Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Word Says It All

One of my fave places to praise Jesus
A short time ago I visited a multi-ethnic Christian women's event where several languages (besides English) were spoken.

Because multiple interpreters were often speaking at once, it was occasionally chaotic, sometimes cacophonous, always interesting, and never more fun.

Forbearance was abundant. Everyone there wore their patience and kindness like a beautiful faith necklace ("Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder" Proverbs 3:3, NLT).

And one thing stood out to me as we expressed our own Jesus-joy in worship. We were all praising Papa God in different languages, sometimes singing words we didn't understand, or listening to the Bible read in a foreign tongue.

Yet we had one thing in common. It was a word that we all began to say in unison while smiling from ear-to-ear when it became apparent that regardless of our nationality, each of us shared this one common bond of worship: Hallelujah.

Go figure. Hallelujah is the same in every language.

By definition, hallelujah is the term used to express praise, joy, and gratitude. And by dingies, we expressed all those things, all wrapped tightly up in one says-it-all word. Hallelujah.

Until that day, I believe I've always taken hallelujah for granted. It was just another faith-speak term like "Thank Heavens" or "Praise the Lord" or "Have Mercy!"  But no longer. That word is special to me now, because I know that whenever I say it, thousands of my soul sisters and brothers across the globe are saying it too, and our hearts are bound together in one timeless, bottomless, boundary-less expression of praise to our Papa.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fabulous New Contest!

Summer 2014: Baby Blessings Shower

The Babies Are Arriving!

As you may have heard, my book Too Blessed to be Stressed has been busy birthing offspring; I call them my Baby Blessings. So far, the bouncing bundles of joy include:

Too Blessed to be Stressed 2014 Planner

Too Blessed to be Stressed Perpetual Calendar Too Blessed to Be Stressed Perpetual Calendar

Muy Bendecida Para Estar Estresada (Spanish translation) Too Blessed to be Stressed (Spanish)
The Bible Promise Book: Too Blessed to be Stressed Edition
Too Blessed to Be Stressed - Promise Book

Due next in July is the Too Blessed to be Stressed 2015 Planner and in September, the Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal, which is a hard cover version of the original paperback with additional space for Too Blessed to be Stressed 2015 Planneranswering “Let’s Decom-Stress” reflection questions and journaling. I’m planning cool contests to give away copies of each one to celebrate their birthdays, so be sure to subscribe to my blog to find out about all the freebies as the news breaks!
In the meantime, I’m throwing a baby shower in reverse! That means I give YOU gifts to celebrate! Keep reading …

A Baby Shower Like No Other

In celebration of my Baby Blessings, I want to see yours! Just shoot me an e-photo of your cherished baby (human, 4-legged or even 4-wheeled) on my CONTACT page by August 8th and you’ll be entered in the drawing to win the Baby Blessing (listed above) of your choice. Winning photos will be posted on my blog in mid-August.

So start snapping those baby photos and send a few my way! Can't wait to see 'em! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Hero is a Snail

A monstrous handful of snail
I was hiking a mountain trail last week when something stopped me in my tracks. It was a sight I truly didn't expect to see.

There, at more than 4,000 feet above sea level, a snail was painstakingly making its way across the gravel road (thankfully it was only a fraction the size of the whopper in the picture).

What in the world was a sea creature doing way up here?

Fascinated, I stopped to watch the little guy's tedious journey as he encountered obstacle after obstacle. (It was, after all, a gravel road.) His little neck stretched out as far as possible, his two antlers (or maybe they're called feelers) probed the gravel rocks - the side of a boulder from his perspective - blocking his way.

After careful analysis, he decided on his best route and gradually, by the teensy-tiniest increments, detoured to the left or to the right around the roadblock. He'd stick his long neck out, then constrict it, which effectively dragged his gigantic safe house after him.

If something spooked him (like a giant named Deb poking around), he immediately retreated into his safe house. At least he thought it was. Safe. I cringed when I thought of what a passing car would do to his place of refuge. Pulverize is putting it mildly. Probably a good thing he didn't know about cars; he might never venture from the bushes.

And then I thought about myself and how so many things scare me enough that I don't want to venture from the bushes either. I'd rather curl up in my (perceived) safe place surrounded by my comfortable shell.

But Papa God didn't create us to cower. We were made to journey. To cross dangerous roads. To stick our necks out, probe with our feelers, and reroute around the boulder blocking our path. Stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward. And to sometimes do it in places w-a-y out of our comfort zone; places we feel like we don't belong, places 4,000 feet above our natural habitat.

That's pretty much how my writing journey feels most days. Like I'm w-a-y out of my habitat. My feelers get a real workout trying to figure out a route around obstacles I've never encountered before, some I never knew existed.

And my safe house doesn't drag as well as it used to. Or maybe my neck's getting tired.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I drew inspiration from my little snail friend. He just kept on. Stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward.

Two hours later when I backtracked to check his progress, he was still doing it. Only now he was almost across the road. And that's where I want to be too.

So what's your goal? What motivates you to keep stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Worthless Versus Priceless

I mop the sweat from my forehead with the already soggy sweatband on my wrist. Summer tennis has it's downs.

But it has its ups too - like fresh air, sunshine, much needed exercise, and that dear little buttercup over there by the net post one court over. Yep, growing in the middle of a sea of pavement on these hard courts, that little sweetie has overcome the odds to sprout in a crack the size of a thimble to bring cheer to my day.

Every time I switch sides of the court, I make it a point to pass by the happy yellow plant and draw inspiration from its tenacity.

Finally, during the third set, I comment on the buttercup's uplifting presence to the three guys sharing my court. I don't know them, really. We just met on the court this morning and recognized that we were similar skill levels and decided to play together. Their ages range from thirtysomething to near sixty.

Their responses completely flabbergast me.

Man #1: "How did that thing get there? I'll pull it up next time we switch sides."
Man #2: "I have some weed killer in my trunk."
Man #3: "Now why did you have to point that out? It's going to drive me crazy until we rip it out."

What??? Are you kidding me? Every single one of them see that beacon of beauty and courage as an aberration to be uprooted and discarded.

Of course I understand that their experience colors their view - these are all men who have been trained for years by society and their wives to seek and destroy any extraneous entities defacing their immaculate lawns. And I realize that buttercups are, by most standards, considered weeds.

But of that I do NOT agree. My childhood memories are rich with buttercups dotting the field by my house, abundantly present in their magnificent amber glory on dewy summer mornings for me to tenderly caress, hold under my sister's chin to confirm her affinity for butter, and gather in a lovely bouquet to express my everlasting love to my momma.

If that's not the definition of a "real" flower, I don't know what is.

So when these guys can't see anything but nuisance in this clearly delightful creation right from Papa God's own hand, I see that it's my mission to enlighten them.

But alas, they will not be swayed. Especially because there's three of them and one of me.

So we must agree to disagree. It's all a matter of perspective: vexation versus inspiration. Pesky weed versus purveyor of pleasure. Worthless versus priceless. Something that should be eliminated or valued. 

Like so many other times in life, our perspective makes all the difference.

What about you, my friend? How do you see a buttercup?