Tag Archives: blessing

Grace-Filled Moments, Like Manna From Heaven

23 May

My daughter Maddie initiated a new morning ritual today, and what a slice of heaven.  She comes over each day with SirCalvin, my youngest grandchild, who I babysit; and then I bring her to work a bit later.  Today our new tradition started in which we sing a worship song with the kids, read a scripture passage, and pray.  Logan prayed a sweet prayer this morning, asking God to help him be a good student next year in 3rd grade and also asking God to bless his awesome 2nd-grade teacher to have a great class next year.

Yesterday my oldest daughter, Nikki, sent me information about an inexpensive talk-to-type product.  I’ve already ordered it, and it will make it possible for me to write without having to use my arthritic fingers.  The cost was under $30!  Based on reviews, it’s bound to be an excellent tool that works very well.  That seems like a miracle blessing to me.

And last week I let go of a job that didn’t pay enough but supplied steady income, when I could press through to complete the work (lately I couldn’t).  I’m so thankful that God replaced what was lost with good pay and plenty of hours.  I wrote my first piece for this employer today, and he was pleased.  God is so good, to supply my needs like this. Oh, and to top it off, this person is literally a top nutritional expert.  I trust that everything I learn will sink in and help me form new personal eating and health habits.

And the loved one I mentioned in Sunday’s post, the one at the bottom of the barrel – I heard from her and she’s climbing her way back up.  Potentially good signs of progress are there.

One of the best moments of the day was after I told Maddie that I was worried I alienated my reading audience with yesterday’s blog post.  She hadn’t read it yet, but I told her about my analogy.  Maddie told me that not to say it was to be guilty of the thing I was writing about – not doing something Jesus-related because of fear of rejection.  Also said she needed the motivation to be bold in her faith, which my blog supplies.

It’s like there’s a pin prick of a hole in heaven, and it’s directly over me.  All this outpouring of grace is even more fun than catching snowflakes on my tongue.

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Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

How to Be Electrifying

22 Apr

I’m currently taping a concert by Adele which she is performing live for a public television program.  If you aren’t familiar with Adele, she is a singer/songwriter who has been breaking all kinds of records with her platinum albums.  She writes about the heartbreak of a breakup; my favorite song is “Someone Like You.”  Ironically, that title (though not the song’s meaning) is what I’m writing about here.  You are the only someone like you, just as I’m the only one like me.  There’s a place for us in this world which I believe makes the same kind of impact in some realm or another as Adele has made on the music world and in the hearts of millions who are enraptured by her songs.

There have been moments in my life which stand out because I was so aware that my life was making an impact on others as I was a part of a team.  Nothing I’ve ever experienced compares with being prayed up for my calling and fulfilling that calling with passion and focus.  Most of this type of experience occurred when I was ministering in prisons.  It was absolutely incredible to be used as an instrument of God.

And yet I believe that in my life right now I’ve been given the opportunity to create an even bigger impact on the world than all those times in the prisons put together.  These children I’m now raising are my mission field.  If I raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and with all the love and wisdom I can muster, they’ll grow up to make significant contributions to other lives.

But my desire to impact children goes beyond my immediate family; I was powerfully reminded of this last night when I helped a lost little boy who was about 4 or 5 years old and wandering in a Walmart parking area by himself, looking for his mother.  I’ll probably never forget that encounter.  As I first saw the boy and realized he was definitely lost, two men were attempting to take charge of him; sorry, I just have a problem trusting that strange men will definitely do what’s right for a lost little one.  I stopped right there in the drive, put on my hazard lights, and made sure that a person in management at Walmart took charge of the boy, who only spoke Spanish.

The lost child, who my heart goes out to, served as a reminder that I believe God will give me the inspiration I need to write books for children that will bless, encourage, and empower them.  Most of all, the books will, in a subtle way, prove how incredible God is while making it clear that the children are highly valued and loved by God.  The books will make Christianity even more cool than Harry Potter made magic out to be.

I believe that the devil works very hard to help us forget that we have a thing we’re equipped to do unlike any other person.  If we don’t get off track and we do plug into that divine purpose, we become lights in a dark world.  Sometimes as we’re walking in obedience to God we’re actually giving off the most light while completely unaware that our lives are positively electrifying.

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Proverbs 22:29

New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.

Don’t Pry the Clutter From My Cold, Dead Hands

14 Apr
office supply barrette

office supply barrette (Photo credit: jamelah)

Gifts come in all forms, and one gift I want to leave my children is a lack of clutter to deal with when I change my residence to heaven.  I’ve been working on getting rid of stuff for years now.  It’s most difficult for me to let go of anything related to writing or office supplies.  I discovered today that I also hang onto the children’s toys.  They have boxes of things to play with, yet all they usually want to play with is their DS.  I’ve put the multiple pieces of various toys together.  But what I really need to do is donate more than the one box I’ve got ready to give away right now.

When I move (again!) soon, my goal is to have gotten rid of the approximately 10 or 12 boxes that were in a storage unit.  Now everything will be in one apartment while at the same time not crowding us out of our closets.  Amen.

Why is it so dang hard for me to let go of these little things that, put together, add up to boxes of clutter?  I absolutely love feng shui, the minimal environment that promotes inner peace (I don’t pay attention to the parts of feng shui that could be considered a form of worship of other gods.)

In my clutter devotional called Devotional for Clutterers by Melody Carlson, today I read the thing that I believe most about this entire struggle.  Carlson says, “As we become more orderly and less cluttered, we focus less on surviving and more on actual living.”

The Lord is good and is helping me through a lot.  But He doesn’t mind that in the midst of it all, I’m asking Him to help me eliminate all the clutter I possibly can before we move into our new home.  Nothing is too hard for God!

I just know I’ll sleep more peacefully knowing that when I ultimately fall asleep for the last time, my children can deal with their grief without having to deal with my clutter.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve got my own death on my mind, it’s because I secretly wonder if moving twice in one month is going to kill me!  lol

The Bumper Sticker That Says it All

26 Mar

You know how a person’s tongue will sometimes stick out a little when they’re concentrating really hard on something like threating a needle?  That’s how my life as a Christian was for years.  I was trying to do things God’s way, but I couldn’t seem to do it.  Something was blocking my progress.

Then one day I was driving from Orange, Texas, to Galveston Island on a long stretch of road and I read a bumper sticker that said, “Let Go and Let God.”  Immediately, I recognized that the words were supplying the answer I was looking for.  I didn’t know why right away, though.

Gradually, I understood that the Christian life isn’t about trying to do things God’s way.  It’s about letting go of the steering wheel of our lives and letting God take control.  This is what the Holy Spirit is for.  We get out of the way and let the fruits of the Holy Spirit become manifest in our lives.  This kind of surrender yields fruit, and we always know that it was God and not ourselves that accomplished the love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

How do you let go and let God?  By taking up your cross daily, denying yourself – which means refusing to live for the purpose of fulfilling your personal agenda – and following the example of humility left by Jesus Christ.  A lot of prayer and meditation on the Word of God is required to get the Spirit to have more control than the flesh.

When I let go and let God, it’s like jumping into a river that has a powerful current and that sweeps me downstream in a joyous rush.  I’m usually most aware of God being in control when I’m doing things I believed to be impossible.

Life at its best is when we allow God in us to push against the boundaries of everyday ruts and pull us onto a new course.  It requires spiritual devotion and is so worth it.

Philippians 1:21

New King James Version (NKJV)

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

Are You Standing on the Right Soapbox?

22 Mar

I am often tempted to get up on my soapbox and wage a campaign for change about things like ridiculously long lines at Walmart after 9:00 pm, the bashing of Christianity in the media, the exclusion of genuine Christianity in Hollywood, and more recently why a company like Brach’s would stop making my favorite Easter candy which I’ve been eating since I was a little girl.  (Those marshmallow eggs are unavailable in all of Houston.)

But none of us can fight for every cause.

Backed by the favor and empowerment of God, I once organized a rally in support of our troops and in doing so was part of what began the “Support the Troops” movement that swept across America during Desert Storm in 1991.  (Read about my rally on the Congressional Record the day of 1-22-91 where Congressman Tom Delay spoke about the Alvin, Texas, rally and me, Stevie Johnson—before I took back my maiden name.)

At that event I got on my soapbox for the purpose of turning around the threat of treating soldiers the same way they were treated during Vietnam, and it made an impact on society (made national news, etc.).  So I know that one person backed by the support of God and the city she lives in can change the country.

That was a miraculous event, though.  I’d love to write about it more some other time.  The point is that when you get up on the soapbox that God is leading you to stand on, you are standing on the right soapbox.  But other efforts based on personal opinions and frustrations are not what we’re supposed to expend our energy on.

I believe that the biggest impact we can possibly make with our lives is to take the path God directs us to pursue.  When we go off on a tangent, we’re stepping off that God-empowered journey which will lead to ultimate success.  The results of our obedience won’t be known until we get to heaven; I have no doubt that standing in the right place at the right time will reap eternal reward beyond our wildest imaginations.

 

Matthew 17:19-21

New King James Version (NKJV)

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[a] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”[b]

Paraffin Bath Prayers: Get on the List!

21 Mar

Did you ever come to the conclusion, when a life crisis stops you in your tracks, that God is sending you this message?

 

Slow Down!  Quit neglecting

the things of the Spirit!

Me, too.

Quiet time spent reflecting on God and praying has been a rare occurrence compared to the years when I commuted to Houston from the Clear Lake, Texas, or Alvin area.  All that drive time in bumper-to-bumper traffic was my big opportunity to sing, worship, and listen to sermon tapes.  Lately I’ve been missing all that time with God.

And wallah!  God arranged for me to have those times back, though in a different way.  Thank the Good Lord that, with these gas prices today, I don’t have to commute.  Instead, I will be dipping both of my arthritis-riddled hands in hot paraffin wax up to twice a day for 20 minutes per hand.  (Such wonderful pain relief!)

As I sit at my desk with one hand coated in lavender-scented wax, wrapped in a sandwich bag, and inserted into a thermal glove, I shall focus on God!  Okay.  I’ll also play some Words with Friends on my mobile phone.

But mostly this will be a ministry time.  I’m going to keep a running prayer journal and spend that time lifting people up.  I’ll also be writing down answered prayer.

Have you ever heard of Lakewood Church of which Joel Osteen is the pastor?  (It’s the biggest church in America.)  I’m a trained Stephen’s Minister there, which is comparable to a deacon in a Baptist church.  To be honest, I am switching to a smaller church.  But when I go to Lakewood, I am free to wear my badge and help pray, as needed.

In other words, I am a minister; and I’ve been a part of numerous prayer groups through the years.  I’ve seen God amazingly answer prayers, and I’m not shy about believing for miracles.

If you have a prayer need in your life, please consider sending me a specific prayer request.  Or, if you’d rather keep the details private, you can simply give me a person’s first name and I’ll lift them up before the Lord (He knows what’s going on, and that’s the important thing).

My hands may hurt, but I’m truly thankful that God has shown me that He’s blessing me to slow down and engage in a daily prayer ministry.

What on this earth is more powerful than a prayer of faith?  It’s crucial business and worth the suffering that drove me to my knees.

James 5:17-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.