Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Need of a Makeover

For once, I am taking an online course instead of teaching one. The class is on Marketing Your Services, something I know I need to work on if I want to continue freelance editing and writing from home.   
Yesterday, I risked accepting an offer from the instructor to critique my website. I have known for a long time that it needed more work than my son (who has been updating my site for several years) could manage, but I feared the long process and expense involved. Let’s face it, when life unravels, everything reflects it, including websites and blogs, and making up for lost time requires more than a quick spruce. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed, kind of like when you let your house go for weeks on end then realize that company is due to arrive any minute and you can’t possibly get the place cleaned up in time. But I set my pride aside and accepted the critique as a valuable opportunity.
Sure enough, my website is in desperate need of a makeover. I’m sure my blog needs one, too. As expected, I need to learn some new things (like how to use Wordpress), spend a little money, and come up with a new look. I might even need to hire someone besides family to help bring me up-to-date. The idea of starting from scratch feels completely daunting and I have no idea where to begin, but I am incredibly excited!  
My website is one of many areas that have called for a makeover lately. I’m learning that after life unravels and everything from our clothing to our website screams, “I’ve been in an emotional coma for two years,” all you can really do is toss it all out and start over again. As scary and overwhelming and costly as makeovers can be, they are also refreshing, fun, and give us the lift we need to move forward. But how precious that, like this wonderful instructor, God doesn’t just say, “This is a mess; you need to change it.” He also offers to help us change. He points us toward resources, offers examples of what the right way looks like, and is available day or night for those moments when we have no idea where to start. Best of all, He immediately begins revealing the benefits of trading what is worn out but still hard to let go of for something new and fresh.
What area of your life needs a makeover? What exciting possibilities might await you if you take the risk?
“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” Isaiah 43:19 (NASB).

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I knew my emotions were revved up because I had snooped into something that was none of my business, but the information still stung. Something that I’d sensed for a long time was made public, triggering a whirlwind of anger mixed with sadness mixed with a strange relief (Well, at least I don’t have to wonder anymore.), with resurrected wounds thrown in for extra drama.  
I ranted to a friend and asked her to pray. I went for a walk and asked God to calm my heart. I journaled, read my Bible, and came to the conclusion that, in the end, as difficult as it was to accept, it was better to know the truth. Maybe God intended for me to see what I did so I wouldn’t be blindsided later. I went to bed feeling peaceful. Yes, this information hurt, but God had taken care of me through the crisis of my life and He would continue to. This news wasn’t shocking, I just didn’t like it, and I was surrounded by support and prayer and a God who was on my side.
Then I went for another walk the next evening and felt another wave of sadness/righteous anger/resurrected pain. I had been fighting it all afternoon and couldn’t figure out what happened. God, I thought I had peace with this. Deep down, I did. So why the sadness? Why the whiney “I wish I had a friend to unload on right now?” Was I doing the giving-it-to-God-only-to-take-it-back-again thing? The answer came almost immediately.
No, not at all. A new thought came to me: Peace doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain; it means you trust God with the situation and know He is going to take care of you no matter what happens. You still feel peace, but what you discovered was upsetting. Maybe it’s just time to let God heal what it stirred up.
I’m not sure if the thought came from God or my own mind, but something about the idea that I was not required to be okay with something that shouldn’t be brought real peace—peace that stuck. God wasn’t asking me not to feel, only to continue trusting Him, which I did.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV).
Thank You, Father, for giving peace even as we sort out our human emotions. Help me to cling to it as You continue to heal wounds.
What has God been teaching you about peace lately?      

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It Starts Today

When the tall, pretty woman approached me at the writer’s conference and said she wanted to pray with me, I assumed she wanted prayer for herself. She was a first-timer and we had reached that infamous mid-point of the conference when many start to melt down under the burn of crushed dreams. I planned ahead for how I might encourage her, and prayed for the right words. But when we finally connected, she took my hand and said in a voice so gentle that it almost triggered tears, “I want to pray for you.” 

I needed prayer, for a lot of things, but how would she know that?
She knew absolutely nothing about my life other than that I was praying for direction after a difficult year, yet when we found a quiet bench under a shade tree, she spoke and prayed as if she knew my whole life story. She said a lot that I don’t remember until God brings back a quick snipped of our conversation; other gems I hurried back to my cabin to record in my journal so I wouldn’t forget them. She urged me to let go of the darts that had been hurled at me in the past, “Wherever they came from,” so I wouldn’t miss what God had for me. We were about to enter the Auditorium for a service that would include communion, and I was to lay those darts at the foot of the cross and walk in victory.

Darts? How did she know? Did she see their imprints? Were they that obvious, even to a stranger? Or was this one of those moments when God sent an “Is she an angel?” messenger to deliver a truth that might not have sunk in as deeply if I’d heard it from someone who knew the details?   

“It starts today,” she said, smiling. And it did. As we prayed, I ached to open my eyes feeling changed. I didn’t exactly lay the darts at the foot of the cross during communion, but I did picture Jesus taking them out of my hands and hurling them into the sea. After that talk, I no longer wanted to live or even write like the old me, held back by past wounds and my life-long enemy, fear
Since then, I have discovered that “It starts today” is only the beginning. It takes time to break old habits, ignore the mean voices, see lies for what they are, uncover the seeds that sprouted the fears and insecurities, and feel at home with freedom. Some days, it feels like life will always resemble a very long drawn-out therapy session between me and God and whoever I feel the need to open up to about what He is teaching me on a given day. But “It” started and is continuing, so I thank my heavenly Father repeatedly for that woman, for her willingness to risk grabbing for my hand in a crowded room to say, “I want to pray with you later,” and for showing me the beautiful things that can happen when we let “It starts today” begin right away while also allowing it to take the time that true, lasting healing requires.
What do you need to “Start today?”

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