Fox News TV segment about Joey, a 12 year old boy with type one diabetes and Jake, my diabetic Pro football player son who mentored him. Sweet!
Fox News TV segment about Joey, a 12 year old boy with type one diabetes and Jake, my diabetic Pro football player son who mentored him. Sweet!
What makes a mom proud? Sure, it’s nice to have a son in the NFL, but having a son with type 1 diabetes, who goes out of his way to mentor a young boy with type one who wants to play football…that’s what makes a mom proud.
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Caught up in the busyness of all that encompasses my life, I haven’t blogged much lately. Ministry situations keep my husband (Bishop Leo Michael) and I busy, writing has kept me occupied, but sometimes we grab fun time, too, especially when family and friends visit. Had a great time over the holidays with the kids. (all back in college now.)
Note to self: Don’t take your adult children to toy stores.
In his off-season with the Houston Texans, Jake (left) will finish his classes at the University of Wisconsin and graduate this spring. Congratulations on signing for next season, Jake! And congratulations to Nick (right) on his football scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. (He began this semester). Betsy is back in the US and has returned to college, too.
Speaking of family visits, last week my brother Mark and my lovely sister-in-law Laura, visited from Wisconsin. We had a blast showing them around Kansas City.
Ate barbecue at the famous Arthur Bryants
Visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Could spend days there! Below Mark and Laura playing outside the museum:
Also visited the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, where we crossed over a glass bridge with 9000 poppies underneath, each one representing 1000 lives lost in WWI. (Total of nine million).
After wandering around the museum, we climbed steps to the top of Liberty Memorial Tower, where we took in a lovely view of Kansas City.
Now, I’m settling into some serious writing. Like climbing the stairs to the top of that tower to find spectacular views, writing takes focus and forcing myself, each day, to take the next step toward writing goals, which I’ve set high for 2013. (below my photo from Boulder, Colorado).
Now, I’m doing rewrites on two novels, while working toward a solid first draft of my latest novel, Blank Pages. This new novel takes the main character, Anna, from a low place in the low country of Charleston, South Carolina to lofty Boulder, Colorado.
Blank Pages begins with Anna taking this photograph, lying on a Charleston boardwalk near her home:
I love that my photos from places I visited during ministry tips last year became inspiration for this year’s novel!
Back to the novel:
Hoping by spring, all of us will have climbed a little higher toward our 2013 goals and can stand on the mountaintop and breathe in success. Now, back to Anna and chapter three.
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The world didn’t end, Christmas is over, New Years is past, turned another year older yesterday, and big changes in 2013!
On Sunday, Nick leaves for college on a full football scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Go Rajun Cajuns!!! Go Nick!
Betsy returned from her semester in London and left this morning to return to college. She’s such a sweetie-pie!
We had a lot of fun over the holidays.
But now, it’s back to work and on to exciting changes in our lives. For me: second novel will be sent to the agent before the weekend is over, and I’ll make a few edits to the first, then delve into the third. With the kids busy with their lives, I’m settling down to some serious writing. My goal is to write a lot of books in 2013! The next few weeks will be busy with novel work and probably won’t blog much!
Wishing everyone a blessed 2013!
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It’s Day 4 of Deacon Alfred Sturges’ challenge to read a chapter of Romans each day until Christmas. If you missed earlier chapters, you can find them on this blog under the category of 16 Chapters to Christmas. If you just want to join me for today, that’s fine, too. Here’s the chapter and below is my reflection.
New International Version (NIV)
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath.And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
My thoughts: Still traveling today, on the way to Saint Gabriel’s Anglican Church in Greeley, Colorado for another Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass. Here’s my reflection on Romans 4:
Back to the circumcision, Abraham was “justified” before his circumcision, so again, I’m understanding that matters of faith go deeper than circumcision, works, or other rituals. It comes down to faith. Abraham, it is said, had nothing to boast in the presence of God, but being saved by grace, through faith. Abraham is the spiritual forefather of all believers, an example of obedient faith.
Being a mom, I’ve always struggled with the thought of Abraham being able to obediently follow God to the point of offering his own child. But, I certainly understand the need for our faith to be so submissive to God’s will, that we are able to say (and truly mean), “Okay Lord. I’m offering this situation to You in total faith. May Your Will be done.”
I remember my first real grown-up prayer like that. It was a result of waking up on blood-soaked sheets, cramping in pain. I was three months pregnant. After being admitted in the hospital, the doctor affirmed I was miscarrying. I argued with God. He created me with a super strong maternal nature. I already loved this baby. Why was he taking my first child away? I wanted to be a mom more than anything.
It took one word from a sweet nurse (or maybe she was an angel) to change my argumentative prayers and hopeless wailing into a humble prayer of submission; Hope. The nurse had said, “always have hope.” That was it.
I pondered on that word, then realized that hope meant giving a hopeless situation to God and trusting in the outcome, no matter what the outcome might be. I was scared, sad, and alone in that hospital. I lifted my heart to God and gave the situation to Him completely and wholeheartedly, by some grace. I dedicated the baby to God, placing my unborn, but already loved child in His hands. I prayed, “Whatever the outcome, Lord, I trust that it will be Your will. I trust You completely. Though I will be sad if I miscarry, I will understand that it was Your decision. This baby is Yours Lord.”
Immediately after my Amen, total peace washed over me. The bleeding ceased. I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. The medical staff was shocked. (I never again saw that angelic nurse who seemed more concerned about my emotional and spiritual health than my physical health.)
The outcome of that prayer was fantastic. Jake is a wonderful son and I’m thankful to God for him and for my other two children, Nick and Betsy. I found peace in that moment because I’d submitted this child to God in faith and let go, trusting that only God could help me. God made a decision. It was good. But, I also know the flip-side of the same situation.
A few years after Jake was born, I had a miscarriage. I’d offered a similar prayer and dedicated that baby to the Lord. I also experienced a profound sense of peace with this outcome. I accepted in faith, that this child returned to the Lord. I don’t know why it happened like that. I left it with God. I’ve suffered other great losses and pain in my life, but I trust that God, our Loving Father is always in control. He has given me a profound sense of peace through everything.
Though the rituals (Baptism, Confirmation, etc.) are outward signs of inward grace, making us new creatures in Christ, our complete submissive faith in God in all situations, is what I believe makes us righteousness before God. And of course, doing good “works” would be the natural result of being a Christian, though I don’t believe we are justified by the merits of our own works.
Reading Scripture, (thanks for this challenge Deacon Alfred) helps me understand the promises of Christ, and hold to them through everything.
The last line of this chapter says it all: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
So, we are not justified by the merit of our own works, but by faith in Jesus Christ and his righteousness. We have salvation because of Jesus Christ. Through His death and passion, he paid our debt, discharged us from the guilt and punishment of all our sins. Thanks be to God.
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My days of
wine whine are over. I am truly blessed and humbled by the many caring comments on my last post: Throwing Mountains into the Sea.
Back atcha dear friends with all that love, support, and prayers you showered me with. Now, prepare for a positive post after my previous pessimistic pondering. (I love alliteration).
My new attitude has nothing to do with any fantastic news. Still waiting for that call from my agent that my novel has been sold. Met with Jake. He returned home after being cut from the New Orleans Saints roster when the team acquired a veteran tight-end. We’re waiting to see what’s next for him. Nick is still wondering where he’s going to attend college in a few months. Betsy Boo left us to study in England for a semester. Here she is at 5:15 am at the Kansas City Airport. She Facebook messaged me today that she’s arrived and is enjoying lovely Bath, England.
And my husband and I are still coming and going between Kansas City and Northern Colorado, taking care of churches in both places. So, instead of whining, waiting, and worrying as we watch our wayfaring Prius’ reflection from the back of this semi…somewhere in Kansas…
…I chose to open Rich Maffeo’s: Learning to Lean, Volume 1. Within the pages of this contemplative companion, Maffeo beautifully and faithfully reflects on the storms of life, the travails of faith, and the relationship Jesus wants to have with each of us through it all.
What a book! I give Learning to Lean two full thumbs up. (Thanks for letting me use your thumbs, Betsy)
The author of Learning to Lean, Richard Maffeo, says he was raised in a Jewish home and careened into a life of careless living. Then, he read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. The ancient Jewish prophet spoke of Jesus’ sacrificial death which paid the penalty for our sins. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (NASB).
Maffeo, after delving deep into Scripture, committed himself to the Lord and joined the Evangelical Protestant church before his journey into Catholicism.
Learning to Lean (short meditations mixed with beautiful prose poems) answers the most profound life questions. What might it be like to meet our God on that first day in Heaven? Does Jesus walk with me along my journey? What might the Centurion have felt as he hammered the placard above Jesus’ head? Why do people of faith suffer? What can wash away my sins? What if it had been me lashed to the whipping post, instead of Christ? What does obedience to Jesus look like?
Maffeo’s humbleness in sharing his faith journey, his reverence to God, his knowledge of Scripture, and his well-crafted contemplations will lead readers to the throne of the Almighty, to discover a God of relationships who offers salvation for all through our Lord Jesus’ death on the cross.
I also enjoyed Maffeo’s method for contemplative prayers at the end of the book. He admits it’s more of a relationship than a method, though, and he explains how his maturing in that relationship translates into his prayer process.
I’ve been filled with hope, peace, and joy after reading Richard Maffeo’s Learning to Lean. Also, on my last post, I received many words of wisdom, including these from Doris… “I challenge you to shift the focus of your prayer. Don’t spend a lot of time describing your mountain to the Lord. He knows what it is. Instead, focus your attention on the mountain-mover: his glory, power and faithfulness. Then start walking in faith, following his leading, and watch that mountain step aside.”
Gotta love this support and inspiration we get from one another and from wonderful books, such as Learning to Lean.
So, after all the great advice, and miles of hope and humbling from the pages of Learning to Lean, my husband and I made our way to Northern Colorado, where I decided to quit whining, and you guessed it, learn to lean.
I’m also learning to let go and to not look back. And if I do, the Creator of the Universe, our God, who knows how to create, as well as move mountains, has it all covered.
http://tinyurl.com/mmbtr3 (Rich’s blog)
http://tinyurl.com/6mp9pu9 (Rich Maffeo’s Bible Study in Acts)
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I often text encouraging Bible quotes to my kids. Yesterday, Jake said, “Keep them coming. I like them.” This morning, I found the above Scripture quote and texted it to Jake. It seemed appropriate for a type one diabetic and rookie in the NFL nearing the end of pre-season games (when players face potential cuts due to the league’s 53-man roster limit.)
One reporter, grading the rookies said this about Jake, “His time with the team is about up unless he pulls a miracle out of his hat.”
I wanted to tell that guy that our God is a God of miracles and my son is awesome, but I remembered that Jake is an adult and well, it’d be weird if I texted Bible quotes to reporters or yelled at them. To my kids relief, I swore I wouldn’t call their coaches or interfere in their sports business as soon as they grew bigger than me. (Age eleven for Jake.)
So, in spite of the reporter’s comment and the mountains in his way, Jake assured me he isn’t worried and that he’s entrusted his future to God. After a few more minutes of my preaching, Jake gently suggested I call Betsy or Nick and give them a pep talk. I got the “message” and told him maybe I needed the pep talk myself.
I don’t think anyone has ever thrown a mountain into the sea. It’s one of those Bible quotes that’s really hard to accept because you can’t take it literally. Who can throw a mountain into the sea? But God’s power can move mountains. God’s power can make the impossible become the possible. And prayers matter. And I guess if God wants that mountain to be in the sea, and it needs to be there, He can do it. But the mountain becoming a seafaring vessel and dissapearing on the horizon because of my faith? Hmm…
…though I pray and have peace about my son’s future, I’m flailing in my own troubled sea of uncertainty, wondering if I should continue fiction writing. Can I make it as a novelist? Why am I so uncertain about my future, my life, at my age? Am I such a late bloomer? Why can’t I get it together?
My angst might have something to do with my agent sharing rejection letters from publishers. They are like that reporter not appreciating Jake’s ability.
I understand that Stephen King and many other well-known authors received hundreds of rejections before getting their novels published. Yet, I question myself when I get a rejection, even those my agent calls “thoughtful” ones.
Yes, I have mountains in my way. I question if God really wants me to continue this path. I’ve worked as a journalist and freelance writer and have had some success in nonfiction in the past. Seriously, perhaps I should consider a different path.
It’s not defeatism, I tell myself, but rather contemplating on whether this path is the right one. Maybe it’s a “when a door closes, God opens a window” thing sometimes. Perhaps I should quit beating on this door and look out the window at other options and opportunities. Really, how do we know the difference? Are these mountains meant to be climbed over or throw into the sea or are they blocks God has placed in our way to divert us to where we really need to be?
Jake expressed peace about God’s plan for his life. I know he’s working really hard right now, often exhausted by the physical strength it takes to do what he does, and most likely even more tired of everyone (including me), giving him pep talks.
I am encouraged by his faith, endurance, confidence and willingness to embrace the “now” and the open possibilites of his future. And so, before I turn away from the mountains in my path, I’m going to pray for both of us, considering these lyrics to this wonderful song:
Chorus: Lord move in the way, that I’ve never seen before
Cause there’s a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I’m drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.
Please pray for Jake during this critical time in his life and for my intentions. And if you have a mountain in your way, let me know, comment below, and I’ll pray for you, too. The road toward our goal is often rocky. Dark mountains throw shadows onto our paths and loom mightily before us. It’s scary stuff. We need each other and God to get us through it all. With God, prayer, and support from each other, we can throw mountains into the sea…or at least climb them and reach new heights…and then…perhaps the sun will be shining on the other side. Anything is possible with faith.
Writer ~ Editor ~ Encourager
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.~~Psalm 86:11
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Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us.
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