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

 

Signs and Seas

It’s a cool, beautiful leaf-strewn day in early October.

I slow the car for a lazy curve, praying and and thinking back over the last troubling week of seemingly never-ending problems. Self-imposed deadlines, expectations of others, an untimely sinus infection . . .

On and on. I allow the mean little puppy of anxiety to to nip at my heels.

Help, Lord.

A a small white country church nestled in a sea of fall colors, its spire piercing upward, reaching for the clouds floods my view.

On the church sign, my eyes and imagination are caught up in the words. “A smooth sea does not make a great sailor.”

My sea has been far from smooth.

But always my strength and my song, He has me glimpse a simple sign.

I negotiate the next curve and smile as He rights my ship.

He’s with me. Within His will and with His help there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Those rough seas shape me,

keep me becoming the best sailor I can be for my Captain.

“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.” Henry Ward Beecher

“Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble, and discovers the angel beneath.” Charles H. Spurgeon

“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7 NKJV).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

“Then He [Jesus] arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39 NKJV).

Jesus said: “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26 NKJV)

Troubles, trials, tribulations, tumults, whatever they are termed, we never have to go through them alone.

What are you facing today that has you running to the LORD, your stronghold and very present help in time of trouble? Reread those verses above and “take heart!”

Love,

Sally

 

White Rabbit Syndrome

“I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date . . .
And you know the rest.

It’s a cold Tuesday morning in January when my day begins to splinter, threatening to shred my best laid plans.

Uh oh. The red numbers on the bedroom clock blink through another minute. I zip into my skirt and shrug into my suit jacket.

A mini tidal wave of coffee sails over the edge of the mug, misses my hand and skirt, but sinks into the . . .
No!

Yes.
Into the carpet.
I grab a towel and mop at the mess, muttering something unkind regarding mug handles that totally ignores the truth.

Note to self: Don’t try to walk, balance coffee mug, think about dog food, and adjust bra strap at the same time.

Ready.

Not quite. I glance at my shoeless feet and rocket into the dark closet groping for my black heels.

I’m late, the last one to leave the house. The board meeting starts at 8:30 and is a twenty minute drive. My report won’t present itself and, ohhh, if I don’t get going, I’m not going to make it on time.

Purse and briefcase in hand, I shoot a passionate prayer for help heavenward and lock the door behind me.

Two hours later, Deb grabs the ringing phone as I walk into the office and through the reception area. We both mouth a whispered “Hi.”

I poke my head into Kay’s office. “Looks like you two are having a busy morning.”

Kay nods. It’s been crazy. How did your meeting go?” She hands me several call-back notes as the second phone line chimes. She answers and asks the client to hold.

“It went well; I’ll tell you all about it later.” I turn to leave, but Kay’s sudden peal of laughter behind me turns me around.

She points at my feet. “Did you get dressed in the dark this morning? Look at your shoes!”

I stare down at my feet. What’s she talking about? My shoes look perfectly normal. Black heels, closed toes. Identical.  

Already answering the phone with her friendly “This is Kay, may I help you?” she dodges my questioning look and grins at me.

I twist to look at the back of the heels as I remember the rocket-dive into my dark cave of a closet this morning. On my left foot, a sling-back. On my right, enclosed back. Great!

I shrug and shake my head, attempting to reflect Kay’s cute/sassy smile, and leave her to her phone call.

In my office both shoes come off and I hold them up. Heat creeps into my cheeks.
No one had said a word at the meeting, and now I sink back into my chair, trying to see the humor in all this.

At least, Kay and Debbie know the stress I’m under these days, running the business, care-taking my elderly parents, and more. I couldn’t do it without them. Later, the three of us share a good laugh, and since I never find the time to go home and change, I just wear the offending mismatched shoes all day.

But this isn’t the end of my story.

~~ the following Friday morning,

Debbie and Kay have set up an appointment for me, so I’m a little early getting to work. I walk into my office, and instead of the expected client, Kay and Deb are waiting for me, sitting in front of my desk.

“You might want to sit down, we have something to tell you,” Kay says.

Uh oh.

I round the desk and sit like a bump, looking at them, then at my desk. No birthdays on the calendar. What are they up to?Laid out on desk, three cups of fresh coffee, warm coffee cake, pink carnations and baby’s breath in a little crystal vase circled with a pink ribbon. A beautiful card tells me I’m appreciated and that they understand all the heaviness in my life right now, that they’re here for me—

And there’s no way I can stay behind that desk. I get up to give them each a hug. but before I can, both smiling like Cheshire cats, they point at their feet, laughing.

I choke back tears. There, on those four sweet feet are four different black shoes.

Kay looks up at me, dead serious, “Just one thing you need to know. We are not going to wear ours all day like you did!”

Talk about feeling loved and encouraged. There’s no better way they could have shown their love and support.

Thanks, God, for my staff—I love You—and them.

“Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart” (Proverbs 27:9 (AMP).

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV).

Clock-watching translates into stress, equaling anxiety and big nerves. Oh, and spilled stuff!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . translates into peace beyond understanding.

Walk with Him.

Do you have a story to share? ☺

Love,

Sally

Rewind!

Oh, boy, I really messed that up.

My aim was to share, encourage, and entertain. But how could anyone have gotten anything out of a talk that was so personal, passionate, and rambling?

The day after I’d given a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at church, negative replays of that morning began tumbling through my mind like a windstorm of errant autumn leaves. At one point, those replays were so annoying I stopped everything to pray about the criticism I was giving myself.

Plopping onto a kitchen chair, elbows on my knees, palms pressed hard against my forehead, I poured out a plea. “Please, God, help me let this go.”

Did you feel encouraged to lift Me up as you were speaking?

“Yes, but what about how I talked so much about myself. My childhood. My mother. My writing. And I dragged it out . . . on and on . . . ”

And afterward? How did your question and answer session go?

“It went well, but—”

But—I wasn’t listening and kept right on agonizing and praying for help to let go of the constant “hashing over” of what I’d so passionately shared.

Minutes later, I pulled on a sweater and half-listened to the program in progress on a Christian radio station. The pastor giving the message didn’t waste any time getting right down into my business as he read the first of two Bible versions of Revelation 3:16.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Uh oh. But I hadn’t exactly been lukewarm in my talk, had I? Coffee sloshed in the cup as I set it on my nightstand and stared at the radio. The pastor had my attention.

He continued, reading the second version, which put the verse in words a whole lot stronger “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

He paused, thoughtful, and seemed to draw out his words for effect, “So, being lukewarm makes God sick.”

I let out the breath I’d been holding. I’d heard enough. I “got” it.

Doubt had taken my focus from the Lord. I’d focused squarely on myself. I was sinking as fast as Peter had after he left his boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Instead of keeping his eyes locked on the eyes of Jesus, Peter looked away to the winds that whipped the wave tops and buffeted him. In sudden fear, he began to slip beneath the waves like chunk of lead and called to Jesus to save him. I had done the same. Jesus reached out to Peter.

“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:31

And in the midst of my doubts and  fears, the Lord reached out to me with a reminder. Sweet reassurance that He had been in every detail of my talk to the young women. My passion had come from His heart. My job was to trust and leave the rest to Him.

All those replays, doubts, and worries had been custom designed by Satan to attack my weak spots. I had prayed over what I would say to the gathered moms. I’d trusted the Holy Spirit. I’d been passionate. I’d done my best to lift up the Lord, so why had I doubted?

Satan, the universal doubt-planter, the one who paces the earth like a roaring lion, ready to devour, was overruled as God spoke to my heart through the pastor’s words.

And I let it go.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8).

So He said, ‘Come.’ “And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:29-31)

I’m thankful we serve a gracious God who cares when we lose our way in trusting Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and turns our tribulations into triumphs . . . and into stories to share.

Have you ever doubted and started to sink into a sea of unbelief?

There’s a song for that; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Love,

Sally

Beyond Reason

I’m in my late teens, young and new at motherhood. My precious baby girl has scratched her cheek, and this morning I need to trim her tiny fingernails again. She’s four months old and so adorable, smiling and cooing at me.

Fresh from her bath, the scent of baby powder and lotion wafts around us. I lean down to nuzzle the softness of the sweet cuddly place between her neck and shoulder before I slip clean clothes on her.

We carry on our usual fun mommy/baby dialogue as I secure her on her changing table, all buckled up. A wiggly, lively baby, she’s a challenge to me to care for. I pick up the small nail scissors to cut my little one’s fingernails.

She’s in constant motion and curious when I take her little hand in mine and begin to trim those tiny nails.

Then—the unthinkable.

Feet, and legs and hands and arms move all at once, and before I can stop, the scissors slice into her tender flesh. Blood trickles from her little finger, dripping onto her white shirt. I stare down at the cut on her finger in disbelief.

Her instant cries pierce my heart.

Oh, dear God, I’ve hurt my child.

Appalled, my heart twists into an unrelenting ache. I run to the bathroom for a cloth and bandages, prayers on my lips, her wails echoing in my ears . . .

Please, heavenly Father, no!

I race back to her side.

Something has changed.

She’s suddenly quiet. I reach for her hand to rinse the blood away, but step back, and my eyes search for what is no longer there.

There’s no trace of the crimson blood that covered her fingertip and ran down her hand. There are no droplets of blood staining her now snow-white shirt, nor is there evidence of the cut on her finger. I’m stunned.

I continue to search for a piece of red thread or a scrap of red cloth, anything to give me a reasonable, logical explanation. But the more I look the more in awe I become. Thankfulness slowly replaces doubt and the ache in my heart eases.

There’s nothing red, there is no blood anywhere.

Looking up at me, cheeks still wet with tears, sweet baby sounds bubble from my little one. And through my tears of joy, I undo the confining straps of the changing table and scoop her up into my arms.

This is beyond reason, beyond logic, and I stand, holding her close, humbled, overjoyed at the power of God, thanking him over and over for what he has done—for answering my prayers.

There is no other explanation.

When I stood beside my infant daughter, searching in disbelieving wonder for evidence of blood and injury that was no longer there, I stood on ground as holy as the ground on which Moses stood at the burning bush.

Where have you experienced holy ground? As believers in Christ Jesus, it is not beyond any of us.

“The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed’” (Matthew 8:8 NKJV).

“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV).

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1

Coats, Pillows, and a China Cabinet

I’m so happy to have Ann Cooper McCauley as my guest again. Reading through the posts on Ann’s excellent Morning Glory Blog, I came across this one that I especially love, and Ann graciously agreed to allow me to repost it here on Everyone Has a Story Blog. I guarantee that it will lift your faith to a new level!

So, pour yourself a cup of something warm. You’re in for a post full of miracles! Here’s Ann’s Coats, Pillows, and a China Cabinet~

The church we attended gave each of our children a warm coat, but not just a warm coat. Beautiful coats.

Coats they would wear for years to come.

They also gave the kids new bed pillows. You wouldn’t think such a gift would excite children, but they were needed, our children appreciative. Our oldest son was in Iraq, and this same body of believers sent a care package to him. Many families in the church sent gift cards for us to buy Christmas for the kids. What a loving and thoughtful group of people. We were blessed to know them.

God doesn’t always use a mailbox to send blessings…

But our problems were bigger than those who loved us. For the first time in more than twenty-five years of marriage, my husband was without employment. The calendar on the kitchen fridge flapped each time I passed, a reminder that the rent was due. We had needs no one could conceive, and we were helpless to do anything but pray.

Instead of meeting those needs, God seemed distant. His word to us always the same, Work for me. Work for me. So each morning, we used our dwindling cash for gasoline, drove to our church, and worked there as though we were employed. We had vision for a family and children’s ministry and spent days, cleaning, organizing, painting, and preparing.

 

Late one evening a truck pulled into the yard and began backing to our front porch. Two sweet people from the church hopped out and began unloading a dining room suite. We were overwhelmed. This couple, in the real-estate business, had sold a home in which the owners had left behind a table, chairs, and china cabinet to be given away.

Only God knew I’d always wanted a china cabinet. I had never told a single person. That evening after the kids fell asleep I took my china out of storage boxes and carefully placed each piece into the lighted cabinet. Finished, I turned the house lights off and stood back. Lovely. But my thoughts were not so lovely. Lacking the beauty of faith and dependence, tears welled in my eyes, and I whispered, “Lord, why would you give me a china cabinet and no house to live in?” I was as fragile as one of my china cups. The fear of moving to a homeless shelter loomed even as a rumble of laughter escaped my throat at the thought of the question.

After I crawled into bed, my husband told me we would have to try and sell the dining room suite. My shoulders sunk as I looked him in the eye. I choked up and tears prickled. “That was a personal gift from my Father. Only He knew what it meant. He’s trying to tell us something. We can’t sell it. We just can’t. This was my Christmas present.”

 

The next morning, we rose early to work at the church. As I climbed into the van and reached for my seat belt, my husband leveled his gaze on mine and said, “Aren’t you going to get our rent money from the mailbox?”

God doesn’t always use a mailbox to send blessings…

 I eyed him right back, and my ire rose. He was being sarcastic. His practical mind screamed to sell the dining room suite, and I stood in his way. I snatched the stack of letters from the mailbox and returned to the van. A Christmas card stood out among the bills. As I tore it open, my jaw went slack. There was a check for $2,000 dollars inside the card. This money came from people who called themselves secret agents. Believers, who hardly knew us at all, they lived in another state and were not privy to our circumstances.

Sometimes God uses a mailbox…

Everything was paid and on time. But our living conditions were not changed. Another month rolled by, and bills came due a second time. God kept saying, Work for me. Work for me. A second envelope came in the mail that month. This letter was from another family who lived in a totally different state. We had not heard from these people in years. And inside the letter was a check for $2,200 dollars. God gave us a raise. Another month passed and bills came due. This time God gave Randy a job that paid nineteen dollars an hour.

God didn’t help us because of our service to the church. God didn’t help us because we had adopted children, or because we homeschooled. God didn’t help because we were special, or because we held a rare measure of faith. The opposite was true.

No. Our Father wants to freely give. And as we admire qualities of hard work, loyalty, and growth in our own children, so does He. But He gives unconditionally because He’s Daddy. The work at the church was to keep us occupied in a good thing while He worked on our financial miracles. What was this truly about? Our level of trust was challenged.

You see, the provisions were always present and on their way before we could see or touch them.

It’s humbling to share about our needy times, but it’s exhilarating to share what God is willing and able to do for His kids.

What have you walked through that confirms He is real and holds your hand?

Ann and I would love it if you’d leave a comment!

Previously published on anncoopermccauley.com shared with permission.

Thank you, Ann for sharing your post with us!  Be sure and visit Ann’s blog and enjoy her delightful sense of humor as she shares her many stories. Here’s a little about Ann.

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. She led a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a national organization for grieving parents, and a grief counseling support group, Wellsprings. Ann, a songwriter for many years, has led praise and worship, shared her original music with churches, and performed in fundraising for Holt International Adoption Agency. Mrs. McCauley has shared her adoption and homeschooling experiences with churches, rotary clubs, women’s seminars, and homeschool support groups. She’s been a speaker and singer throughout Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Ann’s motivational speaker service, The Power Behind the Story, can be found on her website. She is now taking bookings for engagements. Having written three historical novels, Ann hopes one will be picked up by a publisher soon. Her agent is Diana L. Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency.
Website and Blogs: anncoopermccauley.com

Listen for His Whispers

“The lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field . . .” (Proverbs 27:26)

“You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips” (Psalm 21:2).

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Scripture from NKJV
A photo from Ann's Morning Glory Blog

A photo from Ann’s Morning Glory Blog

Foolishness?

There was a young shepherd boy caring for his sheep at a sheep camp in Idaho. He wasn’t alone as he waded into the swift current of a stream. Others were watching the boy, curious because he was placing stones in the water. The young shepherd explained that his sheep were afraid of the running water and that he was building a dam so that the sheep would have a quiet pool from which to drink.

One of the onlookers commented how foolish he thought the sheep were and that if the boy would just force the sheep to drink from the running stream several times, they would no longer be afraid.

The boy only smiled and continued to build a dam for his sheep. He did not consider the fears of his sheep to be foolish. He knew that if one of his sheep slipped, its wool would become saturated with water and the weight could drag the sheep down to its death.

Did you agree with the gentle, quiet compassion of the shepherd?

Or did you agree with the onlooker?

Our Father, our Heavenly Shepherd, doesn’t laugh at our fears and anxieties. Even when there’s nothing to be afraid of, He is lovingly concerned about everything we hold in our hearts and minds.

It’s comforting to know that what we feel is never foolishness to Him.

As the shepherd boy loved and cared for his sheep, so does our heavenly Father love and care for us.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

(Psalm 23:1-3)

‘Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.”‘ (Luke 8:22-24)

♥  ♥

All scripture – NKJV