Archive | May 2009

POTPOURRI II

Just a few random thoughts from this week:

**********************************************************************************************

I’ve been feeling rather down all week. That’s a little unusual for me. I may have a few “down” moments now and then, but to feel that way all week long is not the norm. I’m usually pretty cheerful and content, and when I do have those occasional blue times I try to count my blessings and be thankful for all the good things in my life. It’s been different this week. I’ve kind of moped around. I was cranky with Bob. I had headaches a couple days. I didn’t feel inspired to write at all. At least I didn’t cry—although I wanted to.

I’m not sure what my problem was. It could have simply been hormones (if you know what I mean) or more likely, the fact that Bob went to Louisiana again this week to help Julie and David with their move. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not jealous that he got to go (for the second time this month!) although I would have loved to have gone, too. I’m actually very happy he could go and help them in areas where they really needed the kind of help he could give. And I don’t feel bad about having to stay home with Robbie. It would be nice if Robbie could travel more easily, but since he can’t it is just something we gladly accept as part of the privilege of having Robbie. I don’t usually get lonely when I am home alone because I have plenty of interests to keep me busy, but this week I couldn’t really get interested in anything, so I was lonely. It bugged me that I didn’t really know why I was down.

We all have mood swings and our ups and downs. I’m glad, though, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God’s love is constant. His kindness is everlasting. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3) My salvation is secure in the work Christ did on the cross for me and I can know for sure that I will spend eternity with Him. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life. (I John 513) His promises are true. His mercy and grace are eternal and great is His faithfulness! It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23) We can be certain of God with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17b)

*
One of my very favorite hymns is Great is Thy Faithfulness. Let’s all praise the Lord right now and sing it together!
*
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
*
Refrain
*
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
*
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
*
Refrain
*
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
*
Refrain
*
There! I feel better already! Don’t you?

**********************************************************************************************

We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers, especially when we are praying for strangers. Julie heard about the answer to one of her prayers like that the other day. When they put their house up for sale in March she had started praying for the people who would buy their house. Several times over the next two months she told me that she was praying that whoever bought their house, whether they were saved or unsaved, would feel the presence and peace of God when they came into their home.

They did not get to meet the buyers, and in fact, even their realtor did not meet or speak to the buyers. She was out of town when the sale went down, and a fellow agent handled the whole thing, dealing only with the buyers’ agent. The other day their realtor Patti was going through old e-mails and came upon one she had tried to respond to several times a few weeks before. The e-mail expressed an interest in buying a house in David and Julie’s neighborhood, but when Patti had tried to get in touch with the people to tell them about Julie and David’s house she never received a reply. She decided to give it one more shot the other day since she had other houses she could show them..

A woman answered the phone and Patti told her she was calling in response to her e-mail. “You’re too late!” the lady replied. “We just bought a house on Amblewood Lane—9750 Amblewood Lane.”

“Why that’s my listing!” Patti exclaimed. “The one I’ve been trying to call you about!”

The lady went on to tell her that they had tried to buy two other houses previously and both sales had fallen through unexpectedly. Just when they were feeling confused and upset and wondering what the Lord was doing, they had stumbled upon David and Julie’s house by accident while looking for a different address and had called their agent to request a showing. “We are so thrilled! We really love that house!” she told Patti. “From the very moment we walked in the front door we truly felt the peace of God in that house!”

When Patti told Julie about those words, Julie said she got goose bumps! She was so excited and rejoiced, not only that her prayer had been answered, but that the Lord let her know that it had been answered.

This little incident had me thinking about a couple things this week. First of all, about answered prayer: We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers. Many times we think that perhaps we’ll find out those things when we get to Heaven, and perhaps we will. What a special blessing, though, when the Lord does allow us to see how He’s worked and how perfect His timing is and how it’s affected the lives of others!

The other thought I had was really more a question: When others walk into my house, do they feel the presence and peace of God within these walls? We are so concerned that the house be neat and clean when company comes, that we have nice refreshments to serve, that the air smells fresh, and sometimes even that the atmosphere is welcoming with candles lit and background music! Those things are all well and good in themselves, but I wonder if I take as much care in making our home a place of refuge and rest, peace and love? Do others sense His Spirit when they walk in my front door, or do they feel tension and discord instead? Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Psalm 127:1) A clean house and Glade airspray can only cover up so much, but when Christ is the center of our home it shows.

The book of Ephesians speaks a great deal about how we ought to live with one another, especially in chapters four, five and six. Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32 kind of sums it up, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. May our homes bring glory to God and peace to all who enter!

*********************************************************************************************

A few months ago my pastor asked me to take on some of the projects neither he nor his staff ever seem to have the time to do—things like doing Powerpoint presentations for his messages each week, researching things on the internet for him, acting as a liaison between him and certain businesses, etc. I was happy to agree. I had asked the Lord to show me how I could serve Him more, since being home with Robbie means I can no longer teach or do other things at the church building. This was a perfect opportunity to serve within my church—from home!

One of the projects Pastor Phil recently asked me to take on was to help him put together some boxed sets of CD’s from two series of messages he had preached in our church the last couple years. What the pastor asked me to do was to listen to all thirty messages from Galatians and the twenty-six messages from Philippians and choose out the dozen or so from each series that I liked best and that I thought gave the best overview of the book. From those he would choose eight that would go into the boxed set. He also wanted me to design the covers for the boxes.

Do you know how long it takes to listen to more than a year’s worth of messages??? I’ve been trying to listen to three a day, although I’ve missed a few days here and there. I finished Galatians this week, and I have to say, it really was a blessing. When I mentioned to Pastor that this project would be good for me since I am only able to go to church on Sunday nights, he laughed and said, “Maybe it’s an overdose!”

Trying to listen to fifty-six messages in only three or four weeks is a lot, but it’s been good medicine for my soul! Getting an overdose like that has just made me appreciate all over again the preciousness of God’s Word and how much we need it for our spiritual growth and health. Proverbs 19:7-11 says, The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

We could all use an overdose of God’s Word from time to time!

Advertisements

LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED

This has been another week of living vicariously for me—this time through my daughter Julie. It’s been quiet here at home with nothing much going on, but I’ve been on pins and needles as Julie and David came down to the wire in trying to sell their house in Shreveport, LA and find another one in Montgomery, AL. David had to report for duty on May 15th, and we had prayed and prayed for months that the Lord would help them sell their house before they arrived in Alabama, if it was His will. They left home on the morning of the 15th with it still unsold, but halfway there, with only a couple hours to go before arriving in Alabama, they received a call that they had a buyer! How we rejoiced and praised and thanked the Lord!

And how we laughed! It seemed to us that God has such a sense of humor! In all the months we had been praying, we’d been saying (and truly trusting in our hearts and minds that it was true!), that He would sell that house in His own time and way. And of course, I, as their mother, was going to the Lord and reminding Him, “Lord, you promised if we commit our paths unto You will give us the desires of our hearts, and I don’t know anyone, who is more committed to you than Julie and David! They deserve this, Lord! They honor and obey and serve You more then anyone I know! Puh-leeeeeease, sell their house before David has to report for duty—uh, if it is Your will, of course, Lord!” (I can’t help myself—right or wrong, I’m a mother!) Anyway, we laughed because it seemed the Lord was saying, “Do you really trust me? Let’s take it right down to the wire, my little children, and really see!” He gave us exactly what we had prayed for, but tested our patience and faith to the very end.

Once they knew the house was sold it gave them the freedom and an open door to go ahead and look for another house while they were there. They only had a few days to search and make a decision before Julie and the kids would have to return to Louisiana. I joined them on the internet in a house hunt for a suitable home to rent. (They decided to rent instead of buy since they are unsure how long they will be stationed there. It could be as long as four years, or as short as two years, and if that were the case they did not want to have to turn around and sell again in just a couple years.) They needed a place that would not only suit them now, but that would also fit a growing family of five or six children when their adoptions go through. There were not a great many homes for rent in their price range and in the areas they needed to look, but once again, at the last minute almost, they found a home that seemed just right for them.

Julie and David had made the decision that if they did not have perfect peace about any of the houses they looked at, they would just forget it until she and the kids could join David in Alabama and they would resume the search then. It would mean having to put their belongings in storage for a time and staying in temporary lodging, but they did not want to rush ahead of the Lord and choose something that might not be His best for them just because they were in a hurry and feeling pressured. The Lord had given each of them, on the same day but individually, the reminder, Be still and know that I am God. They would wait on Him to lead and direct them to the right house in His time.

They did not have a long list of criteria to fill. Basically they just needed a house that would pass the home study as far as size and a safe and healthy environment for the children. They weren’t overly concerned with the age or style of the home, or whether it had updated amenities or if it was “good for entertaining,” etc. In the end, God gave them a house that fit their needs and so much more than they were even asking for or had dreamed of! It is out in the country, newer and updated with granite countertops, commercial grade stainless appliances, brand new carpet, freshly painted throughout, two-story garage/barn, in their price range, great landlords—and with plenty of room for five or six children! Best of all, they had the perfect peace for which they had prayed. Upon speaking with the landlords, they could see how the Lord had prepared that house and sold their home in Shreveport at precisely the right times to coincide with one anther and make it all work out for their good, as Romans 8: 28 tells us.

God is so good always, but when He gives us so much more than we ask for, it is humbling and awe-inspiring. I am delighted with how the Lord has worked this out for Julie and David. How wonderful that they can now move door-to-door! It will be so much easier on the children to leave the home they love, now that they have seen and are looking forward to the new house. Julie is thrilled with the new place and eagerly anticipating making that house into a home for her family. David is happy it is move-in ready and they won’t have to do a thing but carry their things in and set them down.

I’ve thought about this over the week. We have another home we’re looking forward to, also, that is so much more than we could ever dream of! We have a place that is being prepared for us right now. When we finally get there, it will be well worth the wait and there won’t be a thing we’ll have to do to make it just right for us! We can leave our old earthly house behind, with all its problems and shortcomings, and enjoy the perfect home our Father has prepared for us. We won’t be moving any “stuff” with us, either, because He will furnish everything we’ll need. We won’t have to worry about monthly payments. The price has already been paid and all we must do is accept it by faith. When we’re moving, we don’t know, but He does, and when all things are ready He’ll take us there. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

I’m looking forward to my new, perfect home! It’s in the perfect neighborhood, with perfect neighbors and the best of landlords! One of my dad’s favorite hymns was “Mansion Over the Hilltop.”

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below,
A little silver and a little gold;
But in that city where the ransomed will shine,
I want a gold one that’s silver-lined.
*
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;
And someday yonder we will never more wonder,
But walk on streets that are pure as gold.
*
Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely.
I’m not discouraged, I’m heaven bound;
I’m but a pilgrim in search of a city,
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown.
*
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;
And someday yonder we will never more wonder,
But walk on streets that are pure as gold.
Dad’s already waiting for us there, with many of our other loved ones and friends. What a wonderful reunion it will be someday when Jesus calls us home!

CHILD OF MY HEART

Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.
Fleur Conkling Heylinger


My cousin Wendy and her husband, Rick, adopted their second child from Russia this week. I am sooooo thrilled for them! The pictures she sent back are just adorable! He is darling, and in appearance, at least, he will fit in perfectly with their family. Both little Ivan and his big brother Dima are towheads, and remind me of Wendy when she was a little blonde-haired girl. I have no doubt that he will fit in perfectly in every other way, as well. God has put this family together and I know they will grow in love and faith together. What a wonderful blessing for Wendy and Rick to have two precious little boys now as their sons—and of, course, what a miracle for these children to be lifted from life in a Russian orphanage and placed into a loving, safe home where they will have a mommy and daddy to love them and care for them, provide for them and protect them! I know they will grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and, most precious gift of all—they will hear about Jesus and have the opportunity to accept Him as their Savior.

Julie and David are still on their adoption journey, and although it’s already been a long road, it is far from over. They did not know when they applied to adopt from El Salvador that things were grinding to a halt in the international adoption agencies there. After being at a complete standstill for over a year and a half, things are finally moving again and a few couples are being approved. It could still be another one to two years yet before David and Julie get the children for whom they have been praying. The Lord knows when that time will come, and who the little ones are that He will place into their family, and in the meantime they—and we—will wait patiently on Him and continue to pray for them. I don’t think I have ever known a couple who are better suited to adopting than Julie and David. They are so loving and compassionate and giving, and they have done a beautiful job so far of raising the three they already have. They have a heart for children and are hoping when David retires from the Air Force in a few years that the Lord will lead them into missions in some kind of orphan ministry.

I get excited when I hear about someone who wants to adopt! I know from my own experience the true, wonderful blessing it can be. I have thanked God every single day for giving us the beautiful gift of Robbie in our lives. I know to some people it may appear to be more of a burden than a blessing, but I can say from the bottom of my heart that I have never, ever regretted for a single moment adopting Robbie. He has enriched our lives every day with love, laughter, joy and fun! Having him has taught us things like patience, acceptance, faith and unconditional love. The Lord used Robbie to mold us into servants for Him, and to help his sisters to grow into beautifully nurturing, compassionate and responsible women. Of course there have been tears and frustrations, fears and emotional trauma as we faced almost losing him several times, but those have been growing times, as well, and precious times of drawing closer to the Lord.

From the moment Robbie became our child we loved and accepted him in exactly the same way we loved and accepted our daughters. There has never been a difference in our minds or hearts in the way we felt about him. I know Wendy and Rick have loved Dima just as deeply as if he were his son by birth, and they will love little Ivan that way, as well. When the time comes, Julie and David will love their new little ones just as fully and unconditionally as they love Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah. The little poem above says it best. Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but a child of my heart. Another poem called The Gift of Life says,

I didn’t give you the gift of life,

But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you the gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
Unknown


I would change one word in that—GOD gave me the gift of you. Nevertheless, the thought is the same—the love we feel for our adopted children is as deep and real as if we had given birth to them ourselves.

Did you know that we are adopted by God as his children and joint heirs with Christ? Galatians 4:4-7 says, But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Not only has He loved us with an unconditional love, so deeply that He was willing to pay the ultimate price of His Son, but He has given us the standing with all the rights and privileges of Jesus Himself as a joint heir with Him!

In Bible times a child by birth did not have any more rights than one of his father’s servants. He became an heir of his father, however, when he became an adult and was legally “adopted” as his son. When the Lord adopts us as His children we are not just stepchildren, or foster kids or “second class” children, but we have the same full love, acceptance, position and inheritance as His beloved Son, Jesus Christ! Amazing!

It is not easy to adopt, these days, either domestically or internationally. It can take a long, long time. I am shocked at how quickly Wendy and Rick’s adoptions went through. That is not the norm for most countries. It is also horribly expensive. By the time it is all said and done, Julie and David will have probably spent at least $40,000 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rick and Wendy have spent even more for their two adoptions. The cost of adoption is high in so many other ways, as well. It takes a very strong desire, an extreme amount of commitment, hard work and perseverance, a willingness to endure the emotional roller coaster, courage, deep faith and most of all, unending love to adopt. It was a whole lot easier when we adopted Robbie thirty-three years ago! The costs are worth it, though—a thousand times over. To have a child of the heart—priceless!

To be adopted as a child of God—eternally priceless!

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER

Today is Mother’s Day. My mom is out of town, on vacation in Florida with two of my sisters and my brother. We girls had a great time last Sunday, though, when we all went out to eat at a beautiful restaurant with lots of atmosphere and good food. We had such a nice time that we’re thinking we may make that our new Mother’s Day tradition – leave the husbands and kids at home the week before Mother’s Day and treat ourselves to something special!

It turns out that Bob suddenly went out of town, too, this weekend. Julie and David had a problem suddenly pop up in their house and Bob drove down to Shreveport, Louisiana to help them. Their house is still on the market and David has to leave this Thursday for Montgomery, Alabama. Of all times to discover a leak going on inside the wall behind their shower! David has to take down part of that wall, fix the leak and then repair the wall, including dry wall, stucco, and paint. David’s never done most of that and Bob felt that since he happened to have a four day weekend off anyway, and they are in such a tight spot, he should make a quick trip down there to help him. They’ll have only two days to get it done, make it look “perfect” and get the house back on the market again.

So now it’s just Robbie and me here on Mother’s Day. I’m sure I’ll get calls from Laurie in Ecuador and Julie in Louisiana, and hopefully from my hubby, too! I’ll play the harmonica for Robbie and he’ll give me lots of lovin’. It will be a fine day because I am glad that Bob could help the kids, my mom can take a nice vacation and my girls are right where the Lord wants them!

I have a terrible memory when it comes to my childhood, teen years, or even my children’s childhood days. There are certain things that stick out, though, in my mind. Many of those things are lessons my mother taught me (or tried to teach me) either by word or example.

Mom tried to teach me that naps are a good thing. She’d lie down beside me at naptime and fall asleep herself—or so I thought. I would ever so carefully try to slither down the length of the bed and sneak away—only to feel a hand grab my ankle and pull me back. Never could figure out how she did that. To this day, I still don’t like taking naps.

My mother tried to teach me to like rutabaga. That never happened, and never will—not for me or any of my siblings, either! Her idea was that at least we ought to try different vegetables. Why we had to be exposed to rutabaga so many times, though, I do not know! As hard as she tried, I never learned to like rutabaga, or brussels sprouts or squash, either, for that matter!

Mom tried to teach me to make a perfect pie crust. Nobody makes a better pie crust than my mother! The pie-making genes skipped me, though, for no matter how many times she tried to tell me, or even show me, I never did learn to make a pie crust like hers. My girls both learned that talent from their grandma, though—and so did their husbands! At least we are assured that Mom’s apple pies will continue through the next generation, even if the gift does not come through me!

My mother tried to teach me to cook anything. The day after I got my engagement ring she said it was time I learned to cook. The first thing I was supposed to cook was something simple—tacos. Well, three hours and four pounds of hamburger later (I burnt –and I mean burnt — the first two pounds) I finally had supper made. That was when she informed me that I could learn to cook on my husband.

I actually did learn many other things from my mother, though. Mom was a good whistler, and I’ve followed in her footsteps, whistling as I go about the house, or singing as I do my work. She would be the first to tell you she wasn’t a great singer, but she loved the old hymns and often sang as she washed dishes or did the other housework. My mother was naturally an optimistic and cheerful person. She had a sense of humor and would laugh first of all at herself. I’m the same way.

My mother was, and still is, a reader. Now that she has more time to herself, I would say that she is a voracious reader. She has a library of thousands of books, and her friends and family regularly borrow books from her as if she actually were a real lending library! I learned my love for books and reading from her, and I am so happy to say that both my girls and all my grandchildren have acquired that same love.

And then there were so many other things she taught me that would become lessons for life…

My mother taught me to praise the Lord in everything. Cheree and I were in an accident once when we were riding home from a winter retreat on the church bus. It was snowing hard when the bus tipped over going down the entrance ramp to the highway. No one was seriously hurt, however, and we were all taken to a nearby coffee shop to wait for another bus to come and get us. I called my mother to tell her what had happened, and as I did, I started to cry. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “No one was hurt. You should be praising the Lord!” I’m sure she must have been shaken a little by my phone call, but she did not let on to me if she was. It was a lesson she would teach me – to praise and thank the Lord always.

She taught me to love and trust the Lord. From the time we were very small she made sure we got to Sunday School, even when it meant riding the bus with us herself. She was always an example to us of faith and faithfulness and frequently would remind us of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” There is no better teacher than a role model, and my mother was that, indeed. I have always looked upon my mother as a woman of strong faith and a prayer warrior and hoped and prayed I would be a woman of faith like her.

I always wanted to be a mother like her, also. There was never a doubt that she loved us and would do anything she could to help us, but she believed in discipline, too, and we could be sure if we messed up she would be there to correct us so that we didn’t soon forget. I remember a time when I was 13 years old and I was spending the night at a friend’s house. She had done something wrong and her mother was quite upset with her. She came in and in a sweet, gentle voice said, “Now, dear, you shouldn’t have done that!” She gave her a tiny little tap with a fly swatter. My friend laughed in her face and made fun of her. I remember thinking then, as a very young teenager, how wrong that was and how I wanted to be a mother like my mother. She might spank or yell, but she disciplined because she loved us and wanted us to grow up into responsible, good people. My friend messed up her life, and as a result messed up her kids’ lives, also. My mother’s discipline paid off.

She taught us to love the Lord, and she taught us to love others, too, by her example. She is always a thoughtful friend and steps in when she sees a need with which she can help. She is generous and caring and always there for her family, and friends and neighbors, too. Her compassion for others taught me a lot even before we got Robbie, and helped to make our hearts open to having a child with special needs.

There are so many other lessons I learned from my mother – lessons on forgiveness, responsibility, perseverance, doing the right thing, standing for your convictions… She was the heart of our home, as children, and is still the frosting that holds us all together! (Bet you thought I was going to say glue, didn’t you?) I know she’s set aside photographs and special mementos for each of us to have some day. There are traditions she began in our family that still are a part of our lives and will continue through the next generations as well. Those things are precious and treasured heirlooms, but the things I will cherish most, and hope to pass on to my own children and grandchildren, are the lessons I learned from my mother.

Proverbs 31 describes The Virtuous Woman. It says, “Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:25-31) That’s my mother, and I am rising up and praising her in the gates today!

Thank you, Mom, for the lessons learned.

*********************************************************************************************

Update — The day turned out to be even nicer than I thought it would and I wanted to share it with you!

First of all, the plumbing problem at Julie and David’s was not what they thought it was and they did not have to tear into a wall after all! It was a cracked drain pipe in the shower that was easily fixed in one day with no destruction to the house. That is a huge praise! Bob got to enjoy the day with the kids and will head for home tomorrow. Julie was honored in her church as “Mother of the Year” and they said some very nice things about her, presented her with a beautiful plaque and flowers, etc. I’m so glad Bob got to be there to hear that!

Then, I got to WebCam with Laurie’s family this morning and will WebCam with Julie’s family and Bob tonight. That’s even better than a phone call!

Mom called from Florida a couple times and it was good to talk to her, too. I can’t wait for her to read this blog!

The biggest surprise, though, was that my nephew Steven brought lunch and a card over for me and stayed to visit quite a while bcause he knew I was going to be alone on Mother’s Day! Isn’t that so sweet?

What a happy day!

REJECTED—BUT NOT DEJECTED

I received another rejection letter this week—my second in my quest for publication. {{Big Sigh.}} I don’t handle rejection well, I’m afraid. My self-confidence plummets. I start believing that I am delusional; just kidding myself that I can really write. My determination to pursue publishing my work slips away and I want to just forget it and concentrate on writing for the pleasure of it and for the two dozen or so young readers who already love my books.
*
I confess, I was dejected when I got that letter of rejection—for about eight or nine hours. I cried. I moped around. I told Robbie, “Mommy’s sad today,” hoping for a little sympathy from him, I guess. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get any sympathy from Bob, either—just a pep talk to keep at it. I didn’t really want to hear that just then.
*
Maybe I would have handled it better if I hadn’t received a critique, as well, from the associate editor who had read my manuscript. At first I was excited that she had sent it. I don’t believe that is the norm—they usually send a letter that says thanks, but no thanks, and that is it. She had taken the time to actually critique my work, however, and send me a list of suggestions on how to improve it. I don’t have a problem at all with constructive criticism and trying to learn from it. The more I read it, though, the more disheartened I became.
*
The manuscript I sent was for the first book in my Noble Heart series. (For those of you who have read the first edition of this book, I had added two more chapters and pumped it up a bit all the way through in this revision.) The editor didn’t have anything positive to say about it. The plot, she said, needed more tension. The major criticism of the characters was that some of them were too flat (i.e. “Noble – Just as his name implies, Noble’s heart is in the right place and he always says and does the right thing. A perfect person doesn’t need to grow; therefore Noble is a flat character.”)
*
I understood most of the criticisms, and plan take them to heart and work on those problems. I had reasons and had made a conscious decision, however, in some of those areas to write the way I did because I wanted the plot or character written precisely that way. For example, I wanted Noble to be “noble” and of high character and a good role model. He did struggle with loneliness and fear in this book, and I thought he did grow in his faith, but perhaps I did not write that part strongly enough. Perhaps the plot did not have enough tension because I don’t want a lot of violence in my books. I will have to work on other ways to increase the suspense, I guess. I was not trying to make excuses, but just thinking through the reasons I wrote the characters and plot the way I did. There was actually only one critique that I thought was off base and that was when she said Noble had had only one encounter with his enemies before the climax of the book. That was not true—he had numerous clashes with them before the climax, but apparently she forgot that.
*
I know I probably sound defensive, and I suppose I am a bit. Writing a book is like having a child—when you’ve given it your all for months and have finally finished what you think is something beautiful, you’re proud of it and will defend it like a mama bear! So, although I was actually grateful for her critique and hope to learn from it, it was a little hard to take, too.
*
As I said, I was down and dejected. A couple things happened later that evening, though, that turned me around. One of them was receiving an encouraging e-mail from another author who has been published. He was the one who had put me in touch with the publisher, so when I finally heard from them, I e-mailed him to let him know about the rejection. He had a number of things to say to encourage me, including telling me about the dozens of rejections he had received. Then he said, “Never let a rejection discourage you. It should challenge you.” That was just what I needed to hear. Then he went on to tell me that the all time best selling series ever written, Chicken Soup for the Soul, was rejected by no less than 49 publishers! I know I don’t have the fortitude to stick to it through 49 rejections, but maybe I could handle a few more, after all.
*
The second thing that happened was a conversation I had on the phone with my granddaughter Sara. I had just told her about the rejection letter, and was about to tell her that I was not going to pursue trying to publish that book. Before I could get the words out, though, she said, “Grandma, I am so proud of you that you keep trying anyway to get your work published!” Whoops! How could I disappoint my grandchild, or have her think less of me because I quit? I had to start re-thinking my feelings about this. It lifted my spirits to have her voice such confidence in me, when I didn’t have that confidence myself.
*
So, rejected I may be, but I’m no longer feeling dejected. I will pick myself up and try again, if not with this series, then with one of my others. For now, I have to finish the book I am working on before I can get involved with sending another manuscript off. Trying to get published takes a lot of time and hard work—time and effort I need to and would much rather put into writing creatively.
*
This experience, though, had me thinking about how often we are tempted to quit when things don’t go our way, or someone criticizes us, or we feel inadequate. My mother used to often tell me that I came from good, strong, pioneer stock. Pioneers who didn’t quit when things got tough, but who pressed on; pioneers whose backbones were made of determination, perseverance and resolve. They shouldered their responsibilities, they fulfilled their obligations, they did their duty. My pioneer ancestors endured the hard times and setbacks, they rose above the obstacles and failures, they did their best and they didn’t quit.
*
Those good, hardy genes run within me. I feel the spirit of those pioneers who have gone before me, and yet there are often times when I am tempted to quit. The important thing is not to give into that temptation. The Lord gives us encouragement and strength in His Word when we feel weak and disheartened. We must not quit:
*
When things don’t go our way – Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT) Did it ever occur to us that all these hopes and dreams and plans we have for ourselves may not be the even more wonderful plans that God has for us instead? We wonder why the Lord doesn’t bring us what we want when He has something better in store for us. His plan may not include the worldly acclaim or wealth that we envision as symbols of our success. His plans for us may be humble and small and not recognized by anyone else, but great in His eyes when we obediently and faithfully fulfill His will for our lives.
*
To tell the truth, I don’t really care if my books are published or not as long as they are used by the Lord somehow in the lives of the kids who read them. I have felt for some time that, above all, I want my writing to be a ministry for His honor and glory. Oh, the money, earthly success, seeing my name in print in the bookstores and being able to say that I am not only an author, but a published author, would be nice, but they rank far, far below my desire to have my work be a ministry first and foremost. If He wants me to use my writing for Him as a ministry, then it is up to Him how large or small that ministry is. He will open doors if He wants me to reach more people.
*
From the time I was a little child Proverbs 3:5, 6 was special to me. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me. I just have to trust Him, follow His path for me and not quit. Someday I hope to hear His words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
*
When we are criticized – Criticism, even constructive criticism, is often hard to take. Our pride may be hurt. Our defenses rise up and our self-esteem goes down. We are tempted to rush to react or respond; sometimes in negative ways. We may even want to quit.
*
There are many times when the criticism we receive is unjustified, undeserved or even untrue. I think at those times we just have to shrug it off and remember that God alone is our judge. He knows our heart and our motives. Remember Job and his so-called friends? They had no idea what the Lord was doing in Job’s life, or why He allowed all those things to happen, but they sat back and oh, so self-righteously shot off their mouths, giving their opinions and advice. They themselves were just as much a part of the trials Job was going through as the rest of it. It is at those times that we need to simply remember that His Word tells us, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31.)
*
There are other times, however, when we need to listen to constructive criticism and learn from it. Sure, I was not happy about the list of criticisms I received from that editor, but I would be a fool not to pay attention and try to learn something from them. In fact Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 19:20 backs that up, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” Forget the hit to our pride. Learn, grow and go one. Don’t quit.
*
When we feel inadequate – This is the hardest one for me to overcome. I have struggled with self-esteem issues most of my life. When you feel that you’ve failed in the past, when your sisters all have wonderful careers and you are “just a housewife,” when you’re struggling with weight, etc., it’s really easy to feel that you just don’t measure up.
*
We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. God made us just the way we are and set each of us on our own unique path. His creation (us) was good and His plans for us are good. If nothing else can lift our self-esteem, these words ought to: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” (Psalm 139:17, 18) He is always thinking of us, always loving us. If He thinks we’re worth that much, why shouldn’t we realize our worth, too? We need to see ourselves the way God sees as—as His children who are of such infinite value and worth that He gave His Son for us. That is precious, isn’t it?
*
Okay, this is where I have to confess—I do have an ego! I still burst out laughing out loud sometimes after re-reading something I’ve written for the tenth time. I can still move myself to tears at something I’ve written that tugs at the heartstrings. Boy, if that isn’t egotistical, I don’t know what is! My self-confidence when it comes to writing, however, is fragile. Criticism, or even the lack of any feedback, starts me questioning if I’m really good enough or if I’m just kidding myself. Like a lot of men I know, my ego needs to be stroked a lot. 🙂 (Just kidding, Honey!) Thank goodness, my grandchildren are really great at that! It is the self-doubt and lack of confidence that brings me down.
*
The Bible has something to say about that, too. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” If this truly is a ministry that He has called me to, then I don’t need self-confidence—I just need to put my confidence in Him! He has promised to work in me and through me until His work for me here is over. We are told in Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” How simple is that? Place my work in His hands, trust Him with it, and let Him do what He wills with it!
*
We cannot allow blows to our ego, hits to our pride or knocks to our self-confidence (whatever you want to call it!) discourage us from the work He has called us to do! We need to pick ourselves up and get right back to work! Just don’t quit!
*
Keep on “keeping on!” Philippians 3:13, 14 says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Forget about the past failures. Forget about the past successes! We are to reach for the work that God has called us to do; to press on and not quit.
*
The pastor I grew up with for over twenty-five years was fond of a poem called Don’t Quit and every once and a while he would pull it out and use it with one of his messages. Lo, and behold—I was able to find it on the internet in about two seconds flat! Here it is. Although I did not write it, it is a little inspiration for all of us from my past:

DON’T QUIT
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about.
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
– Author unknown –