Jonah and the She Cells: This ain't no fish story

>> Monday, March 30

God began whispering strange things in my heart shortly after I got home from the women's JaNUary retreat in the mountains. I know I was still Spirit-high and open to His voice from three days of non-stop study, worship, and fellowship, but I could have sworn I heard Him encouraging (commanding? gulp) me to start a women's small group. Me? Eeek!

I have to tell you, my instinct was to make like like Jonah and run screaming in the opposite direction. But when God really wants you to do something, He doesn't give up easily, ya know?

I went back and forth, one day listening and obedient, excited, and ready to step out in faith, and the next convincing myself I can't. I'm not the right kind of woman to do this. I don't know enough. I have too many faults. I'm not a "leader". I'm not good enough... Well, you've probably told yourselves similar things at times, am I right?

It didn't matter how many times I said, "No, because.."; God refused to take "No" or "because" for an answer. He kept whispering, nudging, prodding, and nagging me. His Affirmations were delivered through church members, through devotions, through songs, through His Word, and through prayer.

Way back in January, when God caught me off guard, fresh from being filled at His well, and I was on fire for Him - filled with confidence that YES God DID want ME to do something - I listed a few women He put on my heart, and I started praying for them. For a time. But the fire was banked and I only occasionally remembered them in my prayers or devotion time.

When our Women's Ministry team started the "She Cells" program this month (in-home discipleship groups for women), I thought about my (God's) list, but I still wasn't convinced that I was supposed to be a small-group leader. I was just going to be a group MEMBER and try to fit in somewhere with these women.

God's timing is very cool (I know, you know that, but read on to see how cool.)

The day before the She Cells orientation meeting, I was reading in Exodus 3-4 about Moses receiving his call from God -- he was to go to Pharaoh and tell him God says, "Let my people go." As I read the excuses that Moses gave God as to why he couldn't possibly do what God chose him to do, I started recognizing myself, and I chuckled and shook my head. "Yep, me too, Moses. Me too."


"Who am I that I should go....";

"But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice";

"O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I [am] slow of speech and slow of tongue."



As I read God's answers to Moses last (and final) excuse, these Words jumped off the page and smacked me in the forehead ...


"Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." (Ex 4:12)


I kept trying to read on, but I couldn't. My eyes (and my heart) kept boomeranging back to Verse 12.

Questions were answered and I was convicted to make a decision, and neither the questions nor the decision were my conscious thoughts - I was deep into Moses's story!

Since I could no longer concentrate on the dilemma Moses was facing, I wrote God's words to me from Exodus 4:12 in my journal. Then I wrote out my fears, and I prayed.

God convinced me that it was time to stop running away.

Tomorrow night is the first night of my She Cell. The perfect study-theme and curriculum came via ChristianBook.com's bi-weekly email - at half price - the day after I made the decision. Five of the seven women on my (God's) list are in my group, plus five more. I am so psyched about what my God is doing!

(But please don't hesitate to say a prayer for me anyway..)
:)


Siggy

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

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Friday Fiction: Name Game

>> Friday, March 27


Welcome! Our host for Friday Fiction this week is Josh Janoski on his blog Just Joshing. He'd love you to stop in! You'll find links to a variety of short stories by some very talented authors!


I had a lot of fun writing my submission for today. It was one of those rare times when I knew the end before I started writing. :)

Thanks for reading - I hope you enjoy it!

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

Name Game
by Catrina Bradley

The rumble of the garage door interrupted Patty’s reverie; her mother was back from the store. With a groan, Patty picked up her notebook and pen. Might as well get this over with. She plodded to the kitchen and flopped into a chair.

“Need help with the groceries, Mom?”

“Thanks, hon, but it’s just these few things.” Marilyn didn’t need words to tell her that her daughter was preoccupied with things other than milk and bread. The face and voice of her twelve-year-old spoke volumes.

“Mom, I have this assignment.” She rolled the pen between her fingers and thumb. “I’m supposed to interview you, and then write an essay.”

“Sounds fun.” Marilyn slid the milk jug into the empty space on the first shelf of the refrigerator and shut the door. Taking a seat at the table with her daughter, she said, “Ok, shoot.”

“It’s really just one question.” Patty sighed and opened her notebook to the first blank page. Her eyes looked everywhere except at her mom. “Uh.. How.. why..”

“Go ahead, spit it out, sweetie.” She rested her elbows on the butcher-block tabletop and folded her hands, biding her time.

Patty’s green eyes finally met her mother’s. She blurted out, “Why did you pick my name for me?” then quickly dropped her gaze to the page in front of her. Her fingers, now gripping her pen, were turning white.

A smile lit Marilyn’s eyes, and her lips slowly curled up in amusement. “You don’t like your name much, do you?”

Patty shook her head, too embarrassed to answer.

“It’s ok, sweetie. I didn’t think you did.”

She slowly raised her head. “Really? You knew?”

“Your insistence on being called ‘Patty’ gave us a big clue. Your dad and I love your name, though. We gave it to you for a reason.”

In big, loopy script, Patty began to write. ‘They gave me my name for a reason.’ She lay the pen down and wiped her sweaty hand on her jeans. “Ok, so, what was the reason?”

Marilyn drummed her French-tipped nails on the table and contemplated her next words. “Well, you weren’t too anxious to enter this world. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to meet my child. Plus, I was tired of being as big as a horse.”

Patty grabbed up her pen and scribbled furiously in her notebook. “Wait, slow down.”

Marilyn laughed and held up her hand. “Wait! You aren’t going to put that in your essay, are you? That I was as big as a horse?”

Patty looked up with a mischievous grin, “Yup. Payback for my name. Ok, go ahead.”

“Anyway, I complained to everyone about being past my due date, and I mean everyone: the bag boys at the grocery store, the mailman, the preacher, even telemarketers. I didn’t have to ask them to put me on their “do not call” list.” Marilyn chuckled at her own joke.

“Just a sec…’do not call list’. Ok, shoot.”

“Of course your dad, poor thing - he suffered the brunt of my ranting. I was so frustrated. And I kept hearing the same answer from everyone, over and over."

Marilyn sat back and grinned, watching her daughter copy down the last sentence. “I bet you get an A on this essay.”

“Quit stalling, mom.” Patty was charged up now, her embarrassment forgotten. “What did they say?”

“Well, they all kept telling me, ‘Just have patience.’ And so I did. Two weeks late, mind you, but I finally had patience--Patience Grace Lattimer, 7 pounds, 3 ounces of screaming baby girl.”

copyright 8/28/08

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BBB: The Passion of Mary-Margaret, Chapters 1-2

>> Thursday, March 26



I'm very excited to be a member of Andrea and Kristen's "virtual" book club, "Books, Blogs, and Brownies"! Our first book is "The Passion of Mary-Margaret" by Lisa Samson. Unfortunately, we were only to read chapters 1 & 2 for our first discussion. These short readings are going to take a whole lot of discipline on my part!

I can tell just from the first two chapters that I'm going to like this book. I love this author's style. Such flowing descriptions and poetic writing, not to mention what I'm sure is going to prove to be a very complex main character in Mary-Margaret.

Today's Questions:

In what ways might the conception and birth of Mary-Margaret, in all of its violence and pain, be something the Lord is going to use for His glory? Is it possible for someone to come from such traumatic beginnings and live a life that shines for Him?

Mary-Margaret was aware of the circumstances of her conception all of her life. How must that knowledge have affected her? It had the potential to make her an angry, cynical person, but I feel it more likely led her to humility. And what better person can the Lord use than a humble servant? And what makes us humble? Facing our past honestly, and giving it to God, and accepting His Grace.

I found her commentary on the people in Joseph's life being ultimately used to bring about God's plan, and her further comments on Ted Bundy and Bin Laden very thought provoking. How far is too far when we try to lay the "blame" for everything on God, and make everything be His doing? My pastor said just last night, "Even if God's people are hell-bent on having their own way, God can still work in their lives for His Good. He works with who He has to work with." He works all things to the good, even when they didn't start out as part of His plan.

And, yes, of course it is possible, probable in fact, that someone with a traumatic past will shine - and shine brighter than someone who started out on easy street. The one with traumatic beginnings has been through the fire and has been refined more.


On page 9, Mary-Margaret describes the scene of her Mother's death, writing "The blood she gave for me. Yes, I'm painfully aware of the symbolism." In what ways could this statement foreshadow events to come? Do you see a story of redemption on the horizon?

Well, that wasn't what I thought about, but I can see it now. :) My thoughts when reading that particular passage were more along the lines of, Does she see her mother as "saintly", and have feelings of resentment toward her for daring to sacrifice herself? Does she see the symbolism of Christ's shed blood and NOT see her mother as being the perfect sacrifice He was? Maybe it was the tone I "heard" - one of sarcasm almost.

Ok, now where are my brownies?
:-D

This has been fun, and I can't wait until next Thursday for more Books, Blogs, and Brownies, not to mention find out what happens next!! I hope you'll join me.

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WFW: Christ died for us

>> Wednesday, March 25

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8


With Good Friday approaching, I thought I'd share an image I put together for my church's April newsletter.


Much focus is put on Christ's resurrection (and rightfully so!), but I tend to dwell more on His sacrifice. Romans 5:8 is one of my favorite verses (ok, I have hundreds I guess); the words that strike me to the core are "while we were still sinners". Not after we turned our lives around and decided to be good; not after we made great strides on the road to Holiness; but while we were rotten to the core. That's PURE, UNADULTERATED, UNCONDITIONAL, PERFECT LOVE, baby!

I didn't realize the extent of Jesus' sacrifice until I read "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Mr. Strobel spells out, quite graphically I might add, the horror, the pain, and the suffering the man-Jesus endured. He didn't have to endure it. He could have called a legion of angels to protect Him. He could have called on His divine nature to avoid it. But to save us, He DID endure it, with all of the emotional and physical agony any man feels. I haven't looked at the Cross the same since.

Take a moment to reflect on what Christ's gift to us cost Him, and don't forget to thank our Father for His Love, His Grace, and His Mercy.

In His most Holy and precious name,
Cat



For more Word inspired art, run to the 160 Acre Woods and visit Amydeanne!!

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Friday Fiction: First Date

>> Friday, March 20


Fiction Friday is hosted this week by
Dee at My Heart's Dee-Light



The following short story is my attempt at a romance for the genre quarter at FaithWriters.com. The plot is inspired by the true story of how my mother and father met. I hope you enjoy!



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


THE FIRST DATE

by Catrina Bradley


Ellie peered into the mirror and made a face. “I wish Dad would let me at least wear rouge. I’m sixteen, for crying out

loud.” She smoothed her wavy auburn locks again, pinched her cheeks to bring up some color, and decided it was the best she

could do. When the grandfather clock in the hall began chiming, she rose from her vanity. A deep breath settled her nerves.

This was her first real date with Harvey. Actually, it was her first real date. She checked one last time in the hall

mirror and brushed non-existent lint from her emerald dress. It was her favorite; the color made her green eyes brighter.

When the clock completed six bells, she stood at the top of the stairs, a picture of grace and poise.

Harvey rose from his perch on the sofa’s edge. From his look of relief, she guessed her dad had been giving him the third

degree. Ellie smiled at him, and began to descend the staircase. Her steps faltered when she saw another boy stand up

beside Harvey.

Ellie glanced at her dad as she crossed the living room and saw his usual scowl.

“Hi, Ellie, you look beautiful.” Harvey shook the hand Ellie offered. “This is my brother, Neil.”

“Pleased to meet you, Neil.” When her dainty hand met Neil’s warm, strong grasp, she almost fell into his deep, brown eyes.

It was a struggle to look away, but turned to Harvey for an explanation as to Neil’s presence on their date.

A blush tinged Harvey’s cheeks as he muttered, “My father said he’d feel better if we had a chaperone.”

“And I couldn’t agree more,” Ellie’s dad interjected. “I think it’s a grand idea.”

Ellie wanted to sink into the wood floor. When her mother chimed in her concurrence, Ellie prayed for the boards to open up

and swallow her.

Her dad boomed, “Son, remember my daughter has a strict curfew. 11:00. Sharp.”

“Yes, Mr. Beasley.” Harvey shifted from one foot to the other as Ellie looked at him expectantly, her eyes moving back and

forth between his face and the corsage he held. “Oh! I got you this.” Her parents’ scrutiny made him fumble with the pin as

he gingerly fastened the flowers to Ellie’s dress. Ellie heard Neil snicker. She shot him a look, but couldn’t suppress a

grin.

“Well, Mom and Dad, I guess we’re off. We don’t want to be late.” Harvey had made reservations at Ricci’s, and then they

were going to a dance at the Elk’s Lodge. Ellie had been dying to go to a dance, and had been secretly practicing, waltzing

around her room.

**********


“Sorry about my dad. He can be quite the monster.”

“No worries, Ellie. I’ve survived worse. You haven’t met our dad yet.”

“Yah,” Neil added, “he’s like a cross between an ogre and bear. Mean, scary-looking, and he roars.”

Ellie giggled and took another bite of lamb.

“Are you enjoying your meal?” Harvey asked.

“It’s…interesting.”

Neil snorted. “I take it that means no?”

“No, it’s just that I’ve never had it. I wanted to try something new.” As she looked from Harvey to Neil, she couldn't help

comparing them. They had the same almost-black hair, and the same brown eyes, but there was something about Neil. She

didn’t know why just meeting his eyes made her insides quiver.

**********


“Did you save me a dance?” Neil stood before her, hands in the pockets of his suit pants and a cocky grin on his face.

Ellie shot to her feet, momentarily forgetting decorum, then sheepishly turned to Harvey. “Do you mind?”

“No, it’s fine.” His downcast tone belied his words. “Neil, behave with my girl.”

Ellie was torn, but the thought of being in Neil’s arms made the decision for her.

Neil’s hand felt like fire on her arm as he led her to the dance floor. When he rested a hand on her hip and clutched her

right hand, she thought she would swoon. The noise and the other dancers melted away as they waltzed around the dance

floor. He drew her closer, and she closed her eyes in ecstasy.

**********


“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride.” Neil wrapped his arms around his new wife and kissed her

soundly. When Ellie finally opened her eyes, she looked over Neil’s shoulder at his best man. Harvey winked, and mouthed, “Congratulations.”


copyright 04/26/07

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Fare thee well, brother I've yet to meet

>> Sunday, March 15

Isn't it amazing how one person can touch the lives of so many others just by his presence? One such gentleman joined our church family this past October. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to meet him in person, and this is my loss. Though I've never spoken to him, his testimony speaks to me loud and clear through everyone he has encountered. I've yet to talk to anyone who has had the fortune of knowing him who didn't experience joy and love through him.

With the advancement of his years, his eyesight is failing but his vision remains clear; his legs may be weak, but I've no doubt his spirit must dance with abandon with his Saviour.

We lost touch with him not long ago. His Sunday School class and his deacon had attempted contact, but to no avail. We'd known that, at the age of 85, he'd taken a bride. What a smile that brought to us! The heart that belongs to our Lord never ages, does it? Perhaps he was going to church with his new bride and that's why we hadn't seen him for a while.

We received an email this past week from his family updating us on our brother. Pancreatic cancer. Hospice. Only weeks left on this earth. Oh, the heartache!

The outpouring of love in the form of visits and calls to him underscores how very much he touched lives in the short time we've known him. In addition to the individuals who took time to go see him, his entire Sunday School class took the church bus all the way downtown to pay him a visit en masse.

Now tonight, I hear that the end of his earthly stay may be even shorter that originally estimated. I'm grieving (selfishly) that I didn't get to experience first hand the joy I've heard so much about from those know him. I'm sad that so many people will feel a deep loss when he "moves on". Yet, I'm happy that the extreme pain and suffering will be over soon for him, that he will soon see Jesus and be personally escorted to the throne room to stand in the presence of God.

I can't help but wonder...have I made anywhere near this kind of difference in peoples' lives? When people speak of me, are their thoughts and words tinged with just an inkling of the Love and Grace I've received? I'm afraid the answer is no. But his Saviour is my Saviour. His joy and mine spring from the same fount. The Holy Spirit give us both the same capabilities

Does Jesus' love speak as clearly through me as it does through him?

By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:35 (NKJV)

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FREE BOOK!!

>> Saturday, March 14

Did I get your attention? Good! Now, quick, hop like a bunny to Shelley's blog and enter to win your very own autographed copy of "The Shack" by William Paul Young. Yes, I said Autographed. And yes, I said Free!!




"The Shack" has been on my mental to-read list for a while. I've heard some intriguing things about it and really want to be able discuss it. When I saw Shelley's contest I couldn't resist. Well, ok, I have a hard time resisting ANY chance for a free book.




Here is your link to the Shelley's blog and her fantabulous give-away:

The Veil Thins

Good luck!!


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Friday Fiction: Forever Family

>> Friday, March 13






Welcome to Friday Fiction! I'm SOOO glad you stopped by.
This week's host is
Rhonda at Beach Reads.
She'd love you to click on over
and read some awesome short stories.




My oldest sister was the inspiration for "Forever-Family" After her bio-kids were grown and she was a grandma in her 50's, she and her husband felt (and answered) the call, and adopted my newest niece. God Bless her!! This was my entry for the "Grandparents" challenge FaithWriters. I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!

*******


FOEREVER-FAMILY

“Julie, honey-child, what’s wrong?” Evelyn pulled her reading glasses off and let them dangle from the silver chain around her neck. She set her Bible on the table to her right and beckoned to the sniffling, weeping child fidgeting in the doorway of her sitting room. “Come tell your Grammy all about it.”

Five-year old Julie stumbled across the room into Evelyn’s waiting arms. “They won’t play with me. They’re mean!” She wailed into the older woman’s ample bosom.

“Ssh, now, shh.” Evelyn took Julie into her lap and stroked her blond tresses, rocking, murmuring, and cooing, until the sobs had become hiccups. She sat the child upright and put a withered palm to each side of her face, wiping her tears away with crooked thumbs. “Now, tell Grammy what happened.”

“I don’t have anyone for me. The boys won’t let me play with them, and Tammy and Sue have each other and ignore me, and the big girls don’t want to play at all, and I don’t have anyone. They’re all having fun and no one wants me. They don’t like me.”

“Nonsense. Of course your cousins like you.”

“NO! They don’t. They tease me and call me names and laugh at me and run away from me. I hate them.” Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks.

“Now, child, hate is strong word. You may not like how they're acting right now and that’s ok, but I don’t want to hear you say ‘hate’ about your family.”

“They’re not really my family. I don’t have no family.”

Evelyn pulled a few tissues from the box on her side table. “We are your family now, your forever-family, and we all love you. Here, wipe your face and blow your nose. I’ll tell you a story about another forever-family.”

Julie rubbed her cheeks and honked into the tissues, then handed the crumpled wad to her Grandmother. Evelyn set them aside and pulled the soggy girl close, setting her rocker in motion again.

“Many years ago, a long time before even my own grammy was born, there lived a man named Abraham. Now, God knew Abraham was a real special man, a real good man, and God loved him. So much so that he called Abraham His own child.

“All of Abraham’s life, he lived for God and loved God, so God blessed Abraham and his wife, Sarah, with a baby they named Isaac. Isaac had many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. God considered all of Abraham and Isaac’s family His children because of how much He loved Abraham. Isaac’s family was called Israel, the children of God. They were His chosen people.

“But see, God wanted all the people in the world, not just Isaac’s family, to be His children. So He made a plan to adopt them all.”

Julie looked up at her Grandmother with wide eyes. “Dopt? Like me?”

“Yes, honey-child, just like you.” Evelyn brushed Julie’s tangles away from her flushed little face. Love poured out of the older woman’s warm, green eyes. “You know about Jesus?”

“Jesus is God’s son and He died for my sins. I learned that in Sunday School.”

“That’s right, child.” Evelyn kissed the top of her head and hugged her. “That was God’s plan—-for Jesus to die. But that was only part of His plan. God made Him alive again. Raised Him right up from the dead.”

“Why, Grammy? Why’d He do that?”

“So we’d believe in Him. And so we’d love Him.”

“But what about the doption?” Julie squirmed around to look at her grandmother.

Evelyn chuckled. “I’m getting there. See, the best part of God’s plan was this: He said that anyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins and that He rose from the dead, and loves Him, well, God said he would adopt them and make all of them His children, too. We’d all be his forever-family.”

“Wow. Mommy and Daddy said they could only pick one kid to dopt and they picked me. God dopted everybody?”

“He’ll adopt anyone who believes in Him, yes. Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yeah, Grammy, that’s cool.” Julie’s little brow wrinkled and Evelyn could see her processing this idea. “God must have a real big house.”

“Indeed He does, child, indeed He does, but that’s a story for another day.”

Copyright 4/9/08 Catrina Bradley

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Got answers? I've got questions.

>> Tuesday, March 10

I'm going to blame winter for getting into the habit of skipping my daily Bible reading and quiet time. Ok, I skipped quite a few days, and to be honest it was really for no good reason than the age old excuse "I don't wanna." The reason I want to blame winter? I prefer to have my daily time with God outside on the deck with the birds singing His praises and the sunshine declaring His Glory. My husband prefers to sit in the air conditioned den, where the furniture is comfortable and cushy, and the TV is playing a rerun of a show we've seen 50-some-odd times. The laughtrack distracts me, not to mention that he doesn't quite understand that I don't want to be interrupted when I'm reading and concentrating on God's Word. But Spring has finally sprung, the warm sunshine and glorious birdsong is back, and I'm reestablishing my daily quiet time routine.

I've made it to Exodus, and Moses is about to go demand that Pharoah let God's people go. Most days, God gives me answers from the Scriptures. Most days they are answers to questions I didn't even remember I had, or know I needed to know. Exodus is leaving me with questions that may not have answers this side of Heaven, and I thought I'd share them with you in hopes that maybe YOU know the answer and I'm just a big "stupidhead" as my husband is fond of saying.

In Exodus 1, the king of Egypt orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all newborn males. Because they feared God, they didn't obey and they let the babies live. When questioned by the king, they told him that Hebrew women weren't like Egyptian women, that they gave birth faster than Eyptian women so the midwives couldn't make it to the birthing in time. A blatent lie. Verse 20 says, "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives."

God approved of the lie; indeed He BLESSED them for lying by dealing well with them. Wouldn't it have been better for them to tell the truth - that they feared (respected) God? They mentioned nothing about Him. Why was lying ok, or even preferred maybe, by God in this instance? Why didn't He want them to mention Him to the king? Was it because the outcome was good? This just doesn't seem to jive with the whole of Scripture and it's bugging me.

In Exodus 1, Pharaoh is called "the king of Egypt" up until verse 22, where his is called Pharaoh with no explanation of the title change. Why? Does this have any significance at all? I wonder about the little things like that.

How many years did Moses' mother nurse him before returning him to Pharaoh's daughter? I think I remember learning that children back then weren't weaned nearly as early as in modern times. Surely Moses knew God at that young age from living with his Hebrew mother and father.

Did Moses know that he was a Hebrew? I'm thinking yes - Exodus 2:11 says "He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren." Was it because he remembered spending his early years with his real mom & dad, or did Pharaoh's daughter tell him? I was always under the impression that he was raised as her own son, an Egyptian, and didn't know his origins. Of course that could stem from watching The Ten Commandments too many times.

How many Hebrew men were there his age? They should have all been cast into the river to die as babies. Was disobedience to Pharaoh's edict widespread and common?

In Exodus 3:18, God tells Moses, "...you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt;". I'm not there yet, but I'm pretty sure I remember only Moses and Aaron going to Pharaoh. Hmmm.

Also in 3:18, God commands Moses to lie to Pharaoh. "Please let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God." Again with the lying! And this time at God's command!

Exodus 4:24-26 totally baffles me. Moses is on the way, and "at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him." His wife, Zipporah then proceeds to circumcise her son, cast the foreskin at Moses feet and say, "Surely you re a husband of blood to me!" God then let him go. Completely baffling. This would be a wonderful passage for Joanne Sher to tackle in her Ponderings from the Pentateuch series. HINT TO JOANNE. :)

Those are my questions for today. Not many, huh? If you've got answers, or just want to chime in, I'd love to hear from you!

(btw, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version)

Blessings,
Cat

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Does this sound like me?

>> Monday, March 9

While blogsurfing just now, I came across Under Grace and Over Coffee penned by a lovely lady named Andrea. Ok, Grace and Coffee are my two of my favorite things, so I had to read a bit, right?

It seems Adrea took a quiz to find out what Girl Scout cookie she is. And when I started reading about Thin Mints, I found it ironic because, well, I DID devour a quarter of a box today.

No, I'm not a Thin Mint - turns out I'm a Do-Si-Do.


You Are Peanut Butter Sandwiches / Do-si-dos
You are easy going and naturally happy. You don't need a lot to make you smile.
You genuinely care about people and are a great friend. You're always doing your best to make the world a better place.

Even though there isn't an immature bone in your body, you still are like a big kid sometimes.
Why make life complicated when the best parts are actually quite simple? You enjoy the small joys of life.


Hm, for the most part eerily accurate. (Um, not even ONE immature bone in my body? Hmmm.) Not to mention Peanut Butter is another of my favorite things.

The quiz is only 5 questions and will take about a minute of your time. Do you dare to find out.....

As for yesterday's depressing and anger-laden post, I thank you, my bloggy friends, for your prayers and your love. I spent much of my sleepless night in prayer, and vowed that I would CHOOSE to have a good day today, and that I would let NOTHING steal my joy! Out of the blue, first thing this morning I was asked what specifically someone could pray for me today, then I was prayed over. I have a feeling God was speaking to this person on my behalf. And, YES, I had a great day. Our Father so awesome, isn't he?

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Confessions and Soulbearing

>> Sunday, March 8


I've got tons of thoughts plaguing me, and I need to just to have a blurt-out session and get some of it off my mind, my heart, and maybe my soul so I don't look like this character to the left anymore.

My prayer for the last week or two stems from Brandon Heath's song, "Give me your eyes" and an article by Steve Saint I read in the current Decision magazine, who prayed the same thing but for different reasons. This prayer need stems primarily from a new member who is absorbing all of my time and keeping me from important tasks I need to do - for example sending out email prayer requests and checking in & keeping with some of the other 749 church members. I want God to give me His eyes for the brokenhearted, the down-and-out, the ignorant, the unsaved who don't see so can't know what I know (this last doesn't include said church member, by her confession of faith). I've asked God to break my heart if that's what's necessary to soften me toward them again. I've grown cynical and ... well, mean ... lately because the users and abusers and take-avantagers are making me angry. I've also asked for discernment to know when I should love them AND when I should judge them with His righteous judgment as I would want to be judged.

I went from blissful joy to anger and resentment in 90-to-nothing today. A moving worship service and excellent message left me flying with joy and forgetting everything that's been making me angry. I needed to help my Pastor print funeral bulletins after church for a 2:00 funeral (which I was prepared for and expecting to do), but after the 5th or 6th (or 100th) person took advantage of me being in the office by asking me to do something WHILE I was trying to concentrate on the funeral bulletins AND "off the clock", I was spitting nails. This severe attitude change took all of 30 minutes. I actually slammed the office door in someone's face. I don't work on Sundays, they ALL know that, but they don't care. They see me, and they see the "church secretary", not a fellow church member. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Wednesday nights are worse. I skipped dinner this past Wednesday because I just couldn't put up with it and was afraid of what my reaction might be. They don't remember that I'm here to worship on Sundays & Wednesdays, not to work. Last week, my husband reminded me, "It is your GIFT." Yes, one of my gifts is service. So I prayed. It's my "spiritual act of worship." And I felt better. But I'm SOOOO over it. I need help resolving this issue one way or another. Do I give up on the idea of just enjoying my personal worship, or do I make a stand and alienate my brothers and sisters in my church family? Where is the balance supposed to lie? Am I being selfish, or are they?

I did have a nice conversation with my husband tonight about him not hearing me. About him saying, "Hahnh? Huh? What?" after EVERY thing I say. I brought it up THIS time by saying I was considering taking voice lessons because something must be wrong with my speaking voice for him not to ever hear me. I told him that when I hear his voice, even when it's across the room and 73 other people are talking, I'm instantly tuned into him, so something must be wrong with the way I speak. He's told me before that it's only me he doesn't hear, that I mumble. (Um, he's the only one who says this by the way. No one else seems to have this problem.) When I reminded him that he said that, he retracted it, and said that it wasn't just me, that when he's in la-la land (also known as "the Bahamas") he is deep into la-la land and people talking to him just don't register. His brain doesn't think fast enough. So I'm practicing what he's said to do - say his name before I start talking to him to get his attention. It was a good talk.

Holding a baby can bring such peace to my soul. There is nothing like it.

If you've made it this far through my ramblings, thanks for listening. And I covet your prayers.

Cat

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Friday Fiction: Heart Song

>> Friday, March 6

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!
And TGIFF (Thank God it's FRIDAY FICTION!!!)




Friday Fiction is hosted by Shirley McClay this week on her blog Sunny Glade. (Thanks, Shirley!)
Please stop by to read some awesome fiction, or join in the fun by posting your own fiction on your blog, and adding a link to your post on Mr. Linky.


"Heart Song" was my entry for the "Happy" challenge at FaithWriters. Once again, there were entries much better than mine so this story didn't make any of the "top" lists, but I like it, so THERE! :) I like it even better now, reflecting back on what my world used to be like before I chucked it all to enter ministry and work for the Lord. One thing hasn't changed tho; I still look to HIM for my strength and my joy.

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

HEART SONG

Daphne was dressed for work in one of her favorite suits, and she was wearing her new fuchsia blouse for the first time. She stood transfixed at the kitchen window, marveling at the snowstorm of small, white blossoms dancing through the back yard. Her eyes were wide with delight; a small laugh, almost a giggle, escaped. She drew so close to the big window that her excited breathing fogged her view. She moved to the left and back a hair so she wouldn’t miss a step of nature’s ballet.

Thank you for spring, Father. Thank you beauty so abundant it blows in the wind and drifts in the gutters.

The morning was getting away from her. Still smiling, she bent to scratch Lady’s head. “Let’s get you fed, sweetie. Mommy’s gotta go!” The dachshund trotted at her heels as Daphne crossed the floor to the cabinet where she kept the kibbles and treats. Daphne began singing as she filled Lady’s bowl. The chorus to the song that was playing when she’d shut off the radio was in her head. ”I will praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are no matter where I am…”

God, I do praise you in my storm. In the gloom of my days, You are my Sunshine. I trust You to guide me.

Another miserable day at the office loomed. She grabbed her things and headed to the door. Out of habit born of necessity, she stopped at the threshold to go over her checklist. Keys, lunch, purse, bag. Check. The song played on in her heart as she started her car and opened the garage door. ” …and every tear I've cried You hold in your hand…”

Thank you, Jesus, for being right there with me, holding me, when life’s circumstances get me so down I want to give up.

Daphne backed out of the garage, humming. The ornamental grass and fir trees that lined the curb were overgrown, and she had only an instant of visibility before her rear bumper cleared the brick mailbox and entered the street. She crept backward, peering down the street through the narrow gap. Her snail-like speed made it easy to stop before she blocked the path of the oncoming Camry that jerked to a stop. Whew. Thanks, God. That was close! As the adrenaline rush abated, she and the driver played “You go. No you go” for a minute. Daphne finally stuck her arm out the open window and motioned the driver on. ”You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, …hmm hmm mmm..”

Thirty-five miles, 75 minutes, and 35,000 disgruntled road-mates later, Daphne climbed the steps to her second floor office. The receptionist looked up with a hesitant smile. Daphne knew that look.

“I will praise You in this storm…”

“Good morning, Daphne! I hate to bug you so soon, but…”

“Oh, Daphne, good, you’re here. Come see me when you get a minute. I need…”

“Daphne? It is you. I need help with…”

From down the hall, Daphne heard the distinctive ring of her inter-office line.

Daphne sang under her breath as she strode to her desk to start another day.

”I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”


* * *

The author has been profoundly blessed by the ministry of Casting Crowns, and would like to personally thank them for the use of their lyrics from ”Praise You In This Storm” in this autobiographical sketch, and for the impact their music has had on my life.

Photobucket
Catrina Bradley 7/12/07

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