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Friday, May 30, 2014

Dana Dolittle

Hello.  My name is Dana, and I talk to animals.  Yes, I berate bugs, chatter with the squirrels and compliment the birds on their lovely singing and beautiful colors.  I've pleaded with snakes, fussed with critters and laughed with ducks.  But above all, I talk to my dogs.  They are my children, and I talk to them as such.  They get reprimanded when they are bad (which isn't very often) and praised when they are good.  I chat with them throughout the day and often ask their opinion on less-important matters like whether I should clean the bathrooms first or the kitchen.  In fact, I even interpret their howls, whines and expressions for those who don't speak "dog."  Some think I'm crazy.  Some have even gone so far as to call me that to my face.  But that's okay.  I'm just following in God's footsteps, for He talked to animals too, and I can prove it!

Remember Jonah and the whale?  This is what the Bible says in Jonah 2:10:  And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.  See, God spoke to the fish, but that's not all.

Remember Elijah during the drought?  Here's what the Bible says about that:  And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. (I Kings 17:4)  God spoke to the birds, but that's still not all.

How about the two occasions where the disciples went out fishing and came back empty-handed?
And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. (Luke 5:5-6)  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. (John 21:5-6)  Someone had to tell those fish when to come and when to go.  Someone had to tell them to stay on the right side of the boat.  And I only know of one "Someone" who can command the fish.

I'm sure there are other Biblical examples that I could name.  God spoke through Balaam's donkey.  He had many other dealings with a variety of animals.  But the point is that I have Scriptural proof that He talked to animals and furthermore, they understood Him.  So, don't give me a hard time if I carry on a conversation with my pooches.  They, at least, act like they're paying attention to me, which is more than I can say for some people.  Besides, who's to say that they don't understand far more than we give them credit for?  So, you see, I'm not crazy.  I'm simply trying to conform to the image of God.

Now, if you'll excuse me.  Mitch is telling me it's time for his daily brushing.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Out of Control

On Monday, Jason and I joined a group from our church to help some new members get all of their belongings moved.  The family has had their stuff in storage for over a month now while they were looking for a house.  The housing situation finally worked out last week, so we scheduled a moving day on Monday since a lot of us had off work.  We figured with that many people and vehicles, the move shouldn't take too long. (At least that was our reasoning. . .)

We had just dropped off the first huge trailer load.  Not only did we have our trailer packed full, but the back of the Xterra was piled high as well.  After unloading all of that, we headed back to the storage trailer to pick up the next load.  We hadn't made it five minutes down the road when the trailer pin decided to pop out.  I don't know what exactly happened or when the pin popped loose.  All I know is that we were descending a rather steep hill when the trailer began to sway violently back and forth, in between the times it collided with the back of the Xterra.  To say I was scared would be an understatement.  I watched in the mirror as the trailer collided and swayed, totally out of control.  Praise the Lord that there was no other traffic on the road at that point.

Jason kept the vehicle under control and used his wits to get us stopped and off the road.  He had assumed that the trailer had popped off the hitch, but when we got out, we discovered the missing pin.  We had been dragging the trailer by nothing more than a chain.  Needless to say, I was doing a bit of shaking.  We were able to flag down some of the other church members and devise a temporary pin that we prayed would get us to a hardware store.  It did, and the rest of the day presented no further problems.  I've told you this many times, but there is really never a dull moment for us.  I don't know what it is!

As I think back to that swaying trailer, I'm reminded of myself.  Out of control.  Uncertain which direction to go.  Colliding with the obstacles in front of me.  A mess, to be sure.  But I'm also reminded of how God can help to set me straight.  When the trailer was joined to the Xterra, Jason had no trouble maintaining control.  The trailer went where it was supposed to go and did what it was supposed to do.  But on its own, it didn't fare so well (and neither did the back of my poor Xterra).  I'm the same way.  When I abide with God, I go where I'm supposed to go and do what I'm supposed to do.  On my own, however, I don't fare so well.  I'm out of control.

I never ceased to be amazed at the many ways God teaches and reminds me of His Word.  Whether it be a spider, a piece of bread or an out-of-control trailer, spiritual lessons abound in this world in which we live.  Pay attention today to the things going on around you.  They may seem ordinary (or not, in the case of the trailer), but God can use them to show you great things.  Just be warned, sometimes they may scare the daylights out of you!

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. - John 15:5

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No, I'm Not Bipolar - Repost

A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing Winnie the Pooh characters. (Don't ask me why!) I told her that my favorite characters were Tigger and Eeyore. She looked at me the same way people always do when I make that statement. In fact, one day when I went to my chiropractor, I was wearing a Tigger sweatshirt and carrying an Eeyore handbag. The chiropractor looked from my shirt to my bag then back to my shirt and said, "What? Are you bipolar?" We had a good laugh.

You see, people don't expect that someone could like Tigger and Eeyore both. Why? Because they're total opposites. Eeyore is gloomy and wouldn't know a good thing if it bit him in the behind. Tigger, on the other hand, is flouncy, trouncy, pouncy, etc. He doesn't know what it means to have a bad day. So how can I like them both? I think that Eeyore reminds me a lot of myself. I know on the outside, I look like a happy-go-lucky person, but often, I am neither happy nor lucky. Sometimes I'm downright gloomy. Many times I feel that dark cloud is following me no matter where I go.

In contrast, Tigger reminds me of what I want to be and what I should be according to Philippians 4:4 which says, Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Always? Yes, always! Even when the rain is pouring? Yes, always! Even when things seem like they couldn't get worse? Yes, always. No, we may not be bouncing off the walls, but we should be able to lift our voices toward Heaven and say, "God's been good."

Today, choose your role model. Tigger or Eeyore? For while we can like both characters, we can't be like both. We must make a choice.

Do you think I'll look good in stripes?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

Poor Mitchell.  Somehow he got closed in my office the other night.  He's gotten into the habit of sleeping on the couch in the living room for the majority of the night, then jumping up to join us in our bed around six in the morning.  On this particular night, I heard him moving around a couple of times and expected him to make his way to our bed, but he never came.  In the morning, I was quite surprised to see that he still hadn't made an appearance, but as I lay in bed, I was sure I could hear him stirring in the hallway.  I was puzzled by his behavior.

Concerned that something might be wrong, I crawled out of bed and walked into the hallway.  No Mitchell.  I checked the living room, the kitchen and the foyer.  Still, no Mitchell.  I went over the events in my head and recalled having heard him stir.  Then, it clicked.  My office door was tightly shut, as it always is during the night to keep out the extra light from the street lamp outside our house, as well as the heat that tends to build up in my office.  I rushed to open the door, and sure enough, there stood Mitchell.  His ears were flat like they get when he knows he's in trouble.  I loved on him as much as I could and tried my best to convince him that he was not in trouble.  His incarceration had been an accident.  Evidently, he had been asleep under my desk when Jason closed the door for the night, and since Mitch never made a sound (other than his slight stirring), we had no idea of his predicament.

My mind promptly revisited the time that we had done the same thing to Tippy when we left to
run some errands.  Unfortunately, we were gone for quite a while, and Tippy isn't nearly as patient as Mitchell.  As soon as we arrived home that day, we knew there was a problem.  Tippy was fussing up a storm.  She cried.  She howled.  She wanted everyone to know she was unhappy.  In direct contrast, Mitch didn't say a word.  No cries.  No howls.  No whimpers.  He just settled in and made the best of a bad situation.  Oh, that I would learn to do the same!

I tend to react to unpleasant situations the same way Tippy reacts.  I whine and complain.  I want out of the situation, and I want out NOW!  But I long to be more like Mitch.  I long to have the attitude of "Well, it's not what I wanted, but I'll make the best of it."  In the midst of his "trial," he was still able to rest, and though he seemed to think he was in trouble, it was obvious he never doubted my love for him.  Upon his release, he came right to me.  He loved on me as much as I loved on him.  And within a few minutes, he was back to his happy-go-lucky self.  Instead of complaining about his lot in life, he worked with what he had.  He made use of the doggie bed under my desk and stretched out as much as he wanted (something he can't do in the bed with us).  He didn't waste time and energy fussing about what was.  He only looked at what he could make of it.  And in that, he's quite an inspiration.

I'll admit, he's been a little clingy the past few days (yes, even more than usual).  Perhaps he's afraid of getting locked in my office again.  Or perhaps his situation simply reminded him of how nice it is to hang out with the Master.  Could that be the reason for our current state?  Could God be putting us in a place to remind us of how pleasant it is to hang out with the Master?  Who knows?  The point is that we can be like Tippy, who wastes time and energy fussing about her situation, or we can be like Mitch, who decides the make the best of it.

Sorry, Tippy, but I think I'm going to have to go with Mitchell on this one.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Who's Paying?

I came across an interesting phrase during my Bible reading this morning.  I'm always amazed at the things that can jump out at me from passages that I've read more times than I can count.  I guess God shows us what we need when we need it or when we're able to handle it.  Anyway, I was reading about Jonah, and a single phrase jumped up and did a little jig across the page.  (Well, not quite, but it really did capture my attention.)

We all know how the story begins.  God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah to preach the Word, and Jonah promptly heads in the opposite direction.  We could park it right there for a while, couldn't we?  But, let's move on to my point. 

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. - Jonah 1:3

First off, trying to flee from the presence of the Lord?  Well, duh, Jonah.  You can't flee from one who's omnipresent (present everywhere).  But that's still not the phrase that got me.  Notice how the Scripture makes a point of saying, "so he paid the fare thereof."  As soon as I read that, I thought about the old saying that goes, "Where God guides, He provides.  When you're out of God's will, you foot the bill."  Isn't that exactly what was happening to Jonah?  It is, and I can prove it.  If you flip over to chapter three, after Jonah's had a whale of a time (sorry, I just couldn't resist), you'll see his voyage to Ninevah.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. - Jonah 3:3-4

Did you see any mention of Jonah paying a fare?  No?  Me either.  What I did see is that God said "go," so Jonah went and made a three-days' journey in a single day.  Now, I realize that Jonah was probably in a hurry to get busy doing what God had told him to do to begin with.  But still, three days of travel in one day is miraculous.  Where God guides, He provides.  But the opposite is true as well.  When we're out of His will, we'll pay the bill, just like Jonah did.

Keep in mind, too, that the provision and/or payment doesn't always mean monetary.  It could mean many things.  The point is that as long as we're in God's will, He will make a way.  He'll provide what we need to accomplish His will.  Outside of His will, we're on our own.  God had no intentions of paying Jonah's fare to run from Him.  He won't pay ours either.

Do you want to be successful in this life?  Would you like to see God provide again and again?  If so, stay in His will.  Don't run.  Don't ride the fence.  Don't hem and haul.  As the Nike slogan says, "Just do it!"  You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Am I Really That Selfish? - Repost

I've never really thought of myself as a selfish person. I love to share. I love to give. I often put others' needs before my own. I thought I was in pretty good shape with this one. I thought this was one area I had under control, but God showed me otherwise.

There's been a lot going on in my life recently. Satan has really been fighting, and unfortunately he's been winning most of the time. It seems like as soon as I'm done battling one problem, another comes to take its place. So, what have I been doing? Well, I've been trying to fight in the strength of the Lord. I've been praying. I've been reading my Bible, searching for things that will help me. I've been TRYING to trust the Lord and follow His leadership. Sounds good, right? Sounds like I'm doing all the right things, huh? I thought so too. I was wrong.

I've become so obsessed with my problems and my situations, that I really haven't cared about anyone else. My prayer life has completely revolved around me. "Lord, help me. I have this problem. I have this need. Show me the way." It's all been about me. I've been so consumed with the troubles in my own life that I've turned a blind eye to the troubles of others. I've stopped praying for my friends and family. I've forgotten to pray for those who don't know the Lord. Nothing else seems to matter. My Bible reading is the same. I haven't been reading to hear what the Lord wants to say to me. I've been reading the find the answers that I want. Me, me, me. It's all been about me. And, it's time for that to stop!!!!!!!

Yes, I should pray about my problems, and I should seek the Lord's leadership, but not to the exclusion of everything else. We've all heard the acronym for the word "JOY" -- Jesus, Others, You. That truly is the key to living a balanced Christian life. I think I'll try it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just One Second

I used to be a huge sweet tea drinker, but in the past few years, I've turned my attention (and desire) to herbal tea.  Once I discovered that the body processes herbal tea a lot like water, I determined I needed to make the change.  I can't tell you how glad I am that I did.

Unlike most people, however, when I brew my own tea, I enjoy mixing the different flavors.  A few bags of green tea.  A couple of bags of white tea.  How about some chamomile, peppermint or vanilla?  Sure, throw it in there.  Two coffee pots later, I have a gallon of herbal tea to sweeten with stevia and place in the refrigerator.  Mmm, refreshing!

Unfortunately, I awoke this morning to an empty tea pitcher.  The weekend had been so busy and chaotic that I had run out and not had the time (or energy) to make more.  So I filled the coffee pot with water and the basket with tea bags and went about my work.  As I went to pour the first batch into the tea pitcher, a movement outside the window caught my eye.  I looked up for the briefest of seconds, and in that instant, the tea went everywhere.  Somehow, in that split second, I had moved the pot enough that I was pouring the tea all over the counter.  And that tea, of course, had the nerve to run all over the floor.

Frustrated with my lack of attention and the mess I had made, I grabbed some paper towels and began to clean up the liquid.  "How did that happen?" I asked myself.  "I only turned my eyes away for a second.  It was just a second!  How did I manage to make such a big mess in so little time?"  And with that, I knew I had a lesson for today.

It only takes one second of turning our eyes away from the Lord to get ourselves in big trouble.  We don't need hours, days or weeks to make a mess of our lives.  One second is all it takes.  One second to say, "I've got this, Lord!"  One second to make the wrong choice.  One second to say a hurtful word.  One second to turn your back on someone who needs you.  Just one second!  That thought tends to drive home the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus and following in His footsteps.  Only that will prevent us from making a huge mess.

What are you looking at today?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2

Monday, May 19, 2014

Arm Yourself for Battle: Breastplate - Righteousness -- A Guest Post by Barbara Ann Derksen

The devil often attacks our heart, the seat of our emotions, self-worth, and trust. God's righteousness is the breastplate that protects our heart and ensures His approval. He approves of us because He loves us and sent His Son to die for us.
Righteousness (acting in a morally correct manner, correct by divine declaration - set right with God)
 Genesis 15:6 - And he [Abram] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Abram believed what God promised him and because his faith was in God, not the promise, he was set right with God or declared by God to be righteous. Our faith, even as little as a mustard seed, needs to have its foundation in Jesus Christ, in His person and His work.
Glade walked into the clubhouse. He smiled his usual greeting to the man heading in his direction. Buzz pushed by him as he stocked toward the door. “What’er you so happy about? Life stinks,” he grumbled. The clubhouse door slammed as Buzz disappeared through it, leaving Glade standing, staring after the unhappy man.
“Hey, Deeter. What’s with him?” He hollered to the one other person in the room.
Deeter looked up from the newspaper he’d been reading. “Don’t know. Don’t care.” Deeter’s gaze returned to the article in front of him.
Glade shrugged but the image of unhappiness that permeated the place reached out and grabbed like a tangible hand. He shivered. What was it about the club that made him feel so unloved and unwanted these days? Then he remembered the sermon his pastor had preached in church the day before. He’d talked about a Christian’s need to guard their heart, to protect their inner most being from the attacks of the enemy.
Was it possible? He scoffed. Of course it was. This place was ripe with Satan’s markings. Everywhere he looked he saw, with eyes that seemed to be clear for the first time, evidence of how the enemy controlled the lives of all who entered the doors of the club. The heaviness weighed them down. He could feel it. I need to leave. Glade marched toward the door he’d just come through.
The pastor was right. He needed to protect his heart by immersing himself in the word, and traveling with people who also loved God. Especially now when he’d given his life to Christ. There was nothing he could do for his fellow bikers until he became stronger in his faith. Maybe one day God would lead him back here but for now he needed to put the club and its members behind him.
Glade was right to take what his pastor preached seriously. If we don’t wear our righteousness, the set-right-with-God shield, openly, we are more likely to step back into old habits. We need to wear it like a badge of honor whenever we step into the world and all that entails, understanding that while we love the people we work with, the people God places in front of us, we also need to be aware of Christ, His person and His work at all times.
Fill your heart and mind with God’s love for the people you come in contact with but never forget it’s God’s love and not your own. Don’t ever take Christ for granted. Be aware of His power to reach out to the lost, the sick, and the weak, as you move through your day.
Father, regard me as righteous. Fill me with Your presence today, so I may reflect You to the people You bring into my path. Keep me sharply aware that it is all about You, not me at all. I can do nothing without You in my life, walking before me, guiding my steps. Thank You Father. Amen.
Look around. Do You see God at work in and through You? Have you taken the necessary precautions to protect your heart, your inner most being from the enemy or do you let unholy thoughts fester and grow like a cancer? 

About the Author 

Watching the expressions on the faces of her readers, as well as answering questions about her characters, is what drives author and speaker, Barbara Ann Derksen to write yet another book and another. Her favorite genre is murder mystery but each book brings forth characters who rely on God as they solve the puzzle in their life.

Barbara’s devotionals are sought after each year when she publishes a new one that reflects what God has placed on her heart. From Straight Pipes, her first, to More Than Bells, Preparation for Prayer, the latest, Barbara’s devotions take people to the place where God can touch their heart and leave a lasting impression. When people stop by her table for the latest, they talk to her about using the devotions in their chapter meetings, or their personal devotions. Some men return at their pastor’s request because the books are used as launch pads for men’s bible study. Many copies have been passed on to new believers as discipling tools.

Born in Canada, Barbara lived in the US for 12 years. There her writing surfaced as she worked under contract as a journalist for six years with over 2500 articles published in newspapers and magazines during that time. Meeting and interviewing people, digging for the hidden gems in their lives, made those years informative as well as instructive. She began attending Colorado Christian Writer’s Conferences and each year, under the tutelage of great Christian writer’s like James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, and others, she honed her skills.

Barbara has developed a speaking platform and has spoken across the US and in Manitoba, Canada for women’s groups and in church services on topics such as The Writing Experience, working in the ministry of Christian Motorcyclists Association, Love, Parenting, Time Management, and a host of others.

With 17 books to her credit, one currently inactive and awaiting revision, each one surpasses the last, according to her readers. They look forward to discovering the new characters in a new series Finders Keepers. Book One – Shadow Stalker – will be released mid-May, 2013

Writing, however is simply a tool to be used in the ministry she shares with her husband. With his gift of music (he sings country gospel), Barbara and her husband operate CatchFire Ministries, a ministry to bikers through Christian Motorcyclists Association. They travel for four to five months every summer in the US and the rest of the time in Canada where they seek to inspire, encourage and invite people into a deeper ministry with Jesus Christ. They also minister at Veterans Homes and churches along the way and are about to begin a ministry to Juvenile offenders incarcerated at Manitoba Youth Center. The mysteries include a gospel message that opens her readers to the possibility of reading books written from a Christian World view and supply funds for CatchFire.

About Her Latest Book

Evil pursues Christine, in this the second book of the Finders Keepers Mystery Series. Retreat is not an option but her move forward makes her vulnerable to the very evil that took her parents' lives. Faced with yet another missing child, she embarks on a search that takes her out of her comfort zone to question her chosen career, her abilities, and her belief system as she helps stricken parents find closure. Christine finds herself confused about her growing interest in Jeremy but she is distracted by the essence of evil that surrounds her.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Adopting the Ibex Strategy

To truly appreciate this post, you'll need to watch the above video.  Today's "lesson" will become very evident, so please watch the short video before reading any further.

When a friend directed me to this video, I was intrigued and a little anxious.  I love animals, but I don't typically like to see videos of animals in the wild because they are often graphic as they depict the circle of life.  Not for me!  When the fox made his appearance in this video, I nearly pressed the pause button.  I knew I didn't want to see that adorable little ibex being torn to shreds by some wily fox.  But I persevered, determined that if things got messy, I would stop the video.  I'm so glad I continued to watch.

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who talks to the characters on television or in videos.  "Come on, you know better than that!" I'll scream.  Or, "don't trust him, you idiot!"  Likewise, when the poor ibex began running back up the cliff, I was screaming my head off.  "No, baby, don't run up!" (Isn't that what they always do in suspense films? Duh!)  Anyway, back to my yelling.  "Run down to your momma.  She'll keep you safe."  You're so close to the bottom.  Don't retrace your steps.  Don't single yourself out.  Run, ibex, run!"  What can I say, I was very emotional at this point.

But when the little ibex's strategy was revealed, not only did I breathe a sigh of relief, but I also sensed a heavenly breeze blowing through my soul.  God was speaking (not audibly, of course), and I had no choice but to listen.  In a nutshell, this is the message He whispered to my soul:

Dana, how do you think the ibex knew where to go to find protection from the enemy?  Common sense would have told him to run down to momma, but something within him urged him upward instead.  How do you explain that?  Could it be that he knew the path because he had been down it before?  He had been led to find the safest route.  Because he had made the journey before, he knew where to find safety.  What would have happened to that little creature if he hadn't had to make that steep, dangerous descent?  He wouldn't have been prepared to fend off the enemy.  So, you see, child, the difficulties enabled him to win the battle.  His struggles prepared him for the oncoming attack.  He knew exactly where to go because he had been there before.  Do you understand now how I'm working in your life?

Oh, wow!  I, like the ibex, have been down some rugged terrain.  I've slid and stumbled down a path that seemed to never end.  And all the while I wondered what God was doing.  Why was He making it so difficult?  Why didn't He help me out?  What I never realized is that as I've walked those paths, I've identified areas of protection.  I've spotted God's promises and faithfulness along the way.  I've come across His love and goodness.  I've even traversed a few of His reminders to keep going.  And because of that, when the enemy comes prowling, I know where to go to find safety.  Instead of following common sense, I run back to the ground that I've already covered--the terrain with which I'm familiar.  And it is there that I find shelter.  A shelter I would never have know existed unless I had walked the path before.

I have to wonder if singer/songwriter, Rodney Griffin, had the same thought when he penned the words to the song, "Without a Valley."  Hearing about God's faithfulness is one thing, but experiencing it is something totally different.  Without the valleys, how would we truly know how good God is?  How well would we know His promises?

Thank you for the lesson, little ibex.  It's a shame you're so much smarter than I am.  You learned that lesson within a few days.  It's taken me years, and I still struggle with it.  But, that's okay because God is also patient.  He hasn't given up on me. . . and He never will!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Mystery of Mysteries

I recently read and reviewed a book by a fellow Christian author.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and my review and rating on Amazon reflected that fact.  Others, however, did not share my opinion, which is fine, but it was their reasons for disliking the book that baffled me.  For the most part, those who gave the book a low rating stated that their reason for doing so was because they were disappointed that the book left the reader hanging.  They accused the author of some evil plot designed to intrigue them enough and con them into buying the second book.  Oh please!

First off, it's not an evil plot.  It's called writing and trying to make a living at it.  Isn't the whole point to get people to like your writing enough that they'll buy more of your books?  What's wrong with enticing a reader into a story and then continuing the story in the next book?  Popular authors do it all the time.  Hello, the Lord of the Rings trilogy?  Trilogy, as in more than one book.

Second, the author did not have some dastardly plan to trick the readers.  The title of her book boldly states "Book One."  What did these people think that meant?  If there's a one, chances are there's a two, duh!!!!  As you can see, this topic has me pretty hot under the collar.  Perhaps it's because I'm a fellow Christian author and don't like seeing my sister in Christ attacked.  Or maybe it's because I know how difficult it is to make a living as a writer, and people like this certainly don't make it any easier.

Anyway, after several of these negative reviews, this author placed a disclaimer on her book's page.  The first point reads, "Don't buy or read this book if you want your endings tied up neatly in a bow. . .You will not like the cliff hanger ending if you want all your answers in the first book."  Well said!

Unfortunately, that very phrase came back to haunt me this morning during my devotion time.  While reading in a new book, I uncovered this statement:  "And while God promises to one day make everything right, the loose ends won't always get tied up to our great satisfaction."  Ouch, that smarts!  In one bold sentence, I was reminded that I am guilty of the very same attitude that has frustrated me.  The readers of my colleague's book were angry because the ending wasn't what they expected.  The loose ends were left dangling.  They were left in suspense.  They didn't have all the answers, and they felt betrayed because of it.  Um, isn't that the way we treat God?

As I said earlier, I loved the book.  I didn't mind being left in suspense.  It just adds to the mystery and intrigue.  I am anticipating the second book.  No problem!  Unfortunately, I don't feel the same way about life.  I don't want to be left hanging.  I do want all the loose ends tied up in a neat little bow.  I want to have all the answers and to see the mystery solved.  I don't want to wait.  "To be continued" doesn't work well for me in real life.  I'm too impatient!

And sadly, my response to God's masterpiece is the same as those I was ridiculing.  I fuss and complain and accuse the Author of not doing it right.  But you know what?  God has done the same thing my colleague has done.  He has placed a bold statement (several, in fact) in plain view to deter the gripes and groans.  Here are just a few:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. - Jeremiah 29:11

What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. - Psalm 25:12

 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. - Jeremiah 10:23

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13  

May I summarize all those verses into one main thought?  Basically, God is saying, "I'm the Author.  Let me tell the story.  We'll reach the conclusion soon enough, but in the meantime, don't let the unknowns deprive you of the joy of the story.  Allow them to add to the intrigue, giving you something to look forward to."

Would mystery novels be enjoyable if we knew all the answers?  Of course not.  That's the fun of reading them--to try to figure it out.  Why not approach the mysteries of life the same way?  Instead of demanding answers, why don't we just talk to the Author?  Instead of complaining about what we don't know or have, why don't we relish in what we know is to come?  Does God really need to tie up the loose ends to our satisfaction?  I hope not because, deep down, I know what He has planned for me is far greater than I could ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  Why settle for less?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Problem With Perspective

I'm working on a new book.  Well, actually, six new books.  Confused?  It's a long story, but I'll try to explain as briefly as possible.  I am developing a new series based on my devotional book, Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead.  Each book will have a similar alliterated name (i.e. Daily Discussions of a Doubting Disciple, Wistful Wanderings of a Worry Wart, Lilting Laments of a Loony Lass, etc.) and will contain short devotions pulled from my daily blog posts.  Since my blog has been running for over five years, I have a lot of devotions to choose from, hence I have enough chapters for an entire series of books.  (BTW, I'm running a contest to find the perfect name for the entire series, so if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.  You can find more information on my website,

For the past several weeks, I've been choosing posts from my blog and copy/pasting them into the appropriate book based on the title and theme of the book.  "This one is definitely a lament while that one has "doubting disciple" written all over it." You get the idea, right?

The problem is that, because I'm spreading the posts over six different books, I can spend two or three hours working on this task and feel like I've accomplish very little.  When I go to save my work, I notice that there are only 64 pages of a particular book where there were 58 when I started.  Six pages. . .in three hours?  That's it!!!!  It can be very frustrating, but then I remind myself that while it may not seem like I'm getting much done, when I come to the end of the process, I'll have six books ready for editing, rather than just one.  It's all about the perspective.  Without the proper one, this process could get quite discouraging.  So, each day as I sit down to work on the series, I remind myself, before I even begin, that I will keep the proper perspective and not grow weary in well doing.

Unfortunately, I find I also have to do the same thing in life.  When I go days at a time and look back to see that I've accomplished very little, it's easy to become disheartened and aggravated.  When I devote time and energy into a project with little to no results, it's hard to keep the proper perspective.  When I make a point to spend quality time with the Lord each and every day and somehow feel more distanced from Him in the end, it's enough to make me throw up my hands and say, "Why bother?"

Just as I'm learning with this new book series, it's all about the proper perspective.  Things don't happen in my timing; they happen in God's.  And they don't always have the result I desire, but God ensures that the result is the one that I need.  As for trying to feel closer to God, could it be that the more time I spend with Him, the more I realize how unworthy I am?  Or is it possible that I feel distanced from Him because, while I'm reading my Bible and praying each day, I'm not actually following where He is leading?

Some days it will feel like we've accomplished nothing.  There will be times we will look back at our week and cringe, regretting the many things we wanted to do but failed to see through.  Sometimes it will feel like all our efforts are in vain.  But remember, feelings are real but not necessarily true.  During these times of frustration, it is imperative that we keep the proper perspective.  God is working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.  It may be one baby step at a time, but as the old Chinese proverbs states, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  Keep walking.  Keep working.  And above all, keep trusting that God is working through you.  That's the proper perspective, and it makes all the difference in the world!

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. - Galatians 6:9

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just One More Thing

A few days ago, my sweet husband had a frustrating appointment.  He was scheduled to clean a couple of chairs and possibly one room of carpet at 5:00 in the evening (the time he's supposed to get off--notice I said "supposed to").  Anyway, as he was cleaning, the lady asked if he had time to do the sofa as well and then the carpet in another room and then another.  Trying to plan dinner and unaware of his current "situation," I texted Jason and asked if he had any idea when he was going to be home.  His response was "When this crazy lady stops adding stuff to do.  LOL"  It ended up being a little after 7:30 by the time he got home.  Bless his heart!

The same day, as I was scrolling through Facebook, a friend had posted that she was trying to spend the entire day without asking God for anything.  She stated that every time she was prompted to complain or ask God for something, she instead decided to praise and worship Him.  She claimed that the task had not been easy and that she had been amazed at how many times she had to stop herself from asking for something.  She also declared, however, that her time with the Lord that day had been sweet and that she had had a much easier time keeping a good attitude.

With the way my mind works, I had no trouble intermingling Jason's never-ending appointment with my friend's Facebook status, and I began to wonder how many times I must sound like Jason's client.  "God, just one more thing."  "Lord, while we're chatting, let me ask you this."  "I know I said I'd only ask for one thing today, but I'm in a real pickle, and I can't make it through without you."  Just one more thing. . . over and over again.

Here's the thing:  God doesn't mind us asking for things.  In fact, He encourages it.  How many times in the Bible does it say we should ask?  Many!  So, it's not that God doesn't want us to ask.  It's simply that asking is not all He wants from us.  He wants to hear our praise.  He wants us to just sit and chat with Him.  He wants us to be still and simply dwell in His presence.  Often, we're not good at those parts, but we seem to have the asking part down pat, and so that's all we ever do.  Our prayer times are reduced to a list of wants and needs.  What a shame!  What are we missing out on by not exploring the other avenues of prayer?

Have you ever had your phone ring, checked the caller ID and cringed because you knew that the  person calling was going to ask a favor of you?  How did you know?  Because that's the only time they call!  They never call to chat or to ask how you're doing.  They don't call to encourage or to pray with you.  Nope, every time they call, it's the same thing,  "Hey, I was wondering if you could help me out."  Frustrating, isn't it?  Now think how God must feel when we do the same thing to Him over and over again, day after day.  I don't want God to cringe every time I call upon Him.  I don't want Him to say, "Oh no, it's Dana again. What's she going to complain about now?"  Not that I think God would ever think or say that, but you get the point.

God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him.  He wants to hear our cries.  He wants us to ask for what we need and even for those things we want.  But let's not stop there.  Let's make sure we balance our asking with praising, our petitions with gratitude and our complaints with stillness.  Oh, and just one more thing, let's cherish the time we have with our Heavenly Father.  It truly is precious!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dead Dreams by Emma Right

About the Book: 

For readers 13 to 18.
Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams--of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

About the Author:

Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. When she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one. Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies writing print and radio commercials and she has won several awards, including the prestigious Clio for her ads.

Follow on twitter:

My Review:

I am completely baffled by some of the negative reviews on this book. For the most part, people were upset that the book left you hanging, but that's very common in books these days. Not only that, but I felt the author did a very good job at choosing a place for her ending. It's like the second stage of the story, so it only makes sense that it should be the next book in the series. That's what a series does--it continues where the previous book left off. These reviews make no sense to me. I loved the cliffhanger. Of course, there was the initial "Awe, man!" but that's okay, I've read many books that end like that and while it's a bit frustrating that I can't get the rest of the story right away, it helps build the anticipation for me when I finally do get the next book. If you're like me in that regard, then you'll love this story. If not, steer clear. You have been warned!

I'm not usually into psychological thrillers because I'm not one of those people who likes to be scared. That being said, the storyline of this particular book sounded so compelling that I just had to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The story was more suspenseful than scary, though I will admit that I had to release my grip on my throw a couple of times during some of the more tense scenes. In addition to the suspense, there's a ton of mystery (which is what I usually read). The entire time I was reading I was trying to figure out if people were really who they said they were and what other secrets people were hiding. My brain was spinning the entire time, and honestly, I have no idea what the second book will reveal, but I'm looking forward to reading it.

I think another thing that made me like this book even though I don't usually read books of this type was the fact that the language was clean. I didn't have to skim over words or scenes that I find offensive. Instead, I was left to simply enjoy the story, which I did immensely.

If there was one drawback to the book I would say that there could have been a little more character development. I like to know the characters so well that I can almost guess what they're going to do or say next. I couldn't do this very well in this book. The characters were good, realistic and likable (or unlikable, depending on the character), but I didn't feel there was enough information about them to really know them inside and out. The basics are there, but I'd like to see the author add a little more depth.

All in all, this was an excellent story that didn't take me long to read, which is good since I'm often pressed for time. It was clean, and the plot was both mysterious and compelling. Whether you're a young adult or older, I think you'll love this book, as long as you're prepared to be left in suspense until the next book, which I definitely am!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Prison of Want

I read a compelling devotion this morning about being a prisoner of want. As I meditated on what I had read, I began to think about the many things that I want, and believe it or not, I was amused. Why? Simply because of the list of things that popped into my head when I thought about my many desires in life. Here are just a few:

I want a fatter wallet and a thinner body.
I want more family time and less stress.
I want more income and less work.
I want a higher status and a lower amount of pride.
I want greater strength and fewer struggles.
I want warmer temperatures in the winter and cooler temperatures in the summer.

More, less. Greater, fewer. Warmer, cooler. In short, I don't know what I want. And when you boil it all down, it seems like I want the exact opposite of what I have. I want something for nothing and to be someone I'm not. As these thoughts rolled around in my head this morning, I was reminded of a verse that has popped up quite frequently of late.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. – Psalm 27:4
This verse reminds me that it's okay to have desires, as long as those desires are the proper ones. We spend so much time and energy seeking after the things in this life that we think will make us happy when all along the only thing that can give us true joy is readily available. Instead of seeking for wealth, fame, time or energy, we should devote all of our resources to seeking the Lord and His will for our lives. According to Matthew 6, when we do, everything else will fall into its proper place.

Are you living in a prison of want today? Do you feel burdened by the things that you don't have? If so, may I remind you that Jesus is not only the source of joy but joy itself.  The Lord is our Shepherd. What else could we possibly desire? How can we live in the prison of want when Jesus has provided all that we need and more?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Practicing What I Preach

If you haven't read yesterday's post about Hannah, you might want to do that before reading today's post.  Things will make much more sense.

Yesterday's post was actually typed out and scheduled last Friday.  By keeping ahead in my posts, I can be sure the devotions go out first thing in the morning so people can read them before they go to work or with their morning coffee or whatever.  Anyway, when I wrote the post on Friday, I was in a particular frame of mind--one focused on my husband's current job situation and the frustration resulting from that.  I received great encouragement from the post about Hannah that God gave me on Friday, but it seems the lesson didn't stick with me very long.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to be a vendor at a large ladies meeting.  I was excited and hopeful that I would sell a lot of products to recoup the money I had spent to purchase them in the first place. (News flash:  authors do NOT get their books for free.  We have to pay for them just like you do.)  Anyway, I felt sure that God had opened this door for me, so I was expecting big results.

When we arrived at the meeting and found out that they were expecting over 250 ladies to be there, I began to worry that I might not have packed enough books.  As knots formed in my stomach, I resolved that I was not going to worry about it.  I had business cards with me.  If I ran out of products, I could direct the women where to go to purchase them online.  "It's all in God's hands," I declared.  Unfortunately, God wasn't thinking the same thing I was thinking.

When I got home Saturday evening, Jason helped to unload my materials, table, rack, etc. from the car.  When he lifted the rolling suitcase that contained my books, he jokingly remarked, "It's supposed to be lighter."  I knew he was joking, but I had contained my tears for the entire two-hour car ride home, and I could not contain them any longer.  As the tears streamed down my face, I detailed the full extent of my day's failure:  I had only sold four books.  Two hundred fifty ladies, four books.  You do the math. 

Not what I had in mind!  Not at all what I had expected!  I expected to run out of books, not to have to haul them all back home with me.  As I unloaded my bags that night, I kept thinking, All that work!  All that time!  All that effort!  And all that money!!!!!  For what?  Seriously, God, I don't understand this at all.

At church on Sunday, my supportive church family were eager to find out how I did on Saturday.  Each time I had to answer that question, I felt more and more like a failure.  I was frustrated, embarrassed and confused, not to mention extremely disappointed.  By last night, I was in such a low place that I wasn't sure I'd ever rise up again.

But then I read Monday's blog post about Hannah, and God revealed to me what I had forgotten over the weekend.  Remember how Hannah felt like a failure too?  Remember how her name means grace but that it didn't seem like God was really doing her any favors?  God drove Hannah to the point of desperation, not only to answer Hannah's prayers, but also to bless many others in the process.  In conclusion, I stated that it all boiled down to grace or greed.  Grace to accept that God is working through those dark times to work a bigger miracle, or greed that doesn't care whether or not anyone else is blessed as long as I get what I want.  This weekend, I had chosen greed without even realizing what I was doing.  God had given me the devotion on Friday to prepare me for Saturday's disappointment, but I was so distracted by my own desires that I completely let it slip my mind.

As I read the last sentences of the devotion, I cringed.  "I see grace.  What do you see?"  What do I see?  Someone who wasn't practicing what she was preaching.  God has called me to write devotions that bring honor to Him and encourage fellow Christians, but sometimes I think the person that needs them the most is me!  It's painful when my own words come back to bite me in the bottom, but sometimes that's what it takes to get me to pay attention to what God's trying to do.  The lesson about Hannah was no accident.  The timing was not coincidental.  God is working in my life, and it's time I pay more attention to what He's doing and less to what I think should be done.  It really is better that way. . .and much less selfish!

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. - Psalm 116:5-7

Monday, May 5, 2014

I See Grace

I've been thinking a lot about Hannah this week.  Perhaps it's because that was the topic of my Sunday School lesson last week.  Or perhaps it's because I've been living highlights of the lesson this week, like worshiping even when things aren't going the way we want them to or praising God before He's even answered our requests.  One of the most interesting things I discovered while preparing for my lesson is that the name Hannah means "grace."  I didn't realize that, but what I found out was that one has to read the entire story to truly see that grace.  Let me explain.

And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.  - I Samuel 1:4-5

Did you catch that?  The Lord shut up her womb.  It wasn't an accident.  God did that to her.  That doesn't sound much like grace, does it?  In a time when a woman was considered an outcast and failure if she couldn't bear children, the Lord shut Hannah's womb.  He would not allow her to bear children.  Forgive me, but that sounds a bit cruel, don't you think?

It would if I didn't know God's Word.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  God doesn't intend evil toward us.  He is never evil or unkind.  He doesn't give us what we deserve.  In fact, He goes a step further and gives us way beyond what we deserve.  But sometimes, like in Hannah's case, He denies us the one thing we desire above all else.  Why?  Why would He deny us those things?  Well, in Hannah's case, it was because He had a much bigger plan.

I'm sure you know the story.  Hannah prayed to God and promised that if God would give her a son, she would give Him back to God to be used for the Lord's service.  Thus, Samuel was born.  If you continue on, you'll discover that Samuel was one of Israel's greatest judges.  He ruled the people well and was faithful to God.  He anointed both Saul and David (whose line led to Christ) to be king.  He was a great and mighty man, and thousands were impacted by His faithful service to the Lord.  In addition, Hannah went on to have more children after keeping her promise to return Samuel to the Lord.  So, as you see, God took care of Hannah and many others in the process.

If Hannah had not been barren to begin with, would she have offered her son to God?  If she had borne her children as other women did, would she have made a bargain with God?  I seriously doubt it.  There would have been no need, no motive.  But Hannah's situation drove her to desperate measures, and God used those desperate measures to bless a nation.  God wasn't being cruel by not giving Hannah children.  He had every intention of giving her children, but He wanted her to give Him something first.  Yes, He drove her to the point of desperation, but look at the results.

Do you know what I see?  I see grace.  Grace that gave Hannah more than she deserved.  Grace that bestowed on Israel more than they deserved.  Grace that allowed Samuel to be taught and trained in the ways of the Lord.  And grace that we could read Hannah's story and be encouraged. 

You may be walking through a valley right now, and no matter how hard you try, you can't spot any evidence of God's grace.  Hannah couldn't either until she decided to lay it all on the altar.  Remember God's promise. He loves you and wants what's best for you, but He may be using your situation to bless more than just you.  He may be working on a plan that involves so many others, and while you'll benefit from His grace, you won't be alone.  Will you be selfish and withhold that blessing from others by demanding that God meet your need now, or will you allow Him to work, even if it means driving you to the point of desperation?  Basically, it boils down to grace or greed.

I see grace.  What do you see?

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Short and Sweet Reminder

While at the grocery store, I stood in line with what appeared to be the entire upstate of South Carolina.  "Don't you people have homes or jobs?" I wondered as I hunted for a shorter line.  No such luck!  Determined to be patient, I waited my turn and was thankful that I was only making a small trip to pick up a few items.  As I finally reached the checkout, I pushed my cart forward and noticed the woman behind me.  She, too, was waiting patiently, and in her hands she held a single pack of lunch meat.

"Ma'am," I said, "would you like to go ahead?"  At first she seemed startled, and then her eyes filled with tears.  "Thank you," she said in a rush.  "That's so kind."  She started forward, telling me how she was on her way home from the hospital with her little girl who had just had a chemo treatment.  She had stopped by the store to pick up lunch meat for sandwiches but was in a hurry to get the girl home and comfortable.  My eyes, too, filled with tears, and my heart swelled with joy.  My one simple gesture had given this woman of moment of peace in the midst of an obvious storm in her life.

As she grabbed her bag, she turned back to me, her eyes still glistening and said, "Thank you again."  I smiled and wished her the best.  And for the remainder of the day, I felt happy and lighthearted, like I had made a difference in someone's life.

It doesn't take much.  A simple smile.  An unexpected gesture.  The uncommon occurrence of putting someone else's need before our own.  No, it doesn't take much to make someone's day.  And the funny thing is that usually, the act will make your day too.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Boy, It's Quiet!

Do you ever feel like the times you're trying your hardest to hear the Lord's voice are the same times that He doesn't seem to have anything to say?  You listen.  You strain.  You pray.  You plead.  You cry.  And the response?  Absolute quiet.  No heavenly mutterings.  No internal urgings (unless you count the indigestion from the pizza you had last night).  No spiritual insights or holy promptings.  Just quiet!  During these times, I truly understand the oxymoron "the silence was deafening."  It is.  It's maddening, especially for someone who doesn't like the quiet.

Don't get me wrong, I don't enjoy noise, but I do enjoy some sound.  While working at home, I almost always have music playing in the background.  Different music for different tasks, but music nonetheless.  In my car, the radio is on.  When out walking or hiking, I'm constantly serenaded by the twittering of birds, chirping of insects and the rustle of the myriad of other critters in the vicinity.  It's not noisy, but neither is it silent.  I like it.

To me, there's nothing more frustrating than talking to someone and getting no response.  Not even a grunt.  Not only is it rude, but it leads to confusion.  Is that person ignoring me on purpose, or are they so engrossed in what they're doing that they truly don't hear me?  Sometimes I'll assume the first when, come to find out, it was the latter.  This creates havoc in a relationship, not to mention feelings of frustration and bitterness.

But as much as that bothers me, silence from the Lord is even more frustrating.  Doesn't He promise that if we call on Him, He will answer us and show us great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3)?  Doesn't He say to ask and we'll receive (Matthew 21:22)?  Doesn't the Bible tell us that if we lack wisdom (direction), we can ask of God and He'll show us which way to go (James 1:5)?  Well, I'm calling, but I don't hear or see any answer.  I'm asking, but I've yet to receive a response.  I'm seeking direction, but I still feel so lost.  Why is God so quiet during the times I most need to hear from Him?

After Jason's birthday celebration on Monday, he went back to work to find a disaster awaiting him.  The equipment was broken.  The schedule was a mess.  Appointment information was missing.  All in all, it made for a miserable day.  Unfortunately, the next day wasn't any better.  It absolutely broke my heart to see him so frustrated and fatigued.  We've been praying that the Lord would open the door to another job for him, but so far, all doors have remained firmly shut.  Most days, it's easy to accept those closed doors because I know God is working all things for our good.  But on days like Tuesday and Wednesday, when Jason seems so fragile and close to the breaking point, I can't find any peace with those closed doors.  Instead, I go to the throne room, once again, and plead with God to do something.  The result?  Silence!

As I read my devotions this morning, I was reminded of Samuel who cried out, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth," and I began to cry.  "I'm listening, Lord, but I can't hear anything!"  I waited for an answer, but none came.  So, I came to my office and sat down at my desk to do my blogs.  As I sat staring at the blinking cursor, I had no idea what to write.  I waited.  I prayed.  I thought.  And there was still silence.  Then I knew what today's post needed to be, and it was a lesson for me!

There will be times in this Christian walk when it seems like God is a million miles away.  During those times, our prayers don't seem to reach the ceiling, and our faith flickers like a candle in the wind.  It's dark, lonely and confusing, and because of that, it's easy to forget everything we know about God.  We forget that He's loving and that He's watching out for us.  We forget that He has everything under control.  We forget that He isn't cruel or vindictive.  And above all, we forget that He is faithful.

David did. . . off and on.  Don't believe me?  Read through the Psalms.  Wow, what a roller coaster ride!  But David was close enough to the Lord that even in the midst of his pity parties, something clicked within him and reminded him of God's love and promises.  Take, for example, his tantrum in Psalm 6.  Things are bad.  People are out to get him.  He's upset.  He's cried more tears than he can count.  But notice how he turns things around in verses 8 and 9:   Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.

Those "workers of iniquity" could have been people or even evil spirits.  They could have been negative thoughts and attitudes or possibly all those voices echoing in his head, "God doesn't love you.  Look how He treats you!"  David say, "Go away!  God has heard the voice of my weeping.  He has heard my supplication."  And notice this:  "He will receive my prayer."

I may not have God's answer yet, but that doesn't mean that He hasn't heard.  It doesn't imply that He doesn't care.  He has heard my cry, my weeping and my petition, and while I'm waiting for an answer, I can trust that He's still working. . . even in the quiet!

If you'd like to hear more about David's ups and downs through the Psalms, I believe you would enjoy my audio series, Moodswing Mania, a 6-CD set.  Join David as he journeys through the good times and the bad, and discover how he conquered his moodswings and discouragement.  You can purchase the series here: