Monday, May 20, 2019

Dumbbells and Smart Belles


"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me" (Acts 20:24 NIV).

I'm not an exercise guru, not even close. But, I keep going physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, there are days I want to just give it all up––the writing, the classes, even the ministry. Did I just admit that? Haven't you been there a time or two, honestly? I'm guessing, yes. Admitting it is a way of facing the reality that things change and sometimes God does want to move us into a new task. But, just maybe, He wants to renew us for the task at hand. Maybe, we are burned out or just weary. Either way, He doesn't want us to give up, just keep moving. When I reach that point, I ask myself if I want to give up or, do I want to keep going and do more? A reality check that shakes my soul because deep down, I don't want to give up. I want to finish the race––on the path I walk or another path waiting for me directed by my God.

You don't have to enter the senior years to feel like giving it all up to go sit on the beach. Seasons in our lives cause us to want to give up on our dreams, give up on our marriage, our family or our job. We can lose our drive, our purpose, and our way if we lose sight of why we are in the race. The finish line has vanished from our view, and we lose sight of the task the Lord gives us. 

In my book, Shape Your Soul, I write about resistance training in one chapter.  Resistance training increases stamina. As you grow stronger, you don't tire as easily. The more weight you bear, the more you resist giving up. Likewise, the more we resist the devil, the more our faith muscles straighten and our faith increases. Each victory over sin builds our faith. We resist the temptation to give up, and we don't give in to the devil. "Therefore, submit to God. But, resist the devil, and He will flee from you" (James 4:7 HCSB).

I push myself in many ways––although not through exercise per se. But, physically, yes, I do push myself. I love to scrub floors, go figure. We have many on our mission base so I can't get away from my floor scrubbing exercise. I look for ways to exercise in my daily routine. I put things away where I'll have to bend––yep bending exercises. I keep moving, physically, mentally, and spiritually. If not, the body withers, our minds get lazy, and the soul dies.

A few years ago I developed carpel tunnel because I worked on the computer daily. Then last year, my right arm developed golf elbow and tennis elbow from completing five book contracts. Both times, I had physical therapy for months on end and part of that was lifting dumbbells to straighten my wrists and arm. Grueling can't accurately describe the pain of the therapy. But, without it, my shoulder could be frozen, possible surgery for my wrists and one of my dream jobs (writing) coming to and end. Not to mention, my day job as a missionary and teacher to young girls in jeopardy also. I saw the end result and worked towards it without hesitation. I wanted to get to the final therapy session and enjoy my work again.

Reaching the end of the race and accomplishing God's tasks for me keeps me going. Daily working out my faith straightens my soul to keep going in the race. There may be setbacks and rest periods along the journey, but I keep going to reach the finish line.

Resistance training with God moves our mountain of defeat. If we resit the devil, we gain strength, and complete our task for the Lord––never giving up and never defeated.

Let's be smart belles using our preverbial dumbbells to strengthen our souls so we never give up.



Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Happy Mother's Day


"I will remember the works of the Lord;" (Psalm 77:11 KJV)

Many of us have mothers who are gone––some to heaven, and some separated by many miles. I'm far away from my kids and grandkids this Mother's Day, but they are tucked in my heart where they are forever close to me.

For me, Mother's Day doesn't have to be a sad day because of separation, but a day of wonderful memories. I'm thankful God gives us memories and the ability to recall them. Some of my memories are funny ones, but others bring tears spilling over my face, and some do both. I love them all because I can see God's hand in every one.

I can both cry and laugh out loud every time I think of this memory––the birth of our granddaughter, Kayla. It is a testimony of how God gives us everything we need while going through hard situations in life. He even gives us humor to release tension.

We were privileged to be home on furlough when Kayla was born. After her entrance into our lives and arms, we headed back to the house with our son-in-law. We were all ecstatically happy but exhausted and ready for a comfy bed. That wasn't to be.

An hour later, a phone call broke the silence of the calm night and our elated state. Our son-in-law rushed out the door telling us to call our daughter––she would explain. We heard our daughter's frantic voice on the other end. Kayla had stopped breathing. They had her on machines to keep her breathing and to monitor her. It was a nightmare situation for our daughter. While waiting for the nurses to bring the baby to her, she became impatient waiting. Hours had passed, and there was no explanation for why she couldn't see her baby. As any new mother would do, she got out of bed at midnight and went searching for her baby. She found Kayla in a corner of the nursery, isolated and on the machines. I can only imagine the fear that must have paralyzed my daughter as she looked through that nursery window.

The next day, the baby was stabilized but there was no explanation for why she couldn't breathe on her own. The doctors began running a multitude of tests. My husband and I left for the hospital early that morning. We were exhausted from a sleepless night but trying to stay calm for our daughter and son-in-law's sake. That wasn't easy––especially for me.

I headed to our daughter's room while my husband tried to get information about the baby at the nurses' station. Standing at the door of my daughter's room, I froze in my steps. I couldn't enter the room. What was wrong with my daughter? She didn't look like herself. Her face seemed changed. Her hair was the same, the room was the same, but who was the strange man sitting by her bed holding her hand? Already panicky about my granddaughter, now I feared my daughter also had a problem.

The man sitting by her side asked in a sweet soft voice, "Can we help you?"

Stunned, I looked them both up and down. Oh my! This was the birthing room from the day before. This wasn't my daughter but another young mother-to-be waiting for her baby to be born. She looked so much like my daughter they could have been sisters. Embarrassed, yes! Relieved beyond words, yes! Apologizing over and over, yes! Funny––not at the time!

I found my daughter's room. Our whole family was there by this time. Reluctantly, I told them about my misadventure. The whole hospital must have heard the howling coming out of that room on that morning. But that wasn't the end of their fun.

The following morning, we returned to the hospital. We were allowed to visit Kayla. As I put on the gown and looked at the helpless baby with tubes in her little body in that incubator, I completely lost it! I sobbed while a nurse comforted me and explained Kayla's condition. Finally, I held that sweet little thing in my arms and thanked God she was in a hospital that was prepared to handle her problems. After visiting the baby, we headed to my daughter's room. I was sure more jokes would be on the horizon that day, but I wasn't at all prepared for what came next.

Entering the room, I felt relieved that this time, it was my daughter in the bed. Kisses and hugs were exchanged. Then my son-in-law stood up and flung open the curtain that separated the next bed over from our sight. During the night, my daughter gained a roommate––I'm guessing you already know–the new mother from the birthing room the day before. She smiled and said, "Hi, Mom!" Her whole family had been sitting behind the curtain waiting for the unveiling. I'm sure the roar of laughter from that room on that day is one for the hospital's records.

The two young mothers confessed they were going to switch beds and confuse me again, but then decided my grandmother heart had enough excitement in the past few days. We enjoyed getting to know this sweet young mom who looked so much like my daughter, and her wonderful family. It was a time of laughter, rejoicing and sharing our faith.

The next day, we had the results of the tests. Kayla was born with pneumonia, but she was on her way to a full recovery. It is one of the Lord's works that we will always remember. Our prayers were answered.

I thought a mother, daughter, granddaughter story would be appropriate for Mother's Day! Hope the corners of your mouth turned upward a few times.

I am blessed to be a mom and a grandmother, and I'm thankful for all the wonderful memories of my kids and grandkids! Let's remember all of the Lord's wonderful works this Mother's Day!

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Happy Mother's Day!

This story is an excerpt from my new devotional book for women. A great Mother's Day gift. Find it here on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2uMiqu1





Sunday, April 21, 2019

Stop and Go



In a distance, birds chirped their morning concert. Gazing at the clock, I debated––crawl out of my cozy, warm bed or watch the sunrise through the lacy curtains. The orange sun poked over the mountain, and the stars faded into the dawn. Too late to pull the covers over my head and drift back to sleep. My eyes begged to close, but my brain raced with the daily tasks at hand. Rising early would usher me into a quiet time with the Lord––I hoped.

I'm not a morning person. I prefer to be quiet in the morning except for talking to the Lord. You won't find me exercising, enjoying a morning conversation on the phone, or turning on the TV. Unless the calendar says get going out the door for an appointment, meeting, class, a hospital emergency or other work-related commitments, I'll relish the time at home. Now don't misunderstand, you won't find me on the couch. I'll be chomping at the bit to get in gear. Cleaning and laundry will most likely steal my attention from the computer that beckons me to catch up on correspondence and my writing schedule.

Watching from afar, you'd wonder how I do it all. A mystery to me also, but I do have help––supernatural help. The word "still" doesn't compute in my thought pattern. Not unless I choose to get my Bible and head to my cozy spot in a corner of my house where I enter my God Nook. Oh, how I love that place. So why don't I rush more often to that special place? Too Busy. But, is it necessary to get to my nook in order to meet with God? What does it mean to be still?

Until we stop, we can't be still. Until our minds stop, we can't focus on the One who stopped His earthly life when He went to the cross for us. He chose us. We can stop and choose Him. Choose to stop and focus fully on Him. Then we are still. Then our soul finds rest. "My soul finds rest in God alone" ( Psalm 62:1 NIV).

For many of us, slowing down is work. It's natural for us to run, move, go, but it's unnatural for us to slow down, stop, breathe. However, it's possible to find that cozy nook anywhere--anytime, and for any amount of time. Just focus on God and nothing else.

There's nothing wrong with being busy, being active, being on the go––except, we often never stop.

Where I grew up, we had Stop and Go stores. Maybe you did too. We stopped, got what we needed, filled up our tank and our stomachs, then continued on.

Stop. It seems simple, but yet it's the hardest thing to do.

Practice these steps: Stop. Look. Listen. Breathe. Go.

Take time to focus on God in your God Nook––wherever that might be. Stop for a few minutes or an hour, look into His face, listen to His voice, breathe in His majesty, and then go. But, make it a habit to stop often. Know He is God. Bask in His presence.

Let's stop, get filled up, and go shine His light in the world.

This blog is an excerpt from my newly revised book, Dancing Like Bees, now available on Amazon.




Available here on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2YMDbUd



Monday, April 8, 2019

Easter Ears



"He is not here; he is risen!" (Luke 24:6 NIV)

When Easter nears, I think of Easter baskets and how to communicate the Easter story to little ones. God tells us to think like children. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NIV).

·     In my children’s books, The Really Rare Rabbits Series, the little rabbits hear someone teaching about Jesus. They listen. They press their ears to the window to hear more. As adults, are we too busy to listen to God’s voice?

·     Do we lean our elbows on heaven's windowsills and press our ears to God’s heavenly window and listen to His voice or have we come away from the God’s window and only hear the world’s noise?

·     Even a child can hear the story of the cross and believe. It’s a simple message of love. Jesus came to earth to die for all that we might live with Him in heaven for eternity––if we only believe. 

Easter is a time of renewal and reflection. Let’s reflect on all Christ did for us on the cross and determine to press our ears to His window and listen to His voice on Easter morning and always––with our ears pressed like the little rabbits. He is risen!




Back Cover Blurb

Chi Chi and his sister Fi Fi are part of a family of giant rabbits. The young rabbits live on a mountain in Bolivia where their ancestors landed with their owners, the Quechua Indians, when they escaped from Machu Picchu as the Spaniards invaded the Inca Empire in Peru.

You won’t see them on the mountain unless you look very close, but you will hear them giggling. A very old legend tells of their unbelievable size and their truly unusual job, protecting a treasure of gold left behind on the mysterious rocky mountain by their owners of long ago.

Every night they sit by their fires, near where they think the treasures are buried. But, one day they hear of a new Light on the mountain that never burns out. Even though Chi Chi and Fi Fi are supposed to stay well hidden during the day, they decide to venture down the mountain to peer in the missionaries’ windows. That is when their dangerous adventure begins.


How I know Really Rare Rabbits Exist

When I moved to the foot of this mountain where our mission is based, I hadn’t yet heard the legend of the mysterious rabbits that live in my backyard. Daily, I gaze out my windows at the Andes Mountains (my backyard) where sightings are rare of these huge rabbits—standing three feet tall.

I doubted the legend––until I heard the rabbits giggle. The sweet sound directed me to the window only to see two of them scurry away as their fluffy, white tails disappeared into the bushes.

According to the legend, the rabbits guard the lost Inca gold on my mountain. Intrigued, I researched Inca history and began writing about the huge critters. Of course, my writer imagination ran wild, and they became my imaginary pets that looked over my shoulder or watched me from the mountaintop. I had to share this delightful, ancient legend––mixed with my imagination so children would have fun while learning history and Bible principles. 

What happens when the rabbits trek down the mountain and peer in my windows? Chi Chi and Fi Fi tell their story in my book, Really Rare Rabbits Book 1.



 The Really Rare Rabbits Series on Amazon athttps://amzn.to/2Hh2hnJ

Also available on Amazon in Spanish at https://amzn.to/2SLGEyc



Monday, April 1, 2019

Facing Fear with Faith


Fi Fi Faces Her Fears

We all face things we fear. And, perhaps, children's fears may be more intense. How do we help them through their fears and teach them to trust God? In my children's series, Really Rare Rabbits Book 2: The Secret at Peppermint Pass, there is a tool to help children overcome their fears and learn to trust God. These rabbits take you on a dangerous journey with them to meet their grandfather. On the way, they face their fears and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances.

As a writer, I reap the benefits of researching Bible principles for my children's books. I spend many hours praying and researching verses to incorporate in my stories. Those verses inevitably cause me to dig deeper for spiritual nuggets to help children, and in the process my soul gets stretched. My walk with God grows more intimate as I strive to impart God's truth that will impact young lives for Jesus. I love writing for children because I know how their little hearts and minds soak up God's Word.

We all go through storms in our lives or face giant obstacles in our paths. Maybe they aren't the green giants that my rabbits encounter, but all the same, we cringe when our giants appear. Children also face their giants. Fi Fi trembles when she meets the giants, but she remembers a Bible verse tucked away in her little heart. "Don't fear; I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

How about you? Are you facing giants today? Just as I wrote how God's Word helped Fi Fi, it will help you also to overcome your fears.

Don't tremble, trust God to slay your giants.

*Revised editions available in English and Spanish on Amazon.com: links under each book to all three books for Amazon purchase.



English link: https://amzn.to/2Hh2hnJ



Spanish link:  https://amzn.to/2SLGEyc


Monday, March 18, 2019

Possessions and Pity


"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:16-17, NIV)

Saturday morning proved to be a fast-paced trip to the city for us. Our primary objective and first stop landed us at the Mac store where our friend and tech guy waited for his frequent visitors. Yes, we now have a Mac store in Bolivia. My computer decided to go on strike the previous night. It messaged me that I had no more space to download files. How could that be whenever in another location it told me I had plenty of space. If only I could talk back to this "smart" companion––smarter than I am.

Two hours later, the problem was solved and the download safely in my files. Ahhh! Any writer will tell you how valuable the files of their books are to them––even though we have backups and more backups. Next, we took advantage of the trip to town and set out to do some needed shopping, mostly groceries. I've been in Bolivia 38 years and grocery shopping now in 2019 is a day out for me. Why?

For many years in the past, our shopping was anything but a day out. It was a day of exhaustion and frustration. There were no supermarkets, so we trekked from one location to another to find our needed items. First, we walked to a street where we bought meat at dawn before it sold out. Then to buy bread on a corner from a lady who made the best bread around, and so on through the day. Did I mention flies, smells, and thieves lurking around waiting for a chance to steal our wallet or purse? And, of course, Americans were their prime targets of the day. 

Now you see why it's a day out for me to go to the supermarket––it's clean and safe and most things are available in one place for the necessities of life. Oh sure, we have specialty shops or favorite other places we like to go, but on the whole, the super gives us the main necessities for cooking, cleaning, and goodies to enjoy and even some clothing items. 

On our last trip home to the States, I remembered mentioning in an email that we had a supermarket somewhat like Walmart now in Bolivia. Arriving in the States one of our first stops––you guessed it––Wally World. We step inside, and our eyes almost bugged out from the vast view––and they stung from the bright lights. We stood there, mouths opened and yes, eyes widened, just like I can imagine a foreigner looks like the first time he experiences the overwhelming availability of products in the United States of America and the beauty and cleanliness of it all. Lest I should forget to mention the humongous building. Indeed the USA has material possessions unlike anywhere in the world. If you doubt me, step outside the USA. BTW, our "Walmart Not" could fit inside a real Walmart many times over.

Ahh, but what do we do with our "possessions"? 

On this day of leisure for us, we decided to stop at a new fast-food chicken place for lunch. We chose to sit outside in a corner spot and watch the traffic and the scenery––mostly traffic and people hurrying by on their Saturday quest for weekly necessities. Smoke from the outdoor "kitchen" engulfed us, but the aroma pleasantly filled our nostrils. At this quaint locale, big glass windows separate the eating area from the street to block the traffic noise and prevent unwanted intruders. But, what we saw through those windows pierced our hearts and challenged us, even more, to do what God has put on our hearts for the building of His Kingdom through Worthy Words Press to gift children's books. 

Sitting in that outdoor section, eating our chicken possessions, we soon saw necessities--sad necessities of a developing country––where we live so we can share the gospel to the unreached and especially children. And, there in those windows leaned three children watching us eat. Not just any children, but poor, ragged and hungry children.

I had hardly touched my food––chicken, rice and french fries, I had passed on the noodles that came with the meal not wanting to waste food. But now, I regretted that decision. The children appeared to range from six to ten years of age. Many times the mother is hiding somewhere waiting for the children to bring any food they can gather, but restaurant owners discourage these little ones from hanging around. The oldest boy showed me a plastic bag, and I motioned for him to come--we paid for that food so what could the owners say to us? We filled the bag with food, and they ran off. 

Yes, we fed them lunch but no time to tell them of Jesus. Soon we can do more. How I wished we had my books already printed so we could have given them books. Books to read about the One who is the Bread of Life to fill their hungry souls. Since God put this idea in our hearts, He daily shows us it is of Him, and that Worthy Words Press is a tool He will use to reach kids for Him. He has promised to guide us and provide for what He wants done––for His will.

Since our first days in Bolivia, we asked God never to allow us to grow cold or insensitive to the needs around us. How exciting for us to see God working to put children's books in Spanish into the hands of little ones like these three precious, hungry children. What a joy for me to see my books being translated into Spanish and used to tell children about Jesus.

We know what He calls us to do, He will do it––He'll provide all we need. And, He is doing that daily. We have professional help, we have the first monetary gifts to begin, we have faithful friends and supporters who pray and give to God's work, and we have the One who keeps His promises. What an awesome God we serve and love! 



With the love of God who fills us with pity for these little ones––and even their parents too––we can use our possessions to do His will!

Read more at: www.WorthyWordsPress.com

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Enlarge Your Tent


"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; 
lengthen your cords, strengthen your cords" (Isaiah 54:2 NIV).

Do you like change? I cringe at the word change, but yet, my life continues to change with each new year that God gives me to continue serving Him. I should embrace change when God says, "Enlarge your place of your tent,"––it means He is enlarging my ministry that I might expand His kingdom with Him. I should live as though I have it all––because I do. I have God, His power, and all I need to do His will. I have a tent (my place of service) but, it's up to me to stretch and not hold back because I am comfortable in my smaller tent. Still, I'm bunkered in––comfortable in my smaller tent and holding back. Stretching my tent curtains wide is hard with my narrow vision. Then, I reflect on my first night in a tent.

My experience with tents is limited to one camping adventure with our Sunday School class many years ago. A member of the class had an enormous army tent and offered it for the trip. Let me say this––we were young. We were energetic, and our group had a unique bond. We did fun things together and always enjoyed food together––lots of scrumptious food. But regardless of the sweet fellowship and great food, this trip would prove I had no missionary blood in my veins––zilch. Comfortable doesn't describe my first and last tent experience. The word glamper didn't exist in the dictionary at that time. 

After our group spent hours assembling the humongous beast, we all placed our cots in family sections and then gathered around the bonfire munching on hotdogs and marshmallows. Before bedding down for the first night of our memorable trip, we had a time of prayer and praise. Sweet voices joined in campfire songs that filled the fresh night air. Toasty and sleepy, we bedded down in our prepared areas. Everything quiet, with crickets rubbing their legs in the distance and a hooting owl hovering near, the night sounds lulled me to sleep. Until in the dark, a shill scream woke everyone. It was me screaming. "There's a snake over there in the corner." 

The campers leaped from their comfy blankets and flashlights beamed everywhere in the tent. Looking for the snake, one man asked, "How could you have seen a snake in the dark?" I didn't. I was dreaming--of snakes! More like a nightmare but oh so real. Of all the memories of that camping trip, which one do you think everyone remembers? A few years later when God called us to the mission field, what story do you think surfaced? Snakes in the tent! In that tent, on that night I couldn't have imagined the snake stories to come––a coral snake in my kitchen in Bolivia–– that I almost stepped on in my bare feet (among other snake stories). My tent stretched to Bolivia where God enlarged our ministry many times. And, now once more through Worthy Words Press to print books in Spanish for underprivileged kids I feel the stretch.

So why not stay where I am––comfortable with a ministry with more than enough avenues of outreach? But, what if I had never ventured from the first tent with the "snake" that didn't exist? The "snakes" in our tents sometimes keep us from strengthening our cords by trusting God to enlarge our vision and outreach. Oh, the blessings I would have missed and the opportunities to expand God's kingdom with Him. God has a bigger vision and more blessings waiting when we stretch beyond our abilities and trust Him who is able to do all things outside our comfortable tent zone.

Do you find yourself stagnant and desiring to stretch your "tent" to do more for God, but you are holding back? Most of us find ourselves in that comfortable zone and like being inside our small tents. But, outside it waits the extraordinary things we never dreamed we could do--and apart from God, we can't. But, when we stretch our tents, we find the joy zone, knowing it's not anything we can do but everything God can do through us. And, God gets the glory.

I know God will get the glory when Worthy Words Press reaches underprivileged kids for Him through books with worthy words that tell of Jesus. I'm enlarging my tent of ministry, and it's not easy and a bit scary, but oh, so exciting too.

When stretching our tents results in God being glorified, that is God's will! Let's not hold back.
Go ahead, enlarge the place of your tent and let God get the glory.