Monday, August 7, 2017

Responsibility In Making Choices

Billy Graham speaks to my heart. In his devotional, Day By Day, Graham wrote about the power of choice. It seems the norm in our culture is to constantly point fingers and blame others for all their problems and everyone else’s. Sometimes I want to go into a rage over this, but that would only add to the problem. So here’s Billy Graham’s call to begin understanding that we are all part of the problem in what we do, don’t do, or say. I do believe God wants us to proclaim the liberty of owning up to your actions and stop putting blame on others. The end product of taking ownership would be liberty . . . the freeing of captives bound by the name-and-blame-it game.

Hope you enjoy Mr. Graham’s devotional.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, describes the reactions of two brothers with the same heredity, the same environment, in the same concentration camp under the Nazis. One became a saint and the other a swine. Frankl tells us the reason why. He said, “Each man has within him the power to choose how he will react to any given situation.” God has given us the power of choice. Some people today do not wish to accept the responsibility for their actions. They blame society. They blame the environment. They blame the schools. They blame the circumstances. We can’t blame it all on somebody else. We must accept the blame ourselves for our part. Society is made up of individuals. If we have social injustice, we’re the ones who are wrong; we’re part of it. Let’s accept our responsibility to do something about it.

Prayer For The Day: With you help, living Lord, I want to make the right decisions so that I may touch society with Your healing love.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Over the past year, I have been going through every closet, drawer, and room to unclutter in preparation for a move. Naturally I had to touch and read everything. It was like a walk down memory lane. Everything held meaning, and I wanted to share it with my family and friends. The process became a journey of remembrance.

When I got to my volumes of journals, there was no way I could pass them by. So, I sat down and went through every one of them. The journals became my ebenezer. Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In the Old Testament stones were piled one on top of the other as a reminder to the Israelites of God’s unfailing love and mercy.

1Samuel 7:12 states, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called it Ebenezer saying, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us’.”

Opening up my journals reinforced how good God has been to me, family and friends. How His blessings have poured over us. How in the darkest hours of life God was right there ministering to us. Most of those times I did not even realize God’s intervention, often feeling alone and helpless. Looking back and remembering how I felt then and how I see the situation now establishes God’s work in my life and shapes who I am today. It readies me for the next valley, disappointment, or loss with the knowledge of a Savior that is living and active in my life. I have no fear because He has prepared me to handle life through Him.

When we moved to VA Beach in January 2017, the Praise Team at the church we are attending kept singing a song they wrote entitled, “Ebenezer”. Every time I heard it I could see that stack of journals, all those memories of God’s love.

My intrigue in the song caused me to do a little investigation. The chorus to the contemporary song, “Ebenezer”, was based off an old hymn “Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” written by Robert Robinson in 1757. Even though Robinson’s life drove him from his faith many times, he managed to help others come to Christ through the words in his song. 

Remembrance is very important; it’s a fundamental principle in the gospel. Humans unfortunately have an easier time remembering all the bad things that happen verses the good. That’s why God put things on stone, i.e., the ten commandments. Another perfect example of stones of remembrance is found in Joshua 4.

“Take yourselves twelve stones from here . . . that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ Then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordon on dry land . . . that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever’.”

God wants us to remember Him in awe and reverence. In the song, “Ebenezer” and “Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”, we are asked to remember God’s hand in our life.

Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (chorus, Robert Robinson, 1757)
Here I raise my ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God:
He, to save my soul from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Ebenezer (chorus, contemporary version)
Here I raise my ebenezer,
Hither by Thine help I come,
May it remind me of every victory
That You brought me safe thus far.
All my hope, all my hope is in Your promises.
And all my joy, all my joy is in You, Jesus.

How precious is remembering God’s promises, blessings, mercy, grace, and love in our lives.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember the power of Your holy name that I can call on at any time. In Christ’s name I pray,

Sharing from my journal. This entry was after a long year: mother dying, my husband having seizures, the loss of our 17 year old dog, and my health issues.

Dear Heavenly Father,
It is good to praise You! You are my Refuge and my Rock. You keep me safe and dry in the storm. You present Yourself in the morning sunrise, and kiss the day to rest in a sunset splendor. All my concerns have been deposited in You. God, You provide the Words to keep me in tune with Your desires for me. Oh, how I love the precious name of Jesus. Oh how I rely on the still small voice of Your Spirit, Lord. Continue to keep us under Your wing. There are times when I think we are fumbling, stumbling, and staggering under the pressure we are under. It’s like a dark cloud has sat on us. Then I see the tiniest bit of light and I know that means You are coming; so, I’m waiting. You’ll be here soon. I feel it. Until then, I will continue to glorify Your holy name. Your child, Angela

Monday, July 24, 2017

Prayer Circles

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Philippians 4:6

One of the best ways I know to remember how to commit things to God in prayer is by remembering three circles. One is the worry circle, in which I keep nothing. Second is the prayer circle, in which I keep everything. Third is the gratitude circle, in which I keep anything. So when I pray, I am anxious for nothing, prayerful for everything, and thankful for anything.

We feel foolish asking God to help us with some of the things in our lives. But remember: “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6). 

You just need to write out every one of your concerns before they turn into worries and commit them to God. He does care about each of them. If you take them back, just give them back to Him in prayer again. Day by day, as you get more and more practiced committing the affairs of your life to Him, you will begin to leave them with Him. Your trust in God will grow, and you will stop grabbing back what you have given Him.

(Dr. David Jeremiah, July 13 post from his devotional, Sanctuary 2002)

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. God bless you always,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer Blessings

Summer. Beach. Pool. Children and grandchildren. Well, I’m living in the fullness of who I am, a Nana! What a joy to have all nine grandchildren and three daughters filling the house with laughter, sharing, and reminiscing. The fellowship was like a sweet aroma. Our summer reunion  is a sweet remembrance of the love we share for one another and others. Our children are indeed a heritage from the Lord.

The Bible teaches that family is very important. We see very early in the Bible that family members are to care for and look after one another. In today’s society where families are more transient and independent, we’ve had to get more creative to remain close and create the large family unit most of us crave.  

Living long distances from one another, our family has had to lean into our spiritual family, the Church, to minister to us. We’ve also realized that family comes in many different forms, neighbors, friends, and cohorts. Our family may not get to see one other as much as we’d like, but we have still managed to have many family members surrounding us with support and love.

I am very honored that my family loves God. It’s like power unleashed. When we gather together, I sit amazed listening to the ways our family is reaching out to others. More importantly, I hear how others are reciprocating in kind to them, offering love and encouragement when they are discouraged or need a listening ear. These are precious words to a mom who can’t always be there. I know the family they are building love them, too. 

Jesus said, “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)  

Thank You, God, for family. Thank You for every blessing and every trial. Thank You for the strength and courage to face every day in prayer and the conviction to live each day in service and love to You. Thank You, Father, for each family member who make my life more meaningful, and reach out beyond their core unit to love others. In all things, in prayer and supplication, I praise Your holy name for the family You have so graciously given to me.

As you think about your summer and family, find ways to celebrate each other and the people that God has brought into our lives.

God bless you,

P.S. Missing all the husbands who are not in this picture.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Hope Keeps Our Dreams Alive

So many people have been praying for my grandson, Hudson. From the bottom of my heart, my family thanks you. Every day we feel the power of those prayers. So, I wanted to update you on his progress. Everything he does is a big thing to us. When you hear your grandson is deaf. You hang onto hope because the waiting and wondering what will happen can be painful.
Hudson amazes us daily with new words. Dallas and I had the opportunity to take him to speech therapy this week, and as would be expected he acted like a two-year-old. He did about half of what the therapist asked him to do. The other half he did what Hudson wanted to do. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
His powerful new word that he says and signs is “No!” I think he’s hearing it so much from us that at some point he feels he just has to exert some control. If he’s not sure about something, he will just shake his head. However, if it’s something he refuses to do he will let you know right away.
Yesterday the grand news was he vocalized the words “thank you” very plainly to his cousin. He said it more than once. Good thing because he had the adults bewildered. All of them felt they surely misunderstood what he had said. I think the boy thinks a lot of words and holds them inside just for the best time to touch the heart of his parents and grandparents. Hope is thriving around here.
Hudson wants to learn. He studies and watches everything we are doing. His Papa, Dallas, decided to teach Hudson a rendition of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. The second go-round, Hudson was right in step with his Papa right down to the addition of the Doodle Hill stomp. And if you’re not from Doodle Hill, I’m sorry that you don’t have that image in your head. Maybe that’s another post. For those of you who grew up on the Hill, you are laughing. God bless you!
Hudson will be two-years-old on July 9. His new ears, cochlear implants, are only five months old. That’s how the therapist and doctors measure his hearing/speech progress. He is meeting one milestone after another. Your prayers are working. Our hope is soaring!
Hudson June 2017
God bless you,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy July 4th!

Happy 4th of July! Celebrate this great country with your family and friends. God bless America! Keep her strong and in Your will, Lord! God bless you all, Angela

Monday, July 3, 2017

Holding to High Standards

Books are powerful instruments to entertain, teach, learn problem solving strategies and coping mechanisms. As a writer I cannot underestimate the impact my words can have on readers. Knowing this, I take being a Christian author very seriously.  

Before I began writing the Cries series, Cries of Innocence and Cries of Grace, I began to pray. My subject matter was hard—abuse, abandonment, and neglect. I was not foreign to the scope of the issues, having worked with women and children who lived under oppression and in wretched situations. Writing about evil is serious business. It’s not for the faint of heart or for those who want to over dramatize the subject matter.

Every writing session was prayed over. I had prayer partners praying for me, too. I endorsed pastors, Sunday School teachers, and avid readers to look over chapters I was struggling with. I wanted the material to show real-life conflict and demonstrate strategies to biblically maneuver through trials.

My journey proved to be a tremendous faith builder for me. The protagonist’s grandmother often said, “You’ve got a lot to learn.” Those words were the driving force behind the cries of those who wondered where God was in the struggle. In the middle of their learning, I learned exponentially. I felt accountable to God and my future readers to deliver a tough message while continually measuring myself against Scripture.

There were four questions I had written down on an index card to keep me focused. These questions established my writing each day.

1.     Prayer

2.     God’s Truth

3.     Stumbling Blocks to Faith

4.     Freedom Through Believing and Praying

Prayer. Begin every writing session in prayer. Pray for guidance over difficult scenes.

God’s truth. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) Stay centered on scriptural truths. When in doubt seek godly advice. I do this often when I am treading into difficult areas or situations. It is easy to get trapped within cultural mores and half-truths. Partner with people who keep you biblically accountable. Your goal is to lead your readers to higher grounds of understanding.

Stumbling blocks to faith can be indistinguishable from other forms of sin. We are desperate in the dark, knowing evil exists, but unable to figure out how to navigate the murky waters of its lies. Breaking strongholds is seeing different ways to approach the issues and problems life so generously delves out. As book characters learn biblical strategies to deal with their situation, it teaches readers that there are numerous options to break stumbling blocks in order to have a fuller life in Christ.

Freedom through believing and praying. We all have moments when we feel lost, alone, and stranded. Those are times when problems seem too big to handle. Offering readers Biblical ways to look beyond their crisis, beyond their limited view, and beyond their understanding offers hope to the hopeless. If offers the characters the courage to step beyond the dark wall into the light of God’s saving grace and redemption. Readers are given the opportunity to internalize coping mechanisms and strategies to grow as they become more and more aware of God’s presence.

I write with purpose, giving readers a chance to engage with the story’s multiethnic characters who find the end of the road is only the beginning of a new life in Christ Jesus. What more could an author demonstrate to readers than the love of the Father and the Truth that continues to free its victims.
God bless you all,