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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Try Again

“I was that far from pitching the whole thing right straight into the fireplace!”

She was that far from tears, too.

My friend was so frustrated after her first book proposal was rejected that she wanted to burn her manuscript and wondered if she really should even be a writer.

And, her passion and determination to make a decision whether to give up or keep writing as she talked to me,

woke up my poetry gene.

I remember those feelings.

Bright leaping flames in the fireplace
A red-yellow study of arson and lace
Beckon me feed it these papers I hold
Truly, I want to, if the truth be told.

The pages engulfed in the frenzied inferno
Would satisfy something so deeply internal
To see them consumed in the hot conflagration
To see them destroyed would soothe agitation.

But what if God asks me to try once again
To review and pursue and pick up my pen
To steel all my shakiness, regroup and pray
It might be for my soul, a much better day.

So, Lord, if I turn my back on the fire
And stare at these pages with fresh new desire
Will you kindle in me your sparks, and renew
The dream you placed in my heart so to do?

Please lead me and guide me—stay by my side
O, Lord, inspire me as you change the tide.

+ + +

My friend and I are both thankful we decided to never, ever give up!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NKJV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV)

Have you ever been tempted to give up on a dream of your own?

I’d for you to leave a comment!

Love,

Sally

About the Norman Rockwell painting photo by Cliff via Flickr CC

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from “The Most Beloved American Writer”, Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937, oil on canvas, 32 x 25 in.

Rockwell traveled to Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, before beginning illustrations for a serialized biography of her life. Alcott’s book, Little Women, became an immediate classic when it was published in 1868, and was a hit again in 1933 when George Cukor’s film adaptation won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Its message—that family counts more than wealth, and happiness comes to those who help the less fortunate—was an apt revival subject in Depression-era America.

americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tellingstories/

Are You There?

 

Are you there, God?

Where are you?

You seem to have disappeared like my peace of mind.

My trust is all shaky—wavery.

Maybe I’m the one who’s gone?

I mean, Lord, it’s been like a very bad hair day.

I know in my heart that it isn’t you who moved.

Why can’t I just rise above the things of this world?

Why do I let things get to me so easily?

I know.

I know all the reasons I let them in are real, Lord . . .

. . .  that I live in a fallen world. I’ll always have troubles. Eve and fruit and a garden, all those things and more . . .

But I get so tired.

Sometimes I just feel like running away.

I know it’s just me—how I’m feeling right now—it’ll pass.

Won’t it?

Come here to Me, My child.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

And God was the first to ask the question, Where are you? “Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (Genesis 3:9)

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things” (Psalm 98:1a)

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).

Flickr - Image by Lynn ~ Off and On

No,

I don’t feel like that today . . .

but I did a little while back.

Our lives are like that,

Up and down days come and go.

But our God never changes, never stops loving us, is always ready to pick us up, dust us off, and hold us to His heart.

So!

What do you do instead of running away on a bad day?

Or maybe you do run away for an hour or two? ☺

I’d love to have your comments.

Love,

Sally

All scripture is NKJV

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Do you love a good read with a twisty plot and well-drawn characters, a light thread of romance? Something inspirational, contemporary, with suspense that won’t let you sleep or do the laundry? One that insists that you go to the next chapter rather than to stop there to breathe? The Stonekeepers is all that and more.

Here are a couple of snippets from reviews, where to find my Author’s Page. While there, you’re a click away from where to go to get the novel:

5 star review “Mystery, suspense, typical teen angst, romance and world travel, The Stonekeepers has it all.”

5 star review “Mystery and romance. What else could one want in a story? Well, The Stonekeepers definitely fits those categories, but it doesn’t stop there.

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/sallychambers

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The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

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