An update in bullet points

Since every single blog post I’ve started in the last month is still sitting in the Drafts folder unfinished, I thought I’d check in with bullet points and give an update on all that’s going on…

Well, scratch that…I THOUGHT I would. I’ve been reverting to the classic editor of this blog host bc the new one is too confusing but even that’s not an option anymore.

99 choices and bulleting ain’t one…

So I guess I’ll do numbers. Will you let me do numbers, Word Press?

  1. We are having a mixture of live and online services. So far this week Dale has done 8 sermons.
  2. Two of those services came with big meals (think: cooking for about 60 people) so I’ve been in the kitchen a great deal.
  3. Our benefits continue- Kristi’s cake online auction was a great success and we’re back to do bbq and fish fry fundraisers locally. The needs are so great.
  4. The brick business we manage is booming at the moment. Which is great and not even a coincidence that the extra work (and tithe from it) came as the church’s A/C unit went out.
  5. Our ladies Bible study started back up last month as well. We are doing a study from the Jesus Calling series. I didn’t realize how much I needed that female fellowship. I may be leading the study, but I feel lifted up in this group as well.
  6. I’ve been teaching ESL classes for about nine months to kids in China on Friday and Saturday nights. I love it. I miss teaching and this just happens to be the company I went to Seattle to teach foreign language camps for a few years ago. I’ve also been approved to teach with an American company called Outschool- your curriculum, your hours, Zoom-based…I just haven’t found the time yet! But it’s nice to have that option. I get more requests to tutor in person but I really want to focus on 7 below so I am currently having to limit my free tutoring hours.
  7. My writing is at an all-time high (in notebooks) and low (on computer). UGH….I need two weeks alone to finish up some projects. Of course that will never happen but a girl can dream!

Here are the books on the horizon and their status:

*Gumbo Goes Camping (publisher in process of printing; out late 2020, cover art not available)

*Pruning With Proverbs (I’ve decided to self-publish. I was not crazy about the price the publisher wanted to set and decided not to sign the contract. I promised the Lord years ago if he used me to share his Word in ANY way, I would not charge people. I want to cover costs only.)

*God, Am I Doing this MOM Thing Wrong? (Inspirational essays on motherhood, January 2021)

*God, Am I Doing this MINISTRY Thing Wrong? (Inspirational essays for those in ministry, February 2021)

*God, Am I Doing this Life Thing Wrong? (Inspirational essays for women, December 2020)

Now that I’m looking at these, I think I’d rather they say “Am I doing…right?” instead of…wrong?

*Devotional for Anxiety (title tba later, February 2021)

*Using Sidewalk Chalk Along the Pathways of Life (humorous inspirational essays with scriptural tie-ins, October 2020, cover art coming soon)

*How-to Help For Homeschool/Virtual Moms (title tba later, asap)

*America Stepped Up (current essays on how communities rallied around people in need, tba)

*Zee, the Amazing Circus Performer (juvenile or picture book biography of a fascinating woman I know who worked for “Old Man Ringling” as she called him, searching for publisher)

*Miss Selena the Giant Librarian (holding out for a publisher)

*The Day Cody Got 11 Time-Outs (an attempt at self-publishing a children’s book, tbd, temporary cover)

September Media Picks Coming Soon….

along with another dozen or so half-finished posts šŸ™‚

Those cringe-worthy moments

You know those Facebook posts from the past that pop up on your feed prompting you to reshare?

I have some adorable ones- past trips with the grandkids, cute vacation snaps, visits with Mom and Dad…

And I have some “Why did I hate my body THEN?” ones when I realize that even though I might’ve been bigger than I’d ever been; it was, in fact, not the biggest I’d ever be.

But the ones that get me the most are the truly cringe-worthy ones. The ones that make me a little sad for the girl I used to be.

We aren’t talking pre-salvation either. We’re talking someone who let a setback or two (work, health issues) derail her to the point where there was no joy and no peace.

Ten years ago, I posted about being so angry at a television character that I turned my tv off. I wouldn’t admit the “lame program” I was watching at the time. I reposted it today, half-curious about what show it was (my money was on something on Nickelodeon since I wouldn’t name the program) and half-embarrassed that I’d ever posted that. To be honest, I’m not even sure why I REposted it except to chastise myself just a little. And give a little grace too….I genuinely felt bad for 10-years-ago me.

Some “kind soul” found it “necessary” to respond to my original post, so I was able to see what I’d been fussing about. It was a teenage gymnastics drama on what was formerly ABC Family. I remember the show- I liked the show a lot- but I don’t remember the character that made me so angry at all.

Imagine that!

For starters, I let it sink in that I was this mad at a CHARACTER. Okay, okay…maybe I do still get a little invested. Dale has to remind me often, as I’m sobbing into a tissue, that those things didn’t REALLY happen. But she ran after him in the rain and he got hit by a car as she reached out to him… (Okay, I made that one up, but you get my drift…)

It was the anger that bothered me the most. Because I remember that time period well. I had been miserable at work and then had major surgery; I was still not adjusting well to an empty nest; and my entire life revolved around lying in bed watching tv. It was all I had. And I was angry.

I was angry at the failing school system I’d thought I could make a difference in. It was the first district I’d been in that didn’t want innovative teaching; they wanted test questions drilled from Day 1.

I was angry that my son was overseas fighting for our country and we couldn’t hear from him for months at a time. I was angry at my girls for avoiding me (in retrospect, I completely understand. You know that one person you dread talking to because he/she is always miserable and it’s draining just to listen to them? That was me.)

So my anger at this tv character WHO I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER was really more about the anger within me. A deep, deep anger.

But how did it get there? After all, I’d let it all go ten years ago. And I don’t mean I THOUGHT I’d let it go. I had.

So how was there that much anger?

Simple, I let it in a little at a time.

Have you ever done a major closet cleaning? Cleared out stuff you no longer wore, put clothes on hangers facing the same direction, maybe even color-coordinated? The satisfaction of a well-organized closet can run deep. It also comes with a vow to NEVER let it get it piled up again.

Fast forward a year and there you are, finding something to wear from the pile of clothes in a jumbled heap. How did it get so messy? Simple. One garment at a time.

Our spiritual closets are no different. They require effort and a daily maintenance to keep them clean. When we do notice a problem, it’s best to take care of it immediately. Otherwise, you just pile more problems on top of each other until you can’t even identify the real issue anymore.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

August…….a time to be set free

Here I surrender lay down every weightĀ 
Remember Your love has broken all my chainsĀ 
What You have finished, cannot be undoneĀ 
The work of the cross was more than enough

Iā€™ve been set free
Iā€™ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
Iā€™ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemedĀ 
Iā€™ve been set free

There is a promise written in Your scarsĀ 
I am forgiven, changed by who You areĀ 
What you have finished, I will not forget
Iā€™m buried with Christ
Iā€™m raised from the dead

Iā€™ve been set free
Iā€™ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
Iā€™ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemedĀ 
Iā€™ve been set free

No longer bound in chainsĀ 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chainsĀ 
No longer blind (now) I seeĀ 
This is amazing graceĀ 
Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chainsĀ 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing graceĀ 
Jesus alive in me

(Oh) Iā€™ve been set free
(Oh) Iā€™ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power (no power) over meĀ 
Found in Your mercy
(Oh) Iā€™ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemedĀ 
Iā€™ve been set free

(Yes) You call me whole, saved and redeemedĀ 
Iā€™ve been set free

(Set Free….Hope Darst)

I shared a story this past Sunday of this very thing. It was the moment I truly knew I’d given everything to God. It wasn’t when I made a profession of faith at nine. It wasn’t when I threw myself on the altar at church camp at 14, a year after I turned my back on God in favor of a lifestyle that I erroneously thought was protecting me from pain. It wasn’t when I told him how sorry I was and how I wanted to turn my life around years later.

Those were three very real experiences and I meant every word of what I’d said each time.

But there was one time when I took it a step farther. One time when I knew I’d given Him EVERYTHING. The time I learned what it was like to be set free.

I’ve shared this story before, but the song above (featured in this month’s Media Picks) reminded me of that moment.

I was on my knees, figuratively, once again. Everything was a mess and I wanted to turn it around. It was a familiar prayer and I meant every word. But this time, He knew it was different. It was the lowest bottom I’d ever reached and I was all out of fight.

The calendar….He whispered.

Oh yes, the calendar…

It was several years old at that point and it held the phone numbers of every contact I’d ever need if things went south. Just now, as I’m writing this, I’m struck with the realization of what “going south” means. Going to hell. Which is what that calendar contained….a billion roads to send me to hell.

However, until then, I’d always looked at it as an insurance policy.

If things messed up, if I needed help, if I just needed a little something to help me through…it would be there. I would TRY not to use it but I’d keep it in a safe place as a back-up plan.

I hadn’t even thought about the calendar when He brought it up. But there I was, at the very intersection I call faith and free will. He was going to allow me to worship Him and He would bless me and I would revel in His grace and mercy no matter what I did. But I was tired of being tied to my past. It was the very thing that had kept me in bondage for years.

I don’t think I hesitated for a second. I made a fire, grabbed that calendar and threw it in. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 10,000 lbs lighter. My heart rejoiced. I felt as if angels had lifted me off the ground and I heard the chorus of At the Cross.

…and the burden of my heart rolled away…

I knew that was the lightness I felt. The burden I had unknowingly been carrying around all those years by holding on to something “just in case” I needed it later.

If there is something you are holding onto, something that separates you from God, and you have it on the shelf instead of in the fire, BURN IT TODAY!

Whether it’s a relationship, an addiction, a ball of anger….it will never do for you what God can. And your relationship with God will never be what it could be until you let it go.

Don’t just be free for a little while.

Be free indeed.