Listen!

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32

Years ago I used to  love the times of solitude while riding my chestnut mare, Cindy, through the nearby desert. They were wonderful times to enjoy silence and sunshine, to relax and think.

Most times, the rides were uneventful. But there was one day as I slowed Cindy’s spirited gallop to descend the sandy slope of a dune, that she suddenly stopped.

She stood perfectly still, her ears poised to catch every sound. No amount of coaxing encouraged her to move.

I was impatient with Cindy’s apparent stubbornness.

I didn’t hear the sound she was hearing.

I didn’t sense the rock-hardness of her tensed muscles beneath me.

Leaning forward, I was ready to scold her. But the sight before me took my breath instead. I finally understood.

There before us, coiled and ready to strike, was the reason Cindy was not moving. I finally heard the distinctive, dry warning sounds of a desert rattlesnake.

My ears were opened and my senses set on fire with understanding. Prayers of thankfulness flooded my heart.

I felt God’s protective presence that day as we remained quiet and the danger left its undulating pattern across the sandy dune and out of sight.

I was reminded then as I am today of how vitally important it is to be aware of how God chooses to speak to us.

He speaks to us in countless ways, but sometimes to hear His warnings or guidance we must be still and listen, and we’re wise to listen with patience.

The choices we make, our well-being, and occasionally our safety can depend upon how well we listen.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35 NIV

I am a whisper in time. Down through the corridor of the ages my whisper echoes with feathery sweeps into the age to come.  An excerpt from my journal.

Has there been a time when you’ve listened and avoided danger?

Love,

Sally

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Ray the Shape Shifter

I’m young. Crazy in love with horses, especially my Cindy.

This early Saturday morning shimmers in sunshine and light mist as I walk to the stable. I slow and savor the scent of apple blossoms filling the air from the orchard I stride by.

I love this walk and love having the barn so close to where I live in Richland, Washington.

Ray, owner/manager of The Barn, the local riding stable, slouches against the edge of the huge double wooden doors.

He waves and shoots me a grin, a piece of straw between his teeth, grungy straw hat shielding his sun-burnished face, a not-so-white, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots. Ray’s soft-spoken, generous and everyone’s friend.

Ray’s taught me most everything I know about horses. He let me and a few other teens work mucking stalls, soaping saddles, lassoing horses for paying customers, and more at The Barn.  I’d work for an hour to earn an hour’s ride until I got my own horse. I’m boarding Cindy there now.

A breeze kicks up a dust-devil between Ray and me as I lessen the distance between us.

I’m wearing my crisp new straw hat. I’ve joined the town’s riding group, The Richland Ramblers. My hat’s part of the Rambler “uniform” I’ll wear when I ride Cindy in the Richland Day parade and rodeo this summer.

Ray wears straw well . . . in his hats and between his teeth.

He cocks his head at me and says “I see ya got you a new hat.”

I nod and proudly touch the brim, as I walk into the warm, dusty barn.

Ray arches an eyebrow and shakes his head. “Gotta shape it. Want me to show you?

Shape it? My crumpled pride and I hold my breath as Ray, the hat-shaping cowboy, lifts my new hat from my head and saunters out to the corral . . . toward the water trough.

I follow, close on his heels, trusting, hoping, praying. that he’s not going to somehow totally destroy my brand new hat.

And what in the world does the trough and my hat have to do with . . .

A lot.

I swallow hard as Ray nudges two horses aside, leans over the trough and plunges, no, drowns, my new hat beneath the water. Makes me think he’s done this before a time or two.

And then I watch Ray skillfully roll, push, pull, smooth and angle the now-soft, pliable straw hat. The crown is magically reshaped, the brim, artfully rolled to just the right degree. He works it over until he’s happy with it and hands it to me . . .

now shaped into a hat fit for a Rambler.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV),

I’m like my old straw hat. I was stiff and new and unbending once.

When I opened the door and said yes to Jesus, I didn’t want to be conformed to this world anymore. I wanted God to shape me, mold me, and transform me in every way—mind, heart, body, and spirit—that I might be acceptable to Him.

God does that.

He takes us, raw and unfinished, as we are, and shows us His Way. He loves us through every roll, push, pull, and smoothing we experience, anointing us with His presence moment by moment.

Have you asked the Lord to help you do some reshaping?  Has it been easy? difficult? a challenge?

Love,

Sally

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ongoing Event: June 26 through July 7, 2015. An interview What Floats Sally Chambers’ Boat? And a Book Giveaway  Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: July 15  An interview with the main character in The Stonekeepers, Lexi Christensen along with a book giveaway. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: Sunday afternoon, August 16, 2015, book signing. More information coming soon

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

Novel – The Stonekeepers

 

Blue Edges

Lexi—Alexia Evengeline Christensen, grew up loving to race waves, beach walk, and sand dance on the tan sandy shores that ring her Nantucket Island home. No, that’s not an error in the spelling of her middle name, Evengeline. ☺ It’s deliberate and full of meaning, a meaning she’ll learn about along with you as you read her story.

Lexi, gutsy, impulsive, loyal, impatient, and more, the main character in my newly released novel, The Stonekeepers, stepped out of my imagination and lives within the freshly printed pages of her story . . . between the edges of of a book cover.

Edges . . .

Early morning, in the sandy, sunny regions of my memories, I walk the length of a long stretch of quiet beach.

The sea air held within the breeze that ruffles my hair is pungent with the scent of salt and seaweed.

In shades of beige and tan, squishy, damp sand moves beneath my feet as I walk the water’s edge.

Never-ending waves toss and reach to warm their white froth on the hot sand., the cacophony of their constant hiss and splash push away my cares and stress . . .

and I let them go.

Time slows as I stop my sandy walk and turn to face the sky and sea, their edges a contrast of ice blue calm and blue-silver shimmer on the horizon.

Sunlight glistens on undulating, wind-roughened water that looks as if its been feathered with a dusting of snow.And I wonder at how God keeps this great sea within the edges He firmly set so long ago.

 “When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world” says Wisdom in Proverbs 8:28b-31a

We, too, are cradled within edges. We live and dance through a life full of choices, from a beginning toward an end that fades in the Light of the presence of the Christ—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the supreme, life-changing choice.

A small rogue of a wave races toward me, daring me to run from it.

And I do. Backward. But not quickly enough.

I’m soaked from my knees down and give up in laughter, playing with the sea, racing with the receding water, losing to its speed. I pause, watching it dissolve into anonymity.

So unlike our Heavenly Father. He never changes, and promises never to leave or forsake us.

Edges, boundaries and limits have their place, and I’m thankful for them all as I walk in the riskier places of this earthly journey. But I’m just as thankful for the freedom I have in God. I stretch and grow and learn and experience, testing edges, limits, and boundaries, knowing He has set them.

I am not the sea.

I am me.

A child of God and free . . .

in Him.

He alone holds our edges and they are eternal.

Only God is the Alpha and the Omega of all creation. Who knows what more beauty and loveliness and wonder He may allow us to discover.

♥  Go. Race a wave. Run just a little farther, love a little deeper, try a little harder, walk a little taller, and ask where He is working. Then join Him.

Love along side Him.

Love,

Sally

I’ve wandered through thoughts and words here. Ramble along with me in your comments.

Here Am I

“Does my girlfriend live here?”

Tiny footsteps up the walk and a tiny voice asking, “Does my girlfriend live here?” floats through the open window in the dimming evening light.

Wide and curious eyes peer up at me, a tiny form on tiptoes, straining to see if this is where she might be.

Goodness! It’s getting dark, and I’ve never seen him around here before.

A neighbor shares that this little one has gone to every house on the street—walking right in through any unlocked doors—searching for his hearts love: “my girlfriend.”

No one is around—no anxious searching parent anywhere that I can see.

Well, Lord—he has come to my house. And I feel his angel prodding me to help God’s little child lost.

He has slipped out of my yard and into the dangerous street—I am close behind. “Wait a minute! Come back and talk to me before you go.”

“Okay,” he says, trundling his little-boy-self over to my side.

I kneel to talk on his level. “What’s your name?”

“Michael,” says he!

Such a beautiful boy—not a trace of pretense—except when I ask him where his mommy and daddy are. He studies the ground then looks me straight in the eye. “I don’t have any!” he boldly declares.

“How old are you, Michael?”

“I’m three,” he says, holding up the three appropriate fingers.

“Well, since it is getting dark, why don’t you take my hand, and we will go home and see if your Mom can find your girlfriend for you tomorrow. Is that okay?”

Yes, it was okay—and he grabs my little finger and holds on tight.

Lord, help me to find Michael’s home. And off we go, hand on finger, trusting that I will somehow find Michael’s house. He’s no help at all, and I only know which direction he came from. God knows . . .

A happy, “Hi, Michael!” sings out of a busy little girl and boy on a swing set as we round a corner.

Thank You, Father! And Michael and I walk together to the fenced yard.

“You know Michael?”

“Yup.”

“Where does he live?”

“Down there.” And there follows much finger-pointing along with a description on Michael’s house.

So, we’re off again and up to Michael’s house. His grip on my finger is tighter as we walk across the grass to a lighted side door and Michael’s dad comes over to us.

Michael is reluctant to let go of my finger and I sense some fear. An agreement is discussed with Daddy to have Mommy help him find his girlfriend in the morning. That seems to make it okay to let go. But I was reluctant too.

Down on Michael’s level again. “Goodnight Michael.”

“Goodnight,” he responds, too soberly for only three.

God bless you Michael, I love you.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8 NKJV).

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10 NKJV).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV).

Where have you been sent for Him? Or maybe He’s sending you somewhere right now?

{There are three links in this post. One is in the first verse of scripture above. Enjoy!}

Popcorn Memories

I’m honored to have author, speaker, singer, Ann Cooper McCauley, posting on the blog today! I know you’ll love her warmth and humor as much as I do. Enjoy Ann’s . . .

POPCORN MEMORIES

One night, a few years ago now, my body as always longed for rest, but the alarm jolted me awake at midnight’s blue, when the kids would be fast asleep. What?!? Then I remembered. I slipped from beneath flannel sheets and electric blanket into the still cold of our ancient house, looking back with longing at my soft pillow. The century-old stairs creaked as I scaled them in cloak of darkness, a tight fist about a one-dollar bill. I tiptoed through the upstairs maze, my feet dodging dressers, cast-aside shoes, and prickly, little carpet tacks at every portal. As I shivered, I smiled to myself; my mission would soon be accomplished. A baby tooth awaited me in a snack-sized Ziploc tucked under my second-born’s pillow.

Carefully, carefully, I inched toward Jarred’s bunk. Five feet… Four feet… Three feet away from his wee, slumbering snore… Faint moonlight softened his little face into a deceiving sweetness. Two feet… I reached out… And the world plunged from its axis! My legs went sprawling in mid-air; the breath I’d been holding burst into a wild, squeal of terror. The room shifted, rocked, rolled, and I landed in a bruising heap among more than a thousand glass marbles.

Looking up at the ceiling, I knew with icy certainty— my favorite red-haired mischief-maker had booby-trapped the tooth fairy! Every scene from The Ransom of Red Chief went flying through my head, as I turned red with fury.

That night carried the real potential to send me over the proverbial edge, though I forgave my repentant son, toothless grin and all. The next day, black-and-blue and sleep deprived, I needed a vacation, but there was no money for such a luxury. I calculated the cost of a sitter for the day and decided I was worth it, but none were available. Randy will watch the kids this evening, and I can escape. But events conspired against me, and of course, he had to work late.

I was stuck. Stuck! Stuck! Stuck! And in the midst of my stomping about with no glamorous place to hide from this exasperating day, memories began skipping through my brain like popcorn. Pop! Pop! Pop!

POP! The time my creative toddlers destroyed their room. No, I really mean destroyed. As in every toy out, every stitch of clothing strewn. Have you ever stood at the door to that room? Well, I knew they couldn’t clean up their mess alone – but I simply took one look, turned and walked away, shaking my head like a lunatic and babbling, “Just – clean it up.” When I returned, they had cleaned it all right. Around the baseboards in perfect rows marched a baseball, a shoe, a Big Bird bank, a sock, a soldier, another shoe, baby lotion, a Fisher-Price tape player, another sock, and on, and on, all the way around the room. I sipped my iced tea and studied the two-man clean-up crew, now chasing their squealing younger sister.

POP! The morning my son, Joshua, decided to take down the chain link fence. I had never analyzed how a chain link fence is put together, much less taken down, but my son visualized a fort built from that section of fencing. Not only did he dismantle the section screw by screw, he also took the garden shears and cut an ingenious doorway through the middle of it. Would you think dull garden shears could cut through chain? I stared at the gaping hole, thinking, My head is actually going to explode this time.

I had two choices: I could have an aneurysm, or not. Making the obvious choice, I looked at my son and said – teeth clenched – voice low, “Put. It. Back.” By sunset that evening, the section was back in place, the center bound together with wire like a great incision.

I learned from each catastrophe. When did each shenanigan my children pulled, transition in my mind to an endearing memory? Finally, I sat wilting on the back stoop, watching my kids romping in the yard, and with memories came bubbles of laughter.

I sipped my iced tea and reflected on my life with children. Hadn’t God been good to me, after my first child was stillborn? Hadn’t He whispered to me that I would have children? Me. The mom of six blessings. My heart softened. Despite my annoyance, He refreshed me. From that night forward, the tooth fairy never again retrieved teeth from under children’s pillows—making the exchange instead at the downstairs’ bookcase.

But I learned that survival is about clinging to God’s merciful gift of humor, gracing me with the perspective to laugh at, and occasionally even with, my children’s hoodlum ways. Sometimes a restorative vacation is just a step backwards into a few blessed minutes of hysterical laughter.

So, pop back in time, and tell me your funny. When did humor help you survive?

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

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV).

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV).

Has humor helped you survive? We’d love to have you leave a comment!

 

Sticks and Stones

I’m honored to have writer, speaker, teacher, and friend, Jeanne Doyon, guest-posting on Everyone Has A Story this week. Jeanne’s post holds a message that every woman needs to hear and begins with a saying most all of us know by heart . . .

Jeanne writes:

Sticks and stones

. . . will break my bones but names will never hurt me.

Do you remember chanting this in self-defense as a child? I do and I need to tell you, it’s a lie!

For years I struggled with #insecurity—feeling ugly and awkward because I wore eyeglasses as a little girl. That may sound like an exaggeration now, but when fueled by other’s words it wasn’t then. I learned all about sticks and stones and experienced the hidden wounds they caused.

I began wearing glasses as a nine-year old and had a gym teacher who called me unkind names like, four-eyed-monkey-face. In junior-high my science teacher announced to the class that girls with glasses would never be asked out on dates.

I know; I’d like to give them a piece of my mind too!

Every little girl struggles with self-image and these callous comments only solidified the truth I saw when I looked in the mirror. I never seemed to measure up to the beauty I saw in others.

Years later as a young mother, I grew in my faith and relationship with God. During my prayer time one afternoon I sensed Him say, I love you and you’re beautiful—even your glasses. I have no idea where this came from, but as His words washed over my heart, I began to sob. Then a peace I can’t explain filled me as I sat in His presence.

God is such a gracious Father. I experienced healing that day and began a journey of seeing myself through God’s eyes rather than the eyes of others—a journey that continues to this day.

The older I get my past becomes clearer. The healing of my hurtful memories is part of learning who I am as a child of God. As I discover more about Him, He shows me more about myself and other areas that need His healing touch.

We all have events in our past that have roots to our present struggles. As we spend time in God’s presence, praying and listening, seeking Him through His word, then He uncovers hidden things and brings our brokenness into the light. Healing is the result.

As we share our story, others are encouraged and God is glorified. Romans 8:28’s truth of all things working for our good becomes a reality. Instead of the hurts being for harm, they become redemptive through the healing ways of God.

Everything that God has done for me gives hope to share with another person who struggles with a similar hurt. When I’m willing to share my brokenness, I’ll see His redemptive results. As I walk the path toward Christ-likeness, transparent about where I have come from, others will see an imperfect vessel touched by the Spirit of God.

Only Jesus Christ can heal and bring wholeness to our past. His desire is for our best and to take the areas of weakness and give us His strength. In our broken world Jesus offers healing for our heart through His Spirit who makes all things new.

The sticks and stones may have made their mark but the healing we find in Christ is transformative because of the wounds he bore on our behalf. The hurt doesn’t define us—it frees us to become all He has for us through the redemptive power of His life broken for us.

How has Jesus ministered to your broken places? Have you experienced His redemptive power?

Jeanne

Previously published on The Stream’s Edge, shared with permission.

About Jeanne Doyon:

Jeanne Doyon loves encouraging others to draw nearer to the Lover of their souls. She connects the Truths in Scripture to the ordinary events of life and shares her reflections on her blog at http://www.streams-edge.blogspot.com. Jeanne enjoys photography, tea with friends, creating with beads and looks forward to being a grandma. She and her husband, John enjoy their empty nest but wish their children weren’t so far away. Email Jeanne at jeanne.doyon@gmail.com and find out more about her speaking topics at http://www.jeannedoyon.blogspot.com

I love this quote from Jeanne’s speakers blog “. . . I am embracing what it means to balance living boldly for Him with complete dependence upon Him.”

Thanks, Jeanne, for sharing your heart, your story, and your encouragement with us.

“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NKJV).

Far Above Rubies

 

“Great bursts of light flashed forth from him as from a glittering diamond or from a shining ruby . . . ” (Revelation 4:3a TLB).

“Great bursts of light flashed forth from him as from a glittering diamond or from a shining ruby, and a rainbow glowing like an emerald encircled his throne” (Revelation 4:3 TLB).

God created rubies and diamonds in all their splendor, brilliance, and beauty, but they are only tiny reflections of his glory.

And far above rubies is the wisdom of prayer.

I truly enjoy the rings I wear. Each of them has a story.

But this ring-story is about the ruby and diamond ring my husband gave me on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Jerry and I had taken some time away from work and were staying at our summer place in the mountains of rural North Carolina. We took a break from the painting we were doing and left to pick up a pizza in town. We planned to stop by the recycle center, which was on the way. As we drove, I took off my ring, carefully laying it in my lap for “safe keeping,” while I put lotion on my chapped hands. Pulling into the recycle center, I was distracted and totally forgot about the ruby ring, now hidden in the folds of my long dress. I was focused on dropping off the trash and empty bottles as I got out of the van.

It wasn’t until we were home and had finished the pizza that I suddenly realized my ring was gone! I made a frantic search of the van, hoping, praying, feeling terribly guilty and careless. Then I remembered precisely when and where I must have lost it.

The ring had fallen silently from my lap onto the driveway of the recycle center.

We drove, squealing tires and all, back to the center, where I searched the tarmac to no avail.

. . . However, as I was nose-to-the-ground, searching, I felt someone watching. Paul, the keeper of the center, looked over at me, his weathered face holding a broad grin.

“Did you lose something?”

Did I lose something! Well, the poor guy ended up being hugged after he dug into his shirt pocket, brought out a business card, and handed it to me.

And here’s my miracle, one more answer to my fervent prayers. Sue, a young woman, whose husband had passed away the week before, had found my ring and prayed about what to do. She’d seen the ring on the asphalt drive of the recycle center, sparkling in the afternoon sunshine and thought a little girl must have lost her Cracker Jack© box ring. Picking it up, she quickly realized the ring was no Cracker Jack© prize! She found one of her husband’s business cards with their phone number on it and used it to write a note: Found, lost ring. Call and describe, then she left the card with Paul.

Thankful and elated, I called her and described the ring. We ended up sharing our love and faith and trust in our Lord Jesus. Jerry and I drove to Sue’s home on the tip-top of a mountain to meet her. In spite of her grief, Sue rejoiced with me through tears and hugs as she returned the ring that always reminds me of the first twenty-five years of my marriage.

We are each so greatly beloved by God that he does not want any of us to be lost. The passion with which I searched to find my lost ring reminds me of Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Coin. In the parable, the woman, who lost a single coin out of her set of ten, experienced that passion. I imagine that she hoped and prayed she’d find it, like I did, but Jesus says, she lit a lamp, swept her house, and searched carefully until she found her lost coin. And she was so ecstatic when she found it, she rejoiced . . . well, we’d say partied, with friends and neighbors!

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’” (Luke 15:7-9 NKJV)

Are you, like me, constantly in awe of how when we live and walk in the light of Christ, that there are no coincidences, and that no detail is too small for God. I love how he weaves the lives of his children into a beautiful tapestry of love and caring.

Have you ever lost, then found, something you treasure?