Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remember the Fallen

     The smell of hot dogs and hamburgers fills the air while the kids play tag in the yard.  The television is alive with the sounds of the race and a few bets are flying as to who will cross the finish line.  Out at the lake, some college buddies are camping out for the long weekend.  With a little fishing mingled in, jet skiing and boogie boarding pack their hours with fun and laughter.  The holiday is a time for one and all to enjoy a few hours of relief from the stress of life and some fellowship with friends and family.
     Meanwhile, across the country, flags wave, many at half-mast.  A wreath shrouds a gravestone memorializing a loved one’s sacrifice for his fellow citizen.  VFW cannons sound at dawn to rouse slumbering residents to acknowledge the day.  A lone bugler stands at attention before rows of marble square stones and the piercing notes of the melancholic call echo through the air.  Family and friends gather to honor the fallen.
My uncle, JR Post (USS Hornet, Vietnam)

      Memorial Day is a day to remember.  It is a day to tell someone that their child’s, father’s, or spouse’s service and life is appreciated.  It was not lost in vain.  It is a moment to say, “I would not have my way of life without them.”  It is how we remember the fallen.
     As you celebrate this day, stop a moment and ask yourself, “How am I going to honor the fallen today?”  It may be as simple as flying Old Glory or placing a rose on a soldier’s tombstone.  You may be given an opportunity to help someone or to wrap a lonely person in a hug. 
     If you get a chance, I hope you act on all of the above!  Memorial Day is a special holiday and one that should be dear to all Americans.  The freedoms we hold are not free but are paid in blood.  That blood flows through a river of tears today.  Remember the fallen.

     My prayer for all on this day is that:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

In Christ,

Renee

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Walk on Route 66 by James Blare, Jr.




My wife and I decided to travel Route 66 for our vacation.  We had no set plans as to when or where we were going.  We did have a list of what we wanted to see.   Off we went.

We found ourselves flipping a coin to allow for heads for one place or tails another.  It was quite fun.  Our attitude was that we were just going to have fun and not worry about being somewhere at a certain time.   We saw some fun and sometimes interesting attractions. 
Vacations are a time to relax and enjoy and even buy a few useless souvenirs.  I often found myself putting a penny and two quarters in this machine and cranking on its handle until a distorted copper penny plopped out.  With amazement, I looked at this piece of jewelry and the only thing I could say was "cool."  I also bought things like rocks!  Who knew? 

If you have ever traveled across any of the southwestern states such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and even California, there are stretches of road that the only thing you can do is stare.  You set the cruise control and wait for that next curve or exit to appear.  With roads such as these, your mind wanders and reflects to what it must have been like some 50 to 90 years ago.

I started to compare these roads to my spiritual walk throughout my life. 

Am I the” new” Interstate 40 stretch of highway?  You know?   Never stopping for anything that might be interesting and never learning the history of why I was built.  The road that takes us to our destination in the shortest period of time.  I remember a time in my Christian walk when all I wanted to do was just go, go, and go. Not stopping to learn about anything but instead just getting by so I could get things done.  I had things to do and God was along for the ride.

Or am I that old historic Route 66? Never wanting to change, and always leaving things the way they were.  Did I not want to be replaced by something that just might be a little safer and faster?  I knew along the way somewhere I was going to have to change.  Was I going to make it hard for the Lord to change me or was I going to trust that God knew what He was doing?  Did this mean I had to give up a way of life that was comfortable?  Or remain, eventually rotting away to the test of time and weather like that old road?

I found myself in a bit of a dilemma.  What kind of road did I want to be?

I want to be a road that serves a purpose other than my own.  I want to be a road that people travel 50 to 90 years later and say, “This is one cool road.”   Where they could stop and smell the roses I had to offer and learn from me as much as I learn from them.  I want to be that road that is willing to change.  The one that allows the Lord to take out a few dangerous corners and smooth out a few bad pot holes.
As I continue to explore this historic road called Route 66, I reflect on the good times.  I envision people on family vacations and picture the youngest boy wearing a coon skin hat or the struggles of trying to get everybody in the family to smile for that picture along the road.  I remember all the good times that the Lord has shown me.   I look at this old road and find myself appreciating the changes that God might have in store for me.   After all, He is control and knows what is best for me.

James Blare, Jr.

Monday, May 14, 2012

TALES FROM THE FLEDGLING WRITER



My First Rejection

First stage… Utter Devastation 
I stare at the screen in shock.  I read the words over and over again.   A feeling of sheer panic washes over me as I admit that what appears is not the manuscript from last night.  My heart sinks in defeat.  Oh, no! My computer rejected my edits!

Second stage… Raving Lunacy 
I search every hidden realm in the computer for my lost words.  I dig into the recycle bin, the hard drives, the documents and picture files looking for the elusive data.  No bits or bytes are to be found.  Strands of hair fall by my chair and unkind words caress the ceiling.   My husband listens to the moans and groans for a little while then asks the one question I do not want to hear.  

"Did you save them?”

DID I SAVE THEM?  Of course, I saved them!  I always save them!  What kind of an airheaded writer does NOT save their work?  Do I look like an airheaded writer?  NO!  Of course not, that is because I SAVE MY WORK!  (I did say raving lunatic, right?)  I did not eat them, my computer did!  You know, those little green gremlins inside this stupid flat laptop!
It is amazing how calm my husband remains in the midst of a crazy woman.  He actually nods and watches me with deep, brown eyes that express so many ways how sorry he feels for me.  After gazing into those eyes a few moments, I feel a peace settle in my soul and I calm.

Third stage… Dark Depression
I know I have to get back in the saddle and re-edit everything that has been lost but the wind is out of my sails.   Not only does my work schedule take most of my writing time, I just do not feel like doing it.  This “glitch” happened at the worst possible time!  No one cares anyway if I finish this book.  Maybe I’ll just put it on the shelf for a later time…

Fourth stage… “Friendly” Hope
Wow!  An amazing thing is happening today with fellow writers!  The “like-fest” with the Facebook author/writer pages is spreading like wildfire on ACFW!  My page went from nine to ninety “likes” in one day and I feel more connected to the writing community than ever before!  The Lord is so good!  I think I will start on those edits.  I really miss Timber Springs, anyway!

Fifth stage…  "Get to bed, now!  You have to work tomorrow!" (I’m coming, honey!  I just have to finish this chapter.)  
Psst!  By the way, now I have a flash drive to save anything and everything I do.  :)
Luke 19:10 “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (A little out of context but I thought it was very appropriate!)
Love to all in Christ,
Renee

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Faithwalker: Notable Nickname or Functional Reality?

 

Tomato Soup, Crackers, Grizmo, mrsgriz, Faithwalker…  All of these have one thing in common.  They are names or “handles”.  Used on radios or in chatrooms, they identify users to others when they communicate.  The last two are mine.  I use them in Christian chatrooms instead of my given name.  My husband used “Grizmo” for years so I decided to be “mrsgriz.”  I know, I know, not very imaginative. 

After a ten year hiatus, I ventured into the chat world once more.  I decided a new ‘handle’ was required.  It would need to reflect my walk in Christ as well as my journey to accept Him as my Lord and Savior.  That is a lot of expectations for one word, I know.  I thought hard and prayed hard. 

My road to salvation was an interesting one.  No, I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and I do not have stories of jail time to fill the pages.  I said interesting not captivating.  If you want captivating, talk to my husband.

I am the case of the lost, ‘religious’ soul you hear about sitting in the pew on Sunday.  I was the epitome of the “perfect Christian” girl.  I started attending church before I could walk.   I went to Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Children’s Choir, Sunday Worship, and Wednesday Bible Study.  As I grew, it expanded to Bible Camp, and Church Youth Group.

I walked the aisle the first time when I was seven years old.  My Sunday School teacher had been going over the “process” of becoming a Christian all month.  She said the last step to being “saved” was going forward to talk to the preacher.  Well, to my seven year old mind, I could do that.  Both of my brothers were “saved” and I felt left out.  My mom is my choir director and all my friends are doing it!  I scampered down the aisle to the front of the church that Sunday.   Whew, I was “safe,” and was baptized shortly thereafter.

Things continued on as usual.  I kept going to church, going to school, and then our world fell apart.  In a terrible thunderstorm a few weeks before Christmas, lightning struck our house in south Louisiana.  Fire and smoke destroyed almost everything we owned.  In an instant, we were dependent on others to survive.  I had no clothes to wear, no roof to sleep under, no pet to cuddle.  I had nothing left but my family around me.  I did not understand much during that time except one thing; fear. 

The day we moved back into our new-constructed home was a day of mixed emotions for all.  Dad came home from work a few months later and announced that we were leaving New Iberia.  To my childhood mind, I was being taken away from everything I knew:  my friends, my Aunt Nola and Uncle Paul, my school… to enter a strange, new world and we would leave that summer.  Fear became terror.

Adapting to a different culture is difficult but being so young, in actuality, helped.  The thick Cajun accent was discarded by the wayside.  Soon no one would ever know I lived south of Alexandria (the demarcation line for Cajun country in Louisiana).  Teasing and hazing was handled with the appearance of a brawny older brother, his method of resolution never revealed even to this day.   It was a new place, full of new things.

It was in Wyoming that I walked a second aisle.  Why?  For rededication, of course!  Attending the church youth group, we were discussing this topic and baptism at length.  Knowing I had made the “profession of faith” as a child, I still felt “safe” but I was confused.  I could not remember getting baptized.  My family reassured me and I believed them but should I not remember something THAT important?  My youth pastor and I discussed my feelings and he referred me to the senior pastor.

I am going to tell you something right now.  Dr. Buddy Hinze is an awesome man of God.  I love him and his wife, Sue, with all my heart.  He counseled me and put a lot of things in perspective.  I have lost many memories before the fire.  I was very young and it was a horrible experience.  He told me that if my baptism was that important for me to remember then, by all means, do it again!  I answered all of his questions with all the right answers so he was convinced I knew who Christ was.  (I did say I was raised in the church, right?)  So, I was dunked in the baptistry to walk away, reassured once again.

Moving on…  The high school years hit and I drifted.  The terror of a looming move was replaced by apprehension of future life decisions.  The protection of my brothers crumbled as they departed to begin their own lives, in the Army or at college.  My parents bickered and fought, using me in the proverbial tug of war.  I had health issues that could not be cured, and above all, I hated my life.  I felt lost, and alone, and, for the first time, I became aware of something missing.

After years of seeking comfort from friends and activities, I found myself in a Christian Singles Group.  I had come full circle.   A friend asked me to go and I attended out of “obligation.”  After all, it was I who had introduced her to “religion” so many years ago.  It was during this group that the Lord spoke to me and I will never forget the words.

“I am right here, Renee. I’ve been waiting for you.”

That night during prayer, I cried and cried.  I asked Jesus to forgive me for all the wasted years and to please come into my heart and save me!  I cannot explain the incredible feeling of joy and relief that came over me.  It was like I was flying!  Hugs and kisses abound and everyone was as happy as I was.  There was no condemnation or judgment.  No questions of why or how, just joyful celebration.  Welcome for a wayward sinner into the fold.

I had head knowledge.  I knew scripture and could recite it at will.  I had spent the last eighteen years learning the right words to say for any situation.   I could convince almost any Christian that I was one of them.  I did not do this vindictively but because I believed it myself.  That night, I discovered the difference and I took my first step as a believer in Christ.  I began my walk of faith. 

If you were to ask me the difference between before and after, what would I say?  Trust

You see, faithwalking entails a certain element on our part.  It is called trust.  After we become true believers in Christ, we pour all of it onto Him.  We trust everything we were, are and will be in Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trusting requires faith, faith that the object of our trust is worthy.  Placing your trust in something unseen is hard for this world to understand.  Do it anyway.

1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Do you notice that there is an action required?  Yes. It is not faithsit, or faithsleep, or faithgaze.  It is faithwalking.  Now, you can call it faithrunning if you want to but I do not have that kind of stamina.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)  For we walk by faith, not by sight.

All in all, it means we live by faith.  We function through life, completing our daily tasks, leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus.  Every little leap of faith we take strengthens our relationship with Him, building our spiritual muscles.  Faithwalking through struggles not only testify to our walk with Christ but can instruct us in valuable lessons for future trials down the road.

James 1:2-3 (NIV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Are you a Faithwalker?   Does each step you take land in faith?

Maybe you are still sitting in the pew, like I was.  Head knowledge does not save you but there is good news.  Jesus paid the ultimate price and all the stories are true.  Listen…  Do you hear Him calling? 

 “I’m right here.  I’m waiting for you.”

In Christ Always,

Renee
(Photo courtesy of Stock Free Images)