Tag Archives: hope

“The Road Back”

writing

I don’t know if you have you ever felt a call from God to do something that ignited a passion in you, but I got that call several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get a phone call from God or even hear an audible voice. However, I am convinced it came through a series of things orchestrated by God.

Through a class on writing using the book Write His Answers – by Marlene Bagnull and taught by Lori Hoose; as well as prayer and conversations with trusted Christian friends and writers, I felt confirmation that God wanted me to write. Not just write, but to write for Him. I had done some writing; college papers, a eulogy, and daily in my journal and I liked writing. So, starting with a great deal of enthusiasm and feeling sure this was the place in the world where God meant for me to minister, I decided to become a writer.

The little writing I had done in the past had brought some good feedback, but nothing big for sure. Since writing words of encouragement that directed others to seek God and His call on their lives was the goal, I started a blog in order to reach a larger audience, which resulted in the one I’m writing from now.  It was well received and there was much encouragement and even some positive feedback.

But then there came some bumps in the road along the way to fulfilling that calling and I began to wonder; “Was I mistaken?” “I don’t feel inspired today.” “Not as many readers this week or positive comments?” “Was it just wishful thinking  or misplaced enthusiasm?” Doubt began to creep in and soon it became a dreaded chore instead of a passion. Now what?  I had told everyone it was God’s call and it appeared I was failing and losing my desire to continue. Gradually the work of writing declined until there were months that would go by without anything happening at all.

Yet all this time thoughts of writing kept knocking at my door.

In the meanwhile, I decided I must have made a mistake and chose to seek a different ministry. As a matter of fact I tried multiple ministries, including a year and four weeks in Georgia working at a children’s home. Let me clarify that the work at the children’s home was definitely ordained by God but had a double purpose. My husband and I were blessed serving there and I would do it again. It afforded a lot of time evenings and weekends to walk the campus in quiet meditation. It was during that time that God began to reveal the things I needed to see and hear. I was taken to the woodshed for correction but also taken into His lap with His arms around me for comfort and love.

I began to realize I was really just keeping busy so I could say “I am too busy, I don’t have time to write. After all, there are my family obligations and my church obligations.” Then, “What about my friends and housework, laundry, groceries & meals, and the dog, what about the poor helpless dog, who is going to take care of the dog if I don’t! O, dear Lord you know how busy I am!!!” In reality now I believe that the underlying problem was the fear of failure and the fear of not measuring up as a writer. If I could just keep busy enough I wouldn’t be expected to write.

Sound ridiculous? It is sad but true. Fear is likely the number one thing that keeps us from answering God’s call on our lives and busyness may be number two. When God places a call on our lives it isn’t a suggestion it is part of His plan and purpose for us. A perfect plan when orchestrated by Him.

I began that journey back to where I had taken a wrong turn, but still I couldn’t seem to get back on track. It is hard to go back when you have been gone so long! I lacked inspiration and motivation. After much prayer and counsel with a close friend I received a call from another close friend. She had just called to catch up on how we were now that we were back from Georgia. Then in the middle of the conversation she asked me, “Are you writing? I haven’t seen anything for a while on your blog.” I explained, “I haven’t really had time.” As soon as we were off the phone I felt convicted and that statement has stayed with me ever since, both hers and mine.

God reminded me He had not removed the call to write but if I chose not to be obedient He would call another, and I would lose the blessing of seeing Him work through this gift He had given me. Someone else would receive it. Another confirmation for me, that some may choose to write but for those of us who are called to write for Him, and don’t, it is not a choice it is disobedience.

So bear with me dear blogging friends and family. I am back and ready to share more views from the Bird House. With our family growing every year there are a lot of stories to tell and lessons to learn here and I will be sharing as we learn and grow together.

It is good to be back!

God has a plan and a call for every one of us. We only need to seek Him and He will reveal it to us and we can trust that He will supply all we need to answer the call. The road may not always be easy and we will have bumps and maybe even some bruises along the way but God will be with us to the end of the road. Are you missing out on a blessing because you have chosen to take another road?

He is calling you to use the gifts and abilities He has given you, whatever they are, “to the praise of His glory”.

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Therefore pray then, “that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”                                                                                                                2 Thessalonians 1:11- 12 (NIV)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)

 

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From Frustrated Perfectionist to Perfect Melancholy!

WARNING! This may be the worst blog you ever read!

Today I am just writing what is on my mind. No planning, or thinking it all through first (as I am sure you can tell) Just writing, writing, writing and hoping that what I am working through might be of help to someone in the blogosphere or on facebook who may struggle with spinning their wheels and going nowhere.

I have been labeled, by some a perfectionist and even by a few obsessive/compulsive about it. However as I look around there seems to be a great deal of imperfection, both in and around me.

So what’s the deal here?

My intentions are good…I’m going to organize my stuff, I’m going to finish that book, finish that cross stitch I started (5 yrs ago, mind you).  I’m going to make a schedule and a to-do list for the week (and stay on it for a change), cook better meals, work on a better budget and start writing on my blog every day. Meanwhile, it all seems so daunting that by the time I get the lists made and the plans made , and re-made I end up getting very little of it done, if any.

Then I say to myself, “Self”, I say, “it’s to hard, you don’t have enough time, your no spring chicken anymore, you will just never be able to do it,” and the best of all “I’m to busy  with all the ‘urgent’ needs every day”  So I am forever planning, preparing and organizing but never actually getting the things that are important done allowing the urgent to take precedence over the important.

Heavy sigh!

What’s a woman to do?

In my striving to do better I have accepted an offer of a spiritual coach to work with me to help me move forward, find God’s direction and get on the right track. The first goal is to know what my gifts and abilities, as well as what my limitations really are. She provided me with a personality test and a giftedness test which has helped me to understand better who I am and how God made me to function in the gifts and abilities He has given me. It appears that I am what is called a “Perfect Melancholy”, and no it does not mean I am perfect or necessarily melancholy (check out “Wired That Way, Personality Profile” (Marita  & Florence Littauer). But it does give me some insight into the whys and ways that I work and respond in different circumstances and what my strengths and weaknesses tend to be.

Through discussions with a dear friend and my spiritual coach I have come to recognize some of my own self defeating behaviors, like, making unrealistic demands on my time and on others, making unrealistic to-do lists, making commitments to projects and/or other requests without thinking them through and praying about them first, and allowing others to dictate my schedule. This led me to make some commitments to my friend, my coach and myself. One commitment was to begin writing again. Therefore I am writing, not listing what I might write about or planning what I will write about, just writing.

The challenge started last Monday and I did spend an hour on my blog, however the whole hour was spent looking at my blog site, reading and comparing others blogs, and thinking and planning what I should blog about.. But alas, I never actually wrote anything!

Today is a new day and I am writing!

I will be writing on my blog for one hour or more twice a week and I welcome my blogging friends to come back and check out my progress and hold me accountable as well! I look forward to your encouragement and your suggestions to help me be a better writer.

My goal is to go from Frustrated Perfectionist to Perfect Melancholy.

What personality are you? I urge you to learn more about yourself and the gifts and abilities God has given you.

What goals do you have? What commitments are you willing to make to reach your goals?

Do you have a friend or friends whom you will give permission to hold you accountable to your commitments?

I would like to hear about them!

JB

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Filed under character study, communication, faith stages, Weary encouragement hope

Overcome Or Overcomer?

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Oh, what a difference one letter in a word can make! And even when a word is spelled the same it can have a totally different meaning depending on the context in which it is written or spoken.

In the storms of this life there are times I feel overcome with anxiety, worry and fear and what I have learned, after many years of experience in this field, is that how I handle the situation will determine whether I let the negative emotions overtake me or overcome the negative to embrace the peace that is available to me in and through the “overcomer”, Christ Jesus.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specialises in things thought impossible

He does the things others cannot do. (original chorus written by Oscar C. Eliason)

Lean in on the one who is the Overcomer. His promise is to give you peace, even in the midst of the storm!

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Trashed to Treasured

 

trash can & papersI love walking the path through the city park on an early fall day. The trees are alive with colors of bright orange, red and gold. Some leaves are stubbornly clinging to the branches against a blue sky, but some are brave enough to let go and dance with the wind over a, still green, carpet of grass.

As I walked along the path my tranquil mood was interrupted as a gust of wind formed an eddy that lifted a piece of white, rumpled, lined notebook paper from the wire basket meant to be the home for unwanted items of those passing by on the path. The bright white paper landed directly at my feet and as I bent over to retrieve this rogue piece of paper and return it to it’s rightful home the greeting at the top of the paper, “My Dear Charlie” in beautiful cursive writing, seemed to beckon me “continue reading”.

The message to Charlie seemed to be a farewell message. Not like a “Dear John” letter but one of painful defeat, frustration and retreat into solitude by someone who wanted to “disappear”, to “go where no one even knows my name.”, to “not have to get up one more morning and be looked at in disgust by you (Charlie) and be told I am a worthless. I want to go to a place where I am not made to feel unworthy to be taking up space in this world.” As I read the letter I could feel the anguish, fear and doubt. I could see the tears and hear the questioning as to whether these labels were valid. However, this letter revealed a spark of courage, a desire to be free of the verbal battering of self esteem on a daily basis.

But, the letter was unfinished, in the wire basket, not signed and never sent. It was torn from the notebook, crumpled and tossed. Did the writer ultimately buy into the lies and manipulation by one who made himself judge and jury, condemning another to  a life of defeat and feelings of being worthless, hopeless and void of any self esteem? Is there a soul wandering somewhere convinced this is the final analysis of their life, not worth keeping, to be torn, crumpled and tossed in the garbage. Or is there another letter, signed, sealed and delivered?

I long to find the author and to let them know there is value in their life. I want to tell them “Charlie is wrong!” I want to tell them how God sees value in every person. I long for them to feel loved, appreciated for who they are and valued.

I will be walking in the park again and I will enjoy the beauty of God’s creation but I will also be watching for someone with a notebook and when I find them I will encourage them to write another story. A story of hope, strength and healing. And then I will be writing another story written in my own notebook!

 

 

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“Music For the Soul”

This is my story 9 21 14Writing 101

Each piece of music tells a story. Even if there are no lyrics the melody, crescendo and tempo tell a story. The stories may be about an emotion or and experience; about the person writing the music or the person listening to it, one connecting with the other. We all have a story,  more than likely we have many stories. Songs often help us express our experiences in life situations in ways we are not able to otherwise. When I listen to a song that speaks to my soul I find myself saying, “Yes, Yes, that’s my story!”

The three songs most important to me tell the story of my journey from isolation, fear and rejection to forgiveness, peace and joy.

The first song, Amazing Grace by John Newton,  is a well known song among both the secular and Christian communities. The song is well know but, not as well known is the history, the “story”, of the writer.

Newton had a very painful childhood when at age 7 his mother, who had nurtured him in the Christian faith, died. He became bitter and angry and by age 11 boarded a ship to become a sailor.  After years of hard drinking, moral abandon and struggles of many kinds  he became a slave trader.  “I sinned with a high hand,” he later wrote, “and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Finding himself on a ship during a sever storm, that threatened to destroy the ship and those aboard, Newton recalled the teachings of his mother and. believing his life was ending cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. After finding himself safe at the end of it all he committed his life to Christ. After  his conversion he wrote the words to many hymns and not the least of which was Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

His story, like mine, is that forgiveness and redemption are possible no matter how far one has journeyed into the depth of depravity. It was my story in 1978. I was in the midst of a storm in my soul. I  was in the middle of a spiritual storm of regret and guilt of the past. There was a heaviness of heart and I cried out to the God I heard about as a child. In His grace and mercy, he rescued me and from the storm and lifted a heavy burden of guilt as I committed my life to Him.

The second song, It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford, is another well known song but, again, not many know “the story” of the author of the song.

Spafford’s story is much different than Newton’s, although both their stories took place on a ship. This man had lived out his faith and was blessed with a family and a successful career. However over a period of about 3 years he lost his only son from scarlet fever, his 4 daughters in a ship wreck and his business. Spafford’s wife was spared and not long after losing his 4 daughters while on his way to meet his wife, as he passed over the area where his daughters were lost he wrote this song, his story.

It Is Well With My Soul

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

His words describe in a way I never could my story after my commitment to follow Christ. Life didn’t suddenly get and stay wonderful. There have been many blessings but there have also been many challenges over the past 36 years. Some of those challenges carried heartaches, frustration, pain and anxiety but as I leaned into the one who loved me and changed me it was and still is “well with my soul.”

The third song, I Love To Tell The Story was taken from the second half of a poem written by Arabella Katherine Hankey, daughter of a London banker and set to music by by William G. Fischer, the son of a german immigrant.

Hankey had a place in her heart for the poor and hungry people in the poorest parts of London. She and her father were devout Christians. She organized Sunday School classes through out London and taught each week while also publishing poems, and tracts to hand out in her classes. Her hear for missions prompted her to volunteer to go to Africa as a nurse to assist her invalid brother who was a missionary there.

Fischer had his own story. Because of his love for music he practiced, played and eventually taught music at the university level. And eventually started his own music store, featuring the best made pianos in the world. He built his business up to become one of the most properous piano stores in the country.

Verse 1 I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love, I love to tell the story, Because I know ‘ tis true; It satisfies my longings As nothing else can do. Verse 2 I love to tell the story, More wonderful it seems Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story, It did so much for me; And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee. Verse 3 I love to tell the story, ‘Tis pleasant to repeat What seems, each time I tell it, More wonderfully sweet, I love to tell the story, For some have never heard The message of salvation From God’s own holy Word. Verse 4 I love to tell the story, For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest. And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song, “Twill be the old,old story That I have loved so long. REFRAIN: I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old,old story of Jesus and His love.

This is my story, about His glory and the wonder of His love!

 

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