project? Those who know my current commitments would say no. However, my time is God’s time, ultimately. Those who God calls, He equips. I prayed for expansion and direction, and the doors are opening.

Am I chasing dreams or fulfilling God’s purpose? Perhaps both.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Winner of Free Book Giveaway

Congratulations, Crystal Barnes! You're the winner of the free book, Laurie's Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity. Thanks to all of my followers!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chasing Dreams

Isaiah 6:8Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Many times I’ve felt the Lord’s presence in my life, guiding me, and speaking to my heart about my decisions. Specific prayers have received specific answers. Usually, when I pray, wrestle with a problem, and then come to the end of myself and say, “What now, Lord?” He answers me the mightiest.

A friend commented this week, she believed it was the devil’s tool to crowd our mind. I couldn’t agree more. Recently I’ve begun to see the craziness in busyness. I’ve never been one to while away my time without guilt. The more productive I am, the better.  The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say my father wrote the verse that appears in Proverbs 6:10-11 and 24:33-34, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” When my father enjoys leisure time, he’s still doing something. He rests after he has exhausted himself with work or fun. He’s the only person I know who can accidentally take a 20-mile bike ride. But that’s a story for another day.

Each day is a gift—not to be wasted in worry, regrets, grudges, past grievances, or score-settling. You can do nothing to change the past and tomorrow isn’t promised. The time you’re in right now—the present—is the only thing truly tangible.
Apple founder, Steve Jobs, died yesterday. He will go down in history as a giant in the technological  age of the 20th and 21st century. Among his many quotes was one from a speech he gave six years ago during his battle with pancreatic cancer. That death would come sooner rather than later was an understatement. He lasted longer than most with this diagnosis.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Jobs’ statement strips away the pretenses we all live under. While the proverb above cautions against laziness, there is also the extreme of overwork while chasing dreams, fulfilling goals, and trying to please everyone around you. Somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, you’ll find yourself—the one God envisioned when He created you.

And in the quest to find the point of balance, take inventory. When was the last time you listened for a response from God when you prayed? Or sought God’s plan for your life? Or willingly laid your own plans aside for His?
“Here am I, send me,” Isaiah boldly proclaimed.
Prayer: God of the universe, grant me grace when I stumble, contentment when I desire more, clarity amidst chaos, hope during despair, and wisdom to seek the path You have designed for me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Discovering Joy in Adversity

Four years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing a Christian singer/songwriter, Laurie Thompson, for a newspaper article. As I listened to her sing in church one Sunday, the Holy Spirit impressed on me that she would be my next newspaper feature. However, I couldn’t pitch the article based on the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I had to move heaven and earth (or so it seemed) to convince my editor to allow me to profile Laurie. The editor was less than thrilled at the idea. I had no “hook,” which is everything in the publishing world. She very bluntly told me a singer with a disability is not a hook. Many people struggle with disabilities every day.

Since I felt I couldn’t go to Laurie directly as a freelancer with no promise of an article, I prayed and poked around amongst locals to find out more about her and her family. I uncovered nothing. One day, I said, “Lord, what do you want me to do? I’ve hit a dead end.”
The answer was swift. “Google her.”
I ran to the computer, and within 60 seconds, I had my hook.

Unbeknownst to me, Laurie was also praying for guidance in how to proceed with writing her story in book form. After the article was published, Laurie and I developed a friendship, and she asked me to help her write her book.
Some of you know one of the writing jobs I enjoy is ghostwriting. Often people have an emotional attachment to their story, making it difficult to write themselves. That’s where a ghostwriter comes in. Laurie and I worked fervently on her story. We withstood a few attacks from Satan along the way, but with God’s help, came out victorious. Her book, Laurie’s Story: Discovering Joy in Adversity, has now been published.

Laurie’s ministry reflects her joy, despite what life has handed her. As I described in the article, listening to her sing is like being in the presence of angels.
I’d love to share her story with you. Between now and Friday, October 7, 2011, at 10:00 p.m., all you have to do is become a follower of this blog, and you will automatically be entered to win a free copy of Laurie's book through a random drawing. All followers as of that date will be eligible. Just click on the icon on the top left and follow the prompts. It’s very simple.

Happy clicking! Good luck to everyone.