Teacup Treasure

Often, when I sit quietly with a cup of tea, I share my anxieties with God. When a pressing problem hits and I find myself trying desperately to resolve it (unsuccessfully) on my own, I prepare my tea, pull out my Bible, and grab my journal. Realizing I’m powerless to change, fix, or dissolve the problem in my own strength, I turn to the only One, who does have that kind of power.

Every Scripture in the Bible is a treasure by virtue of the fact that it’s God’s Word. But, there are times when God speaks clearly and gives me a Teacup Treasure; a sip of Scripture to hit the spot and lift me up.

A few years ago, I received such a Treasure from God during a time when my anxiety over a problem was almost overwhelming. A solution was out of my hands. I had been in a fearful state of worry and felt desperate because I couldn’t fix it. Sleep was far from me without hope of appearing anytime soon.

I was crying out to God for help (He had been waiting, I’m sure), when I began reading Psalm 4:8. “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O God, make me dwell in safety.” I reread the verse several times and even wrote it on an index card to keep by my bedside. It became the last thought in my head which enabled me to fall asleep peacefully. I committed this verse to memory, but still keep the card on the nightstand as a reminder of where I dwell.

You see, the only place I can safely dwell is in God’s presence. Yes, I know He is always present, but I must place myself in His loving, protective arms instead of stomping off on my own. Settling in with God is where I dwell safely, especially at night when destructive thoughts seem to roam.

I have shared Psalm 4:8 with many people, and I know they have been helped so much, that they have shared it too. A lot of people think they can’t memorize Scripture, so writing it on a card and displaying it by your bed may be helpful. Make it the last thing you think and say before going to bed. Focus on the One who holds you safely through the night. Enjoy your own Teacup Treasure tonight.

Inglenook

In my book, The Estate Sale, there is mention of an Inglenook, which is a recessed fireplace. The Old English word comes from ingle, which means fireplace. I happened upon it during the course of writing this unique story, and it surprised me, there were so many versions of such a nook. I wanted an exceptional design which would fit the home in my story, so I poured over Pinterest pictures, architectural drawings, and even tried my hand at creating one (scratched that idea quick). When my eyes landed on the picture you see here, I knew it was a perfect fit.

As you can tell, the space in the nook is perfect for reading your favorite novel (Emily chose a Jane Austin book), or spending time in the Scriptures. One might sneak in a short nap under a lap quilt, or simply sit and ponder. I visualize myself there. A fire crackles as I figure out the next scene in book two, while I sip a cup of Rita’s favorite tea. I have a small tray of snacks, such as English scones with jam and clotted cream, or perhaps wheat finger crackers and blue cheese. Then it’s back to reality and I’m transported back in front of my computer, listening to my characters tell me what to say. My Inglenook retreat is over.

I’ve discovered though, when I delve fully into what I’m reading or working on, I emerge more knowledgeable. If I devote myself to meditating on God’s Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to transport and guide me along the path, then I come away wiser, with more understanding than before.

I’ve learned that what I feed and devote myself to, will fuel me. My desire is to follow Jesus and serve Him. The more I read His Word, study it, and take it into my heart, the wiser I’ll become, and have more understanding of His plan for my life. I’ll be more available for God with an open heart, and have a willingness to leave what I’m doing and follow Him.

How about you? Do you have an Inglenook where you can retreat to? Where is it? What is your favorite use of the time spent hidden away?

Friendship Shockwaves

News of the earthquakes and aftershocks in California this week, brought fear and a state of emergency. Tremendous damage followed each quake, along with numerous injuries and property loss. Prayers continue for recovery and restoration as people attempt to deal with the situation.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had shockwaves hit concerning my friend, Patsy. I received a late night call informing me she had a stroke and was in the hospital. The test results determined she had a TIA (transient ischemic attack), which could mean a future stroke may happen. She seemed okay and was released from the hospital.

On the evening of July 3rd, 2019, another call came. Patsy had a stroke and this time was unresponsive. Immediately my friendship years with Patsy played in my head. The laughter we’d shared, retreats we attended, our shared worship at church, and fun times in our Red Hat gatherings. I saw scenes of holiday and birthday celebrations, road trips and chats at Starbucks. I suddenly feared our times of making treasured memories had crumbled.

Have you ever experienced a threat to a dear friendship? Fear, anxiousness, tears, prayer, hope…? All the emotions which are buried in our being, seem to rise, rumble and crack open our little world. A state of emergency describes what happens when we continue to focus on our emotions, our friendships, and how it will affect us. We care deeply, love strongly, and wait impatiently. We want things to be as they were, without disruption. Normal.

I went to the hospital and was devastated at the sight of my sweet friend. Eyes closed, she seemed to be fighting an internal struggle (which indeed, her brain was). Uncontrolled flailing of her right limbs in contrast to her silent left, gave me a glimpse of the road ahead. Would Patsy have paralysis on that side? How would she handle it? My heart was breaking as I gazed on the outside of my friend being held captive inside. Please, God. That’s how we regain our balance when shockwaves hit, and life as we know it starts fracturing.

Please, God. Bring my Patsy back. If she can’t be the same physically, make it okay for her. Help us move forward, discovering new ways of communicating, sharing, and deepening our friendship. Allow me to help her pick up the shards and fit things together for her.

Earthquakes and aftershocks continue in California even today, and experts say residents may expect the same for a long time to come. A new normal may need to be decided upon. How each person deals with it will differ. Hopefully it will begin with, Please, God.

Yesterday when I saw Patsy, she briefly, at the mention of her name, opened her eyes and said, “wow.” She then closed them and went back to her inner zone. I felt God had winked and hope came down. The doctor acknowledged we were in a holding pattern, a waiting game. His words were, “she’ll wake up when God brings her out.” Until then we pray…please, God.

Light Bulb Moments

Having been sick for almost three weeks has put me in a position of pause. I reluctantly rescheduled appointments, delayed duties, and missed occasions of enjoyment with family and friends. I pleaded for prayers of healing and restoration of my voice. With my vocal ability on hold, I focused on my manuscript for Book Two in my Legacy Series. Legacy’s Path is coming along with me in the middle of chapter thirteen. I did considerable first aid on this chapter, cutting and pasting until I felt it was right. My characters did their part in leading me in the direction they needed (dare I say wanted?) to go.

Yesterday as I sipped yet another cup of soothing tea and allowed “Seth and Emily” to carry a scene, a light bulb came on. In that illuminating moment, I knew how this book would end. What is more exciting is I also have the framework for Book Three!

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In my Bible, I have tiny lightbulbs drawn next to verses where God revealed something important to me. It often indicates a turning point in my thinking, attitude, or actions. I have commented to people about those “aha” moments when I finally can see the direction God wants me to go. I like to color yellow rays of light in my journaling. It helps me catch the thought and explore it more fully.

I find in my writing, when I allow the characters to speak, and we work in tandem, things flow easier. If I interject my plan on them, it usually ends up needing first aid. In my spiritual life, writing my own life script apart from God never fares well. He then steps in when I cry out for help. He is The Author and Finisher of my faith, and a much better writer than I ever hope to be.

Have you experienced light bulb moments? Please stay and share, I’d love to hear about them.

Talking About Books

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Discovering a good book and reading it begs conversations with other readers. It’s kin to finding a fantastic restaurant; you want to share the news with everyone you know. You mention your favorite item on the menu, the great service, atmosphere and the best time to visit.

With books we happen upon; either accidentally, through advertisement, or by recommendation, when it’s something that touches your soul, changes your life or gives you guidance, you can’t resist telling someone. Such was the case with me and a sweet friend a good number of years ago when she moved from San Antonio to Del Rio.

Deb and I determined to stay in touch and both being avid readers, what better way. We formed our unofficial Duo Book Club. We take turns suggesting a Christian book to read, and then each Sunday afternoon we discuss it over the phone from three till four o’clock. One chapter a week keeps it fresh and relevant. We choose nonfiction books which address areas we want to work on in our life, decide we’d like to develop a better awareness of a topic, or learn a different approach to more consistent spiritual disciplines.

Our talk time begins with a quick catch-up on what we’ve been doing through the week, praises for which we’re thankful, along with current prayer needs. Our book discussion begins with an overview of the chapter, and continues by drawing out specific points we feel are important, profound, or yes, occasionally pointless. Some of our selections have made a huge impression on us, while a few we struggled to get to ‘The End.’

While we strive to connect every week, there are times when we skip due to vacations, illness, or family gatherings. Our Duo Book Club has strengthened our friendship over the years. Through it, we’ve discovered things that draw us closer together. We support each other in many ways not possible without the closeness we’ve developed.

Book Discussion Clubs are fun and fantastic regardless of size. Besides my phone club, there are online groups, and of course, physical groups meeting in homes, coffee shops and libraries. Some read both fiction and nonfiction, while others enjoy fiction exclusively. Some seek out serious reading material but during the summer, they lighten it up with a selection just for fun.

I know of one overseas group (through a friend of my daughter), who chose my book, The Estate Sale, to read and discuss. A friend in California belongs to an online group and will be reading it in August. I also have a friend here in town who is a member of a library group and chose my book for October. She has invited me to be a guest for that meeting. I’m very excited and honored.

Talking about books with others creates windows of discovery about your (and their), views of life, death, and eternity. Start or join a group this summer and see where it takes you. If you’re a seasoned book discussion group member, let me know what you’re reading.

Hovering

I poured myself a cup of English Breakfast tea, and sat watching the hummingbirds dive, swoop and hover, around the two feeders on our back patio. It’s a challenge to keep them filled, because there are so many fighting for a spot at the sweetened nectar houses. I am entertained for as long as I remain still, undetected and quiet.

I learned that the male is responsible for the “bee-like” buzzing sound while hovering. The female whirring is a bit quieter. They pitch and dive, and emit various squeaks, twitters, and other high-pitched warning sounds. These tiny feathered friends are fun to observe, but they teach things if I watch and listen.

The hovering fascinates me. Suspended in air as they sip nectar quickly, their little wings move twenty-five to fifty times per seconds (some species much more). Hummingbird’s legs are tiny and weak, so they spend almost all their time in the air, resting briefly on occasion. They return often, trusting the feeder will contain what they need.

Mornings when I pour my tea and sit quietly, immersed in God’s Word, I’m learning a hummingbird lesson. I’ve started hovering at certain passages of spiritual nectar, drinking it in. My weakness is strengthened, enabling me to continue the journey God has planned for me. Sometimes I take a quick sip, while other occasions, I linger long. Daily I return to spend precious time hovering, trusting I will receive the nectar I need. The source of my spiritual food is unlimited and always available. I need only to seek it out.

I hope you’ll take time to feed, watch, and enjoy hummingbirds at your house this spring. Delight yourself in their antics. I pray you will, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

Journaling Treasures

It’s no secret I have a passion for journaling. I actually possess numerous books for such a purpose. I use different types depending on what I’m journaling about, but my favorite are my spiritual journals. Having kept them for many years, I have been able to witness the spiritual growth God has performed in me. The dated pages from decades ago, reveal baby steps of holding the hand of my Heavenly Father, as He guided and taught me His ways. Year by year, I have learned teachings, verses of Scripture, how to pray, and so much more. Still, I have such a long way to go.

You see, no matter how far we come in our spiritual walk, we will never “arrive,” this side of heaven. The short span of time we are here, is not sufficient to master the ways of God fully…nor did He intend for it to be. We’re on a journey from our birth until we leave this earthly body.

I find it interesting that the words journal and journey come from the same root word, meaning book. I like to think of my life being a book, and every day I record my thoughts and actions as I live out my life. I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5), so one day I’ll be in His presence. My journey will be completed and my living journal will finished.

Right now, I enjoy recording what God teaches me and I try to not have to repeat the same lessons over and over. If I don’t get it right, He provides ample opportunity for demonstration purposes. It’s kindred to being held back a grade for your own good. You get to repeat the tests before moving on to something more challenging. In my journals, my life verse is written large on pages where I elaborate about being tired of going through “this” again. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me God does and allows things for my good, and they aren’t coming to harm me. It makes repetition less painful.

I love to lead Spiritual Journaling workshops. If you would like more information about them, leave me a comment here with your contact information and I’ll be in touch. In the meantime, Happy Journaling!