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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doors...like eyes... are guardians of story.




 Why do they pull me close and still my feet? Why do I photograph them and stare at them and steal other people's door pictures?
     Why do I stop and linger in front of them? What makes me want to sit on their ground and make myself at home? Is it the mark of a life I imagine going through it?  Do I hear whispers calling from the other side? Is a promise waiting to open before me?
      I want just a little peak through the window. 
     No. That's a lie. Let me invade. let me touch , smell, go all the way in. All the way to the back porch where swings and hearts dwell.
     What coaxes me to want to put my hand on the knob and push in without knocking. To simply enter because of the magic waiting and I have the right. I could be fulfilled by something inside. 
     Are doors like eyes into the song of a life? Some shadowed and mascaraed to contend. A pretense. 
     Where in the cracks and holes and peeling paint, things faded, old and broken do I see beauty? What is it about the sight of scarred wood that makes my curiosity run so far and fast that I can't catch it so I just let it go and then wonder what is wrong.


I have a knowing of another side.
Do I want the door to be true? Authentic to its contents.
How many of them like faces with eyes are practiced?  Facades that manage their outcome. Do I really want to hear all of the voices and know all the secrets inside? I think not.



   If my husband had to choose for a door for me which one would it be and why would he choose it? What door would he choose for himself?
     Surely the notes in the songs of my son and daughters would guide and direct them in the door of their choosing? What if I didn't like their thresholds?
     What door would I pick for myself?
     Dont ask me to do that. How could I?
     The charm and notch and knockers and ivy and peep holes and color of each carry mystery and story and I want them all. 
      But God already chose my door and behind it lives my story.
     May my front porch shine with the light of true Glory and when people push inside and see my mess, may they stay long enough and dig deep enough to find love.



















Sunday, December 22, 2013

Confession. It's time

It's a biblical command.
It's good for the soul.
And so... 

A car came into my lane and hit me head on going 40 mph.
Could God have prevented the accident? Yes. But He didn't.
Did God save my life? Yes. I absolutely know that He did.
The man that hit me had no drivers license. It was suspended months ago because he had no insurance. I don't like anything about that. And yet...before I knew any of this, his wife came to the emergency room to tell me that he was sorry and I was blessed.

So now what? 

Is God doing something in the heart of the man who hit me? Will he be held accountable?
Does God have plans for me in the still and quiet season that He set-apart for me while my bones heal.  
I believe the answer to all of these questions is, "Yes."

I don't like the way the pain medication makes me feel. But I hurt and my muscles are sore so I take it. I am irritated and I have no patience. Give me patience Lord.

I pray for Grace. I need lots. I need it for myself. I need it for my husband. He needs it for me. I need it for everyone who loves me and everyone who loves me needs it for me. I am thankful that God gives it in abundance. 

In that abundance, I will find my Euchristeo praise. 

I reel with frustration. I feel helpless, old, weary and weak.
Going to the bathroom, getting something to eat, just getting out of bed is a challenge. 
I see the scars on my husbands face and neck where large chunks of basil cell cancer have been cut from him in the last two weeks and I feel sick. 

And yet...I walk in a season of communion with the Lord like I have never known. I have new eyes.  Spiritual eyes. I see God everywhere. I feel his presence. I really feel it.   

I draw and paint. I hold chalk between my fingers and I see a miracle on the paper. It took a huge step of faith to jump head first into a place I knew nothing about, but now, in the simple act of obedience, I get to see a miracle. 

So I acknowledge God's power and presence in a gift he placed in me for his purpose and my great joy. I can't explain it. There are no words. 

But I know. I see. And I praise.

So I will settle into this place on my "Glory Road" in faith. I trust God's plan. He has proven that he is trustworthy and so even as I struggle and whine and cry, I will also praise. 
    I remind myself of what Jesus took to the cross for me and my portion of suffering becomes inconsequential. I will be restored. 
    And every day I look at the book on my nightstand, "Nineteen days," about the life of Samuel Parkins who died five years ago on Christmas eve but I can't read the book. 
     I know the story. I know what God did through Dan's blog of this time, but the family is precious to us and I know their suffering. I think I don't want to remember.
     Mine is nothing. 
     So it is in this place of perspective that I will settle in. Jesus died for me. God saved my life when the man without a license hit me head on. And God has great plans for the short life of Samuel Parkins. 
     
     May my confession help me walk in the will of my Father. May it be filled with the hope of the Gospel, and may it glorify and bring praise to a God who is present, powerful, and worthy. 

     I love you Lord.     

Ezra 10:11
Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Walker's zipper bag of Praise...

      My girlfriends found me sitting at the top of the four stairs that lead down to our office and the new room that I call home. I was pouting because the zipper broke on the bag that another friend had tied to my walker, and now everything was falling out. I loved being able to take things with me from room to room. Now what was I  going to do?
     "Can we help you find another bag?" One of them asked. "Yes please," I reply, and I tell them where my bag stash is. They get them and go through them carefully trying to find one that compared in size to the one I had tied to the walker with the broken zipper because...
     "I really loved that one, " I told them. "It was the perfect size."
     "Does it have to have a zipper?" One of them asked. 
    "Well...yes."  Duh.  "I tried to get my water cup back from the bedroom with out the zipper and it fell out twice."
     "None of these have a zipper, Pam. I'm sorry."
     "What if we saftey pin it?" another said. 
     Have I mentioned that I am irritated by almost everything. 
     "I don't have a safety pin that big." I was trying hard not to sound as cranky as I felt.
     "Wait a minute!" One of them said as she got up and went outside. 
     Chris came back with the perfect zippered bag.  
     She explained that she uses it for groceries and that it had disappeared recently. She went on to say that she thought it might have been left it in the desert during a recent trip but had found it in her husbands car. 
     Now, here it was in her hand, just for me.
     "It's perfect." I squealed. "But...it's your favorite grocery bag. What if I break this zipper?" 
     "Ahhh," she replied waving the thought away with her hand. "I don't need the zipper."
     And so...irritated and all. I love my friends. I also love that God chose them and put them in my life for such a time as this with the simple gift of a walker bag...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wading through a birthday flood...

My road to glory has had its obstacles, but I did not see this one coming and it flattened me.
I am broken and hurting but I've been here before and I know what to do.
And so...I climb into His lap.

It's familiar and warm and I snuggle in. I'm gonna be here awhile.

He holds me close and whispers reminders. Skies and sunsets and mountaintops and a garden. A death on a cross. Redemption. Grandsons. Promises. Truth. Knowing.

I never thought I'd be in a head on collision at 40 mph by snowcreek golfcourse on my way to Husky Club.

I have 3 fractured ribs, four fractures in three foot bones, and more bruises than I can see but this is nothing compared to what He endured for me.  I dont deserve better, and yet...

He is already at work making beauty from ashes because of a love I can not fathom and He knows that I wrestle with anger because the person who hit me had no drivers license or insurance and He knows I am sad because I loved my car and my phone and they were both destroyed. I say this knowing that these are just "things" and that many people never own a car or a phone and I understand how shallow this sounds and how very blessed I am but the statements and feelings are true all the same and I weep because I know He cares about my anger and my saddness and is at work in my own heart even now because of it.

I can not put my right foot to the ground for 6 weeks and it may need screws and a plate. I will know on Wed. But in this season of change I will get precious and quiet time with Him so I will talk and pray and praise which is a better birthday present than any "thing" of this world could ever be.

My new phone is on its way and so my pictures will follow because I see God everywhere and in the seeing of Him I draw near in worship and the knowing of Him follows this.  It is in this knowing that I can crawl into his lap not having the understanding or answers of why Samuel lived only 19 days or why Seasons precious Kicker was diagnosed with cancer,  but I can settled into his arms in absolute trust of His perfect love and soverign grace over all these things.

So...I sit in His lap. I sit in his lap and wait.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Surgery on my heart...a tough season.


     It was a week before my upcoming surgery, and I was a total mess. The pain in my right eye preventing me from wearing my contact and my reading glasses gave me such intense headaches that I literally couldn’t read anything for days. 
     I had also been diagnosed with one-sided deafness. I'm 78% deaf in my left ear. (This has it's own story) But over this last week, the noisy room full of children, which is usually just hard, has become raging river of echo’s and roars. Chaos inside my head. 
     These things, however, dim compared to what I want to share with you now.    
    Back in Jan. I began to taste weird things in my throat.  When I walked into certain places I could taste metals in my throat. I could taste it in my food for days. Other times, when I was around chemicals, my neck would start to spasm, my throat would constrict, and then my neack and head would ache for hours. 
     It all came to a head in Houston Texas at the Siesta Scripture conference.  I had been memorizing Scripture with the LPM ladies and had been looking forward to a trip to Dallas to see my sister and a then the trip to Houston for months. 
    A few hours into the teaching with Beth Moore at the First Baptist church, I was so sick that I asked my sister to lay hands on me and pray inside their beautiful Chapel.  
     Back in Dallas on Sunday, I went forward At Gateway church for prayer. I was ushered to a precious couple in their eighties, and as I stepped forward, they each reached out to hold one of my hands.  
     I told them I was scared. That something was wrong with me. I remember placing my hand over my throat and picturing nodes of cancer growing there. 
     They spoke simultaneously.  “I think you're having a strong allergic reaction to something." And then they prayed for me.  
     I had never even considered that, but as soon as they spoke the words, my fear fled, and I had great peace. But as the day went on, God reminded me of something I had read in my "Juicing" book but had forgotten about. When I got home I dug out the book. There was one small section that I had highlighted. "Take it slow. I got really sick when I started this. Your organs are going to release their toxins."
     I got more and more sick before I was told that my reaction to chemicals and perfumes was near anaphylactic.  (I know you ladies from Californian won't really get this, but picture with me a very large church in Houston Texas full of beautiful ladies that love hairspray and perfume.) I am smiling now, but I don't wonder any more why I go so sick there.)
     This was something I could deal with, but I was sicker than I had ever been in my life.  I had no energy. I was exhausted.  I could barely do my job and if someone looked me in the eye, I started to weep. I have never been so thankful to be in communion with  women of faith. Their love and prayers kept me going.   
     Then the Wed. morning before my surgery came,  and when I opened my eyes, even before my feet hit the floor, I knew that God had done something amazing. 
     Walking to the bathroom I felt light and energetic. I hadn’t felt that way in months. 
     I put in my contact in.  And that afternoon, the classroom noise was just loud. 
I climbed into bed that night praising God for what He had done. 
     My surgery was scheduled for the following Monday.  
    On Fri., just two days before, I had a deep feeling that the reprieve in my allergic reactions might be just temporary, that I wasn't done with all that yet, but I also told two friends that I believed God was saving me from something.  Something that had to do with my upcoming heart surgery.
    And he did. 
    That part of the story will come in the form of a Memorial stone. A memorial stone that is shaped like my heart. I am going now to dig a deep hole into the ground of remembrance. And for me, it will always be a blister on my back. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

You can't be Serious, Lord! Can you?


     I sent the email out to ten as my heart pounded inside my chest. I could really imagine it now. My, "Great American Novel," might just find it's way.  
     The first page, the one that grabs you, was honed to perfection. 20 years of passion and study had been poured into this artful journey of story, and I could talk about the characters and craft of it all day long.

     The email was me simply holding up my end of a bargain with God. Let me explain. A year and a half earlier, after lots of nudging I finally laid a novel down that I'd spent two years writing because I knew God wasn't happy with it. It wasn't easy, but I knew he was right. I could do a better job honoring him by writing something else. 

     Before too long, I got inspired and began a new book.  In the midst of knocking out the story, I promised God that I would not spend any more time or money attending writers conferences if I wasn't absolutely sure that He was on board. 
    Hence the email. 

     Based on the first 50 pages of my novel, I was one of ten writers chosen for a four-day critique workshop. Over a hundred had applied. This would take place in conjunction with the largest Christian writers conference in the country. Wow.
     There was little doubt in my mind that God had opened this door for me out of my obedience to him, but the promise I made came back to me so I wanted to be sure.  
     
    In the email I asked  ten friends and family members to pray for me about whether or not I should attend the conference. I asked them that if they felt strongly one way or another afterward to let me know.  Now, I would wait for all the enthusiastic ,"Yes's" to come for confirmation. 

     I looked at the computer screen and noticed that two people had already replied. Hoe awesome is this, I thought as I opened the email. 
     The first reply was from my sister. "I don't think you're supposed to go. I would wait."
     "What?" I was more than surprised by her words and immediately began to justify her response. You don't even read novels, I thought to myself. You have no idea what this is.
     The second one was from a dear friend. "I think God has a different plan for you. Maybe you should pray about it some more."
     "Seriously?" Another slap in the face. Did she really expect me to believe that in the fifteen minutes since I sent the email that she has prayed about this and heard an answer from God? 
      
     I turned off the computer and walked away.  The rest of the day was ruined. My spirit was restless. I checked my email three or four more times before I went to bed. I really needed those other eight, "Yes's."
     
     They never came. Three days went by and no one else responded to my email. No one. The check I'd written for the workshop and conference (so sure the confirmations were coming) sat beside the keyboard. I picked it up, so disappointed in my family and friends. So wishing I had never sent the email. 
     I ripped it in two.
     
     The weekend came and I had Monday off. I could finally get some writing done. I still had five days to mail a check before the deadline. Was I really still considering going? I was. A part of me really wanted to prove them wrong. 

     Then God decided it was time to turn my world upside down.

     “I want you to stop writing fiction."
     "You can't be serious?" This had to be a joke. Did God have a sense of humor? "This is just another test, right? You just want to see if I’ll obey you again? 
     “No daughter, ”  His words upon my heart had never been more clear. “that's not it at all.  I just want you to lay this down.”
     “But we talked about this!"  I was arguing now.  “I started over for you! I changed my whole book for you!"
     “And now I am asking you to do more." He told me.  "I have other plans for you.”
     I jumped into in the wrestling ring with him now. An angry competitor.  "What plans?!!"  I screamed.  “I want to finish my novel! I've spent fifteen years getting ready for this!"
     
     "I know you have. I also know what it means to you and how much you love it. But you don't see, precious child. This was never about you. You made it about you. This is about me. And I'm telling you to lay it down." 

     I began to weep. I knew God was right and yet, I wanted it to be about me. I wanted him to give me this. I wanted it so bad and yet I knew the wrestling match was almost over. I knew who the winner would be. 

     I was still in a heap on the office floor when Paul picked me up hours later. 
     
     On Monday I sent an email to the group of writers that I spent ten years around the table with on Thursday afternoons. "I won't be coming to writers group anymore," I told them, "I have to stop writing and it would just be too hard." 
     I was the only Christian in the group so I already knew they would not understand my explanation, but they accepted it. We loved we other. There was considerable respect around that table, and our bond came from our great great love for the crafting of words and the telling of story. I would miss and be missed. 
     
     I kept the news to myself for quite awhile. I was not yet ready to talk openly that my book was finished before it was finished. And I knew it would be a very long time before I could talk about it without tears. 

     I have finally stopped questioning and as I surrender and settle into God's will I confess that I miss it, but I do have peace. I don't talk about writing anymore, I simply can't. But my life is full and I have great faith in a God I can trust. I know his love and I believe that when He takes something away it is for his good purpose. 
    And so...I wait. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A lost purse comes home...

     We pulled into the gas station about an hour after we left Sonora and I realized my purse was not in the car.
      I could feel the panic begin to climb and I could picture my purse hanging on the chair in Starbucks. I couldn't pull up the phone number fast enough. A young girl answered.
     "I left my purse in your store an hour or so ago I told her." As the words rushed out I am sure I sounded crazy. "I left it on my chair. It's a big bag. White with black straps. It has bright colored birds on it. Do you see it?" My heart was racing.
     "No Maam." The girl answered. "I don't see it."
     I heard her talking to someone else over the phone. "Could someone have turned it in?" I asked. And I heard her answering someones else's coffee question. "Hello!" My voice was rising. "Can you check if someone turned it in?"
     "No one turned it in Ma'am." She finally answered.
     "Are you sure? Did you speak with everyone?"
     My mind was now racing to catch up to the speed of my heart as the mental list I began to make of things in my purse got longer.
     The girl comes back to the phone. "I spoke to everyone," The girl said sweetly. "Your purse isn't here, Ma'am, and no one turned it in. I'm really sorry."
     I began to cry and the same instant I wondered if I could I have set it on the hood of the car? I'd done that before. Maybe it fell off and was lying in the parking lot. "Could you check the parking lot for me please, please?" I begged her, and I told her where we parked.
     She comes back. "It's not there." She says. "I'm really sorry."
     I gave her my name and phone number then put my head in my hands. I had to think.
     When Paul and I travel by car, I constantly shuffle things from suitcase to computer bag to purse depending on what our day looks like.  I tried to picture the contents of my purse that morning.  ATM card, Amex, 120 dollars folded in the zipper pocket, Maui Jim's, eyedrops, sunscreen, wireless headphones, medication, Berts Bees, sunscreen, Were both my eyeglasses in there? My chargers?  
     "I have to call the bank,"  I told Paul, so he pulled away from the pump and parked in the shade.
     "There was a charge about 30 minutes ago at a Mini-mart." The Union Bank representative said after we established that the last time I had used it was at Starbucks. "I will cancel the card for you now, Mrs. Payne, and I will flag this charge. But you'll need to call the bank again on Monday."
     After I called American Express, I began to cry again. I wanted my things. I really really wanted them. How was I going to ride my bike without my sunglasses? How would I get through work this week without my organic sunscreen and lip stuff. Those things have to be ordered online. It would take days.  My eyes began to hurt just knowing that I didn't have my eye drops and sunglasses.  
   "Well... Lord..." Paul began to pray. "Let the things in Pam's purse be a blessing to whoever took it. Use this for your good purpose." Then he reached over and squeezed my hand.
     I couldn't join in the prayer. I didn't squeeze his hand back. I wasn't mad. I was the one who had left my purse on the seat.  But I really wanted my things. I wanted them to bless me, not someone else.  "My medication was in there, too." I told Paul.
   
     We were headed in the direction of home, but our bikes were in the back of the truck and we had planned to spend the day riding them around the Yosemite Valley floor. We traveled in silence for the next several minutes.  "Do you just want to go home?" Paul asked me.
     "No." Was all I could say.
     But the loss of my purse consumed me. I couldn't get past it. Could not let it go. And somewhere in the middle of all came the realization that God was all over it. It wasn't long before I began to see how tight I was holding onto certain things. How having or not having them had suddenly become a deciding factor in not just my comfort, but also my joy.  I thought about Anne VosKamp's cry from her book, One thousand gifts, of  "Euchristeo." Praise God in all things. Does "Praise" count if thoughts get stuck in your throat before they find their way into words?  Does it count if  Euchristeo comes from sheer obedience even when a heart isn't pure?
     As I rode my bike through one of the most beautiful places in the world, I took pictures like I always do because this act is simply a part of me now. I see God everywhere. But the wonder and joy in it was gone.
     Over the next few hours, God laid questions on my heart and deep hidden things began to surface as God's light swept out cobwebs from the darkest corners of its chambers.  "Do you believe the things you say about me?" He asked.
    "Oh Lord..." I began to cry again. "Don't I?"
    "Do you believe I am sufficient for all that you need?"
     His words went deep and they hurt because I suddenly wondered if I really did. "Help me Lord. I do believe you. I do trust you. Help me get past myself."
     Tears rolled down my cheeks off and on for another hour or so as we rode our bikes past waterfalls and wildflowers and trees and mountains and beautiful light. The truth of God's words pierced my heart, and now, instead of grieving my things, my heart just broke from the things God showed me that it had held inside.
     The ride home was quiet. "When we get home, order some new sunglasses and whatever else you need," Paul told me. "You're outside all day. There was nothing in your purse that can't be replaced."
     He was right of course, and I did order sunglasses and a wireless ear piece that night, but I didn't feel like I deserved any of it.  "I'm so sorry, Lord. I had no idea that stuff was in me."

    God knew though, and He wanted me to see it. I know I needed to see it. Even in this season of walking intimately with Jesus, the Lord required a new examination of my heart. In that place, I knew it was God's desired plan that my purse remain in Starbucks.
   
     The force of all this had finally run the gamut in my spirit and my flesh and I went to bed that night with peace. God was great and He loved me. I knew both those things without a doubt.  
   
     On Sunday, I shared this little chapter of my God written story with a few friends and had a quiet afternoon at home. That evening, I watered my garden, saw God's glory, and gave him praise.
   
     Mid-morning Monday, my cell phone rang. "Honey." It was Paul. "I just got a call from the manager of the Starbucks in Sonora. They have your purse."
   
     On Wed. a brown box was placed on my porch by a man wearing a brown uniform driving a brown truck. I opened the box. Inside was my purse. I wept as I realized the only thing missing were the five 20 dollar bills that I'd tucked inside the zipper pocket. Even the used ATM card had been put back in.
     The man in brown may have delivered this package to my door, but I know my purse arrived home by the power of a God great enough to change the heart of a purse snatcher into a purse returner. I also believe that God had His way with the money they took out of it. "For His good purpose," just like Paul had prayed.
     I wiped a tear away as the Holy Spirit laid a few more words upon my heart.  "This is how much you are loved."
     I can't fathom this kind of love any more than I can fathom why Jesus would put himself on a cross and die for me. But both of these unfathomable things are true.
    As for me? I am a daughter with a swept out heart chamber soon to be filled up with more spiders and cobwebs. But I...Oh...I am very greatly loved.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rules to live by...

The Solomonic kingdom of the tenth century B.C. is referred to as a golden age of peace, prosperity, and international prestige for Israel. It is also said that the wisdom of King Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

To live in a time of prosperity and peace under the rule of such a successful and wise king must have been a wonderful thing for the people of God. Those years for them must have been a relief and a blessing. Not exactly the state of the world we live in, is it? But there must be something we can learn from this wise King in his time of peace and prosperity. What it is that he says to us?


Quite a lot actually. As one of the author’s in the book of Proverbs, King Solomon gives the people of God all kinds of useful information. In fact, the goal of this book is to describe and instill “wisdom” that is founded in the, “fear of the Lord” and that works out covenant life in the practical details of everyday situations and relationships.


I don’t know about you, but I could use a teaching like this in my life right now, so let’s dig a little deeper. The teachings of Proverbs is considered to be, “Wisdom Literature.” The covenant given to Moses from God did not specify all of his rules; its purpose was to set out the constitution of theocracy, to give general moral guidance and to provide a system to which God’s people can know his forgiveness. The book of Proverbs takes us deeper and focuses on what restoration should look like in day-to-day behavior and in personal character. The key term, “wisdom”, from the Hebrew word (khokmah) can have the nuance of “skill”, particularly the skill of choosing the right course of action for the desired result. In the covenantal framework of proverbs, it denotes, “skill in the art of Godly living.”


In certain other forms of, “Wisdom Literature” as well as Proverbs, parts of the text speak clearly to the youth and seem to be oriented in preparing diligent and honest men to serve the royal bureaucracy. Wow…our nation could certainly benefit from this kind of teaching, don’t you think?


However, much of Proverbs focus us on everyday life, community, and home. There are very clear teachings on marriage, raising children, discreet speech, diligence in harvest, concern for the poor and represents the democratization of wisdom. The offer of it to all people.


On of its goals is to restore the image of God in man, (think we need this?), and covers an array of other topics such as, diligence and laziness(6:6-11); friendship (3:27-28); marriage(18:22-, 19:14); child rearing(22:6); domestic peace (15:17; 17:1); work (11:1); getting along and good manners (23:1-2;25:16-17; 26:17-19; 27:14). In each of these areas, it offers wisdom for realizing the life of the covenant in the details; it shows that “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. In (1Timothy 4:8) it demonstrates clearly that:


1. God’s will is intensely practical, applying to every aspect of his people’s lives. A proper relation to God involves, first, trying hard to understand its truth, and then embracing and obeying what one understands.


2. A life lived by God’s will is a happy life. (Proverbs 3:21-26)


3. a life lived by God’s will is useful life.(Proverbs 3:27-28;12:18, 25)


4. A life lived by God’s will does not just happen; one must seek after it, study, pursue it, and discipline oneself.


5. Such a life is available for those who go after it. (Proverbs 9:1-6)


In closing, I can tell you that I want this life. I desire it. And although the world, and my own sin nature, is constantly vying with God for my attention, I know that if I am purposeful and prayerful, and focused on Him, He will meet me in this place and give me the strength I need to persevere. It is a journey. But if Jesus and eternal life is not what we see and the end of it, we better change our destination, and change it now.


Mamo's world...

My grandson Jude named me Mamo. It dawned on me today that it was probably a combination of Mommie and Elmo.  Mamo's World.
And just in case you have trouble identifying the animals we made...one of them oinks...one quacks, and one has a long nose and makes a trumpet sound... 

A Dream

      I walk down a dirt road aware that I am happy. I am wrapped in the innate awareness of God's glory which is everywhere. I look at trees, notice clouds, take deeps breaths, and watch the wildflowers in the meadow beside me bend in the wind.  In the distance, here and there, a few people are scattered about. 

      In the dream, I suddenly realize that I don't know where I'm going, but I begin to walk faster.  I'm carrying something that gets very heavy.  "Put it down!" Someone yells from the distance. I look down, but can't see it.  I don't know what it is, but I hold on tighter knowing I will not sit it down.

     I continue down the road as things begin to change around me. They are subtle and quiet at first.  A shift in the sky, movement in the meadow, colors grow dim. 

     And then I know. I see God's breath leave the trees beside me and they wither.  

     I fill with panic and begin to run. I look around but no one seems to notice what is happening.  

      The sky grows dark and I begin to cry out, "Jesus! Jesus!"

     Inside my dream I am aware that Paul is beside me in the bed and I think, "I know he can hear me, why doesn't he wake me up?"

     And then, just as suddenly as it died, everything in my dream fills with life again.  The trees beside me saturate with color and life and my spirits settles as the meadow flowers blossom with glory.  

     A child appears beside me the road and smiles. Everything is fine. God is back and I fall to me knees. I'm clutching a Bible. 


      When I'm fully awake I say to Paul.  "Didn't  you hear me screaming Jesus' name?"
     He didn't. 

        


        Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    

          Acts 16:18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

Coffee with Miss Beth...

        I want to sit with you in a quiet corner of a Starbucks and laugh as we share stories about our men and our daughters and our Michael boys and the gift of grandchildren.  I would tell you how your Bibles studies drew me into a love a God's word that changed my life forever and you would tell me I am darlin' and I would weep.  
     We would talk about the lives we had in Arkansas and Oklahoma, about the pain, the loss, and then we would praise God for his great love and the amazing grace of His redemption. We would talk about having oldest daughters the same age who roll their eyes and shake manes of thick brown hair and we'd have to get more coffee and I would hold your hand and weep.
     Then you would say something else about my hair and we'd talk about fashion and shoes and shopping and treasures and life and love and Jesus. 
      We would become more than just teacher and student. More than siesta sisters.
      In heaven, the Author of our stories would smile as our hearts knit themselves to one another because He knew that they would. He knew his two daughters, so similarly made, would have joy in their time together. 
     Then this California transplant would hug tight her Texas sister and thank her from the deepest well of gratitude for being such a faithful teacher of God's word. I would tell you that I can  only imagine how hard a life of ministry like yours really is and I would tell you that I pray for you!    
     
    So Miss Beth, don't be surprised if I pop into your office one day and invite you to coffee.  Our Father could be waiting to be entertained by two of his girls that are uniquely made and greatly loved.   

       
      So until then Miss Beth...thank you!

I picked up the paint brush and put it right back down. I had not become an artist.

      I had to remind myself that God would not ask me to do something that he wasn't prepared to help me accomplish, and I knew it was time. Today I would paint.  
     But paint what? The glory of creation? Yes. But I needed a starting point.  
     I decided that, "In the beginning," was as good a place as any, so I opened the bible to Genesis and read through the creation story. 
     Five hours later I packed it up and put everything away. The longer I painted the more discouraged I got.  There was nothing that glorified God in front of me and I had not suddenly become a painter. 
     I began to question whether I had really even heard from God on this subject. Maybe this was not part of my, "Glory Road," at all.  
     A few days later my desktop computer was in crash mode. I had to get my photos onto an external hard drive or I would lose them. Ten minutes in, a picture file opened called, "The Glory of God, " which had more than a hundred pictures where God's creation had simply stopped me in my tracks. 
     I watch them copy with tears in my eyes as God whispered, "Do you remember this?" I did remember.
      "This poppy burst open right in front of your eyes? Do you remember that?"
     Oh, yes. I wiped a tear from my cheek. "I remember." 
     I knew then that God had begun to put all of this in motion long before I ever knew He was doing anything. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and heard the words he put upon my heart. "Paint these. This is where we met. Where you worshiped."    
     I reminded him that I could not paint. That I knew he was well aware of the mess I had made the other day. And then a answer came. "Be creative. It's in you." 
     By the end of the afternoon I knew which photos I wanted to start with.  There were still many loose ends, but I was encouraged and my juices were flowing.  I felt like God had given me a clear picture and equipped me with a plan.
     I had been playing with a phone App called, "Toonpaint," where you take a photo and turn it into into a black and white outline. It looked little a page out of a cartoon coloring book.  
     From there I found a program that would print the image onto a canvass. These arrived in the mail in a tube, and them Paul stretched them onto the wooden frames. 
     Now this was a starting point!

     May you never be moving to fast to see God's glory...


     

In awe...amazed and humbled.


    I struggle to share something that "God" is doing in me without it being about me. But, if I'm being completely honest, I'm overwhelmed by it all, so I'm going to try. I'll start with my point.
    If we give God a willing heart, and walk in faith, He brings to fruition the things He begins, and sometimes, they absolutely blow us away.
   
     Recently God recently reminded me that many months ago, when I showed my sister Kay the ToonPaintings on my Iphone she had said, "I think you should paint for real," but there was only a slight serious tone in her voice, and I remember smiling.
   
     He reminded me that after a very precious prayertime following Bible Study, a dear friend said to me, "I think you should write a Bible Study, Pam." And I remember shaking my head and laughing,  "Oh yeah...you see me in here. That's so not happening."

     Around this same time, another friend sought me out in the hall outside the nursery after church one Sunday and said, "I really have to share something with you. It sounds kinda crazy and I don't know what it means, but I think I'm supposed to tell you this."
     "What?" I asked her.
     "That you're going to start using your hands in a new way." There was a pause, smiles, and then we both kinda shrugged. "Okay." I said. Then I hugged her and we both went on with our day.  
    I spoke to this last friend recently, we had not seen each other in quite some time. I asked her about that day and she did not remember her words to me. She also did not know that I was painting.

     I write this because I see clearly how God uses the people He puts in our lives to encourage and affirm the things He is saying to, and doing in, us and I want you to see it too. God knit his people together for His good purpose. I love this!

     Now, almost a year later, I work on my Bible study, and paint almost every day.
 If I'm not writing or painting, then I'm praying, or thinking about it.
    If you told me a year ago that I would do a charcoal drawing of a horse for a friend, or paint my Mother's favorite picture of tulips for her birthday I would have told you that you were nuts. I am now, though, forever thankful that God knows me better than I ever knew myself. He is pulling something out of me that I never knew was there. 
     So I am now fully committed to this journey down, "The Glory Road," I don't know everything that lies ahead on this trail, but I trust my God. 
     I know that He halted a fiery passion in this daughters heart and in his time gave her back something even greater. I have great peace in that kind of love and know, without a doubt, that it can be trusted. 
     So use this for your Glory, Lord, and know that I see it for the miracle it is. I know what you have done. 
     May I never forget how impressed I am at this moment with what my Father in Heaven has done with one single willing heart.
     In awe, I sit amazed and humbled.









 

A rainbow in the sky and words on my heart...

     We all have moments with God. Moments where we plant memorial stones of remembrance. Places where we sit and ponder and praise.  
     This is one of mine...

     My week had been full. I had eye surgery in Dallas, and then ended up at the last few sessions of a "Kairos" conference with my sister at Gateway church. 
     I had been weeping on and off for the last two days. When I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, that is what I do. I weep. 
    I have been in a waiting season. Waiting for what, I did not know. But in faith I was waiting still.
    Driving home from my week in Dallas, God's presence came on me so powerfully that I had to pull over to the side of the road. Tears were running down my face. I glanced at the clock and realized that Kay and Abbi were probably getting baptized at that moment. I began to pray. 

     "I want you to write again." God's words, so clear, brought me out of my prayer and I opened my eyes. Had I just heard God's voice? 
     In front of me I saw raindrops on my windshield and behind them, a rainbow filled the sky. I began to weep again.  "Call it, The Glory Road."
     A Bible study?  I wondered. Are you kidding? I loved the title though. 
     "And I want you to paint." 
     I did not hear God speak these last few things to me, but they could not have been more clear and there was no doubt who they came from as they resonated upon my heart. 

     Now, as I sit down to share this, I still can't wrap my head around the place I find myself in. God's presence continues to overwhelm me though and at this moment my eyes fill with tears.  I know I fly into this blind and am only willing to go in the secure knowledge that God is my pilot.
     
       Writing a Bible study was never part of my plan. It is in fact the last thing I would ever chose to write. I started with a study by Beth Moore years ago and never stopped, but I can't stop asking questions either.  I often think Scripture is hard and struggle at times to understand. But despite this, God's word captured my heart and came alive so I keep going.  I lay things down in prayer often, and as I do, sometimes revelation comes with it. 
     When it doesn't, what it boils down to is this.  What I know to be true about God, what his word reveals, and what he has said to me personally is enough.  The rest...can simply be a mystery until it isn't.   

    Reading this, you might as yourself why I feel equipped to write a Bible study called, "The Glory Road," and the answer to that is simple,  I don’t and I’m not.  In my own strength, what I'm attempting here would not be possible.
    So thank you Lord that you already know this. Thank you that you know my heart and will supply everything I need to walk this out beside you.  I will need mercy, grace and patience so I praise you for giving them all to me in abundance with the greatest of love. May, "The Glory Road." be my praise.

         And the angels cry…“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Rev. 4:8




    

Just pick it up already...

      "You're ready for this." He tells me. "I've been preparing you for a long time."
     "But I'm scared." There. I said it. I want to shout with joy, and keep it a secret. I was full of excitement and flooded with fear.  
     The very idea of someone like me trying to paint the creation of God was beyond crazy. So I do nothing. I just wait. I wait and I pray. 
     As I do, God begins to remind me of the unique way I had been created. As far back as I can remember, I have known him through the glory of creation. "This is why I chose you for this,"  and I remember box turtles, fat bumpy croaking toads, and caterpillars of childhood.  Oklahoma thunderstorms and juicy plump tomato worms with long curved thorns. I remember Jude Paul's miracle blackberry bush, the coming and going of the Sierra mountain sun, and the cloudy summer days of my youth. 
    I know the deep joy and laughter of Grandsons and I had a moment of deep connection as I looked into the huge glassy eye of a Mother humpback whale. 
     "You see me everywhere," God said, and I knew it was true.
     So I stand here in faith with my feet on the, "Glory Road", because God has put them here. I will stop walking by the table and pick up the paint brush.  
     I will paint.
    I will. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It is Mother's Day...and I know love.

    I spend the morning alone unpacking suitcases, sorting laundry, and mopping dirty floors. I do it with praise and know I am blessed.  After back to back weeks of travel and a workweek ahead, this is my time.
    I load the wash and remember Reed, not yet one, standing in the laundry room sink beside me.  I clean the toilet in the guest bath, see myself on the floor beside Jude, and remember all the bathrooms I've sat beside toilets in while babies learned to potty.
     I turn corners, go up stairs, and everywhere are marks and memories.  Every knock and fingerprint, and mouth smudge hold a story. I vacuum as the living room fills with a brother and sisters, grandsons, nieces, nephews and puppies.  On the glass porch door I see Onyx's lick marks and picture Paul curled in a Tug Chase pile by the fire. Our Michael hangs from the ceiling beam.
     A chest in the office is covered with marked up Bibles and studies that still make me weep and I know God.
     I paused today on the stair my Mother fell to when we got the call her baby brother Bill, had died, and I can hear her cry out.
    I add tea bags to a pot for my Kombucha and see Gus sitting at the window crying for Garrett. But now it is Cali who sits and cries.
     I see Chandler dance across the kitchen floor and sing with a smile as big as the sun and I stand at the sink and know her heartache. I remember the words she spoke to me in this very spot and how the truth of them made me weep uncontrollably.
    Outside in the yard I see weddings, celebrations, tables, flowers, families, children, and I hear worship, laughter, prayer and praise.
    I smell ReAnnon's cooking and see her nursing baby boys from almost every room as Paul passes by windows on his tractor. We grieve babies that were lost and yet life goes on and still Paul passes by the windows on his tractor.
    A back porch holds a daughters heart and the songs of a Mamo and three baby boys.
    Under the stairs is a tiny room with pillows and books and broken horses.
    Outside is a sanctuary. A garden gift of miracles. A meeting place where I listen and pray and know.
    Praise, tears, death and life.
    It is Mothers Day and I know God and I know love.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I am...

I am a sinner saved by grace...
I am chosen child...
I am set apart by God...
I am a covered by the blood of the lamb...

I am tempted...
I am fearful...
I am made new...
I am beloved...

I am refined by fire...
I am saved...
I am unfathomably loved...
I am a worshipper...

I am called...
I am died for...
I am a receiver of gifts...
I am a receiver of promises...

I am not worthy...
I am a wretch...
I am forgiven...
I am an ugly thing made beautiful...

I am a walker of faith...
I am a believer of promises...
I am a warrior princess...
I am a daughter of the King...

I am a soldier of battles in the spirit...
I am a beloved daughter...
I am a bearer of Armor...
I am a vessel of the Holy Spirit...

I am broken...
I am transformed...
I am made beautiful...
I am a lover of your Glory...

You are mine...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You are...


You are the purple rage in storm clouds
You are snow and blinding sun
You are the Son who died for us
You are sender of the Helper

You are red and orange and every shade of green
You are colors and creations we have not yet seen
You are the one who refines by fire
You are the maker of ashes to beauty

You are billions of sand grains
You are breaking waves and Tsunami
You are Light in the blackest of dark
You are the holder of tears

You are designer of shadow
You are giver of laugh
You are death and new life
You are the miracle of babies

You are in every disappointment and in all great joy
You are absolute truth and great mystery
You are the strengthener of warriors  
You are the writer of testimonies

 You are the beginning and the end
You are the greatest of storytellers 
You are all creation and the Holy Spirit
You are Jesus

You are unfathomable grace
You are the delicate lovely of ladybugs
You are amazing mountaintops
You are perfect humility

You are the one who requires obedience
You are the one who forgives
You are rain
You are refresher of soul

You are tiny white flowers that turn into strawberries
You are the trainer of teachers 
You are the bursting of love in grandsons
You are the best gift giver

You are the one I see
You are the one I know
You are the one I love

I am yours!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A revelation conversation...

       (A revelation conversation)  

        "I have to scrap this whole thing, don't I?"  I ask Him.
     He looks down at me with a smile.   "What do you think?"
     "I don't think it fits me right," I tell Him and tug on the side.  "It's uncomfortable. It bugs me.  It has for a long time."
     He sighs, “Yes, but that happens when you try to wear someone else's clothes."
     "What are saying?”  My voice fills with frustration.  “You gave me these clothes."
     
     He tilts his head. "Did I?"
     
     I look down. "I thought you did." I pause. “They used to fit me better, didn't they?" I hold out my arms. " I love this top.”
     He laughs. "Yes, I love the top too, but those pants are way too big for you little girl.  You’ve been tripping over them since you put them on.”
      The truth in His words sting a little.  "I know,"  I admit, “I trip over them at every turn.  I don't even want to walk around in them any more."
     "So..."  He holds out his palms.  “why don't you just wear your own clothes?"
      I sink to my knees with the top I'm wearing clenched in my fists. I have to pry my hands away.  "I thought these were my clothes." I begin to cry. "I don't know where mine are."
   
     When I finally look back up at Him I feel his great and deep love. He smiles. “I'm going to let you keep that top. I like the way it looks on you.”
     I am weeping.  
     
     He reaches down and dries my tears. 

      "Tell me something," He says after I quiet down. "What do you know  from this journey we are on?"  
     I close my eyes and ponder His question. 
     "I know that you speak to me.”  I tell him.   
     "Yes.”  He smiles.  “What else?"
     "I see you. I know you.”
     “Very good. You’re beginning to understand.”  He picks up both my hands in His.  “What else?”
     My eyes fill up with tears again.  "I know you pulled something out of me I didn't know was in there?"
     "Yes!” He squeezes my hands before He lets them go.   
     I wipe my runny nose with the sleeve of my top.  

     “So I'm just suppose to forget about the, 'The Glory Road.'  All the time I've given it. All my hard work." 

     I stop for a moment to collect my thoughts and then, with passion I tell Him, "I'm writing again. I'm being faithful. I'm finishing it!"
     
     He leans back and tilts His head.  "And what is it exactly that you are finishing?"
     "Why aren't you listening?" I'm shouting now. "The Glory Road. My Bible study.”
     For a brief moment He is silent and then He takes a deep breath and pulls me into His lap.  

     "The Glory road I spoke to you about is not the formatted study that write precious girl, it is part of it but not the whole. It is who I am in you and where you are with me.  It is about our journey." 
      I begin to weep again and as He holds me I realize that tears hold both joy and sadness.  
     
     "It was for nothing then? 
     He lifts my chin and looks deep into my eyes.  "It wasn't for nothing, precious child. It was for you and for My Glory."
     
     I wipe my nose again, take a deep breath, and climb down from his lap. 

     "Well...I'm glad it's over then.  It was way too hard anyway.  All that computer stuff I had to teach myself, all those Bible apps, the commentaries, the research.”  

     I sniffle.  “I’m happy to be done with it.”
     
     “Are you finished?”  He asks. 
     
     I nod my head and His smile diffuses me.  I sniffle again.  “I'm not a Bible teacher am I?"
     "No, sweet girl, you are not.”  He pauses. But know that I sincerely love all your questions and I' love your passion and faithfulness in the study of it."  
     
     He takes the corner of His robe and dries my tears. “Now let me ask you something else?  Was there any joy in this challenging season?"
     
     I look down at the floor ashamed and humbled.  “So very much."  I say quietly. "More than I could ask or imagine."
     He reaches down and lifts my chin again.  “And where did you find that joy?"
     I take a deep breath.  "Every day I saw you.  Everyday I knew  you.  Everyday I took pictures. Everyday I wrote about you. Everyday I painted."

     "Ahhh...so many moments of joy since that day two years ago that we talked in your car, huh?”  He smiles knowing that I am beginning to see.  
     I sniffle again.  “So very very many.”
     “I have just one more question for you today then. What was it that you tracked through my word, stopped to photograph and paint? That thing that brought you joy? 

     “Your Glory.”  I tell him. 
     There is a long pause in our conversation as we sit, His words settling over my spirit.    
   "This talk has been good, hasn't it?  I asked him, I’m not too rebellious am I?"
     He stands up.  "Now what kind of a question is that? Didn't I just take you back through the desert with my Israelite children in your Bible study."
      I laugh and get to my feet. "Yes, you did.”  I tell him.  "You’ve seen rebellion from your children before.” 
     We stand facing one another.  “So now what?”  I ask him.
     “You tell me.”  He says.
     “I will wait and see you.  I will wait and know you.  I will take pictures and I will paint.”
     He begins to walk away, then pauses and turn back.  "And where do you stand on this  journey with me, my child?” 
     “Me?”  I ask,  “I stand on The Glory Road.”

     "You want to ask me something. Go ahead." he says.

     My eyes fill with tears. "Will you please get Paul to Israel. It is such a big desire of his heart." Tears fall from my eyes.  

     "Oh...I love Paul so very much. Some of my deepest tears were cried for him.  Do you trust me ? 
     
     "Yes." I reply. "I trust you.  But..." I pause. "He wont go without me."
     
     He smiles then turns his back and continues to walk. 

     After a few steps, I hear him shout. "I can count on you to take some pictures? And you might have to paint a few things."          
     
     With tears I shout back.  "I can do that!" I tell him, "I can.  I'm on, The Glory Road."
     He lifts up his hand as a Goodbye. "The Glory Road indeed!"