Ponderings, Contemplations, and Queries: He is Risen!

>> Wednesday, December 31


He Is Risen!!!


Yesterday, I left Jesus dead in the tomb, preaching to the souls in prison. I couldn't very well leave Him there, because that's not where the story, or my questions, end.


Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)


…He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago…
1 Peter 3:18-20 (NIV)

He obviously was still “himself” in death because He never stopped preaching, even in the grave. His self (soul) did not sleep after physical death. That should put an end to my questions in that regard, hmmm?

He preached through the Spirit. So the Holy Spirit was with Him, even in Hell. Surely He prayed from Hell, too. He was still Jesus, after all. Was The Father’s face still turned away? Surely not, if the Sprit was with Him. When did God restore His favor?

What happened in / to His spirit/soul when He ascended from the grave? At the moment God restored Him to life?

What was his “state” while earthbound, before ascending to Heaven? Physically, spiritually, and soul-ly?
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; John 20:17
What was going to happen when Jesus did ascend to His Father that would change the circumstances?
But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Counselor* won't come. If I do go away, he will come because I will send him to you. John 16:7 * Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Advocate. Greek Paraclete.)

The Comforter, the Holy Spirit could not come until He had ascended. Why?



Is He now in the same physical state as when He walked on the Earth after rising from the grave? Was that His glorified body?

Was He spirit before being born, like His Father?
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24


Just some things I’ve been pondering . . .

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Ponderings, Contemplations, and Queries: He Became Sin

>> Tuesday, December 30


Now playing! in my head! Chris Tomlin!
The song playing in my head this week is “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin. The line “He became sin who knew no sin.” is on repeat.

I’ve learned to meditate on those earworms that won’t go away – well the ones worthy of my quiet time contemplation anyway. So this week I’ve been pondering the moment when “He became sin.” and what “becoming sin” was like for Jesus.

Jesus did not “know” sin on a personal level, because He never disobeyed. He never experienced the consequences of sin I'm on a first name basis with - the queasy, uneasy, anxiety that accompanies saying “no” to God, and the guilt, despair, and worthlessness that follow serious backsliding and willful sin.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NKJV
In a flash, this sinless Man was flooded with unfamiliar, alien emotional agitation. He must have suffered anguish as anxiety pounded on His heart and guilt rent his gut. Did the sin’s pain cripple His already beaten and bloody body?
Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"* Mark 13:54
He looked to His Father, as was His custom, but for the first time, God didn’t answer. At the moment of His deepest need, God wasn’t listening. His daddy had disowned Him.
And in that state of abandonment, He died.

My contemplations resulted in a revelation (yet to be fully accepted by me): Because Jesus died in that condition, separated from the Father, bearing the sins of the world IN Him, the Son of God descended into hell. (Is that different from the grave?) Because He was “uredeemed,” He experienced the death experience of an unbeliever.

Was He still fully God even when separated from the Godhead?

So many queries....

These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken," John 19:36

Was a broken heart was his final undoing? Did the emotional torture and the anguish of unforgiven sin strain His unblemished heart to the point of premature death, before those crucified with Him, resulting in His bones being left unbroken?

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:46

And just what does “give up the ghost” mean? Three of the gospels use those words (or “spirit” in some translations.) The phrase is also used to describe the death of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob, and Job lamented that had not given up the ghost as he came from the womb. Was it just a figure of speech, or were those words used for a purpose?

Lord, may my hunger to know you through your word never end, but may I also be satisfied knowing I have hope of knowing all of the answers someday. Thank you for artists who drive home the truth of your gospel in amazing ways that make me stop and think of you in new light.. Thank you for giving us music for worshipping you,. Lord, help me to never take the sacrifice of your son, Jesus, lightly or for granted. In His Name I pray.

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He will command His Angels!

>> Monday, December 29



I take this promise with me into the new year.
My Father's Right Hand is upon me.

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Friday Fiction: A Time to Be Born, and a Time to Die

>> Friday, December 26



Today is ....The Best of Friday Fiction!!!

Ok, so this, only my 2nd entry in the FaithWriter's challenge
, might not be my best story, but it's one of my favorites for personal reasons.



A Time to be Born, and a Time to Die


Evie knew that he had lied. What he said didn’t even make sense. It WAS important what people thought about her. And she knew that people always look down on the rape victim. No matter what Evie said, no matter how loudly she proclaimed the truth, people would doubt her. “I wonder what she did to encourage him?” “How was she dressed, by the way?” “Was she maybe a bit too friendly?” Oh, yes, Evie knew – she herself had asked those same questions when reading the newspaper, or seeing a story just like hers on TV. No, the cop may have been a nice guy, but he didn’t tell her the truth.

The old Evie was just a memory now. Her life didn’t end during the ordeal, but she could feel the emptiness, the dead hole inside of her soul nonetheless. She had told him that, but the lying cop said that a NEW life can be born from this death. She didn’t want a NEW life; she just wanted her OLD life back. She wanted the smiling, friendly, trusting Evie back. But she couldn’t fathom ever seeing that Evie again, let alone some “new, better” Evie. “Unblemished?” “Clean?!?” Right! She bore a permanent Scarlet Letter worse than the classic “A”. Hers was a red, neon, flashing “R”, for Rape. It wasn’t embroidered onto her bodice, but branded on her heart.

Stifling a sob, she turned and stared once again out the windows of her sun room. She felt relatively safe curled up here on the loveseat; she could see in every direction. She would be able to see if someone snuck through the secluded back yard this time. She scanned the ground for what seemed like the millionth time, searching for the condom wrapper the cops didn’t find. She knew they didn’t believe her about the condom any more than they believed her about the knife. Yes, she could feel the shameful “R” burning, charring, scarring her. There could be no “cleaning” it away, no matter what the cop had said.

Evie’s neck began to ache. The last two weeks were a blur of not sleeping, sitting guard, and re-living over and over the eternal 30 minutes when she had died inside. Standing to stretch, still watching the windows, she idly put her hands in her pockets and felt paper. Numbly, she pulled out a folded little pamphlet – ah, yes, the “tract” that the nice cop had slipped into her hand as he lied to her. She rolled her eyes, and started to toss it in the trash, but something compelled her to look at it. After one more glance to the right, and to the left, to make sure no one was sneaking through the yard, she started skimming over the booklet. Certain words caught her attention.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean…” I know I’M certainly unclean now.

“…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us…” Ick! How can blood cleanse?

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Hmmm, good question!

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Gift, huh? Nah, nothing is really “free”.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. What?!? Can it be THAT easy, just “believe”?

Her curiosity was spiked and her fixation forgotten. She had to know more about this stuff. She thought about calling that nice cop, but knew he’d be busy with more important things, like catching rapists. Instead, she dug in the back of the closet and pulled out the dusty Bible her Grandma had sent years ago. Settling once again into the refuge of the loveseat, she glanced at the pamphlet again, and then searched until she found the first verse she had read, then the second, and soon she was devouring entire Books at a time. Not noticing that the sunlight had grown dim, she was startled when she heard her husband’s key in the lock. Only then did she realize how long it must have been since she last checked her back yard. Glowing and confident, she rose to greet her love with a smile and a light in her eyes he hadn’t seen for a fortnight. “Honey! I’m so glad you’re home. There is something you’ve just GOT to hear…”

--------------------------------------------
Scripture used, in order of appearance:

Ecclesiastes 3:2, NIV (Title)

Isaiah 64:6, NIV

1 John 1:7, NAS

Mark 8:36, NIV

Romans 6:23, NIV

John 3:16, NIV



Hop on over to Patty Wysong's blog, Patterings to read more short fiction, or to post your own!

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Good News of Great Joy

- Act 2:38 -

Peter replied, "Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Baptism -- in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Jesus Christ. I finally got it - THIS is what Christmas all about: New life! The Word becoming flesh; God with us; Emmanuel.

When I was telling the family about our awesome Christmas Eve service at FBC, my mother in law commented that Christmas was a strange time for a baptism. I had to think about that. Hmmmm. Too bad the perfect answer didn't come to me until much later, after I was home. "What better time than Christmas to celebrate second birth? What an appropriate time to confess Christ in us, than the day we celebrate Christ WITH us?"

Behold: Madalyn Joy - born again. (With proud daddy - Pastor Charles)


Behold: Walker Hammond - born again.


I pray for these children that they will hold this day, and their confession, in their hearts, and that they will not take lightly the gift they have been given - eternal life, and the grace of God through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ.

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

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I'm a Winner!!

>> Saturday, December 20

My dear friend, and sister in Christ, Joanne Sher, recently had a contest on her blog to celebrate her 100th post, and yours truly was selected as a co-winner! Ok, so there were only two entries, but still!

Joanne will be finishing her read through the Bible early this year, and asked for ideas to fill the 10 or so days she'd have left.

I won a copy of the book, It Happened by Design, an anthology of God-incidences that includes one of Joanne's stories!! in it.


Read all about the give-away, and my "winning" Bible-reading-quiet-time plan on Joanne's blog, An Open Book

I'm looking forward to reading some fantabulous God-incidence stories!

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Friday Fiction: No Place Like Home

>> Friday, December 19


Welcome to Friday Fiction! Our host this week is Rhonda at Beach Reads. Stop on by for more good reading!


My story today is from the recent "Home for Christmas" Challenge at Faithwriters.com. Enjoy!!



No Place Like Home


Irving was at it again. Frankly, I was over his whining. One more word about missing his precious Aunt Betty’s sweet potato soufflé tomorrow and I was going to drop kick him to the curb. Besides, just the thought of sweet potato soufflé makes me want to gag.

I shot him a look that could melt diamonds and put my nose back into Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas.” Boy could I relate to Mr. Krank; I was ready to skip the rest of December and move straight into January.

Irving was acting like it was my fault I had to work on Christmas this year. Maybe I could tell the patients they’d need to care for themselves tomorrow because the nurses had to go home to mommy. Wait, I’ve got it – we could just shut down the hospital tomorrow. I should ask Irving if he’d call the director and suggest it.

I gave up reading and closed my book none too quietly. “Let’s go. You’re taking me shopping. Bring the credit cards.”

Macy’s jewelry counter sparkled like Christmas morning. Rubies, emeralds, and diamonds reflected fluorescent light into shopper’s eyes, luring them like sheep to slaughter, blinding them to exorbitant price tags. I marched straight to the display where I had eyeballed a tennis bracelet last week.

The sales clerk wore so much mascara I wondered how she was able to lift her eyelids. “Happy holidays,” she crooned. “Is there something I can show you?” I wasn’t fooled by her faux festivity. Under all that mascara, her eyes brimmed with boredom.

“Merry CHRISTMAS.” I raised my nose a bit higher. “This bracelet, please …if it’s not too much trouble.” I tapped a red fingernail on the glass over my greed’s desire. Irving shuffled closer, and I glowered at him from the corner of narrowed eyes. He was squinting; I knew he was trying to peek at the tiny price tag dangling from the clasp.

“An exquisite choice. Perfect for your dainty wrist.” Luckily the clerk missed my unchecked eye-roll as she unlocked the glass case. With exaggerated flourish, she presented the glittering band of diamonds.

I stuck out my hand, and she fastened the bracelet around my wrist. “Stunning! And a perfect fit. You could take this home with you today. Shall I wrap it for you?”

“No, thank you. I shall wear it.” I left Irving to finalize the purchase while I had a look at a sale in the shoe department.

A dazzling sunrise on Christmas morning heralded promises of a splendid day. I emerged from the bedroom bathed and refreshed – body and soul. I had prayed away the hateful spite from the days before and pledged to make peace with Irving before I started my shift.

Wrapped in my trusty old bathrobe, I headed off to start coffee. The worn and frayed robe hugged me like an old friend. If we’d “gone home” for Christmas instead of staying home, I’d have worn the homely robe his Aunt Betty gave me last year, still stiff and scratchy from unuse.

Rounding the corner into the den, I got a surprise: my beloved Irving met me with a kiss and a steaming cup. The Christmas tree lights flashed and a fire crackled in the hearth. Irving had taken advantage of the homefield, too, and had donned his favorite faded sweatshirt and flannel pajama pants. We looked each other up and down and shared a laugh.

“Merry Christmas, Irving. I’m sorry for being a bit… grumpy lately.”

“No, I’m sorry. I made too much of going home for Christmas, when this IS my home. Right now, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. Got time to open a present before you get ready for work?”

“Are you kidding? At least one!” I reached for the biggest box under the tree, but Irving caught my arm. He pulled a long, blue velvet box from his pocket.

“This one.”

My trembling hands threatened to drop the box as I fumbled the lid open. I gasped at the diamond necklace glittering in the satin lining. It was perfect match to my new bracelet. The tears on my cheeks told Irving of my joy; I was speechless.

“The clerk with all the eye makeup said you’d like it.”

“Um…I’ll be late this afternoon. I need to stop at the grocers,” I stammered.

“But we got everything for Christmas dinner yesterday. What else…”

“Sweet potatoes,” I blurted. “Sweet potatoes and marshmallows.”

And I didn’t even want to gag.

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Friday Fiction: Nobody's Fool

>> Friday, December 12


Welcome to Friday Fiction!! This week's host is Shirley over at
Sunny Glade. Pop on over to read more fiction, or join the fun and post your own short story!

In the spirit of the Christmas season, my story this week is from the recent Faithwiters.com "Christmas Carol" writing challenge. I hope you enjoy this fictional account of an historical event, told from the viewpoint of one of the participants.



Nobody's Fool

They called us fools for seeking a god who had no face, no image. Indeed, when we set out on this journey, this pilgrimage, we were elevated in the opinion of most in Persia to The Kings of All Fools.

We three “kings” of orient are.

But we knew the truth, and their taunts fazed us naught. We were convicted and would not be deterred. We set out upon a road uncertain for a destination unknown in search of a true King.

We procured riches from the land to offer Him, but what earthly gift could possibly be fit to lay before the One we seek? My offering is closely guarded – I’ll not divulge its hiding place, but suffice it to say it will be secure still when I reach the end of this trek.

Bearing gifts we traverse afar.

We have traveled a great distance, over lands as varied in their makeup as the people who populate them: from farmers eking an existence from the field, to fishermen plucking their livelihood from the earth’s generous fount; across barren moorland to the foot of a treacherous mountain range seemingly inhabited only by clouds.

Field and fountain; moor and mountain.

News of our journey precedes us; verily, wherever we travel, we are expected and welcomed, and encouraged. The one constant among the diversity--the yonder star that beckons. From the onset of this journey, none of us could deny its unspoken command – “Follow.”

Following yonder star.

Each of us is acclaimed in our field of reading the heavens and gleaning its mysteries, but this star is like nothing any of us has observed; still we know what it is, and we know of the wonder that awaits at the terminus of its course across the sky: the prophesied Messiah. The star’s night-brilliance rules the darkness, and lo, even at the height of day its divine light will not be denied prominence in the heavens, competing handily with the radiance of the sun. This star’s bright beauty heralds Royalty.

Oh, star of wonder; star of night. Star with royal beauty bright.

Westward it leads us; and westward we pursue it. Westward from our Persia, where Hebrews have settled bringing with them chronicles of their God and His promise of a Messiah. For years we poured over their holy writings; for years we scoured the sky for this sign.

Westward leading, still proceeding.

As astounded as I was to witness the birth of this supernatural star, it was surely affirmation of my growing trust in this unseen God of the Hebrews. My heart is barely contained in my chest, pounding as it is at the thought of being in His very presence.

Alas, here I must close; the candle burns precariously low and I must preserve the precious wax. If anyone should find and read this journal, may he be assured of the certainty I carry in my core of the divinity of the One I seek, whose perfect Light will outshine the brilliance of even this magnificent star that guides us to Him.

Guide us to thy perfect light.





NOTE:
“We Three Kings of Orient Are”
Words and Music By: Rev. John H. Hopkins, circa 1857.
Copyright Unknown


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Friday Fiction: Second Thoughts

>> Friday, November 28

For more great fiction, head to Rick's Pod Tales and Ponderings



Today's Friday Fiction offering is an elongated version of my FaithWriters.com challenge entry for the "Truth or Dare" topic. This is what I WANTED it to be, before hacking 350 words from it to meet the word count limit. Enjoy!


SECOND THOUGHTS

I don’t know how to tell this, or even where to start really. I guess I should start with Tessa, seeing as how it this is mostly her fault.

She’s so much different. Most girls are all about their make up and their hair and dressing like a hottie, but Tessa – she is what she is and she’s happy with that. She’s the only girl I know who is happy looking like herself, that being the girl next door. And I mean girl. She could probly pass for 10 even though she’ll be 14 on her birthday come December. Besides her cute little nose that turns up at the end, she’s got gorgeous eyes – big and brown and shiny. Hair just as brown and shiny all the way down her back.

Anyway, back to the story. I wasn’t real happy about the plan but I didn’t want to be a wimp. It’s a guy thing, ya know? See, I never was one to back down from a dare, so I went along with it, and Tessa, she followed me like always. She must watch outta her window for me to walk past cuz she came out her front door right when I crossed her driveway.

She looked up at me all expectant like and asked me, “Where ya going? What’s going on tonight?”

I had tear myself away from those eyes of hers, and I told her, “Nothing you need know about. Whyn’t you stay home tonight?” I stuck my hands in the pockets of my jeans and shuffled around a bit.

Just like her, she said, “Pah. I’m going.”

I rolled my eyes, shrugged, and started walking again. Tessa was glued to my side like my shadow. One thing about Tessa, she don’t babble on like most girls. She’s all right to talk to if she’s all I got. Mostly she likes to talk about Jesus and Bible stuff. I don’t mind – Jesus was a pretty cool dude and she knows a lot about him. I wasn’t sure I bought it all, but her eyes get even shinier when she’s talking bout him so I’d been wondering lately if it might all be true. She didn’t even pester me bout where we were headin that night, just told me how Jesus dying made her feel.

When we crossed Main and hung a left on Turner, and we saw Charlie and Rick hanging out in front of First Pres, she asked me, “We going to church?”

Her eyes lit up the night, and that’s when I had my first second thought about this plan and specially bout letting her tag along. I told her, “Sorta, but not really. Just come on if you’re coming.”

“They know you been going here?” She sounded shocked, and I reckon she had reason. That’s when I had my second second thought.

“Nah, I haven’t told no one. An you don’t need to neither,” I said.

Charlie held out his fist as we came up and I gave it a bump. He flicked his eyes at Tessa and asked me, “What’s SHE doin here?”

“Chill, Dude. She’s cool.” I told him, and asked, ‘You check it out?”

He grinned at Rick then at me. “Yah, Dude. Wide open.”

“Then let’s doooo it.” Rick started baying like a banshee and we had to hush him up and hustle around back before anyone saw us.

Sure nuff, the back door to the kitchen was unlocked and we all snuck in. Tessa I had to grab by the hand and tug on, but she came too. We started with the big blackboard in the fellowship hall, erasing the announcements. Charlie grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote in big letters, “Jesus…” He only got the first two letters of the next word down when Tessa grabbed my hand and drug me away.

“Come on, I want to do something.”

Well that got Charlie snickering and Rick hootin and a hollerin. “Go on you two – and have fuu-uun.” I turned my head to give them a look, and seeing those words so big…well I gotta say I wanted to throw up. My third second thought. I was happy to go on with Tessa.

She didn’t let go of my hand, or say a word, just drug me all the way to the sanctuary, then right up to the altar and dropped to her knees. She looked up at me with those big shiny eyes, cept now they were shiny with tears. “Pray with me?”

I figured, what the hay, I wasn’t too much into the dare anymore anyway. She still had hold of my hand, and I got on my knees beside her. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I just bowed my head and thought I’d wait till she was done, then we could go. I didn’t know she was planning on praying out loud.

I don’t remember much of what she said, but it was how she said it. I’ll tell ya, I never heard no one pray like that before. It was like she was really talking to someone. She said “Father” like God was really her daddy. She’d even stop ever once in a while like she was waiting for Him to answer. I started getting more comfortable, and that was weird to me.

Then she told Him she wanted to pray for Charlie and Rick and me, and I remember this part. She asked Him to open our hearts to His truth. And it hit me like a hammer. All those things we talked about, bout Jesus, and Him dying and why, and how He was really alive and He was really God. I felt like my heart was ripped open and real tears ran down my face. Before I knew it, I was praying. Me! And it wasn’t weird at all; matter of fact if felt real right.

That’s when the cops busted in and hauled us off. I’m thankful to the preacher for getting out of bed to come get us. My folks wouldn’t have believed my story, but he did. Course, Tessa was there to back me up. Us two tried to get Charlie and Rick to see the truth while we waited at the station for the preacher, but they just laughed. And for once I didn’t care, neither.

So, anyway, I guess that’s my testimony. That’s why I’m standing here in front of ya’ll in this big bathtub in a white nightgown today. Jesus is my Lord now.

Besides, Tessa dared me.

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Set Free: If / Then

>> Wednesday, November 26

I know, it's been ages since I've posted a blog. I can't say I've been too busy, or I have I had nothing to write about, because neither of those are true. If I could figure myself out, I'd be a much wiser woman. If you figure me out, feel free to clue me in.

Anyway, I've fallen in love with an app on FaceBook - "Word of God". I just "unlocked" a few more "Words" and in looking at them just now, I was stabbed in the spirit by this one:


How many times have I read this verse? I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you I only just saw the truth of the words.

I know that context is extremely important when it comes to studying the Bible, but sometimes, pulling a verse out and reading it alone causes me to REALLY see it. Really read it. Really absorb it.

"IF you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

THEN you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."


Ah, the classic "if/then" logic formula. The effect is dependent upon the cause. The result is dependent on an action.

I know God's love isn't conditional upon my actions. God IS love; he can no more NOT love me than I can NOT be a woman. It is who He is. I know His Grace isn't conditional upon my actions. That is His gift to all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ, His only Son. He willingly was tortured and executed in my place, to pay my debt.

However, my growth in Him IS conditional upon my actions. ONLY IF I hold to His teaching will I will become His disciple (learning, growing, knowing Him); ONLY THEN I will know the truth. And THEN I will be set free - free from guilt, free from worry, free to rest in Him.

Father, thank you for your Word, and for the places and people and circumstances you use to make the Truth of your Word evident to me. Thank you for being there for me every day, no matter if I am listening to You or ignoring you. I pray that I will become your devoted disciple, not swayed or blown to and fro by the winds of this world, but remain steadfast in walking on the path you set before me. Thank you for being my Light in this dark world.

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Friday Fiction: Welcome Home

>> Friday, November 14

Today is Friday, and that means it's time for FRIDAY FICTION!




LauraLee is hosting Friday Fiction this week on her awesome blog LauraLee's Lifesong. Stop by to read more fiction, or to join the fun.




The story I'm sharing today is a fictionalized-but-mostly-true account of how my husband and found the church home we adore. I wrote "Welcome Home" for the FaithWriters.com "Worship" challenge. I hope you enjoy!




WELCOME HOME


Hannah fought the onslaught of merry parishioners leaving the early service and took the bulletin offered by the smiling volunteer. Despite the fact that the same tall, grey-haired man had been standing at the entrance to the worship center every Sunday for the past eight years, he had never said more than “good morning’ to her. This Sunday was no different, but Hannah was still delighted to be there.

She liked sitting up front; this early the rows were was sparsely populated. As people chose seats around her, Hannah smiled and greeted each one. They answered her graciously, then turned back to their friends and conversations. She watched the slide show deliver greetings and church news, and read the announcements of upcoming events and mission trips in the bulletin twice as she hummed along with the praise music playing on the loud speakers. Hannah looked around hopefully, but no one seemed to notice her. She was surrounded by laughter and friendly conversations. She worshiped alone in a crowd of hundreds.

Soon, the music minister stepped to the pulpit and welcomed everyone. Hannah loved to sing, and joyfully lifted her praises with rest of the congregation. I’m here for God. I don’t care if no one knows me, she told herself. Half of it was a lie; she desperately wanted to belong.

During the communion service, Hannah poured her heart out to her Abba Father, confessing her selfishness and His greatness, and committing herself to be His servant.

The preacher’s message, as always, lifted and fed her, and when the invitation to join the church was given at the end of the service, she longed to approach the altar. Why do I continue to sit here, glued to my chair, week after week? She waited for an answer, but none came.

As the congregants filed out, she stopped to shake the preacher’s hand as always. Sometimes his forehead wrinkled as he tried to place her, but most times, like today, he just spoke a hasty word of kindness and looked to the next person. “Bill! Good to see you this morning. How is Josh doing in boot camp?”

Hannah moved on, wishing he knew her name and her life, too.

The following Sunday, a crash of thunder woke Hannah. A blank screen stared at her from the clock radio, She found her cell phone on the nightstand and squinted at it. 10:30! She’d be so late! She rolled out of bed and dashed through the shower. An up-do and a dab of mascara would suffice.

The clock in her car read 10:58 as she passed the old brick church on the town square. Her church was still fifteen minutes away. On impulse, she pulled into the parking lot.

A “Visitor” spot was waiting for her in front, and she hastened to the worship center. A grinning usher opened the door.

“Welcome to Grace Church. I’m Jim.”

“Good morning, I’m Hannah. Sorry to cut it so short.”

“No worries, Hannah. We’re glad you’re here. Let’s find you a seat, ok?” Jim walked her to a pew toward the middle, and spoke to the man sitting at the end. A murmur was passed down the row, and a space was made for her. Her apologies were met with forgiveness as she scrambled over feet and settled in.

Before Hannah had a chance to fully absorb the soaring bead-board ceilings and the sun-lit stained glass, the familiar routine of church began. The welcome from the pulpit was hearty and heartfelt. Visitors were asked to stay seated “so we can find you”, while members stood in honor of their guests.

Everyone in proximity of Hannah reached for her hand and asked her name. She received three invitations to Sunday School and two for Wednesday dinner. Jim the usher handed her a card to fill out “so we can stay in touch with you.”

When she stood to join them in singing praises to God, tears glistened in her eyes.

The pastor’s message and his invitation spoke directly to her, and when the final hymn began, she found herself stepping into the aisle. Her feet and her heart carried her to the altar where the radiant pastor met her with outstretched arms.

“I want to join this church,” was out of her mouth before she knew she was going to speak.

“We’re honored to have you join our family. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” the pastor asked.

“Yes,” she croaked through her tears. “I’ve known Him and loved Him for a long time, but I found Him here today.”

“Welcome home, sister. Let’s pray.”


© 10/11/07 Catrina Bradley

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Friday Fiction: Unquenched

>> Thursday, November 6


Friday Fiction is being hosted this week
by my friend and fellow FaithWriter, Julie Arduini
at her
blog The Surrendered Scribe. Come cCheck it out!


"Unquenched" is something of a mystery to me...it's a mystery that it was highly commended in my level, and was an Editors Choice, in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge. I wrote "Unquenched" July 30, 2008, for the topic "Concentration". I almost didn't enter it, but sent it off to my buddy to have a look. She convinced me I should enter, and much to my shock & awe, it was well received.
_______________________________


Unquenched

I sure could use a drink of water. So thirsty. Mustn’t forget to ask. Water. Remember. I want a drink of water. I’ll ask him for one when he comes in. A nice cold drink of water. A tall drink of water. That’s what they used to call me. Back then…when George was … was so HANDsome. He was taller than all of the other boys, AND he was taller than I was. I loved looking up into his warm brown eyes. I was considered tall for a girl. A tall drink of water they called me. Mmm. Water. Sure am thirsty. I’ll ask for a glass of water. He’ll be back soon. I need to remember water. WATter! WATter. Oh, dear. That’s making me seasick. Like that time George and I took a day cruise to nowhere. That’s how it was billed. A Day Cruise to Nowhere. You sailed off into international waters, you dropped anchor there out for a couple of hours, then you were brought back to the dock. For those couple of hours, you could gamble. George let me play Blackjack. He gave me $50; I lasted six hands. I DID get a free drink, though. Probably what made me seasick. I sure could use a drink right now. Water would be great. When he comes, I need to remember to ask him for some. Ok, remember water. Water. Concentrate, Ruby. Don’t forget. Water. Icy cold, like it was just pumped from the well. Like from the pump at our kitchen sink. That was before water came out of a tap at the turn of a knob. What an advancement for mankind was running water! And indoor plumbing? A Godsend. I sure don’t miss those middle of the night trips to the necessary. Especially in winter. My feet and hands would be frozen when I came inside. And then I had to wash up in cold water from the pump at the sink. That cold water sure felt good in the summer, though. Oh, but that was good drinking water. I could use a drink of that water right now. I’m a mite thirsty. When he comes, I need to ask him for a drink. I’ll need to ask for ice cubes though if I want it as cold as the water from the pump in the kitchen. Of course that was a lot of years ago, back when George and I first married. My but George was handsome. So tall, too! The other girls were so jealous. Oh, look, here’s my sweetheart now.

“Miss Ruby, how you doin? You comfortable? “

“George!”

“Miss Ruby, it’s Nathan, just comin round to check on you again.”

“George, there was something I wanted to ask you. Something about the pump at the kitchen sink. I can’t quite seem to recall just what it was.”

“Your water pitcher’s dry, Miss Ruby. Lemme fill it up for you.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. You always know what I need, and take care of it before I even realize I need it myself. You’re the best husband, George.”

“Nah, Miss Ruby, I’m just the nurse’s aid. Nathan, remember?” Nathan scooped ice into the water pitcher from the cooler on his cart, then ran water in from the tap in the small bathroom.

“George, do you remember pumping water by hand? I don’t know why, but I just thought of that old pump in our kitchen. I haven’t thought about that in years. Oh, thank you George! How did you know I was thirsty?”

___________________________

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Friday Fiction: Where the Wind Blows

>> Friday, October 31

Yay!!! It's time for ...



This week our host is Lynda, at "On the Write Track". You are more than welcome to join us there for links to more fun fiction--whether you write fiction or just enjoy reading it. Invite your friends to join you!

Me? I've been wallowing in my pit the past week or two, so I decided to post this story that brought me closer to God as I (or I should say HE) wrote it. A writer always tries to get inside the head of her MC...and getting inside the head of this MC took a lot of letting go on my part.


WHERE THE WIND BLOWS
12/11/07

All of the Christians have gone home. The church sits empty, save for dust motes floating in multicolored shafts of moonlight, spiders weaving new webs to replace those cleared away by the custodian, and the silent Spirit Who hovers majestically, lingering long after the bodies of the Church have departed.

He ponders the season of His confinement to the Holy of Holies. And when He only spoke to the Father’s chosen. The people had craved Him, but their time had not yet come.

He laughs with delight at His freedom in this age of Grace. To be able to be present with all of His children. To be summoned by a prayer. To be heralded and wrought to a frenzy by the voices of His worshippers raised in praise of His Name. To fill His children with Himself, and then go with them into the world.

He had flown with abandon this morning, floating, swirling, from one believer to another, being lifted to the rafters on a joyful noise, then descending in an invisible cloud to envelop His children in His presence. He filled the surrendered mind and heart of Pastor Beck, who stood surrounded by a Heavenly host called forth by the army of prayer warriors he shepherded.

The pastor’s words were pure Word; the Son was preached today. And worshipped, and loved, and lifted up. The Name of Jesus Christ was exalted, and the Father was well pleased. The Spirit sprang into abundance, and the Church’s faith came full circle.

The Trinity was in motion.

The prayers of the righteous touched His Heart, and He bestowed blessings upon His children. Some were discouraged by seemingly unanswered prayers. The blessings He bestowed were not always what was wished for, or what His children deemed best, but instead what was needed for the Father’s plan to unfold.

Smiling, cheerful Mrs. Granger cried out from a heart buried beneath a façade of contentment for the restoration of her failed marriage.

The Spirit was bereaved and grieved with her, but instead of granting her plea, He calmed His child and spoke to the hearts of three of her Sunday School classmates, urging them to reach out in love, comfort, and support.

Young Natalie knelt at the altar to pray as she had every Sunday since her baptism. She wanted to make sure everyone saw how serious she was about her decision to follow Christ. But all the Spirit heard was a clanging gong.

He hovered about her, and almost breached the wall of self separating them. He simultaneously nudged and inspired five of her friends to think of her and lift her to the Father. She was being convicted, and one day soon would see, hear, and finally surrender to the Truth.

He inhabited the music and spoke through the words of “Just as I am” to the Baileys as they communed with their Savior through worship. They had spent the past nine months church hopping, unable or unwilling make a commitment. As Gabrielle sang “I come..” and turned to her husband, he echoed, “I come.” They joined hands and hastened to the pastor, who stood smiling at the altar.

The Spirit thrilled to hear the Name spoken, and their confession of faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ sent Him soaring. When Gabrielle and Dan stood before their new family, His Spirit of love bloomed as the congregation welcomed their new brother and sister.

Now, hours later, here in the stillness of the shadowy church and along the tendrils of Love snaking from heart to heart through the Body, the Spirit continues His work.

Natalie’s phone rings, and she accepts an invitation to go with a few girls to the soup kitchen tomorrow night. The Women’s Sunday School teacher takes out her best stationary and pens a welcoming and encouraging note to the Baileys. The aroma of baking fills more than one kitchen and text messages fly as His daughters finalize plans for a single ladies’ tea, making sure to include the newly single Mrs. Granger on the invitation list. Intercessory prayers pour through Him to the Father in the name of the Son.

The Church is stronger today than yesterday, and will be stronger still tomorrow, as the Spirit prepares them for the return of the Son.

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A "Book" Review

2 Timothy 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness NIV


God gave me the most amazing verse this week. For an insecure woman who still feels like a worthless little girl most of the time, it gave me great comfort and courage.

If you know me from any of my other internet families, you might recall that I’m reading through “The Message” by Eugene Peterson. “The Message” is a paraphrase of the Bible as opposed to a translation. The fact that Mr. Peterson signed his name on the work attests to the fact that the reader shouldn’t assume that it is the literal Word of God. The Holy Bible, though it doesn’t list an author and is indeed compiled from the letters and writings of many, has but One author, and His name isn’t on the cover.

That being said, I highly recommend reading Mr. Peterson’s version of the Word. Now I have encountered passages that I recognize (in my opinion) as possibly being doctrinally biased. Or perhaps that is EXACTLY what the scripture means? When I come upon a “loose” interpretation, at first I’m amazed, thinking that God has revealed the truth of a formerly unclear passage, but then I remember that this is one man’s interpretation, and move on.

You see, my goal when I embarked on this read was to read, not study. I’ve started out to read all the way through the Bible before, but have never make it. I’d check the foootnotes end up 37 books over cross referencing, then on the internet researching. I promised myself this time not to go on goose chases through Scripture, but treat The Message like the great read The Bible is and just read it and enjoy. And that I have.

Even with keeping that promise, the Message has made me stop and think over many a familiar verse. Many times I’ve pulled out my NIV or other translation to compare. Other times, I may read only a paragraph and be so intimately touched by the message I’ve known all my life but never heard in those words before that I just close my eyes and my Bible, and meditate on Gods’ promises.

2 Timothy 3:16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. The Message


“The Message” was the most worthwhile present I’ve ever given myself. If you’re puzzling over a gift for someone this Christmas season, keep Mr. Peterson’s paraphrase in mind. Or treat yourself!

Oh, and I mentioned a verse God gave me. Stay tuned….

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Friday Fiction: The Way of the Sluggard

>> Friday, October 17

I chose this story for today's Fiction Friday because I've been thinking about it a lot this week. I still have a problem with the snooze alarm and this week I've been very bad.

Fiction Friday is hosted today by Dee Yoder at
http://deeyodersblogspot.blogspot.com/
Stop on by for more fiction, or to join the fun.



THE WAY OF THE SLUGGARD

Sonja peered at the time through sleep-bleared eyes. I’ll get up soon. One more snooze won’t hurt. She tapped the button on the alarm clock, cutting off the DJ in mid-sentence, and snuggled back under the covers. She was fast asleep within seconds.


“...6:52, and we’re looking at a rainy morning, folks.” Sonja jolted at the sudden, loud intrusion into her sleep. Great. Rain. Father, I’m grateful for the rain. I know we need it, but why during rush hour? Couldn’t you wait till everyone’s at work?

“Better get an early start; traffic will be a bear on the connector. Now, in honor of the weather, here’s the latest release from MercyMe - “Jesus Bring the Rain.”

I’ll just listen to this song, then get up.

“That was MercyMe with our theme song for this wet morning.” Sonja turned her head toward the clock. Man, I slept through one of my favorite songs! Hmm...if I don’t wash my hair, I can hit the snooze one more time. Rolling onto her tummy, she purred, and fell back asleep.

“...but our son, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead in that shirt. It came from SuperMart, and no one who is cool wears clothes from...” Sonja smacked the snooze button without even glancing at the clock. I can skip my Bible reading and devotion this morning and sleep just a bit longer. I’ll still almost be on time. Soon she was dozing.



“Father, I’m sorry that I didn’t make time for You this morning. Forgive me for my laziness.” Sonja prayed as she dodged slower cars, weaving in and out of lanes. “Please help me make it to work on time.” “You IDIOT! Move faster! Go, go!”

She eyed the HOV lane. Drivers with passengers were speeding by the bumper-to-bumper single drivers. “Cheater!” she shouted at a pick-up that obviously didn’t have two or more people in the cab. No matter that he couldn’t hear her, and probably didn’t care about her opinion anyway. Should I? Do I dare hop over into the left lane and take a chance? If there is a cop patrolling the HOV lane, that guy in the truck will get pulled over and I’ll be safe. She made a hasty decision, turned on her left signal, and jerked into the first gap and gunned the engine. Ah, this is more like it. I should be right on time, now.



“Do you know why I pulled you over this morning?” Rain dripped off the cop’s hat cover as he bent over to speak to Sonja.

“Yes, officer, I was in the HOV lane illegally.” She wiped a wayward raindrop out of her eye.

“So you know you have to have two or more people in your car to use this lane. Is there a reason you decided to use it anyway?”

Lies and excuses flashed through Sonja’s mind. I need to use the bathroom real bad...My friend is at the hospital and she’s dying...I was chasing a carjacker..., but she chose to tell the truth instead. “I was late for work.”

“I’m going to have to cite you. You should really get an earlier start when it’s raining, you know.”

Yah, I know.



Proverbs 15:19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
but the path of the upright is a highway. (NIV)

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LauraLee's Lifesong In The Limelight - Catrina Bradley

>> Monday, October 13

My good friend LauraLee's blog is a refreshing stop on the net. She always inspires, and always encourages. I love hearing the joyful noise of her soul at "LauraLee's Lifesong".

She has begun a new feature on Saturdays - and yours truly was humbled to received her email asking if she could feature my blog "The Change" as the first "Lifesong in the Limelight". Thanks LauraLee!!!


LauraLee's Lifesong: Lifesong In The Limelight/Catrina Bradley


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Cor 5:17

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Friday Fiction: Paddy the Beautiful

>> Friday, October 10

Because my spirit is gradually lifting today, and I like to be silly once in a while, I'm posting a mini-challenge entry today from October 11, 2006. Patrick Oden (aka Paddy-O) challenged us to finish a story that started with this sentence:

"Paddy stood outside in the wet, stormy weather waiting for the little train which would take him deep into the Bisbee copper mine."


Following is my goofy entry. I remember laughing out loud as the scene played in my head.

Oh, and you have to be aware of Patrick's avatar at the time for the story to have full affect -














Enjoy!!

- - - -

PADDY THE BEAUTIFUL

Paddy stood outside in the wet, stormy weather waiting for the little train which would take him deep into the Bisbee copper mine.He had been through this rigamarole before, but at least this time he was better prepared for the ordeal, having donned a vinyl slicker and a highly attractive, yellow and red flower hat before leaving his cellar apartment.

Having run the entire 5 miles, he was out of breath, and thankful that he hadn’t lost his new hat on the harrowing trek across country to Bisbee. He had been, however, attacked by a swarm of killer bees, chased by a gardening granny wielding vicious-looking shears, and stalked by hungry bunny rabbits.

Paddy pulled his compact out of his man-bag to check the glorious chapeau’s status. ‘Whew, still looking good!’ As he primped, two other contestants in the beauty contest joined him. Out of the corner of his eye, he checked out the competition, carefully noting that the violets adorning the tall man’s tiara were a bit wilted, and as for the short, chubby guy, well, carnations are SOOO last season. ‘Hmph. Nothing to worry about here.’

Chugg..chugg..chugg…TOOOT! TOOOT! ‘Finally!’ Putting away his compact, Paddy pointed his nose skyward, and turned to watch the tardy train pull into the station. Ignoring the two incompetent wanna-be’s, he strutted forward and stepped into the first passenger car.


Excitement was the mood of the day as contestants made last minute adjustments to their attire. Paddy was confident that he had made the right choice of head-wear this year. The bright yellow of the hat perfectly matched his slicker. And the flowers….well, one could only say FABULOUS. One more peek at his little mirror to check his eye-liner, and he was ready to go. Finally it was his turn to walk down the runway.

Paddy sauntered, strutted, posed, and flirted his way across the stage. The bright lights were blinding him, but that didn’t slow Paddy one bit. He just KNEW he had it wrapped up this year. The coveted “Coalie” was going to adorn his mantle for sure! He could picture it now, light from his cherished pineapple lamps in his cellar apartment reflecting off the shiny pink metal chunk of coal. But then….one step too many in the wrong direction….Oops! Off the side of the runway fell Paddy.

He awoke to find himself in the lap of Judge #3, and his precious, beautiful hat in pieces all over Judge #4. Alas, his dreams were shattered. ‘NEXT year, for sure…..but I’ll need to find a new hat…’


Patrick's comment: "Smashing! Inspirational!"

- - -

Like to read short fiction? Like to write short fiction? Just want to see what this "Fiction Friday" fuss is all about? Drop by Patty Wysong's place, and reap a blessing.

Today's host is Vonnie, over at her Back Door - http://mybackdoorministry.blogspot.com/

Come on over at sit a spell!

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This mission is a trip!

I was finally involved in my first mission trip!

Begin a missionary is my (defunct) childhood dream. It is the first thing I specifically remember wanting to be “when I grow up”. What an easy, rewarding, job! Ho could people NOT believe when they heard the Good News about Jesus? THAT job would make me happy!


The second thing I wanted to be is a paleontologist. Seriously.
When Mrs. Roth taught us in 2nd grade about the people whose job it was to find and dig up dinosaur bones and study them, well I was captivated. My busy little 8-year-old brain had it all figured out.

I was fascinated by the fossil record, and paleontologists worked in countries where missionaries were desperately needed. What better avenue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

There would be locals working on the digs, and of course I’d be able to venture into the nearest town. (A town was always near enough to the dig to be able to come & go in these early visions of my future.)

That’s how I remember thinking anyway…I’m sure my actual thoughts ran more toward 8th grade vocabulary.)

I wonder what the grown-ups thought when my response to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was “A paleontologist.” I wasn’t as open with the whole “missionary” thing. I still tried to witness, in my clumsy, rote repetition of the Gospel way, but it was always uncomfortable.

Alas, it will probably not come as a surprise that nearly 40 years later, I am neither a missionary nor a paleontologist serving God in a third-world country.

I am a secretary serving God in a Southern Baptist church.


I am doing the work that He prepared in advance for me to do.

My route here was not straight or narrow, and the circuitous route took much longer to navigate, but I’ve landed at the season and the destination that has been waiting for me according to God’s plan, written before He set time in motion.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"
Ephesians 2:10
.


I’m still fascinated by dinosaur bones, but I’m content to watch The Discovery Channel or PBS to get my fix. And my first “mission trip” involvement was all behind the scenes, where I find joy doing my assigned tasks, fulfilling my purpose. And my mission while the team was in Italy was as important as theirs – to cover them with prayer.

But…the next mission trip to Rome…I’m there baby! The team really needs a secretary, don’t you think?.






* * * * *



Do missions matter to you? Do you have a story to tell? Join the crowd at Patty Wysong's blog, Patterings - she wants to hear all about it!! (Oh, and a prize might be involved.)

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Friday Fiction: Just Desserts

>> Friday, October 3

The following short story was written in January 2007 for the "Baking/Cooking" writing challenge at www.faithwriters.com


PS: Betsy at "Just Another Clay Pot" is hosting Fiction Fridays today, check out this link to read more great fiction, or share your own work!!
http://justanotherclaypot.blogspot.com/


JUST DESSERTS

How in the world do I ‘grate’ an onion? Felicity grimaced and puffed the hair off her face, then reluctantly dialed her mother-in-law’s number. “Mom, it’s me again. Sorry to be such a bother, but I want this to be perfect, you know?”

“Sweetheart, I never think you’re a bother. How can I help?”

“Well, your squash recipe says to add a grated onion. How do you do that? I’ve never grated an onion.”

“I use my food processor. Cut the onion into quarters, then just process it until it’s juicy.”

“Oh, I can do that. Thanks, Mom. I’ll try not to bother you again."

“Felicity, dear, you can call me as often as you want to. I’m happy to be here for you today.”

--------------------


Felicity grabbed a bottle of water and plopped into her favorite chair with a contented sigh. Her chocolate Labrador retriever laid her head in Felicity’s lap. Felicity snuggled her and rubbed the Hershey-brown coat that inspired the dog’s name. “I’m sorry I haven’t had time to play with you today, Coco. You’re such a good dog. Yes you are.”

The house was filled with the mouth-watering aroma of roast pork, the squash casserole was in the oven, and the salad was tossed and waiting in the refrigerator next to the shrimp cocktail appetizers. She had even made the disgusting bread sauce her husband loved.

Their one-year anniversary dinner was going to be such a surprise for Will, especially since she was serving it the day before their anniversary. She suspected that he might have a romantic night out planned for tomorrow. Well .. she hoped, anyway. Her mother-in-law had supplied recipes and instructions for all of Will’s favorite dishes, including the piece de resistance – chocolate milkshake cake for desert. His mom had told her it was the one he had always requested for his birthday.

A glance at the clock had Felicity up and moving again. She had just enough time to shower off the cooking grunge and make herself beautiful before Will got home from work. It wouldn’t do to have the atmosphere for this great dinner spoiled by looking (and smelling) like she had been slaving in the kitchen all day. She gave her dog a hug and a pat. “Be, good, Coco. I’ll be right back.”

--------------------


Will pushed his chair back from the candle-lit table and rubbed his bulging stomach. “Mmmm, Felicity, wow, everything was so good, especially the squash casserole. And I can't believe you made me bread sauce. Thank you.”

“Was it as good as your mom’s?”

“Better. I didn’t think that was possible, but it really was.” He let out a loud belch. “Excuse me!”

Felicity giggled. “I guess that means you really did like it. So, do you have room for desert now?”

“Wait .. just a minute.” Another belch rumbled from his mouth. “Ok, I think I’m ready now. So tell, me, master chef, what masterpiece did you prepare to top off this perfect dinner?”

“What’s your favorite desert?” Felicity held her breath. Please let his mom be right.

“Milkshake cake?” Will’s raised eyebrows and expectant expression made him look like a little boy.

“Hmm. Well, let’s just see, shall we?” Felicity rose and sauntered out of the dining room.

“Oh, no! Coco!”

“Felicity? What’s wrong?” When she didn’t answer, Will followed her to the kitchen and found her crouched on the floor weeping. “What? What is it, hon?”

She merely pointed. On the counter she indicated, Will saw an empty cake tin surrounded by crumbs and frosting. His eyes narrowed as they followed the trail of crumbs, where they spied Coco cowering in the corner, licking chocolate frosting from her furry jaws.

“Stupid dog! BAD dog!” Felicity wailed. “She ruined everything!”

Will lifted Felicity off the floor and into his arms. “Honey, shhh, it’s ok. Everything’s not ruined. Believe me, that dinner was awesome. I’ll tell you what. I’ll take Coco for a long walk. She probably needs it after eating an entire cake. And while I’m gone, you can just whip me up another one. How’s that sound?” Will grinned, and winked at her.

She pummeled his chest in mock anger, and laughed. “Yes, please take her for a walk. Get her out of my sight. Maybe, if you’re good, I’ll make you another milkshake cake for your birthday. And that dog will be at your Mom’s house.”

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The Change

>> Sunday, September 28

LauraLee Shaw is having a give-away over on her blog LauraLee’s Lifesong. (http://lovinthearts.blogspot.com) (There’s nothing like a give-away to get me clicking on a blog link.) She shares this quote:


"Grant that what we sing with our lips,
we may believe in our hearts~
And what we believe in our hearts,
we practice in our lives."
Fred D. Gealy


Love it! And it just so happens that her challenge is exactly what I was thinking about today.

"Give me a testimony (I don't care how long) about a song that deeply changed the way you live. Where were you when you sang it? Did it sink in right at the time or later? What happened in your life as a result? How many times had you sung the song before?"


One song got me onto that infamous straight and narrow path. One song turned my life around, and truly changed the way I live.

Before I started listening to Christian music, I was a die-hard rock & roll fan. Classic rock, new rock, oldie rock – just rock me. I especially like to sing in the shower. I’m all alone, and the acoustics are awesome. The radio in our bathroom at that time used a dial to set the station. One day, I dialed in the classic rock station and jumped in the shower. It wasn’t until I was sudsy and dripping that the commercial ended and the next song came on. Instead of Z93, I had landed on that Christian station right next door. (Not the first time they’re only .4 mHz away.) The music was ok, but I was lamenting.

As I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, another song came on. This one actually had a pretty cool sound. I started listening. I might be able to get into this. I even had a bunch of that stuff he's singing about. Yah, I do that! I'm good

Wait. What did he just say?

I actually stuck my head out of the shower door, then turned the water off so I could hear better.

The singer was asking a question. “What about the change? What about the difference? …What about a life that’s showing I’m undergoing the change?”

Now, I’d been a believer all my life, but was seriously lapsed in the following part. I’d recently joined a Bible study group at work, and had become enamoured with studying and learning more about Jesus.

I kept listening to the lyrics. I was enthralled.

“If God’s Spirit lives inside of me, I’m going to live life differently.”

Wow.

I made sure I listened at the end so I could hear the artist’s name. That was the first time I’d ever heard of Steven Curtis Chapman. From then on, I started checking the station when I sent station surfing in the car, hoping to hear that song again. (It was only one tap of the search button from the classic station.)

Now days, I listen to Christian music pretty much exclusively. I have the CD and can listen to The Change anytime I want to. And my life IS showing the change.



THE CHANGE
Steven Curtis Chapman

Well I got myself a t shirt that says what I believe
I got letters on my bracelet to serve as my id
I got the necklace and the key chain
And almost everything a good christian needs yeah
I got the little Bible magnets on my refrigerator door
And a welcome mat to bless you before you walk across my floor
I got a jesus bumper sticker
And the outline of a fish stuck on my car
And even though this stuffs all well and good yeah
I cannot help but ask myself

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change yeah
I’m undergoing the change

Well Ive got this way of thinking that comes so naturally
Where I believe the whole world is revolving around me
And I got this way of living that I have to die to every single day
cause if gods spirit lives inside of me yeah
I’m gonna live life differently

I’m gonna have the change
I’m gonna have the difference
I’m gonna have the grace
I’m gonna have forgiveness
I’m gonna live a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change


What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
I want to live a life thats showing
I’m undergoing the change

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A Tangled Web

>> Tuesday, August 26

Today, a good friend and a sister in Christ grasped my hand in one of hers, and my pastor's hand in the her other, and as we formed a circle she prayed for our church and our staff. She might not have known, but God surely did, how apropos was one line that crossed her lips, and how much of a a blessing it was to me.

Last night as I stood on my deck, I contemplated a spider web seemingly sleeping in his web. The light from the den shone bright on the intricate weaving strung between the window and an outside wall, and I studied the webbing paying little attention to the spider perched in its corner. That is until a flying insect dive bombed straight at the web just centimeters from the waiting spider. The beast sprung into action. It was upon its pray in a fraction of an instant. I watched, amazed, as the spider played that insect like an instrument; tiny legs moving to its internal rhythm as the insect was held captive, motionless, and bound tightly in silk. The spider moved away for a moment, the dashed back to reinforce the insect's wrappings. Satisfied that the prey had been subdued, he moved away and again was still.

As my sister prayed today that Christ would snare satan in His web and bind him like a spider does his prey, the image of my spider came rushing back. I have seen the results of a spider's dominance before, the mummified cocoons of its prey, but have never seen the dispatching of its victim in action. I know that I was shown this working of nature for this very time and this very purpose.

Now I have a glorious picture of Jesus, my Savior and my Lord, ruling over satan, binding him as effortlessly as that spider was master over the bug.

- 2Pe 2:4 -

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

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The Game of Distraction

>> Sunday, August 24

We all know that the evil one (satan, the devil, lucifer, what ever name you choose to call that snake) is the father of lies. And for good reason. The deceptive game he's playing now with the people I love is the Game of Distraction. When he gets scared (because he KNOWS the power of Jesus and His followers who call on and trust in His Name) and he knows that he cannot defeat HIM, satan causes all sorts of problems with the intention of taking our eyes off the goal that Jesus has set before us.

My church is preparing to launch a capital campaign - our membership is growing and we need more room to make way for the expanding family of God. The closer we get to the kick-off date, the more kinks appear in the fabric our other ministries. I'm guilty along with the rest - I've been so worried and grieved by the problems (and not little problems by any means) that I have not focused my prayers on the campaign. I know that our membership needs to be in prayer for it, but suddenly there are so many other, IMMEDIATE, issues, REAL needs, to pray for that the campaign has fallen to the wayside. I don't mean to speak for everyone, but I have just realized tonight that this is the case with me, and I can't help but think that many others have fallen hook, line, and sinker into this trap as well.

Distractions. Yes, a tool of the devil that I have recognized tonight. I praise God, who brought this to my attention. I trust God, who assured me (even if I was only assured for a split second) that HE is in control. I THANK God for his faithfulness and his love and His mercy and His blessings.

Are satan's distractions taking you from something that God has set before you? Don't fall into the evil one's trap. Seek God's face and do not let the evil one distract you. Do not let worry overtake you. Romans 8:28 says (and I've witnessed its truth) "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." That includes those things that may seem to be contrary to OUR vision of His plan.

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Psalm 25:15


For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

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Friday Fiction: Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

>> Friday, August 22

My "Friday Fiction" offering this week is from the FaithWriters "Mystery" challenge. I love reading mysteries, but this was my first (and only) attempt at writing one.


Fiction Fridays is hosted this week by Joanne Sher at her blog, "An Open Book" To read and share more great fiction, follow this link --> http://fictionfusion.blogspot.com/




They were talking about it again. The carpet itched the backs of Benjy’s leg, and he absently scratched with one hand and pushed the dump truck back and forth in front of him with the other. His attention, though, was fixed on his mom and dad. Benjy didn’t want to miss a word of their conversation.

“I swear, Jeff, there is such a thing as the sock monster. Look - six unmatched socks in this load.” Benjy’s mom didn’t sound happy.

“Did you look…”

“I looked everywhere – I even muscled the washer and dryer away from the wall to make sure they weren’t hiding back there. I swept a yardstick under them and only brought out dust bunnies and dryer sheets.”

“Carol, they’ve got to be somewhere. Socks don’t just disappear.”

A flash brightened the room, and seconds later a deafening crack of thunder made them all jump. Benjy had all but forgotten about the truck his hand now gripped.

“Uh… I mean..,” Jeff faltered, “they don’t disappear in this quantity, anyway. How many is that, now?”

“These six make 23. At this rate, there won’t be a single pair of socks in this house by summer. I’m telling you – it’s the sock monster!”

Another burst of light was followed immediately by a crash of thunder. The skies opened and a torrent attacked the roof with a clatter.

Jeff’s eyes shot toward the window, and he saw his son’s ashen face, a full moon glowing in the darkening room. Benjy was doing his best to be brave, but his lower lip quivered.

Jeff snapped his fingers. “Hey, I’ve got an idea!”

Benjy tore his gaze from the storm outside, and looked up at his dad. A single tear escaped. He wiped at it with the back of his hand before it could trickle down his cheek.

Jeff lowered himself to the floor to sit with his son. “Ben, you and I going on a sock hunt. Somewhere in this house are 23 socks, and we’re going to find them. I don’t believe in the sock monster – how about you, squirt?”

“Umm, n-n-no?” He wanted to be brave for his dad, but he wasn’t too sure about the monster. His mom believed in it, didn’t she?

“C’mon, it’ll be fun. We’ll each get a flashlight, and we’ll search every corner and cranny of this house. And whoever finds the most socks wins a prize.”

Benjy cocked his head to one side and squinted at his dad. “What kinda prize?” Visions of chocolate bars filled his head.

“A surprise prize.”

“Well…I guess.” He gave his mom a pleading look, and she returned it with an encouraging smile. He left his truck and, feet dragging, trailed after his dad to the garage. And so the two set out on the Great Sock Hunt of ‘07, Jeff determined, but Benjy reluctant.

A half hour of poking into closets, peeking under beds, and peering behind furniture produced only one missing sock. Jeff scratched his head. “Ok, squirt, only your room left. Let’s hit it.”

“Dad? Can I have some milk?”

“After we finish the sock hunt, Benjy. We’re almost through.”

“But…I’m thirsty.”

“You can wait, it’ll only be a couple minutes.” He studied Benjy, who had commenced to quake and tremble. Jeff squatted down and laid a hand on Benjy’s shoulder. “What is it, Ben?”

“The sock… The…” Benjy took a deep shuddering breath and squared his shoulders. “N-n-nothing, dad. It’s ok.”

Jeff took Benjy’s small hand in his big one, and together they ventured in to Benjy’s room. Once on the other side of the door, though, Benjy stood stock still, a wary eye on the bed, as Jeff searched for socks. “Hmm, no loose socks in the closet…none behind the bureau. Ok, let’s look under this bed.”

“Be careful, Dad.” Benjy was trembling again, and his eyes were filling.

“Careful of what, Ben?”

Sobbing now, Benjy blurted out, “The monster, Dad! The monster under the bed!”

“Benjy, we’ve talked about this. There’s no such thing as monsters, and there sure isn’t one living under your bed.

“But Mommy said there is a monster – The Sock Monster!”

Jeff choked back a laugh and struggled to keep a straight face.

“But I'm not too scared, Dad. He won’t eat me. I made sure.”


“How’d you do that, squirt?”

“I feed him. Almost every day. And so far he’s left me alone.”

“What have you fed him?”

“Duh, daddy, he eats socks! Do you think Mommy will be mad at me?”




copyright 2007 Catrina Bradley

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The Devil in the Details

>> Wednesday, August 20

Tonight was Church Conference - my church's monthly business meeting. That sounds like such an oxymoron to me - "church business". After all, I left the business world to enter the church world. I've come to realize since venturing into my calling of a ministry position (a menial one in some people's eyes perhaps, but it IS a ministry without a doubt), that church isn't all wine & roses. (Or I should say grape juice and Easter lilies?).

The main discussion tonight didn't get ugly, didn't get out of hand, didn't reek of anger, but I lost my focus somewhere in the middle of it. The focus, of course, being Jesus. I was back in the world, trying to hammer out details in my mind, wanting more than anything simply to understand the changes being proposed. I probably spent too much time whispering with my husband & asking him questions. I find this kind of action rude, to say the least, in people, and I hate that I was doing it mself.

I'm only now recalling a cry to the Lord I shared with the member who cooks our Wednesday dinners - 'UNITY! UNITY! UNITY IN THIS BODY". We denounced demons and declared the Name above all Names. There was indeed unity in the meeting tonight. There was no open hostility. But as I sat outside on my deck tonight talking to God, I realized that I probably fussed a bit too much. The details will sort themselves out -- IF we focus on the main thing. Jesus.

Forgive me My Lord, for losing sight of you you in the minutia of your business. Help me not to get bogged down by details, but instead to seek your face and just trust you.

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Please...I want to be a child again!!!

>> Sunday, August 17

"This is just for pride; that's all."

This comment comes straight from an Olympic commentator's mouth tonight about a gymnast in the men's floor exorcise .

I've been watching gymnastics since... well, as long as I can remember. Every weekend as a child I would study the TV Guide, seeking out "Wild World of Sports". We only had 3 channels (plus PBS) back then. If gymnastics was listed, I was watching. Back then, I didn't pay much attention to the competitor's scores; I only watched because I loved watching. The Olympics were the culmination - I knew the participants because I had seen them already on TV. The beauty, the skill, took my breath away.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that childish joy. The shear enjoyment, the amazement, of the girls staying on the balance beam, or their flight from the upper to the lower bar on uneven parallel bars, the amazing flips and twists on the floor exercise, was replaced by who was winning, who bobbled, who missed an element, who (gasp) fell on her tush.

I miss that innocence. I miss watching gymnastics simply for the joy.

In the same way, I miss the childish innocence of simply being in awe of the God I knew from Bible stories. Jesus was HUGE; such an awe inspiring person; I loved contemplating His miracles - picturing them in my mind. More than that, I loved thinking about how much He loved ME, and being satisfied with that knowledge.

But that was before the world's cynicism and denial intruded on MY world. Somewhere along the way, I crossed a line - a line that cannot be uncrossed. Never again will I be that child of innocence - that child that watched Olga, or later, Nadia, and basked in her grace - that child who heard "Jesus loves you" and was completely satisfied with that simple fact, and glowed in that love.

Oh, don't get me wrong I still MORE that believe that God is THE God, that Jesus really DOES love me. And I'm still in awe of the near-magical feats of the Olympic gymnasts. But the child-like innocence is gone. Now I cringe at the tiniest hop on a vault landing. Now I rage at the merest insinuation that Jesus is less than God.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11

I wish it didn't have to be this way.

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