Why I took a break, and why I’m back

Sometimes the blogging world gets noisy. And sometimes you even forget why you blog. And you go to a post where you feel you have held your heart out to the world…painfully so, and you get no comments. And you are disappointed. Even though you know you aren’t writing for:
Accolades……Comments……Validation…..and those are all good things, that was never my motivation.
And you read all these wonderful other blogs, and you feel like your voice is just one more and it’s not quite as beautiful, as esthetically pleasing….as skillful, as creative….fill in the blank.
A scribbling on a blank piece of paper could save your life, if it is just what you need to hear in that moment. 
I have also been mad at the “blogger” platform. Different reasons. All of a sudden my playlist didn’t work. It won’t start playing right when you open my blog. I thought I had it set up to do so, but I still can’t get it to work right.
When I noticed myself scrolling to comments right away? That’s when I knew I had lost my way. I needed to remember Who I was blogging for and why I started in the first place.
Only three reasons, but they are big ones. God, the Word, and You the readers.
I have been going through some changes myself, and no doubt this blog will change with me. Change is a good thing. But the one thing about this blog that will never change is the message. It is a little four letter word but it means the world…..and it’s what the world needs right now:
Hope.
And I realized another thing. My little voice means something, and so does yours.
And after all, how many voices are too many for praise to the living God?
This year has been tough, and it still is. Going on two years of care taking and it takes its toll no doubt about it. But Elaine and I are still laughing despite the circumstances. And now I am going through some other things personally, physical changes which I have talked about here.
And even when the moods are incredibly dark? The amazing thing is that at unexpected moments I have this absurd joy. It just won’t stop, because God has me. And He has you too, no matter what else is going on in your life. Because each and every one of us has circumstances we have to deal with. Those will never go away.
But neither will God.
That, my friends is my main message. And this morning, as if to highlight what I was feeling, this song came on and it said: Let my life song sing to you.
Let my life song sing to you. And you and you.
And like those stones along the road to Jerusalem that would not be silent?  I will never ever stop praising Him, because He is worthy.

The Final Answer

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I smoothed the sheets on my bed this morning and said a prayer of thanks because I didn’t feel like I did yesterday morning. Yesterday I wasn’t ready to enter into the day and I did something I never do on a day off……I went back to bed. Yet, even as I crawled back under the covers, I was aware that it was a luxury.  Just the fact that I could do it. Most can’t.
I pulled the covers up, curled into a ball and slept until 9. For me, that’s late.
After that I went to Walmart, which is my new place between places. I call it my own personal Bermuda Triangle. I sat with my cart amongst the fake Christmas trees and patio sets and smiled at the irony. The depression snaked behind me, but just then I felt I had outsmarted it. I felt cushioned in an island of peace. Even the pink one didn’t bother me, it stood there innocently wearing sparkling white lights. How could I get mad at it?
I sat there playing my Words with Friends like I had nothing else to do. And it was good.
I got back and put everything away. And Joyce was agitated and pacing. I had closed my bedroom door and I think that threw her off too. Alzheimer’s patients are like Autistic kids in that they like routine and they like normal. They don’t like change.
And she forgets that Elaine has a job now and wonders where she is. Imagine never remembering anything? Your mind would have to work 10 times harder than anyone else’s.
Every time I sat down at the keyboard to clack out words…..she came in or out the door. I gave up trying to write. I felt hemmed in, so I went outside for awhile and watched the birds eat the bread I left. The cactus wrens were up to their usual antics and I couldn’t help but smile watching them.
And later the phone rang and it was a dear blogger friend just calling to say……”I have been praying for you.” Never underestimate how important that is. To me it was grace like spring rain.
He told me his frustration about how some of his young friends just don’t seem to get it. That it’s not all about them, but it’s about us and how we are all in this world together. And about Haiti and a world of people in need. And suddenly my problems felt smaller again. And I was able to write about just that very thing. Thank you, Duane Scott. You are a treasure.
Elaine came home after having to call four parents for out of control kids on the bus. They were new kids added to her route. She was exhausted. It was obvious the other driver had been ignoring the bad behavior. And then she sat in a training class where one of the other drivers constantly interrupted the instructor with unbelievably foul language.
Nobody was saying anything, so she finally did.
Then later my Mom called and told me of her friend’s daughter in law. She is in Stanford right now, a mother of three. They were all camping and she came home with a fever. Now something is attacking her liver. She is in Stanford undergoing tests and they can’t find anything wrong, all those very bright minds.
And it was morning and it was evening and God is pulling the shade down on another day.
And the team we were rooting for last night is going to the World Series.
Each day has its own set of wins and losses. Sometimes people get it but sometimes they don’t. And it’s okay……..We do the best we can any given day. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and prays for us with groans that words cannot express.
And in every conflict, as my friend so wisely said, the answer is always the same……Love.

What the Haiti Bloggers Taught Me

 
Tent City, a partial view….photo by telegraph.co.uk

There was a group of bloggers that went to Haiti not long ago. I guess you could say I went along with them. I found myself eagerly following their journey, swept up in their enthusiasm, fear, and trepidation about what they would see, hear and discover.

On Facebook and through each of their blogs, I packed with them, boarded planes with them and prayed with them. I was there, at least in spirit, while they waited in airports and when they touched ground there. I was wrapped up in it, but from a safe distance.

I read the first reports, saw the pictures come in one after another. Each sharing their own personal journey…..in their own words. And there was power in their words, because of what they saw.

Like drumbeats in a native village, the stories came back from each writer, along with the stunning pictures that went where words could not. And it wasn’t just the stories, it was the real people attached to them. People whose faces would be forever imprinted on the hearts of each writer.

I myself slept in my own comfortable bed as they told about how a Haitian Pastor slept on the ground outside by the orphan children that he was protecting, because as Duane Scott said in his post today, “A shepherd never leaves his flock.”

I was in prayer with them when they landed and came back to this land that must have felt a little bit foreign even after being in Haiti a few days. This land where normal means, buying the next model of IPhone simply because you must have the latest and newest version, not because there is anything wrong with your phone.

What they saw changed them from the inside out. Not only that, it has changed me too. I learned some things from them:

That a handful of committed people can make a big difference……and you don’t have to go to another country to be impacted and feel the change yourself, (but it helps).

That God doesn’t want my leftover gifts. He wants my heart.

That I am thinking harder and longer before I purchase something.

That even though I can wake up depressed like I did this morning? Over there in that country little children and adults are living in conditions no one should ever live in, and they are still smiling.

Singing, rejoicing……but they are also

Fainting in classrooms for lack of food.

Being kidnapped and raped.

Living with fear night and day and never ever feeling safe……

And God is watching how we respond, how I respond.

Each of us can make a difference. If only half of us went without one Starbucks Latte per day, we could build houses in Haiti.

If God moves you to do so, you can sign up for a project or make a one time donation right here, or find out more by clicking my “Help One Now Button.”

If God doesn’t lead you to give, then pray for those courageous souls doing God’s work over there. Your prayers make a difference!

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”  James 5:16, The Message.

Of perfect storms and sparrows

Since I started in this new area at work, I have unvolunteered myself for a couple of things I really had no business volunteering for in the first place. I know me right now. Several things in my life right now are stressing me out big time. When I started counting them all I realized it would be even more amazing if I weren’t stressed.

Today started off strange right off the get-go. The person I left at my station last night had transformed herself into a cactus. She focused her prickly laser-like vehemence on me as soon as I came in. It seems I left one thing undone which she proceeded to turn into her own personal very big deal. She left a nasty gram in bold print on my computer, detailing everything that happened as a result of my little mistake. The mistake by the way, that could have easily been corrected in about 5 minutes if she had chosen to respond in a different way.

I felt bad for her co-worker, who is a very nice lady.  She was rolling her eyes behind “the talking cactus.” Then later, I was scolded for not showing up to lead stretches yesterday afternoon. That was my fault, it was my turn. Not only that, I was told that my stretch leading was not adequate. I needed to hold them for 20 seconds each and include more of a variety. So I marched over and took myself off that list too.

Sometimes we disappoint people, ourselves, God. It can’t be helped. I have learned some things through this, though. That if you are stressed to begin with, don’t raise your hand up in the air and volunteer for more.

Sometimes you have to take care of you.

Sometimes you just have to “check out”

After the stretching incident I went outside for a few minutes to regroup and play my “Words with friends.” It helped.While I was out there, I studied a little brown sparrow on the wall. I meditated on that little guy.

I noticed all the variant shades of brown. There must have been 20 that I could see. He was really a work of art. Then I remember what Jesus said about sparrows…..how they are valued by the Father. Noticed, counted. And how not one of them falls to the ground without Him knowing.

And He values you and me even more, much more, the Bible says.

I breathe deep. I start over. And now I will say a prayer for the counterpart that will come in tonight. I will be kind. Because I know there must be a reason why she acts as she does.

I also know that despite all the conditions in my life right now that are threatening to create that Perfect Storm? I have resources, I have people in my life who help me, support me, love me. And some have none of those things.

And writing about it really, really helps.

And most of all? I know the One who specializes in calming stormy seas.

Love, Dad

—–Original Message—–
From: Lyleret8 Lyleret8@aol.com
To: Lheyd59 Lheyd59@aol.com
Sent: Sat, Sep 1, 2012 8:41 pm
Subject: book

Hi Lori, We worked on the fence today as I told you. The real hard part is done. Ron forgets I am 84. We did bending over all day, I can not do that….I came home and took a shower and relaxed in bed for awhile. I went out on the back deck in the cool breeze and took Merton;s book and you Prayer Closet book to read. I ended up reading your book for an hour and a half. You know I read good books but I was mesmerized by your writing, you write like Thoreau or Kathleen Norris. about nature and life. I can’t tell you how absolutely blown away by your talent. I Love you, Dad.

This email was sent to me by my Dad. And surely he could not have been talking about me, but about someone else…….I teared up when I got it, because I realized again how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by people who have sent me things like that my entire life. Not because I am so great, but because they are…..I don’t mind telling you, it made my night.

There is no price we can ever put on the value of good words. And because it was done for me, now I make a habit of doing it too. I never leave my Mom and Dad’s without leaving something under their pillow to find after I leave. And I leave notes around the house where I know Elaine will find them too. She had many words thrown at her growing up, but many were not good. Most were negative.

Edifying words have the power to convince someone they can really do anything they set their mind to do. But negative words have the power to demoralize and destroy. Sometimes those words make someone set out to try even harder to succeed, but all too often they leave a wake of destruction.

Some people spend all their lives recovering from the sting those words leave behind.

God loves it when we give out good words…….He knows their incredible ability to heal, to mend, to uplift.

And that person who has been on your mind? It’s time to write them a note or email . It may come just in time.

And then leave one for God too, even though He already knows what you are going to say…….

And if you have ever thought about setting your blog to print, I would encourage you to do so. It makes a wonderful gift for someone you love. Sure, they can get on the computer and read it, but there is something about being able to hold your words in their hands. Like having a bit of you with them.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Telling the story

The most authentic story is the one we are living out right now.
I felt like a kid on the playground who got picked for a game. You remember that feeling, the lineup, the choosing sides? If you are like me, you hated it. I was always short and not very competitive so I never got picked first. Michelle Fromm always got picked first, and you always wanted to be the one she picked first. I was always somewhere in the middle, and that was fine with me, as long as I wasn’t dead last.  
Today, over at Bibledude.net Duane Scott is launching something very special.
I was invited to take part in this wonderful opportunity to share some of my stories, and though I’m still not sure why, it is a great honor. I think maybe God had something to do with it. The reason this means so much is because I believe in it so strongly. We all have a story and no one story is more important than any other, especially to God.
God has written our story on His heart, and more than anything, He wants us to share His story with each other, and with the world. After all, His story is the one that matters most. Like the old hymn says:
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.” 
Well, that is part of it anyway. This song, written by Frances J. Crosby, tells the redemption story. The most important story that will ever be told. And, your story, our stories, matter.
So pull up a chair, sit down beside us on the bench and we will share a story together. Who knows what we may learn from each other…..
Many thanks Duane, again!

A Mama’s Prayers

See, I will bring them from the land of the north
    and gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame,
    expectant mothers and women in labor;
a great throng will return.
They will come with weeping;
    they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water
    on a level path where they will not stumble,
because I am Israel’s father,
    and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
 
Jeremiah 31:8,9
 
Ever feel like you’re in exile? I think we all do at some point in life. Maybe you are in a job you hate but you know you need to stay there until retirement. Maybe you are in school and you feel like that is exile. Maybe, God forbid, you are in jail or prison. Wherever or whatever that exile is, you are not where you want to be yet.
 
As I have been reading through Jeremiah, I have wanted to get to the “good part.” Israel rebelled as a nation, adopted other religious practices that went against everything God and everything He stands for, even going as far as sacrificing their own children on altars to foreign gods. It is painful to read, knowing what’s coming.
 
Knowing they will be exiled from their homeland, expelled, taken into captivity. Again.
 
And yet, when I read these words, I thought about Israel today. I think about all they have had to go through as a nation and how God was faithful to His word. None of the powerful nations that went against them are around anymore, and Israel is still standing as a nation, as a people.
 
Flash forward to my life right now. And my life up to this point. How like Israel I have been, ignoring God, thinking I knew best, thinking I didn’t need church, breaking my Mom and Dad’s heart when I decided to give up food. And yet……
 
God was so merciful. He never left me. He brought me out of exile, back home where I belong.
 
I am at a crossroads at work right now, and as I was praying this morning, I knew that I had to once again, give it up to the Lord. I am burned out. There is no spark left in this fire.
 
And yet in other parts of my life the fire is blazing.
 
And anytime someone invites me to write or says what I wrote helped them? I am saved a little bit more.
 
There was a time long ago. God brought it to me again as I was praying this morning, like a sweet balm to my soul. All at once I was back home in front of the fire with my Mom. Tears sprang to my eyes as I remembered how she would get up in the morning before I got ready for High School and start a fire. She and I would watch 700 Club together, just the two of us.
 
And she would take my hand in hers, voice trembling, and pray for me.
 
She knew High School was my exile. It was so hard for me in so many ways. My Dad would have prayed too, but he was in his own exile at that time. A job he hated. And yet God brought him out of that too. Because of his never taking sick leave, he was able to retire at 62. A free man.
 
And because of my Mama’s prayers, I graduated and was removed from my exile too. Through it all God taught me the lesson of faithfulness, and never giving up because someone else is believing in you. And that God is with me wherever I go. And He caused some good things to happen in those four years too.
 
I wrote a poem for my favorite teacher back then, my music teacher Wylie Moffat. Even then words were longing to break free in me. He had it framed and it hung in his house up until he died. And my words were used on the cover of his memorial service bulletin.
 
Today, I am thankful for fireside prayers. They are still working.
 
Thank you Mom, for being so faithful.
 

The heart of a writer

When can you call yourself a writer?

When you simply have to write.
There was a time not so long ago when I didn’t feel I was worthy to be called one, not a real one anyway.
fake, imposter, wannabe, dreamer….that was what I called myself.
But that wasn’t right.
I felt others deserved the title because of the beauty of their words and the wisdom with which they were written.
I read writing that made me ache from the longing of wanting to string words together that good.
But here’s the thing:
Even though the transformation from the heart to the page sometimes falls completely flat,
I still have to keep writing.
I still have to keep doing it.
Even if no one reads it.
Writing was the one thing in my life that I always started up again.
After so many other things that I had quit.
……..because I was simply compelled to do it.
The words were fighting to get out and I had no choice but to set them free.
Even if I wasn’t always happy with how I expressed it.
Even if I felt others did a much better job of it.
Even if I never got another comment.
Because God gave me permission.
And He takes pleasure in every word I write.
And because everytime I do it, I feel like I am the person He created me to be.
And because I simply have to.
 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Stewards of His word…..

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me…….

See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant…….

And the word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of almond tree.”

Then the Lord said to me……..”You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:9-12

As I read these passages the thought came to me, “All of us who are writers are stewards of God’s words are we not?” It is extremely humbling. As I read these passages, it hit me. Those of us who write about the things of God need to be accountable for those words, not only what we say but how we say them…..

Today I am linking up with Duane Scott. He has some powerful and timely words that I wanted to share…….

Blessings and peace for your Monday, counting my Gratitude as well.

When writing heals what is broken

“Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day”
Morning has broken, Cat Stevens
Sometimes God does something that we really don’t expect. Well, usually He does.  And yesterday, I hinted at that something. It was something that was broken off me……and it was supernatural. It was an out and out healing, I really wouldn’t know what else to call it. I wrote a story recently, well God wrote it, actually. And I guess it was a kind of catharsis, because ever since it was posted, the anger that I have been wrestling with has left.
I remember the morning after I sent it, I awoke at 2:00 and it was there. The black presence. I was fighting with it in the dark. I was doing combat. And I was upset because I was robbed of precious sleep. In two more hours the alarm would go off.
It was a person I was mad at. And it was justified, because my friend was hurt because of it. You could say it was a righteous anger. But it was anger all the same. And I recognized it as a tangible thing inside me, building and brewing inside me since all these events of the past few years or so.
It was the anger that leapt up like a fire in me…….when a shirt wouldn’t come off the hanger, when someone pulled in front of me, little irrational things that caused it to flare. And I was never that way before.
That dark morning I prayed just I had other mornings, but that morning I fell asleep hard, and when I awoke that anger had packed its bags and left. God swept that demon out clean. 
I know it was the story.
I compare it to the other morning long ago when I got up and I suddenly knew my mind was healed of anorexia. I sat down and ate……with no guilt at all. That thing inside that held me captive was gone and I knew it.
And there was such joy at the kitchen table that day, my Mom and Dad and I all cried as I told them about a healing dream I had. That morning they got their daughter back from the grip of death.
I remember I ate scrambled eggs, usually a forbidden food.
I know it was the story. I gave it to Him and He did something wonderful with it.
This is powerful confirmation that Dawn is coming.
Once again He has reminded me in a powerful way, that whatever you or I are going through right now, its temporary, Hallelujah.
Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the Lord.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:4,5, and 8