Storm Surge

New. Everything. New and different.

The polished wood desk is icy beneath my fingertips, shreds of self-assurance slip, my confidence suddenly a shipwreck.

Breathe.

Just sit here for a while. Take in this new place, this strange, foreign place.

I prayed, planned, vaulted every hurdle, passed every test, beat out the competition.

I’m here.

Doubts race in on the tsunami my mind has become. Have I done the right thing?

Leaving a secure job, one with everything . . .

. . . everything including the proverbial glass ceiling.

I went as far as I could go.

And I had a dream.

I risked it all, stepped out in faith.

The steely edge of panic presses its blade against my neck, set on supplanting my trust.

No! 

And my eyes fall on a single manual. A small reassuring link from my past to my future.

I haven’t come here alone.

Are you in the midst of a storm?

Do you stand on a heaving deck, reeling, desperate, barely hanging onto the rail?

Do you fear your life is about to go under? Terrified of the rocks of failure, illness, grief, or a thousand other things?

You are not alone.

Ever.

Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.

For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.

They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble.

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.

Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.

He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.

Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:23-31 NKJV)

God hears your cry.

He saves you from your distress.

He calms your storms.

He stills the waves.

And in the ensuing quiet

He guides you into safe havens.

The Captain of your ship will never leave you or forsake you.

There’s joy at the end of that rainbow!

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~Louisa May Alcott

Please share your story.

Love,

Sally

 

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Bowls, Baskets, and Blessings

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.”
Deuteronomy 28:5

Autumn, bowls, baskets and baking just seem to blend.

I close my eyes and I’m swept back into childhood to a cozy warm kitchen.

Come with me!

Smells wonderful in here.

Sunlight makes my mother’s hair glisten. I climb up onto the stool beside her.

I breathe in the scent of a heating oven and fresh dough in Mom’s big wooden kneading bowl.

My gaze roams the kitchen counter laden with a bags of flour and sugar, glass measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

Close by is a bottle of oil, a round blue box of salt and a container of snow-white vegetable fat. Mom lets me stick my fingers into the satiny white stuff so I can help “grease” the metal pans.

Over there is the big silver flour sifter with a screen in the bottom and a handle that makes a funny noise when she lets me squeeze it so the flour sifts through.

I pull the wrapper from the magical little cake of fresh yeast that’s ready to go into the next batch of dough.

Oh, Lord, Bread of Life, thank you for the gift of our wondrous senses.

There’s nothing quite like the sight of my mother’s beautiful hands as she kneads the shapeless dough and gives it form in her big wooden bowl.

Or the puffy soft feel of raised dough against my fist when I help punch it down to rise again.

Or the scent of baked homemade bread filling the house.

Or the sound of the ticking timer that matches the beat of my heart as I wait to taste and feel the blend of soft warm bread and melted butter on my tongue.

Jesus, Bread of Life, thank you for blessing our sturdy kneading bowls and overflowing baskets.

And you’ve probably baked bread with your own little ones by your side as I have and as my daughter and her daughter have.

Baking bread together is as much a tradition as breaking bread together at the dinner table

or breaking it together at the Lord’s table when we remember Him as He’s asked us to

or sharing bread with others who have little or none.

Bread.

It is so much more.

Do you have a bread story? ☺ I’d love to have you share it in a comment

Love,

Sally

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” John 6:32 33
Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

All scripture NKJV

Need a Christmas gift for your favorite readers?

Think about giving them a copy of the new novel, The Stonekeepers.

Click on the photo of the book to take you directly to the web page where you can purchase it.

B and F Cover Capture

Back and front cover image of novel The Stonekeepers

 

Rachel’s Story

I can’t help but follow him this last day before we leave Jerusalem to return to Nazareth. He usually stays with his brothers and friends, but today’s different. I watch him walk away from them and not even one notices that he left.

But I do.

And I follow him.

My palms are damp and my belly is full of butterflies. I should stay with the young women, but I won’t.

“Rachel, you’re as stubborn and curious as old Sol!” my father often tells me, ruffling my hair and giving our donkey a swat on his ornery behind.

My friend knows where he is going. I want to see where.

My mother died when I was born, twelve years ago, the same month Jesus was born. My father and I travel with Jesus and his family every year to celebrate the Passover Feast in Jerusalem.

We live close to each other in Nazareth. My father repairs rooftops here and in nearby cities. I stay with Jesus’ family while my father works.

And today, in Jerusalem, I follow Jesus.

To the temple.

I go where I’m not supposed to go, and my heart thumps hard in my chest, but no one seems to notice me.

I watch my friend walk up to the circle of men—teachers, rabbis—men who stand and sit on worn stone steps in a shaded alcove. Deep in conversation, several have scrolls spread across their laps.

What are you doing, Jesus . . .

I draw in a breath. The scent of burnt offerings rolls past me in puffs of heated dust that makes me rub my eyes. I press the folds of my light robe around me, and lean against a pillar in the shadows.

One of the teachers reads aloud.

Jesus sits on a step, right in the midst of the rabbis.

He’s listening.

I listen too.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

The rich voice hesitates, then ceases. A collective intake of breath rustles through the men, as if a freshening wind has sighed through trees, then silence.

The teacher’s eyes narrow and his fingers tighten around the handles of the Isaiah Scroll. He glares at my friend.

Jesus stands, his dark eyes touch on the teacher then move to rest gently on each of the rabbis, one-by-one. His voice, firm and strong, he repeats the scripture, every word.

Adonai Hashem, protect Jesus from punishment.

My hands fly to my face. I want to fall on my knees, but I must not be discovered. The solid pillar seems to hold me.

Jesus gives them no time to reprimand him. He nods toward the white-bearded rabbi who sits, unmoving, against the rough beige stone of  the temple wall.

And as if answering the old teacher’s unspoken question, Jesus speaks of the Coming One, repeating words of the prophets. Words I’ve heard my father speak.

What are you saying, Jesus . . . 

I watch stern expressions change from anger to awe as my friend, answers questions no man could know.

And my ears burn with what I hear my friend saying to the teachers.

I stay, listen, and watch until the sun grazes the rooftops with heated bronze rays . . .

Until I give up and will my feet to run.

I’m to leave early with my father. He has promised a side trip to see cousins. I’m suddenly anxious to return in time to pack my things.

Only when I return to Nazareth do I learn what happened. His mother and father had traveled a day before they knew he was not with the company returning to Nazareth. It took them three days before they finally found him in the temple sitting with the teachers.

No one but his mother understood when Jesus explained.  But she listened with a knowing smile as I confessed to her what I’d done, what I’d heard.

And I was to hear it once again.

This time, in Nazareth.

We’re much older now. Jesus’ father died four years ago. Like Jesus’ mother, I am widowed, but with no children. Jesus is no longer the sun-browned, rough-robed, boy I knew.

Yesterday, along with His family, I’ve welcomed Him home. Like quicksilver Jesus has slipped in and out of our lives since the signs began in Cana. He’s been away for over a month this time.

Today, with His mother, I stand near the door of the synagogue and listen. Together, we hear Jesus read from the Isaiah Scroll, hear Him say the words of the prophet, His voice even and authoritative.Mary grasps my hand.

I close my eyes. I’m twelve again, listening to a rabbi’s reading of the same prophecy my Friend speaks into the tense air of the synagogue in this moment.

But it’s not the same. Three times, Jesus emphasizes a single word, Me.

“. . . upon Me . . . anointed Me . . . sent Me

With all the humility I remember, He hands the scroll to the attendant, sits down, and continues to speak

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Mary’s hand trembles. There is more as He speaks to them in a proverb . . .

It begins with a ripple, and rushes like a flood through the crowd.

Sudden anger from the men inside, an instant change from their approval of His earlier gracious words. Jesus is silent now as they rise to their feet. He allows them to lay hands on Him, permits them to take Him outside and to the cliff edge.

Will they throw Him over the edge? Kill Him? My heart clenches with dread.

We follow.

Maybe tears cause the blur, the smear of color and movement as if time melts the scene with the heat of its passage.

I don’t know how . . .

But in the midst of the blur, the figure of Jesus, the clarity of His body encased in golden light, moves through the crowd untouched.

His mother knows His Truth. As she ministered to me when my firstborn died in my arms, Mary began to share her many stories. They came from her heart along with the balm of her comfort in the years since. She knows it will not be for long, but she will follow Him, her firstborn Son.

I will too.

Maybe it will be at a distance, perhaps unseen. But Adonai has graced me with the means to follow. I will stay near her, and follow Him.

Jesus was my friend when He needed to be “about His Father’s business”. Now, He is still my friend and more. He is my Lord.

♥ ♥ ♥

No one knows what Jesus listened to the teachers say or what words he spoke to them. We are only told that those who heard and spoke with Him in the temple were astonished at His understanding and His answers to their questions. And like the three days before His resurrection, no one knows what happened during those three days before Jesus was found by his parents, with the teachers.

God knows. And I’m curious enough to let my imagination have free rein with a story based on the scriptures from Luke 2:39-52, Isaiah 61:1-2a, and Luke 4:22a

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

Albert Einstein

God gifted each of us with a lively imagination. How does using yours enrich your walk with Him?

I’d love for you to share with me in a comment!

Love,

Sally

 

 

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

Remembering Ridge

Mid-October is spectacular in Western North Carolina this year. The hardwoods are coloring up, especially the maples, vivid and bright with their fluttery robes of red and gold leaves. Jerry and I love the cooler temperatures, but we have to return to Florida next week.

We’re on the way home from one of our meandering scenic drives when I decide to buy another Loafers Glory T-shirt at the General Store in Loafers Glory.

According to my Loafers Glory friend and native resident, this store’s been here since 1955. It was built on the same spot as the original General Store that was washed away in 1905 or ’06 by a flood that she said her daddy called a May fresh.

It’s like going back in time—a charmer of a place that you could spend hours in. The rusted springs on the screen door screech as I step over the worn wood threshold and into the store. Late afternoon sunshine floods through the big plate glass windows. The scents, a mix of candy, tobacco, and new fabric, waft around me. I gaze at small tubs full of buttons, displays of thread, and an endless array of sewing needs. I see racks of tourist temptations—including T-shirts—and smile. I was once one of those tempted travelers. Now I spend a lot of time here in NC, no longer a tourist, but neither am I a full-time resident.

Fred and Iris Garland are. This was once their store, and Iris has told me some of her stories. Love those stories and these two wonderful Loafers Glory residents.

A little boy peeks at me from around a bin of cloth remnants. Seconds later he saunters out from behind the bin.

“Hi!” says he, then announces in the most wonderful North Carolina drawl ever “I’m gonna be five next April!”

He punches the air, wiggling five fingers.

Let’s see now . . . that’s six months away.

He’s cute, a little cocky, and has my total attention as I study him.

He reels me in . . . with his head full of curly, carrot-red hair and a batch of brown freckles across his nose.

“What’s yore name?”

“I’m Sally.”

He’s not shy, guileless maybe. And suddenly, I just love this little guy.

He looks a lot like this but without the straw hat–which I’m sure he has stowed behind the counter.

“Ah’m Ridge.” He draws his name out, nearly makes it into two syllables.

Really? A little boy named Ridge? Unusual. But maybe not up here where mountain ridges are everywhere. And I figure he has to be saying Reg, short for Reginald.

“Ridge?” I repeat it carefully, frame it as a question.

And he grins up at me and nods, like, ‘good for you, you got it!’ his curls bobbing like twisty little springs . . . and  changes the subject.

I get goose bumps, totally enthralled and stuck on his name.

But I listen as he tells me he fell on the sidewalk a few minutes ago and scraped up the heel of his left hand. He holds it up.

“It’s bleedin’ a little and stings like a road burn, but it ain’t nuthin’.”

He shrugs. He’s brave, and I pray that his hand stops stinging soon. He barely takes a breath before he needs to tell me more. You know, ‘portant stuff.’

“We got chewin’ gum in this store.” He looks up at me like I should be very surprised.

I bite the inside of my cheek to keep the smile from reaching my ears!

“Okay, where is this chewing gum?”

Ridge proceeds to show me. He grabs my hand, and instead of the aisle where candy and chewing gum might be, he leads me around to where they sell material from large bolts. Reaching in deep behind two of the heavy, colorful bolts, he pulls out a package of bubble gum that’s in the shape of paper money.

He hauls a “bill” out of the package, bites off a big hunk and hands the rest to me so I can take a bite too. I take the offered piece and break a chunk off. I’m positive he has a good-sized private stash buried behind those bolts of cloth.

It’s good, pretty tasty gum as gum goes!

But also good is that the hero of my novel has just been given the awesome name, Ridge, in honor of my new friend, who waves and blows me kisses as I leave his grandparents’ store.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. Psalm 22:22

 ♥

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Remembering to pray before, during, and after writing sessions, to pray over everything including character names, isn’t always easy. And I’m in awe and thankful when I see the amazing ways God answers my sometimes fleeting, needy prayers.

Do you take the admonition to pray about everything to heart too? What’s been your experience?

 He’s closer to you than breath, loves you, and cares for you.

Love,

Sally

Amazon’s Author Page for The Stonekeepers

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