Running Toward Christmas

This year, I’m running toward Christmas . . .

Running like crazy, with joy, as a child would run toward a father or a beloved big brother. Running headlong, arms open, as fast as my little legs will carry me . . .

Into joy

With my eyes focused on the Christ Child.I run to remember Bethlehem one star-strewn night.

To remember a hillside of quiet sheep, resting after a shining day full of grazing.

I run to remember . . .

I settle back in against the hard wood pew, breathing in the light pine scent from fresh wreaths of pine boughs that grace the church as Christmas nears.

I close my eyes for a few seconds, thankful for a good year, anticipating the final two holidays before a brand new year.

Reverend Hatch rises and walks to the pulpit.

Like a silent snow, holy quiet falls over the sanctuary

My back straightens as the Holy Spirit nudges me into deep listening. I pull in a breath.

I’m about to hear something wonderful.

Hatchie, as we lovingly call him, looks out over us and smiles and begins

“When God walked down the stairway of heaven with a tiny Baby in His arms, He came bearing the greatest gift the world has ever been given.”

The words race like a gentle fire into my mind, body, soul, and spirit—into the realm of wonder. Brushstrokes of color flow across my imagination.

From impossible white clouds in a star-pierced violet blue night sky, a figure of brilliant light descends a wide staircase.

Within God’s arms, a small, moving, living Being nestles in a blanket of light.

Above them hovers a transparent Presence, crystal waves of movement aglow with a palpable sense of power and love.

The Holy enters Creation.

Everything in me wants to kneel before the Holy Triumvirate.

I cannot move, captured in breathless awe.

The Gift.

Delivered as I was and you were.

The Holy into humanity. Born to fill the void we came into the world with.

Born to fill the emptiness that nothing—no one but Jesus—can fill.

God is love, but He is just.

Born to save and free us from sin, He, the Lamb of God, came to sacrifice His humanity in our place . . .

and to prepare a place for us in Eternity.

God’s offered Gift.

Is our choice.

Jesus told us “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3 NKJV).

An angel spoke to shepherds and to us “. . . and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'” (Luke 2:9b-11 NKJV).

To the woman at the well “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:13-14 NKJV).

Will you run in thankfulness toward Christmas? Will you look up in joy and wonder and remember . . . ?

If you have a special Christmas memory I’d love for you to share it in the comments!

And just in case I don’t post again before Christmas, I’ll leave you with this~

A very Merry Christmas full of joy and blessings to you and those you love!

Love,

Sally

Elegant Staircases     #Christmasjoy    #MerryChristmas

Advertisements

Reflecting the Writer

Ann Cooper McCauley is my guest today, and from the archives of her wonderful blog, she’s given me permission to use this beautiful and thoughtful post.

Here’s Ann with her inspired thoughts on what it’s like to be a writer.

Ever wonder how much we mirror God our Creator?                                 And from the get go? Born again, yes, we are continually transformed into His image, but do we realize how each of us—individual as we are—mirror different aspects of His nature? Our God DNA is grafted deep inside us.

Allow me to camp on the writer.

Who is God, but the Writer of the story? Not only did He leave us His bestseller, but it is a work in progress—alive and current.

So who are writers—really? People who yearn to be heard, write to be a voice, hunger to express thought, and seek to deliver timely messages. Not unlike our Creator at all.

Who discovered the plot outline?

The Writer of our story. He demonstrated to us the nature of construction when He wired everything on the planet in a perfect order and with a specific purpose. He tells us Himself that He knows the beginning from the end. Every good writer knows the general ending of their work, whether they write by the seat of their pants or not. From the beginning of the manuscript until the end, it makes sense, and a theme will whisper through its pages.

Who understands the web of characters more than the Writer?

He generates us. He makes plans for us. And like any good Writer—though He knows the ending of the story—He allows His characters to develop over time. He allows them to repeat mistakes, grow, and evolve. He intertwines his characters at just the right time and in just the right genre, setting and scene different to each character, yet similar to all.

And let us not forget dialog.The Writer is an open channel, a river on the page taking us where He is active and involved, unlike narration which tells the story rather than showing the action. God the Writer speaks intimately to His own and demonstrates to all. Why? Because He wishes His characters to know and understand Him and be complete. He desires them to hear. His purpose is to reveal—not conceal.

Does this pattern of seeing God in our vocation or giftings solely benefit the writing profession?

I think not.

Are you a musician, a welder, an administrative assistant, or a teacher? Explore how your work is patterned after the One, whose very nature, you reflect.

I’d then love to hear your analogies!

Me, too, Ann!

Analogies anyone?

“See, I have called by name Bezalel . . . and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 31:2-3)

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Ann McCauley married her sweetheart thirty-eight years ago. The McCauley’s have seven children, four internationally adopted. Ann’s first stories were published by Baker/ Revell in the book, Loved by Choice—True Stories That Celebrate Adoption. A songwriter for many years, Ann has led praise and worship, shared her original music with churches, and performed in fundraising actvities. She’s has shared her adoption and homeschooling experiences through many venues and has been a speaker and singer throughout Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Her motivational speaker service, The Power Behind the Story, can be found on her website. Having written three historical novels, Ann looks forward to finding a publisher for her novels, working through her agent is Diana L. Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency.
Website and Blogs: anncoopermccauley.com

Thank you Ann, I’ve loved having you as my guest!

Love,

Sally

P.S. Don’t forget to join Peggy Blann Phifer and me at her blog, Whispers in Purple on Wednesday, June 24th.

Peg’s doing an author interview with me, and I’ll be giving away a copy of my new novel, The Stonekeepers. Stop in and leave a comment. We’d love to see you there!

And if you’d like a Sneak Peek, go here to check it all out: http://wp.me/p5BLdw-Ac

A Quieting Love

“The LORD, your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:14 NKJV)

Today . . .

I needed to hear that my LORD, my God in my midst, would quiet me with His love.

Zephaniah’s words, bathe me in a soft wave of soothing balm. They quiet me.

I feel God’s love.

I need that.

A loving quiet.

I treasure it.

We need to hear that our LORD, our God in our midst, rejoices over us with gladness—rejoices over us with singing!

And even as I write this my heart squeezes with sweet emotion because as you read this, you may need to hear Zephaniah’s words too.

He wrote them to the remnant of Israel long ago, but we are grafted into that magnificent tree through Grace, and He calls “O daughter of Zion, O daughter of Jerusalem.” Down through the winds and zephyrs of time, He calls to us, the saved ones.

Even as I’m happy and full of thanksgiving in so many ways . . . I’m burdened and tired and trying too hard.

God knows. He hears our sighs and prayers.

And when Jesus sends us into His word and points to the inspired scriptures, His whispered admonition is “Remember Me.”

So breathe in these words Jesus says to us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

There is peace within His quieting love.

Sit still and know.

~~~♥~~~

Here’s another glimpse of Lexi, heroine in my new novel The Stonekeepers

When I imagine her as much younger than in the novel, I “see” her on her beloved Nantucket beach looking a lot like this little girl. Lexi was probably close to this age when she found a pretty white stone in a tidal pool. And though it doesn’t have much to do with the story, it does show a bit of Lexi’s heart.

~~~♥~~~

  For a Sneak Peek of Peggy Blann Phifer’s interview with me on June 24th, click on this: Upcoming Event Alert!

And please help spread the word.

Tweet this to your followers:

Lexi Christensen finds an envelope. What does it mean? #fiction #YA #Sally Chambers #TheStonekeepers @sallychambers2 http://wp.me/p5BLdw-Ac

Thanks! We look forward to seeing you there!

Love,

Sally

Crossroads

It’s early. I hop out of bed feeling great after of a good night’s rest. A whole fresh new day is ready to walk into.

All is well,

until . . .

What mess?

I walk into the kitchen and find the mess . . . again. How many times . . .?

And no, the pup didn’t do it.

How quick and easy the glowery dark cloud descends with its storm of anger and frustration. So much for the higher functions of my cerebral cortex. They nosedive into a worse mess than the small, irritating one in the kitchen.

I should go back to bed! I need a do-over.

I don’t get angry often and when I do, it’s a quiet, internalized “mad.” I’m not the confronting, haranguing type. Maybe I should be.

I go outside. In my PJs. Pace the concrete sidewalk. Complain a while, then pull in breaths of the cool morning air and pray.

It helps, but when I go inside and settle into a devotional time, the Lord opens His Word. I pray and open my Bible at random (but in this Hand-in-hand walk we’re on, there’s no such thing as “random”). It falls open to Jonah, chapter four, verse four.

My eyes land on this “Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah’s answer was to go make himself a shelter, sit in its shade, and watch to see what would happen to the city. My answer is to ask, Why shouldn’t I be? But He makes me think.

To shorten Jonah’s story, the great city of Nineveh had devolved into a wickedness that the Lord could no longer tolerate. As His prophet, Jonah was to go and warn that city to repent, or be thrown down. And Jonah didn’t want to obey—he ran.

Jonah ended up having a whale of an adventure, literally, and doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. But when the people of Nineveh ended up being sorry and humbled themselves, God saw and relented. Jonah was not happy and wanted the city punished . . . which was why he was angry. Plus, he was probably tired, a little chewed up from being in a whale belly and all. Not to mention being worn out since it took him three days to walk through the huge city with the warnings. This time Jonah sat under a shady plant that the Lord provided.

So, I’m a little like Jonah sitting under the shade-giving plant that dies, only I pace the sidewalk and grumble, a lot.

There are many more comparisons and angles in Jonah’s story. We all have different levels of how we express anger and how we deal with it.

I’m reminded of my relationship not only with God, but to God.

In Genesis 1:26a it’s written “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made . . . in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Yes, things anger me—but like Him, I can be slow to anger, allow for compassion, give myself time to think, and try not to “sweat the small stuff” as my brother likes to say.

God created Jonah with the capacity for compassion for the plant that shaded Jonah. God created us with the same capacity.

The Lord had compassion for Nineveh. He knows every detail of my “mess,” and I can use some compassion and love and understanding. With the Lord’s help, I can talk with the mess-perpetrator again. Maybe things will change . . . or maybe I’ll just get better about not sweating the small stuff.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19 NKJV

How do you handle your anger?

Love,

Sally

Amazon Author Page for The Stonekeepers

 

Sufficient Grace

Sometimes I’d like to have an “Aaron” to speak for me like Moses did.

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’

So the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.’

But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.’” (Exodus 4:10-13)

It was sort of a “he said” He said” give and take.

. . . I know

my little insecurities aren’t anywhere near worthy of comparison of what Moses was up against. Moses held the fate of a nation and faced a Pharaoh. I stumble trying to not to say the wrong thing or gently make a point when in conversation with friends or teaching a class or in a meeting.

Moses knew his faults.

Me too.

But I’m not alone.

Neither was Moses.

Nor are you.

Even Paul wrote “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” And Paul adds “. . . that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Paul walked into the future, not knowing the threats ahead of him. He spoke while on raging seas, on dusty roads, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, and before governors and kings.

(And I have share a laugh with you. ☺ As I write this, the usually dignified spell check in WordPress is trying its level best to have Paul standing in the midst of the Asparagus!)

Remembering the history of how the Lord delivered and protected Moses, maybe Paul gained faith to believe God would do the same for him as he trusted the “power of Christ” to rest upon him.

God’s patience and compassion is endless . . .

And you know how things ended up with Moses and Aaron . . .

“So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: ‘Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.’” Exodus 4:14-15

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.’” Isaiah 6:6-7

That verse becomes part of a prayer that a dear friend who loves the Lord says silently before she speaks or teaches in any gathering.  She asks the Lord to cleanse and purify her words as she speaks, a powerful example of faith for me.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jesus in John 14:27).

Faith in the Lord Jesus changes everything. His Grace is sufficient for and in all things.

Do you have a prayer or a verse you say that helps prepare you to speak?

Love,

Sally

But Mary . . .

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”

 

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

 

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.”

 

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. Mark 16:9-10

“. . . Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”

 

. . . Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together and, the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

“But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.” (John 20:11 NKJV)

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:1-18

Jesus said: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2b-3

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58

♥ ♥ ♥

Would you have gone with your lamp shining dim in the darkness of early dawn?

Would you have stood and stayed while the earth quaked and angels in white rumbled a giant stone away from where your beloved, deceased Teacher had lain for three days? Where burly guards shook then became stiff with fear?

Would you have fallen to your knees to listen to an angel speak words that changed your life with each syllable, words that said your Teacher had risen from the dead?

Would you have looked into the tomb and wept and conversed with angels, then restrained yourself from embracing your Teacher as you turn and He speaks your name and asks you not to hold Him as He tells you why?

You are a woman of God and yes, you would have. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, saved you, gave His life for you.

We follow the lead of strong women who loved and walked with Christ before us. We, too, will believe and live and tell of Him.

May Easter blessings abound for you throughout the year and beyond.

Love,

Sally

Except for one, all scriptures in the captions are from the NIV, and, except for my end notes, the entire post is scripture from the Gospels in the NKJV

Sleepless in Shushan

Have you ever had a night when you just couldn’t sleep

because those little night gremlins

wormed their way into your head

and began gnawing on the edges of your mind?

Once in a while, night can become Satan’s playground. We may be unable to fall asleep or may be awakened out of a sound sleep, ripped away from resting and thrust into groundless fear that forgets faith for a frightening moment. But if we know and love the Lord, it’s only for a moment.

“The mind is a beautiful thing,” they say. But what if it refuses to settle down and sleep?

What if your lovely gray matter decides to take the night off?

What if it says, “Nope, we’re going to think about every little detail of the day and take over the night, whether the rest of you likes it or not?”

Now, right here, is the perfect spot to give you a magical list of six great ways to solve sleeplessness.

Really? Are there any?

Sure, there are ways to help, like count sheep, deep breaths, recite scripture, think lovely thoughts, sip warm milk, or just give up and get up. You know them all and have probably tried them all.

But, once in a while, there may be a good reason why you’re wakeful.

 In the Bible, in the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus was sleepless in Shushan the citadel.

“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1).

Queen Esther’s husband, King Ahasuerus was troubled with his wakefulness and called for someone to read him boring records so he’d fall asleep. But there were reasons for the king’s inability to sleep.

Good, sound reasons.

If the king had slept, he’d have missed what was written in those chronicles that ended up being instrumental in saving Queen Esther and her people from certain death.

God is in the details of why the King couldn’t sleep.

Could He be in the details of why we sometimes can’t sleep or wake up unexpectedly? Can that happen to us?

The king couldn’t get to sleep. But what about when you’re awakened from a deep sleep with a sense that something’s not right.

You get up and go directly to your child’s bedside–and discover a fever that needs your immediate attention. Or there’s an uneasiness, you can’t seem to go to sleep, and you rise. You’re drawn to turn on the TV and find there’s an overwhelming need for prayer. On the west coast, a gunman is holding many hostage—terrified people. And you’re certain they’re praying. They need prayer. And you pray.

Or what about the time you really wanted to watch the blood moon lunar eclipse but were just too bone weary from a difficult day. You tumble into bed and forget to set the alarm.

Then suddenly you’re wide awake. You glance at the blue digits on the clock. Three-thirty-two.

Did You do that, Lord?

And instantly, your bare feet are on the floor taking you to the front porch to feel the world move beneath you.

You stand in awe of the wake-up call and the sight of earth-shadow inching across the rugged face of the moon, the power and glory and mastery of God. An eclipse you would otherwise have slept right through.

But you know. You’ve been there too.

We love and serve an awesome God. There is nothing He cannot do. That includes the dearness of waking His child, whose little one needs her or whom He knows will pray for others or who has the desire to enjoy His creation, right on time.

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NKJV).

“Keep sound wisdom and discretion so . . . when you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21, 24 NKJV).

Saint Teresa of Avila has the last word this week. I love this quote. Savor its depth and insight.

“God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.” Saint Teresa of Avila

Love,

Sally