Monday, July 30, 2012

Forest or Trees: What Do You See?



“Where are you going?”

 I stop and look over my shoulder at my husband. His expression is one of complete bafflement.

 “Back to the truck. You said we’re done, right?” I brush the dirt and leaves from my numb backside and shift the rifle to my shoulder.

He stares at me a second or two in disbelief then shakes his head.

“Renee, the pickup is that way.” He points up the hill in the opposite direction.

“No, it isn’t. It’s this way.” I grumble a few more words to myself and start walking down the mountain, picking my way over fallen logs and through the thick timber.

“Honey, stop!” His shout echoes through the trees, successfully halting me in my tracks. “Trust me, I know where we are and the truck is not down there. Come back.”

Now it’s my turn to look at him in shock. I gaze around me and begin to realize that I don’t have a clue where I am. Everything looks the same. The trees, the scattered leaves, and the snow crunching under my feet combine to create a scene of utter confusion. I walk back to my husband’s side.

“So, where’s the truck?” I meet his eyes with trepidation.

He wraps an arm around me and gives me a hug, his gun slung around his other shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you.”

Together, we hike uphill out of the small valley to our pickup which I discover is parked about three-quarters of a mile away. So close, yet so far.

    

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I berated myself constantly about it for years. How could I let myself get lost so close to the truck? How could I get so turned around in such a little valley? And it was a small area in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.

Give me a map and I can get anywhere but that day, I didn’t know which way was up! Why? How?

Have you ever heard of the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”

Well, that’s what happened to me that day. I was too busy worrying about the small stuff to concentrate on the big picture, the forest.

Things such as: don’t trip over that log, don’t rustle those leaves, watch out for those branches, eww! sap!, don’t sniffle too loudly. All kinds of tiny things ricocheted through my brain while I walked through the trees that day. This hunting trip was the chance to show my husband that I knew what I was doing. In turn, I failed to pay attention to a few details.

I forgot to notice our starting point, the pickup. I never even considered the fact that we never walked uphill all day. Or that we spent most of the day using various routes to cover the same territory.

I also didn’t take into account my husband’s nature. You see, he has a loving, Godly soul. He told me later that he would never have strayed too far from the pickup in the first place. When I asked him why he would do something like that, he just smiled and said, “For you.”

So have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? Looking through a field of trees, struggling to see, unsure of your destination? Thank the Lord, I had my husband to point me in the right direction that day. Who do you have?

Are you alone and searching? If so, I know Someone and His name is Jesus. He’ll never leave your side. When you turn down the wrong path, He’ll call to direct you back to Him. And when you ask why, He’ll simply say, “For you.” So do you know Him today?



Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”



In Christ,



Renee

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rejoice, Again I Say, Rejoice!



Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”


It's Sunday morning.
The Word rings in my heart clear as a bell. I know what I'm supposed to do. The music begins and the lyrics are on the screen. My mouth opens and…
A couple of weeks ago:
The doctor with the funny accent flips the paper in the chart and freezes. He looks at the squiggly lines across the pink sheet then glances my way. A line furrows his brow and he taps his lip with his pen.
“Your EKG is abnormal. It is indicating possible blockages.” He turns the paper to look closer. “When is the last time you had a stress test?” His accent thickens.
My heart stops. What is he talking about? The blood pounds in my ears and I try to focus on the question.
“I’ve never had a stress test before. I just had an EKG six months ago. They didn’t say anything to me about it being abnormal.” This can’t be happening. I’m only 42 years old.
“You need to have a stress test, Mrs. Blare.” He looks me in the eye to drive home his point. “It is better to know what may be wrong, yes?”
After a few more minutes, the appointment is finished. I walked into the clinic full of optimism and leave in shock.
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Sunday morning
Tears stream down my face as I bow my head in prayer. The pastor hit a nerve just now. He reminded us to not check our burdens at the door but to bring them in and lay them before the Lord.
Oh, God, give me the strength to do that. A warm hand descends on my shoulder and my husband’s comfort radiates beside me.
We rise to sing and an arm slips around me. I reach up to stem the flow of tears and try to smile up at him. He rewards me with a squeeze. The music flows around us and I close my eyes.
Psalm 34:2 “I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.”
My mouth opens and at last, I sing. Worship surrounds me. Father God, You are in control. Praise Your Holy Name. The tears dry and I raise my face to the Lord.
I leave the building with a little less weight on my shoulders. I’m still working on the rest. I learn one thing at a time and sometimes rather slowly. I will always remember this though.
Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
In Christ,

Renee

P.S.  By the way, the stress test checked out fine. No blockages! I give the glory to the Almighty!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On My Knees: Faith in Prayer


Psalm 17:6 “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”
     Have you ever left a message for someone to contact you and never received a call? Have you been the guilty party that did not pick the phone up and dial back on occasion? With a heavy heart, I can say I have. By the way, that answer is to both questions.

     I’ve called friends, family, doctors, and employers at one time or another and been met with a machine, voicemail or ‘I’ll call you back in a minute.’ Instead of a returned call, my need was forgotten. It hurts.

     On the flipside of the matter, I’ve been the one to say, ‘I’ll call you back.”  Then life happened! My son tried to learn how to fly on his bike or my basement became Wyoming’s newest lake.  I forgot to call you back. I didn’t mean to forget. You’re really are my best friend, the best mom in the whole world, or a terrific boss.
     Communication skills are tough. God teaches us a cool one in prayer.

Philippians 4:6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
     Okay. So that means, make a phone call. Does that mean He’ll answer or will I just get the machine?

Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
     Communication with God requires faith.

     Faith? Yes, that’s right. God doesn’t just want me to throw my wants and my needs His way. He wants me to believe in His answer to those requests. So what is faith?
Hebrew 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

     Petitions to the Father to heal pain, mend the soul, pay the bills, touch the spirit…lifted high to the heavens. Or do they seem to hit a ceiling then crash to your feet? Unanswered.
Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

     Do you have faith in your prayer life?


In Christ,

Renee

    

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tales of a Fledgling Writer: Critique Land


 
What! You have got to be kidding me? Can’t they see what I mean? You mean I have to rewrite this scene again? Sheesh!

Yes, I have entered a new world and oh, what a world it is. It’s called Critique Land.

I started this new expedition with one thing in mind and that was to learn. Learn how to edit, learn how to critique, learn how to write, you name it. Learn…learn…learn…

I start my second week soon and oh, what I have learned! Let’s see...

1.       Format is important. ;)

2.       Critiques are a matter of opinion. J

3.       The art of critique is challenging but fun. J

4.       To read other genres and critique them. J

5.       To read destructive criticism and ignore it. L

6.       Count it all joy (even the extra work)! PTL



Last week, I took a dive and jumped in head first. I swim and master new strokes every single day.  Tomorrow, who knows?

The last few days have been very satisfying for me. I have read awesome stories, received some terrific feedback and grown as a writer. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. What about you?

In Christ,

Renee




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guilty!

     The gavel falls and the sound reverberates through the courtroom. Turning, I cringe to see condemnation on the faces of the gallery. I rise at the judge’s prompting and feel the shackles lock in place. As I am escorted away, my stomach clenches in fear and realize that I am now alone.

    James 2:10 “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

     The verdict is in, the sentence delivered.I climb in a black van and make my way to the prison. I am to spend my life behind those walls, surrounded by evil. I shiver at the thought.
Psalm 9:16-17 “The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.”

    Amazing! I had a visitor today. He was a small man with scars and stripes lacing his body. We talked for hours. He told me about his Father and why he was visiting. He saw my interest in his injuries and explained that my sentence was paid in full. I protested but His words rang with love and truth. Asking if I believed Him, he waited for my answer. I looked away as I watched the shadows dance on the walls.

     As we walked back to my tiny cell, the evil surrounding us fled his presence. The door swung open and a hand descended on my shoulder. I looked up to meet his tender gaze.   “It’s your decision now. I’ll be waiting for you.”

 Romans 8:2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

      My new friend guided me into the sunlight the next morning. I looked down to see my dingy gray prison uniform was now shining white. Reaching up, my hair was long and clean. I breathed deep and felt my lungs fill with fresh air.
     He stared down at me and my heart stuttered. I knew he was leaving. I could see it in his eyes. We had become so close in our short time together.  He smiled when I asked for a phone number and shook his head. “Not needed, just whisper, I’m always listening.” At that point, He taught me how to pray. “Don’t worry, you are never alone.” After a hug, he loaded me in a cab then with a wave was gone.

Galatians 2:20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

***
      I awoke with a jerk. The recurrent dream had not visited me for awhile. I glanced at the clock on my nightstand. It read 3:00 A.M. The full moon filled the window, bathing the bed in light. I rose and walked over to peer outside, my heartbeat slowly returning to normal.

    “Guilty!” I could still hear the sound of the banging gavel echoing in my ears. The vision of Jesus loomed in my mind. The cold steel of the visitor's table chilled my hands and I clenched my fists. Taking a deep breath, I breathed through my nostrils as I tried to regain my sanity.

    Why am I having this dream again, Lord? “Guilt” has no power over me or does it? What are You trying to tell me?

Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

       My mind drifts to the very beginning. I remember the condemning eyes of the gallery as the verdict is exclaimed across the courtroom. I was freed from my prison but what about those people? Did they forgive me as well? Not necessarily.

     In my dream, I have a second chance. Like my life today, all sin is wiped clean and I am a child of God. The guilt of sin is forgiven but in reality, I sin each day. Believe me, I am not proud to admit that but I am human.

The Lord works with me each day to reveal the areas of my life that are lacking, to build a stronger Christian. However, due to that sin, the consequences are sometimes unsavory. Anger, bitterness, and jealousy show their heads and after the battles are long over, guilt digs in deep.

When guilt finds a home, it has power. It has the power to destroy relationships, churches, families, and if it festers long enough, people. It can make a beautiful thing, ugly or a strong man, weak. Guilt can open doors to make you doubt everything you know to be true or believe everything you know to be false by the very strength of its will. Does it have any power in your life?



1 Cor 4:20 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."


     God is power. Only God can build relationships, families, and churches. He is the one who can make a sinful person beautiful and strong. He is the Truth and the Life.

So when faced with sins past, I tell myself and others, that I am forgiven and if others are unwilling to accept it, I remind them that through Him, all things are possible. 

    Guilty? Yes, I was but my sentence was served and my sins were washed away by a friend. His name, you ask? Jesus Christ. Do you know him?




In Christ,


     Renee



Picture from http://www.dreamstime.com