Friday, October 31

Friday Fiction: Where the Wind Blows

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 fa├žade 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.

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….

Friday, October 17

Friday Fiction: The Way of the Sluggard

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)

Monday, October 13

LauraLee's Lifesong In The Limelight - Catrina Bradley

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

Friday, October 10

Friday Fiction: Paddy the Beautiful

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!

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.)

Friday, October 3

Friday Fiction: Just Desserts

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.”