WFW: Whose idea was this anyway?

>> Wednesday, January 21

I am NOT a fan of cold weather. I have friends who relish these frigid days we've been having lately, but I prefer to light a fire and bundle in blanket. I try not to complain too much - 1. because constant complainers are annoying and I don't need anything else to make me annoying; and 2. who am I to complain about God's design and creation?






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WFW: Joy comes with the morning

>> Tuesday, January 13


God didn't promise us happiness....
He promised us help.

He promised comfort when we mourn,
and safe refuge from trouble.

Even tho your pillow is awash with tears of anguish,
Joy is waiting to rise up with the morning
of every new day.

Trust Him.

Let Joy in.




Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5




Cat
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)





You'll find many more inspiring works of Word-art at The 160-Acre Wood




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Friday Fiction! The Game of Life

>> Thursday, January 8

WELCOME TO....




I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by Patty Wysong to host Friday Fiction this week. You should also take a minute to check out her inspiring blog, Patterings, I promise it will be worth your while.



I've chosen to post something new today to celebrate being the hostess. (By new, I mean unveiled.) I wrote this for the "Game of Life" challenge, but "couldn't" finish it. I had fun writing Billy's tale, and I like it because I remember the excitement I had for the idea and the enthusiasm for writing the story. I also like it for its potential to be something much bigger and longer. I know what else is going on - the back stories behind what you are about to read - but you don't. It was challenging to try to get as much information across within 750 words as I could.

I decided after re-reading the story a few times it could end just where it was. I added one sentence to complete the scene, and did a bit of cleaning up, but the whole thing is still needing a good editing.

At the time, I was going to call it "Over the Edge" because I couldn't use challenge topic as the title. Now tho, I've decided to rename it....


The Game of Life

Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

Rocky whitewater roiled 100’ under his feet. Beyond the perilous outcropping lay a pool of calm, safe water, his target.

Behind him fell the equally perilous outcropping he had risked to climb to this apex. And his two buddies egging him on.

Roll the dice. It’s your turn



Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

In the second row sat his parents, beaming with pride; his baby sister’s fingers beckoned to him from between their shoulders

As the principal handed him his high school diploma, he blinked rapidly, washing away what might have been; wondering about what might be.

Before him lay a future many graduates can only dream of – an Ivy league education… or what was most expected of him -- running the corner store, then eventually taking over for his dad.

He lay the scroll in his lap and wheeled his chair across the stage.

Roll the dice. It’s your turn.



Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

When he caught sight of his parents’ and his sister’s faces amongst the sea in the stadium, déjà vu loomed. Billy took the rolled and ribboned diploma from the dean’s hand. Indulgence in the past and the future threatened to overwhelm the present.

A choice lay before him … Mammon or manna? This diploma was his ticket, but which destination was on his docket? Sensation? salary, security, and set hours? Or mercy: mindnumbingly menial, but meaningful, ministry?

Roll the dice. It’s your turn.



Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

He never had grown accustomed to heights. He had been given a window office on the 32nd floor five years ago, but the sheer distance from his feet to the sidewalk below never ceased to give him pause for thought.

He had earned the prestige of the window office after 12 years in the inner workings of the complex clockwork that was Rolfe & Smithers. The cubical mazework was the core of the office, much like the core of an apple – surprisingly strenuous, and strongly connected. Bite the mealy outside away, and you’ll see the core still at its purpose, holding it all together.

A decision had to be made. How much was all of this worth to him? His eyes absorbed his opulence, and he weighed the balance that allowed his homelife to swing in equal proportion. Yet, the door had opened again upon the turnoff to mercy.

Roll the dice. It’s your turn.



Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

Milling about on the dock was a sea of humanity. That family there – lighten their skin color and that could be his mother and dad, little sister in tow. But only if his family had been forced to endure a life eked out of this Godforsaken land like this threesome had. They and hundreds of their ilk waited anxiously for the angels they’d heard wind of to disembark. The multitude swarmed, hovered.

He could still turn back. The ship wouldn’t turn down an extra hand on the return voyage. But in front of him lay the opportunity of a lifetime, and the exit ramp to mercy.

Roll the dice. It’s your turn.



Billy peered over the edge. The scene below caused his breath to catch in his chest.

He had faced this moment before. The choice was again life or death…but this time it wasn’t his life. Nor was it his choice.

Behind him, the path to this peak was just as perilous, though paved smooth. He had risked his life to reach this apex

The vista before him demanded his attention, confronted him. Rocky whitewater roiled 100’ under his feet. Beyond the perilous outcropping lay a pool of calm, safe water; in its center: his target. The drowning child.

There was no choice. “Toss me over.” He turned to the silence of his mates. “Now. I can still swim, and I can swim well. Let me do this. Please. I need your help.”

Rick and Charlie looked into the same burning eyes Billy’s friends had faced that fateful day 20 years ago. These eyes were 20 years older and 100 years more experienced than those younger, beseeching baby blues, and neither man questioned their request; their demand. They positioned Billy’s chair as close to the edge as responsibly possible and set the brake.



9/11/08 Catrina Bradley

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My Character Trait Role Model

I’ve been noticing lately that when my friend T___. talks, people listen.

I specifically took note of this because when I talk, people interrupt.

Instead of pouting as was my habit, I asked God, "Why?" And I started listening for an answer.

The Spirit has caused me to hear myself with new ears. I don’t mean to understand the words I say, but to hear: the tone of my voice, my attitude, my biased opinion. I sound Snide; Argumentative; Plaintive; Whiney; Caustic; Prideful; Judgmental.

In certain circumstances, I tend to let my passion have the upper hand, and my emotions end up coloring my declarations.

Must every parry and response be laced with sarcasm?

Do I really know as much as my arrogance infers?

Am I really as good as all that?

No wonder people don’t listen to me. I wouldn’t want to listen to me either.

On the other hand, when my friend T___ begins speaking, people stop, turn, and listen.

I started studying her.

Her voice is evenly moderated, controlled, with just a hint of the passion she has for the subject matter. She doesn’t chime in needlessly just to have a voice, either. When she speaks, it’s because she has something worth saying.


Proverbs 17:27

“He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” NASB

or

“He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” NKJV


None of us are perfect, but each of has shiny places. Mrs. E__ is my role model for compassion. Mr. B__ for conviction; Miss K__ for servanthood.

I’ve made T__ my role model for this particular character trait: Temperance.

I can’t control what happens to upset my schedule, or upset my attitude; but I can control my reaction to life’s upsets, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2Ch 16:19 NIV


I told T___ what I've just told you - that she's my character-trait role model for communicating with control. (Well, I told her some of it anyway. I'll probably send her a link to this post so she knows it all.)

She told me that she looks to me in the same way for my patience with people.

Photobucket

I’m the last person I’d ever pick as a role model for patience.

She said I am so nice, and cheerful, and I listen to people when they complain and spout off, when she’d like to…well, I’m sure she’d appreciate it if I don’t share what she said. :-)

I guess I haven’t given my patience a close look lately. I still get impatient, too, but I see now that I've been able to exercise considerable restraint, and exhibit the gift of patience.

I generally pray to see the where I’m stunted, and I’m not particularly on the lookout for new growth. It’s nice when I come across it like this, and to have the chance offer praise to God for answering my petitions for this fruit. I’ve been asking Him for a while now.

God is Good
All the time
And all the time
God is Good.

Amen?


Thank you, Lord, for Your presence in my life, for Your guiding Spirit, for redemption and eternal life in Your Son Jesus, Who I strive to emulate. I praise Your Holy Name for Your ongoing work in my life, for making me into the child You know I can become. Amen

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Word-filled Wednesday: I'm just clay

>> Wednesday, January 7


This verse says many things to me..

For one it helps me remember Who is doing the work as I grow spiritually, and that He is working me into something good!!

BUT...I must be malleable clay in his hands - not hard like a stone. I've got to submit, give in, let go, in order for God to work in me.

***

For more inspired art, stop by The 160-Acre Wood!


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Attn: FaithWriters!! V.I.M!!!

>> Tuesday, January 6

VIM = Very Important Message
(I thought if nothing else you'd read this message just to find out what V.I.M means.. :-D)

CLICK HERE
for a vital, life or death information regarding
FaithWriters.com.


Now!

Do it Now!!

On the Right Track: FaithWriters.com



sorry, challenge withdrawls. you understand, right?
Crazy awesome Pictures, Images and Photos

ps. Approximately 33 hours and 36 minutes til new topic, but who's counting?



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I've resolved to stop trying

>> Monday, January 5

I’ve made no effort to make resolutions this year. It’s not that I don’t need some improvement. I could stand to establish a few better habits, and I definitely need to lay some bad habits down. But what are resolutions, really, but my imperfect attempts, my carnal efforts, my self-guided decisions. It’s no wonder I’ve never been successful at following through on a single resolution.



Frankly, I’m tired of steering this ship.





This year, instead of setting my course for goals unreachable, I’ve prayed that God would steer me to where He plans on working in me next. My only resolution this year is to follow where He leads: to listen to His voice and obey Him.



In that amazing way He has, before 2008 even ended God impressed this upon me. He began to show me things about myself, and to turn my heart toward His will. He’s also allowing me to see the blessings that will result from my obedience when I am faithful in “straining toward what is ahead” (Phil 3:13)



If you're curious, or would like to pray for me, here is brief list of the places where I've seen plain as day, and heard clear as a bell, my need to be open to His correcting:

  • Controlling my emotions instead of the other way around, leading to becoming a stronger communicator. I have good points, but they are seldom heard because the passion of my delivery tends to overshadow the importance of my message.
  • Using my computer time less frivolously. I’ve already felt a strong pull here and have already begun to heed.
  • Treasuring the moments that bring me joy. Be more like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luk 2:19) Take better stock of my blessings…store up some heart treasures…take time to ponder the good.
  • Taking my Sunday school class more seriously. God orchestrated my presence and my place in children’s Sunday school, and He could be doing marvelous and amazing things if His servant (that would be me) spent more time immersed in preparation. That doesn’t mean the lesson – I’m prepared in that regard - but in the “behind-the-scenes areas,” a.k.a. other than Sunday morning areas.
I may end up explaining each of these to you - how they were impressed upon me and why- but I would need a page for each one. Or I may learn something new I want to share tomorrow. I simply I pray that I will continue to have the eyes of my heart open to His will.


I have a good feeling about what is to come.

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Nail Clippings and Hair Trimmings: Are You Growing

>> Saturday, January 3




My poor little dog Lady’s toenails are too long. We’ve been meaning to take her to the VetExpress for weeks, but didn’t seem to get around to it with the Christmas crush. She could use a good trimming, too; she’s getting a bit shaggy.


Like me, her nails need constant clipping and her hair grows out of its styled cut because…well, because we are living organisms, and living things are constantly in a state of change and growth.

If our nails stop growing, that means our bodies are dead.

To be alive means to grow.



If you aren’t growing in Christ, are you alive in Him?

My doggy’s toenails made me thing again about Sunday’s thought-provoking sermon. Our guest preacher at FBC this past Sunday was outstanding. He spoke to us about the importance of a Christian growing to maturity.

In closing he asked, “Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? Are you growing spiritually?"

How do you know if you are growing or stagnant?

He gave us 10 questions to think about, to help us see if we growing.

Are You Growing Spiritually?
  1. Are you becoming more confident in your salvation, not always questioning whether your salvation took or if you are really saved?
  2. Do you feel more satisfied, content, and fulfilled in Christ?
  3. Are you becoming increasingly aware of your sinfulness and weaknesses?
  4. Are you finding new guidance in familiar scriptures?
  5. When at church, you don’t feel the need to keep God on the clock?
  6. Are you learning to see trials and temptations more as opportunities for your growth and for God's glory?
  7. Is your perspective on life becoming less temporal and more eternal?
  8. Are you eager to share with others what Christ is doing in your life?
  9. Are you praying for opportunities to minister to those around you that don’t know Christ?
  10. Does the way you spend your money and the way you spend your time indicate Christ’s importance and priority in your life?
My automatic and immediate answer to all of the above is “YES”, but I’m convicted I need to take an honest assessment of my situation. I need spend a little time thinking about each question, meditating on the “YES” areas of my life, and praying to uncover the “not quite” places I’ve secreted away and haven’t fully surrendered.


How about you? Are you growing?

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Friday Fiction: Off Season

>> Friday, January 2



Friday Fiction is being hosted this week by my BFF Joanne Sher, at her blog. An Open Book



I wrote "Off Season" in February 2008 for the FaithWriters challenge to "Illustrate the meaning of 'Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. It's one of my favorites.



OFF SEASON


I should be able to relive it in my imagination, to recount what it was like to be on the field the day Central won their first state championship. Unfortunately, all I can relive is watching The Game.

Pride definitely goeth before a fall, and I fell hard. I didn’t scrape my knee or bruise my elbow, but my ego sure enough got sacked.

Just the year before, I’d led my team onto the field every Friday night as the starting quarterback for the Central High Lions. (My record 32 touchdown passes from that season still stands.) I reigned as Sophomore Class King with my Queen (on and off the field), Alissa Avery. I had it made. I was invincible.

Or so I thought.

It seems Coach doesn’t play favorites, even with his star -- his prodigy player. Even when school’s not in session.

When the rarely-used back door of the school opened that afternoon, and Coach witnessed that cigarette falling behind me to the ground and smoke escaping my mouth, I swear tears came to his eyes.

“Jackson.”

I covered the butt with my heel. “Coach...” I strangled on the word, on smoke still caught in my throat, on fear.

“My office. Now.” The heavy grey door banged shut behind him, leaving a gust of rage in its wake.

I loathed what was surely to come next.

***

“The first four weeks? You want me to miss all of pre-season practice?” My careening spirits were sideswiped by a surge of hope. I’d still be starting opening night.

“Oh, no. You won’t miss one day of practice, pre-season or regular. In fact, you’ll be attending an extra, one-on-one, tutoring session every day.” Coach took his feet off his desk and looked me dead in the eye.

“You’re benched for the first four games.”

My surging hope turned to a flood of anger. “You’re kidding.”

“I kid you not. You know the rules. No cigs, no sauce, no sex. No exceptions.”

“But it’s summer, and I was just…”

“You were on school property. End of argument.” He leaned back in his chair, and rubbed the side of his face. “Sorry, Jackson, but you brought this on yourself. I’ll see you next month at practice.”

I got to my feet and stuck out my chest. “No, you won’t. You think you can play without me? Then let’s see how you play without me all year. I quit.” I stared him down, daring him to call my bluff.

At least I thought I was bluffing.

Coach stood and offered his hand. “Sorry you feel that way, Jackson. I had hopes of the scouts getting an early look at you this season, maybe already having you staked out for your senior year.”

I wanted to take it back. I wanted to cry out, ‘I didn’t mean it!’ But pride silenced my heart and held my tongue captive. I shook Coach’s hand and, through gritted teeth, said goodbye. My stubborn pride then turned me on my heel and walked me out of his office.

***

That’s how I ended up cheering from the bleachers instead of celebrating on the 50-yard line the night of The Game. Like many of the macho players dancing on the field, I shed a few tears, but mine were tears of sorrow over yesterdays that would never be.

Central High’s new quarterback, a senior transfer from Middlebrook, didn’t touch my passing record, but he did lead the Lions to an undefeated season and the Two-A State Championship, The Game of which I was only an observer, one fan among hundreds.

***

So I sit here now, in the lingering emotional aftermath of The Victory, holding my wounded heart in my hands. I tear my eyes away from its weeping redness and look up at Coach. “So, I was hoping you’d let me .. if I could ... come to practice next season. Maybe start over.” The lump I swallow is surely my pride, on its way to being digested and purged.

"If I let you come back, it’s the same deal. Double practices, and you spend the first four games on the sidelines.”

The lump churned in my gut, threatening to come back up. Before Pride could make an encore, I said, “Ok, deal. You know, I’ve been watching that sophomore second stringer, Willis. He should get the team off to a good start. Then I can take us the rest of the way to our second state championship.”

*

Author's Note: The line ”Pride definitely goeth before a fall” was inspired by Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (KJV), and is misquoted herein for effect.

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Word-filled Wednesdays...er, Thursday

>> Thursday, January 1

Happy New Year! I'm excited to be joining
Word-filled Wednesdays at
The 160 Acre Woods.



I'm starting the year with hope and assurance. I want to rest in the promises of God.




No need to worry...

God's got it all planned out.


And it is good.

Amen?

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