Monday, October 24, 2016

Facing fear on the back of a motorcycle

The Honda Valkyrie
Morning comes too early. The alarm sounds this truth. Rousing from the warmth of my bed, I slide cold feet into velvet soft slippers and glide into the bathroom. Groggy eyed, I reach behind the curtain to turn on water. Shivering, I disrobe and enter. The warm against my back feels delightful. I long to stand and soak for days. Instead, I hurry knowing my friend will soon arrive. An adventure has been planned.

After donning clothes and eating breakfast, I hear the sound in my driveway, a low, soft rumble. Swiftly, she rides up parking the Honda Valkyrie with swift skill. She comes in for a few minutes and looks over my clothing. "It's cold outside," she says with emphasis on the word cold. I rethink my wardrobe. Underneath jeans and long sleeve shirt are silk long johns, but my friend has no clue. They're thin but efficient. The jacket. She looks at my jacket and points. "That needs help," she smiles. She's brutally honest at times, but I love that she speaks her mind. I open the closet and rifle through several garments. My hand rests on a down jacket. "Yes," she grins, "that will be best." I yank it from the hanger and slip it on. Instantly feeling like I've gained 20 pounds, I stand looking in her direction. She reassures me and we head out the door.

Me in the bandanna
I walk up to the mass of metal and marvel. This huge motorcycle will be transportation today. She hands me a candy apple red helmet and a pair of  black Harley Davidson leather gloves. The rebel inside me rises. I feel empowered as I slip on the helmet and fasten the chin strap. She climbs on the bike and maneuvers it to face down the long driveway then motions for me to hop on. It's been many years since I've been on a bike. As I throw my right leg up and over the back of the passenger seat, I realize I'm not as limber as I used to be. My hip joint complains. Once seated, she nods and cranks the engine. The motor isn't as loud as I thought it'd be. We coast to the bottom of the drive and I put my hands around her waist. She punches the gas and slips into gear. We're off! Wind whistles and the helmet shifts. The loaner helmet is too big. It will have to do. We speed up and shift into third. The cold surrounds and pushes the bike. I begin to doubt the abilities of my friend. She's 66. Can she hold up this large bike with a passenger in strong wind? What have I gotten myself into???

It started as a joke. We were texting and teasing. We'd only known each other a few months. We met at church. Instantly, I liked her. Conversation was easy between us. We had a lot in common except she was older and a recent widow. As we talked, I found out she was part of Faith Rider's Ministry, a motorcycle group representing Christ. On Friday, she'd shared about an upcoming ride. She texted, "I'll pick you up at 10." I responded with a jovial, "OK." I wasn't expecting a serious reply, but that's how the adventure began when she said, "I'm not kidding."

Outside a swap meet at the bike shop
Discussing our plans for the day
We rode about fifteen miles before I relaxed my grip and stopped being afraid I was going to die. When I was finally able to lean into the ride, I began to enjoy it. The feeling of freedom was amazing! Flying down the road, wind whipping and scenery flashing, I began to realize I'd been struggling with trust issues in my life. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I'd felt my life was on a very short time line. I'd felt the need to soak up life in record time because I had no idea how much of it I'd have left. Without realizing it, I'd been living my life filtered through a lens of fear. As we continued on, my thoughts turned from visualizing a horrific crash, me flying over handlebars, skidding along pavement, suffering a severe case of road rash, or Heaven forbid broken bones to wonder. The more I thought about it, the picture of two middle aged women speeding through countryside on a humongous bike was comical. Underneath my friend's helmet was a shock of snow white hair...under her shield, a face full of wrinkles. We both had love handles. We were by no means spring chickens...we were more like roasted hens! But here we were, off on a grand adventure throwing caution to the wind and it felt amazing!
The girls and I

An hour or so later, we arrived at our destination. We'd already traveled 50 miles at speeds well over 70 mph. Removing our helmets, we disembarked and stood for a minute letting our wobbly legs gain stability. As the other members of our party arrived, we entered a small cafe, the 27th Grill. It was just a hole in the wall, a typical biker joint. We took a table near the back of the restaurant and a young boy came to take our drink orders. He was such a nice, polite young man. Speaking through a mouth full of braces, he explained the daily specials. We opted for burgers and fries. While our food was cooking, we tried to smooth and rearrange our helmet hair. Nothing much could be done, so we opted for bandannas to cover our plastered locks. Once again, I had to laugh at myself. Here I stood in a dingy, dirty biker bar dressed in jeans, black leather boots, a black leather vest, and a bright purple bandanna. I felt like I'd stepped into an old movie and all that was missing was a beer brawl, cigarette smoke, thugs in the corner, and a pack of bearded, tattooed men lined up outside.
Our little waiter at the greasy spoon

We sat down to eat, my three friends and I, and bowed our heads to pray. Our server, stopped out of reverence, and stood patiently as we completed our blessing. Timidly, he placed our plates in front of us and asked if we needed anything else. We waved him away with a smile and devoured our food. The food wasn't good but we were hungry. We took our time chatting and went over plans for the rest of the trip. After taking bathroom breaks, we hopped back on the bikes and took off.

By now I was feeling very comfortable on the back of the Valkyrie. It almost felt too good and I began to wonder if I should become a permanent part of this Christian ministry. Wouldn't it be wonderful to ride every weekend sharing my faith with complete strangers? I was seriously considering speaking with the leader when our ride was over.

The road began to twist and turn as we climbed Pine Mountain. Quickly, I matched my friend's rhythm leaning right then left then right again. As the bike leaned low to the ground, I was amazed at how she was able to control the weight of the motorcycle with ease. What a seasoned pro! The Fall color was breathtaking as we pulled into an overlook to enjoy the view. Beautiful hues of yellow, orange, and gold dotted the sides of the mountain. The heavenly blue sky made a scenic backdrop. I wanted to sit and absorb the view forever.
The Faith Riders logo

We'd been riding for several hours and I was starting to get tired. The constant sunshine had not only kept me warm but had also caused me to get sleepy. I felt my muscles loosening and almost dropped the grip from my partner's waist a few times on the way back as I began to drift off. Halfway home, our friends split off as they waved goodbye. Now we were lone lady riders, exhausted but content.

When we ended our journey, I thanked my friend for a wonderful experience then watched her drive away. This was the first time I'd ever traveled over 100 miles in a day on the back of a motorcycle. Walking to my front door, my legs felt like jello. I was shaky and ready to fall into my recliner and rest a while.

As I removed my down jacket, long johns, and boots, I looked into the mirror. Before me stood a stranger...a biker chick in a purple bandanna. "Who are you and how did you get here?" I asked myself.  I had absolutely no idea. I didn't have a clue why I'd accepted the invitation to go riding and I didn't realize, until much later in the day, that God had used that motorcycle ride to teach me a few things about trust. I learned sometimes He brings situations into our lives to mold us and shape us. He can use unlikely events or circumstances as teaching tools. Trusting is difficult, especially when we like to have control, but when we learn to relax and let go, we can enjoy the ride.

Do I think I'll ever go on a long motorcycle ride again? Probably not. Was I happy I went? In the long run, yes! It was something I'll never forget - a once in a lifetime trip. Did I conquer my fear? I think I did. I realized God already has a specific day and time picked out for me to die and I'm not going to die one second before then. It wouldn't matter whether I died on the back of a motorcycle or in my kitchen baking cookies, it would be okay because I knew where I would spend eternity.

I've always been a rebel at heart although I haven't always acted the part. If I had a chance for a do-over, I might have learned to ride a motorcycle when I was younger. Riding 100+ miles on the back of a Honda Valkyrie isn't something I ever thought I'd do at the age of 58, but I'm glad I did. The feeling of riding, wind in your face, is very freeing. Who knows what next year will bring but I'm sure I'll be ready for another adventure.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Change is coming

I step into brisk Autumn air. Wind dances wild, leaves dip and swirl. Standing beneath sentry Pines, I look up. Sky, brilliant blue, kissed  by morning sunshine smiles down at me. Something inside whispers, "Change is coming." Leaves gently float. Evidence of change is in all nature this time of year. Deadness slowly sloughs to make ready for Spring's newness. Stirring in my heart matches the  season. Alive and hopefilled, I revel. This feeling, priceless. Maybe it has something to do with wind whispers gently caressing my soul, calling come and dance...leave the baggage of care heart leaps.

Ginger colored leaves blanket the lawn. As wind blows, trees shimmy and shake releasing brown beauties. Watching, they glide to the ground, slowly, slowly, falling. One on top of the other, they rest. I fight the urge to run, breaking and cracking. Memories come. The laughter, the falling, the mounding. But the burying! The burying was best!  My siblings and I treasured this season. Bundled in sweaters and jeans, we gathered rakes. Our yard stretched wide and long, trees and shrubs scattered throughout. Scratching the surface, we'd goad leaves into hills laughing, planning. One done and the devious runs through, scattering and destroying. Frustration mounts but for a moment, then giggles come. We begin again, working together. Lined up, we run at breakneck speed, leaping joyfully into crispy, crunchy leaves. Lying there, surrounded by crushed foliage, gazes shift. Peering heavenward, thankful for childhood. We knew...change was coming.

Change is coming. This broken has ended. New life awaits. Buried beneath the dead of old lies the new waiting to spring forth. The choice is mine. To slough off or to keep? To cast away or to hold close? The wind of change speaks, "let go...let go." Fear grips me. Insecurity chides. In the leaf cyclone, they taunt, "Release, float with us..." Listening, I am invigorated.  "Come," they say, and I do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Step into my mind

it's time to do another train of thought exercise and today seemed like the perfect day i just got home from the grocery store and what an experience that was i don't usually go to the store by myself because it's difficult with the swelling in my arms hubby usually carries the groceries for me and makes my life easier but he was working today and we were out of a lot of things and it just made sense for me to go while i had the opportunity there were so many people there and i wondered why none of these folks worked during the middle of the week the store was like a bee hive people buzzing all around spending money and getting ready for the weekend and that's basically why i was there too getting ready for the weekend as i shopped i saw halloween decorations in almost every department i'd gone to walmart to do my grocery shopping since i didn't have to buy any meat this time i don't like to buy meat at walmart because i don't trust it i've seen people lay unwanted meat on random shelves throughout the store and i'm sure the stockers pick it up and take it back to the proper department even though they have no idea how long the meat has been lying around and that scares me meat not held at proper temperature is very dangerous and people can get very sick from it i've had food poisoning before and i don't ever want to go through that again as i was about to check out i passed the row with halloween candy and saw a big back of assorted treats inside the bag were reese's peanut butter cups whoppers milk duds and many more little tiny mini candies i threw a bag into the cart and headed toward checkout to pay i had some nice conversation with the woman in front of me she'd just moved here from illinois and she was marveling at the hot weather she had a huge basket full of bedding plants and was looking forward to planting some pansies and dusty miller i commented on the dusty miller and told her i loved to feel the leaves on it because they were so soft and silky she probably thought i was a nut but i didn't care after all my groceries had been bagged and i'd loaded them into my cart i walked across the parking lot to my car after unloading the groceries i locked the car and walked to the buggy rack to return my cart driving home was quick because the traffic was light as soon as i pulled into my driveway i opened the carport door and began unloading the merchandise the bags were heavy and i wished my husband was available to help me but since he wasn't i just made a dozen trips piling the groceries on the table and on the countertops i knew it would take me another twenty minutes to get everything sorted out and put away i glance at the clock it is already 2 and i haven't eaten lunch yet when the last can goes into the pantry i pop a meal into the microwave i want something quick and easy i wait 4 minutes and thirty seconds and then sit in front of the tv in my recliner sitting there with my feet propped up i eat my lunch and watch a documentary on the execution process of prisoners on death row as i am watching i am reminded there is a prisoner in georgia slated to be put to death today his name is gregory lawler and he's convicted of killing two police officers i struggle with the death penalty i know the bible says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but do we really have the right to judge and do we really have the right to end a life i don't think so i believe those rights belong solely to god and therefore i believe in life imprisonment instead of the death penalty the television show gives interesting facts about the days leading up to a prisoner's death and how every hour of their last day is spent they even go into great detail about how the last meal is prepared and how there's a dollar limit set for the amount of food purchased for that last meal and each state has a different limit there's a special prison chef who prepares the meals for the prisoners and he says he enjoys his job they go over the process of keeping witnesses for the prisoner and the victim's family separate at the execution and how they test equipment beforehand to make sure there are no slip ups and how the inmate has a right to talk with the prison pastor to make sure his soul is right before he dies there's so much they consider and so much the public probably doesn't know and i think it's a good thing we have a justice system in place even though i don't agree with killing someone i continue to watch and they're talking about placing a natural sea sponge soaked in water into the inside of the cap that goes on the prisoner's head when he's to be electrocuted they shave his head and the sea sponge soaked in water helps conduct the electricity they said there was a man in the past whose head was not shaved before electrocution and his hair caught fire and sparks were shooting out from under the metal helmet and the flames were everywhere and it was terrible i don't know how i can even watch this while eating but i do because it's interesting and i think i have a criminal mind after i finish my microwave meal i walk back to the kitchen for a sweet treat i just want a little something and i remember that big bag of halloween candy in the pantry i rip open the bag and look inside there are several of my favorites candies i reach for one and find i've pulled out a miniature pack of whoppers those have always been a favorite since childhood as i pop open the package and squeeze one of the malted milk balls to the top of the plastic tube they're in i let it fall into my open mouth immediately i'm transported to the early 60's i'm standing in the middle of my living room and my dad is in his chair watching tv he loves whoppers too and he's holding a milk carton type container full of the candy and he's shaking it and laughing i can hear his laugh like it was yesterday he laughs again and rattles the whoppers in their container i hear the balls rolling around and banging against the inside of the cardboard container then he tips the carton up to his lips as several balls fall into his mouth i stand close by and ask him if i can have a few and he smiles a big smile and shakes the candies into my small hand i can hold about ten candies and i'm happy when he fills my hand to the brim i sit on the sofa holding my treasure and slip a chocolaty ball into my mouth as the candy coating melts on my tongue i get a hint of malt flavor and i look up to see my daddy watching me his mouth full of malted milk balls and his cheeks look like chipmunk cheeks i want to copy him so i do the same thing and put more milk balls in my mouth i can't hold many but try to stuff five into each side of my mouth when i smile at my daddy my mouth hurts because of the tension the smile creates across the lumpy melty milk balls daddy tells me i have chocolate teeth and that makes me smile even bigger i like that he's smiling too and we keep eating until we are stuffed with malty flavor for a few minutes i sit in my recliner letting the taste of the milk balls transport me through time back into my childhood for a glimpse at that special time once again there weren't many memories like that for me with my daddy and that's why this food trigger is so memorable as i crumple the candy wrapper my memory begins to fade away and i think how good it was to relive that special time and i'm thankful for the halloween candy and how that little pack of whoppers made me feel today and just think if i hadn't bought them i would have missed stepping back into time isn't it funny how most of our memories are tied to food just the sight or smell or taste of something can spark a recessed memory and call it forth with ease our minds are amazing and god surely is the master of creation no eye has seen no ear has heard no heart has imagined what god has prepared for those who love him i am grateful for my heavenly father who loves me so well and i'm also grateful for my earthly father who sometimes took the time to make me feel special and share a smile with me over a childhood treat

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

National No Bra Day is coming soon

October has been designated as breast cancer awareness month. Many breast cancer survivors have come to know the month as the dreaded “Pinktober.” While pinking things up is meant to raise breast cancer awareness, it often sparks mixed feelings among those who’ve felt the effects of breast cancer. In conjunction with breast cancer awareness month, a campaign called “National No Bra Day,” began in 2011. According to a news article, published by ABC7, “People are encouraged to ditch their lingerie to raise awareness about the disease, raise money for research, and to support survivors.” The social media campaign purports freeing the breasts as a fun way to bring awareness to the need for annual mammograms and testing to prevent breast cancer. But does it really? As a breast cancer survivor, I’d like to give you my perspective.

When I was a young girl, I couldn’t wait to get my first bra. At the first sign of breast buds, my mother purchased a training bra for me. That lacy little slip of fabric made me feel feminine. As I developed, I graduated from a training bra into a real bra with cups. My breasts were prized possessions. They were not only ornamental, but functional. At 19, when I had my first child, my breasts provided nourishment. At the age of 40, I had my first mammogram, a necessary preventative test. At 56, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had both breasts removed. Since I opted for no reconstruction, I was forced to wear a bra containing two silicone prostheses. These man-made breast forms gave me the semblance of womanhood. Without them, my chest looked pre-pubescently flat. Some days I choose to wear my prostheses and some days I don’t. When I need to “look normal” in public, I wear a bra and prostheses. When I am home or around loved ones, I go without these items. Prostheses are heavy and uncomfortable but in order to “fit in” I need to wear them. And that’s why National No Bra day bothers me.

I don’t understand how taking off your bra for a day does anything to raise awareness for breast cancer. The only thing I think it really does is give men something to ogle over and give women something to giggle about. For those of us who’ve experienced major surgery to remove our breasts, bras have become a necessary evil. It’s difficult to wear prostheses without a bra and socially unacceptable to be a flat chested woman. Where does that leave us? I don’t want to seem overly sensitive to a fun filled social media holiday, but I just don’t get it. What’s the point in going bra-less? And how are funds raised when you remove your lingerie?

So please excuse me if I don’t participate in this year’s festivities. I find it offensive that men and women flippantly consider such a silly way of raising awareness for breast cancer. If people really wanted to gain understanding and awareness, I propose we declare a National Bare Chest Day where men and women who’ve been through breast cancer could share their battle wounds by making their scars visible for all to see. Perhaps then more people would take breast cancer seriously and the National No Bra Day would become a thing of the past.  

©bonnie annis all rights reserved

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Learning is painful

Light filtered through trees as brown leaves floated gently on wind. Sky, brilliant blue, held tight the secret of a lingering hurricane. Hummers hummed filling with sweet nectar. Today would be a good day, a beautiful gift waiting to be unwrapped.

In the kitchen, sandwiches stacked, I packed. We were going on a picnic! It was one of our favorite things to do. Surrounded by leaves and trees, we could forget. Worries melt away outdoors. We needed this day. There had been too much work and too much stress. We longed for peace. 

Along winding tree filled roads we traveled. Farmland spread wide and free. Cows dotted pastures and large hay rolls sat sentry. The sun illuminated nature's glorious canvas. My eyes memorized as hubby chauffeured. Expectations voiced, we continued forward. 

Dowdell's Knob
An hour passed and we'd reached our destination, F.D.R. State Park, Georgia's largest state park. It'd been a while since we'd been here and we'd forgotten. Today we'd remember sitting atop Dowdell's Knob overlooking King's Gap. Gathering our things, we marched across the parking lot intent on finding "our spot." There, just along the ridge of Pine Mountain, huge boulders rested. Selecting a gently sloping stone, we sat. Silently, we awed. The wide expanse of the world lay before us. Hanging gently in the blue, a train of clouds ran along the horizon, remnants of the storm. On the boulder, we felt the sun's warm caress. Sandwiches came out and were devoured. We hadn't realized how ravenous we'd become. Visitors gathered for photos. None of them stayed long. We continued our meal soaking up beauty like a sponge. Soon the sun's heat became too much. Although a breeze had been blowing, sweat had been building. We rose ready for our next destination. Not wanting to leave, I turned to make mental note of the scene. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew.  This was the perfect place, his thinking place. Thoughts jumbled banging the sides of my skull. Impossible to focus with people milling about. Their comings and goings distracting. Had I missed the moment I'd longed for, the simple solitude of being? Had we been too quick to leave this place of serenity? I quietly mourned.

Longing for more, we hiked. Leaves crinkled and crunched underneath the weight of our shoes. Padding through the forest our eyes fixed. The path, evident, led us deeper. Acorn sprinkled ground, Fall was nearing. Squirrels and birds voiced disapproval at our approaching. And then I saw it. An ugly mound of brokenness in the midst of beauty. Glass and rust mingled together. We stopped ashamed. Trash. Ugly mountain of refuse from ages past. Why? Why? We discussed this mess of things used and abused before moving on. Disgusting and painful to see, evidence of commercialism in the heart of nature. A thorn in God's creation. And life is much the same. Completing our hike, we turned to retreat. Sweat dripping from brow, we longed for water. Revival in a swig from the bottle. Our feet moved faster.
The path

Hours passed. Sitting, we realized our exhaustion. Thankful for air conditioning, we drove on. There was still much to see and much to do. Determined to make the most of the day, we did. 

The sun hung low as we worked our way past fields covered in shadows of late day. A sigh of relief was breathed between us. Silence golden as the gentle hum of riding almost lulled us to sleep. Home sweet home! We'd made it. Thankful, we paused savoring moments given today. It had been a good day. Lingering longer would have made it better. Next time. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Real Life Drama

Rory's new book
Last night my husband and I went to see the showing of the movie, "To Joey, With Love." Yes, we saw it about a month after it first came out, but that's okay. We wanted to see it. I needed to see it.

The movie was based on the real life story of Joey Feek, country music artist, and her battle with ovarian cancer. For two years, Joey fought valiantly to live. She wanted to continue to mother her little one, a beautiful daughter named Indiana. And while she was fighting to live, cancer continued to grow and metastasize in her body.

I'd followed Rory's blog on the internet for months and months. Rory felt it was important to share their life with those who loved and cared about them. Day by day, he shared the story of their lives and their faith. It was beautiful and heartfelt.

Last night, as we sat in the movie theater, there were about 15 people there. Movies like this aren't very popular, I guess, but I was thankful the theater agreed to play it for those who wanted to see it. As the movie began, a hush fell over the audience. There were no sounds from shuffling bags of popcorn or candy. There were no giggles or whispers. Everyone sat silently and entered into the lives of real people with real pain.

As Joey's struggle with cancer grew more intense, I watched my husband's face. Tears welled in his eyes as he watched her emaciated body on screen. In my own heart, I felt a dozen emotions. I hadn't' anticipated these feelings and was caught off guard.
Joey and Rory Feek

The movie contained video footage Rory filmed during Joey's battle with cancer. He said in his blog he was prompted to do it to keep the memories of his wife alive. I was thankful he did.

When their story explained Joey's cancer had come back after two years, I felt my heart shudder. All of a sudden, what ifs began to bombard my mind. It'd only been 2 years and 3 months since my surgery to remove the breast cancer. I hadn't been given an all clear yet.

While I don't want to live in fear, I do sometimes wonder. I wonder if I'll ever have a recurrence. I wonder if there are tiny, little cancer cells floating around in my body that will grow and metastasize. I wonder if one day in the near future, I'll find myself in a tough battle again. I don't want to fight again. It's too hard.

Joey died on March 4, 2016. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after giving birth to her daughter. Throughout her battle with cancer, she held tightly to her faith. I loved the way Rory captured that in the videos.

Joey and precious Indiana
As the movie ended, everyone in the theater sat through each credit. When it was time to exit the theater, not a sound was uttered. We were all overwhelmed with gratitude. Yes, Joey's story was painful to watch and yes, it was terrible to witness her joyful life end...but what we were most grateful for was the fact that we were still here, we were alive!

I know there were several other cancer survivors in the theater. I'd talked with one as we waited for the movie to start. I wondered if those other survivors felt the way I did. Did they look at Joey's story wondering why her and why not me, like I did? Did they think ahead and begin to consider the what ifs?

There's something about being part of the world of cancer. Survivors truly care about the stories of others going through their own fight. We tend to compare stories while at the same time empathizing. We can understand the struggles. We understand the fear. We just understand in a way others can't. I'm thankful I went to see the movie. I'm thankful my husband wanted to go with me. Joey's story impacted out lives and made us realize we have been truly blessed. We have no idea what the future holds but we know who holds the future and that's enough...

Listen to Joey's beautiful voice here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Storm warning

Predicated storm path
News channels are filling air space with warnings of impending doom. Hurricane Matthew looms. Preparations for evacuation have begun. Friends and family ease into long lines of traffic, hopeful.

And my heart goes out to them. Thankfully, the weather is beautiful here today. The sky is a brilliant blue and a balmy breeze is blowing. It's easy to feel change in the air. But how can things look so calm and peaceful here while there's a storm brewing there?

And Jesus calmed the wind.

Can you imagine being there in a boat with Jesus? Knowing He was a performer of miracles and yet, as the water raged around you, becoming fearful? Why did they not trust? These disciples that KNEW His power....KNEW His strength....KNEW Him?

As Jesus slept in the back of the boat, they were freaking out. I can relate. When things seem so out of control, when we can't understand or see what God is doing in our lives, sometimes it's hard to trust.

So they shake the Master. Wake up! Don't you care if we drown???? The disciples filled with fear and trembling. And what does Jesus do? He stands up. He speaks to the winds and the sea and tells them to BE STILL. Instantly, everything is calm. Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them why they are so afraid. He asks about their faith. The disciples turn to each other in amazement and say, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!"

The disciples knew their Master, Jesus. They knew He was capable. They knew, when He got into the boat with them, they were why did they lose it? Why were they fearful? Because of the intensity of the storm. Wind and waves were crashing all around them. And Jesus...Jesus was asleep!

A hurricane is approaching. It's already done massive damage in Haiti. People have lost their lives. Fear fills hearts because we can't control the wind and waves...only He can. And all we can do is trust.

Lord, please protect those in the path of the storm. Help them look to you for protection. Give their hearts peace as they prepare. Help them remember You are capable of calming the storm. Amen.

"That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown? He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:35-41New International Version (NIV)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A book? Really God?

Night before last, as I was about to go to bed, I felt God impressing something on my heart. "Begin at the beginning." Those four words trailed over and over in my mind. I didn't know where they came from or where they were going but I knew they'd come from God. I took a notepad and wrote the words down. I looked at them over and over again. As I read them aloud, I said to myself, "But what if I don't know when the beginning began..." I left my notepad on the kitchen table and went to bed.

This morning, when I woke up and went into my dining room, I saw the pad of paper lying on the table. I picked it up and the purple ink with which I'd written those words seemed to glow on the paper. Begin at the beginning. Was it time? Was I hearing God properly? I'd been praying about writing a book for a long time. Was this God's go ahead to start writing? I wasn't sure but I hoped so!

After breakfast, I went about my daily chores. I glanced at the notepad over and over through the day. For some reason, it I was being drawn to it. About 3:00 p.m. I passed the table on my way to the laundry room. I picked up the notepad and carried it to my office. Sitting down at the computer, I did an online search for self publishing companies and contacted 2 of them. I wanted an idea of printing costs. I wasn't shocked to find the average range was between $2,000 and $4000. To some, that wasn't a lot of money, but to was a great deal. I haven't worked in almost 4 years now other than doing some freelance writing. Okay God...if you want this to happen, you've got to make a way. That was my breath prayer. One I'd exhaled up to heaven in desperation and hope. I needed a miracle.

Pulling out my desk chair, I sat at my computer and opened up a new Word document. I began to type. Before I realized it, I'd written the introduction to my book...I guess God is really in this! I'm excited to see how a book unfolds and how He will use it for His glory. Step by step, and my foot is raised ready to move forward.

If it ain't one thing, it's another!

  Trying to smile through the pain I've been AWOL for a while now, so this post will more than likely be longer than most. I don't e...