Helping Others and Being Helped

I know how it feels to give care and to receive help. I got blessed to go to Montrose Christian Writers Conference the week of July 12-17, 2020. On July 11, we drove a number of hours to go to a wedding. I love hearing the vows and the reminders from the pastor to be kind to one another and to be quick to forgive. I always commit to treat my husband better at these celebrations.

We went to the wedding in the evening, and then to the reception. A lot of sitting in one day. We stayed at a hotel and then joined the family at church in the morning. We found a pew and the service lasted about 90 minutes.

            Then we drove to Montrose, PA a few hours away. When we stopped at a deli for lunch, we ate in the car because of COVID 19.

           After getting settled in to my room, and then eating supper, I headed to an introductory lecture by one of the faculty members-more sitting.

            Monday came and went with many classes, and three meals. With this pandemic, practicing social distancing in the dining area, we did not stand and interact as usual. We got our temperature taken first thing in the morning, wore masks and quickly found a seat.

When I awoke on Tuesday, after a quick shower, I began to get dressed when my back sent a jab of pain. I needed help to finish up, and being alone, I hobbled to an adjacent door. I knocked and when an instructor, Tiffany Amber Stockton answered, I thanked God!

            After she maneuvered the clothes and my leg, she asked if I was okay. She offered to stay with me, but I knew she had responsibilities, so she left.

            The day proceeded as the day before, but I sat and rose from my chair for the various events carefully. That night, just about ready for bed my back spasmed. Pain like I’ve never experienced hit.

            I opened the door and the lady across the hall empathized. She had gone through the same thing one week at Montrose and needed to pull herself up the stairs by means of the hefty railings. She gave me a natural muscle relaxant from her chiropractor and I borrowed ibuprofen. I’m not much for medicines and their side effects, but I didn’t ask any questions except for the amount to take.

            The contractions hit every three to five minutes and I froze like a statue as the waves of pain overwhelmed me. My neighbor asked if I’d like to go down stairs and speak to the director. She helped me get there. Some women visited in the lobby. The choices offered: go to the hospital or go home. On Tuesday night! Neither seemed right.

Common Spine Problems Explained With Pictures
Common Spine Problems Explained With …webmd.com

Another conferee offered to sleep in the spare bed in my room because I was warned the back stiffens overnight and the pain gets worse! Dear God. I told her no but I did say I’d call her if I needed to get up.

            She helped me twice and once, at 2:30 a.m. I didn’t want to bother her. To arise from bed without her arm for leverage made me realize I didn’t choose wisely.

            I didn’t hesitate to call around 7:00 a.m. and she praised me for calling and allowing her to help the night before. The next day I admitted the 2:30 a.m. blunder and she scolded me! I haven’t been reprimanded like that since I was a child. She said, “No wonder you were so much worse in the morning.”

            I missed Wednesday morning breakfast and the morning worship, plus the faculty presenter before our class began. Jeanette Levellie promised to throw chocolate candies to the audience and she gave lively talks earlier on. I stayed in bed under the comfy covers trying to find a position that didn’t hurt. The Executive Director’s wife stopped in and then brought me tea and buttered toast with jam and crackers. I didn’t want more.

            The pastor’s wife asking me to call her for assistance and her gentle care-even the talking to-from a relative stranger blew me away. What a demonstration of love!

            Then, around 9:30 a.m. I called my friend. She has the gift of faith, which, in my pain I had forgotten. As I prayed, I thought God was telling me to stay. So, I phoned her and said, “I hurt my back. I don’t know what to do, stay or go home, would you pray about it?”

            “Of course, you’re staying. We’re praying!”

            Isn’t it weird when pain overwhelms? I prayed and others prayed for peace and relief, but when I picked up the phone it didn’t occur to me to ask for God to heal me. That’s unusual.

            She asked me if I remembered the “Happy Hunter’s” from years ago. I did. When we held our hands on our hips and asked God to heal us, our body moved this way and that. They said God showed them. I wasn’t sure I wanted to move at all. My friend told me to put my hands on my shoulders and she prayed my muscles, ligaments, etc. would relax so we could pray the “Happy Hunter’s” prayer.

            I was willing, but I admit a little concerned. Then, my hips moved a fraction of an inch to either side and I felt something twinge gently in my back. The pain was about 95% gone! I changed clothes and went bopping down the stairs. I told myself to be careful!

            When I reached the lobby, some of the ladies from Tuesday night saw me. They came rushing over. “What happened?”

            “God healed me!”

            At the end of the week, one lady said, “Connie, I can’t believe the difference. Do you realize you looked gray with the pain? Now your face is a healthy color!”

            When I first got home, after sleeping, my back stiffened some. Each day it’s better when I wake. Thank You, Jesus. I sat in a recliner with no pain today for the first time.

            This last Tuesday night, a friend’s daughter called to see if I could free up my Wednesday so I could visit her mom. Her mother had surgery on Monday and she didn’t want her to be alone. It worked out and I was able to visit and bend to pick up her phone charger when it fell. Scrambled a few eggs and made toast for our breakfast. I started this blog post because I’ve had company over pretty steadily lately. She slept in her recliner on and off, so I took the time to write.

            We talked and talked. She showed me video clips, and Scriptures that inspired her. What a wonderful day!

            Then, I went home to see my grandson and my husband. The next week my other grandson came over before school starts in September!

            I hope you are well. May God bless you!

Busy Days with More to Come

I prayed to God for some income from writing because the manuscripts I submitted this year received no replies from editors. Praying, living life, waiting and then a phone call from a client I worked for maybe four years ago.

The project is back on again just when a person I’m close to delivers a baby. I want to go there when I can! Then, my granddaughter decides to get married within a month, yay! And I’m having opportunities to do ministry that blesses me, big time.

I spoke to my husband at lunch this week. He continually learns and then puts into practice time management techniques using Trello and Google calendar and Getting Things Done by David Allen and some aspects from Michael Hyatt since I own Full Focus Planners. He watches Michael Hyatt on YouTube along with instructors on Trello and for other electronic planning systems. Then, my husband plans action steps and does the work to manage his projects.

I’ve begun the Getting Things Done strategy. In response to my question at the restaurant, he said, “Just do a little at a time.” I soaked that in.

I’ve noticed as I get things done, he encourages me. Also, he challenges me, “is that the most efficient use of your time?”

Sometimes I want to hear it and sometimes I don’t. So, after many years of marriage, I’ll say thanks and rethink what I’m doing, or I’ll say, “I need a break and that’s my top priority.”

He takes time to rest and maybe he thinks I’m chilling when I’m not. I may be thinking of an outline or praying for someone or daydreaming.

How are you doing? Is your life full of surprises and necessary activities, or are you in a quiet place forced to be still and alone like I was last Fall?

I plan on going on a missions’ trip later this year. My husband and I drove South to see family and take time to visit instead of going sightseeing. I don’t think we’ve ever done that before.

We talked and listened and soaked up the sun and saw our grandson play soccer. We visited my grandson’s friend’s church and thoroughly enjoyed the sermon.

That time gave me the boost for these hectic weeks with more to come. And now, I’m going to read the Bible, fold and put away laundry and go to bed.

May God bless you!

Reading and Planning

Complete Set Series - Lot of 7 Liberty Bell Books - Gilbert Morris (Historical)
Picture found on an e-bay advertisement.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, Revised and Updated Edition
Picture found on Christianbook.com advertisement.

I’ve been reading lots of books lately. A series by Gilbert Morris—The Liberty Bell tomes, copyrighted in 1995 by Gilbert Morris and published by Bethany House Publishers, Bloomington, MN. Also, two books on writing by James Scott Bell

How to Make a Living as a Writer; NOOK Book (eBook); Author - James Scott Bell
Pictures found at BarnesandNoble.com.

Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life; Paperback; Author - James Scott Bell

and a re-read of Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen. This is the second version of Mr. Allen’s book. It was copyrighted in 2001, 2015 by him. Penguin Books published it in 2015, with a foreword written and copyrighted by James Fallows in 2015.

I’ve decided to take David Allen’s methodology to tackle a housekeeping area I’ve struggled with until it’s conquered. Some of his ideas I’ve learned from an organizing, planning company based in Rochester, NY that went out of business when paper planners became less prevalent. I missed Eagle Day Planners when they closed and then I moved on to the Franklin Covey organizing system for many years. This last year, I switched to Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner and I’ll start next year in the same planner as I keep learning the nuances to his helpful life structuring goals.

The Bible says to practice moderation in all things. Overwork does not equate with productivity oftentimes. My dad used to point to his temple and say, “using this will save these,” and then he’d gesture towards his feet. He did think things through and try innovative ways at his job and at home.

David Allen, Michael Hyatt, and others recommend taking time to think, and/or brainstorm with others while you ignore your internal critic at this stage. Although David Allen suggests some analysis might help. I can’t explain it well here. If you’re interested, it will help to read the book. I borrowed it from the public library and then purchased a copy for our family to read. Thus, I’m highlighting significant insights this second time through and feel I’m getting more out of it.

I’ll try to remember to tell you how my organizing project went. I hope you’re well. May God bless you!

What to Believe

Last night, as I lay in bed, one of my legs started hurting. I said, “Lord, what’s going on?”

Now, whether it was my thought, imagination, the enemy of our souls-which I doubt, or the One and Only Great God, I felt as if a gruff voice impressed on my mind, “Feed My sheep.”

What do you think of that? So, tonight just past my bedtime, I’m sitting in a recliner under a crocheted afghan I made well over 20 years ago, a Granny square pattern, with a dim light on my right and a hand-cranked flashlight losing power over lined paper so I don’t overstimulate my senses and stay awake too late. I’ll type this in the morning, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” as my mom used to say back in the day.

I’ve been blogging less often because of life’s pressures and a little burn out. I’m reading the Psalms in the Old Testament and First Corinthians in the New Testament. No matter how many interesting books I read, none nourish my spirit like the Bible.

I read 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV), a favorite verse of mine: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Speaking of temptation, the last time I blogged I mentioned my granddaughter saying something about an unfortunate substance being on her ear and contacting my kiss. The next morning, on speaker phone I heard her mom say, “What did I read in Grandma’s blog about your ear and a booger?”

My young granddaughter said, “Oh, I just played a trick on her.”

She lied! I thought it was unlikely that she would have a booger on her ear, but then, I thought, maybe it got on her pillow case and transferred over. She’s got brothers and she’s athletic but I didn’t think she’d ignore something on her ear. I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

This photo is from gettyimage.com and I found it on Google.com.

The next time something is suspicious with her, I’ll consider she might be tricking me again, or telling a fib. She’s never lied to me in matters of importance, but in kidding around, she felt a temptation to say something that would gross me out, and she went with it. That’s what I like about temptation, the only thing I like about temptation. I have moments or longer to consider if I’ll fall if the opportunity comes my way. I can choose to lie or steal or cheat, etc. or not. And 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God gives me a way to escape any temptation that comes my way. What a relief. All I have to do is ask God to make it clear to me what I should do to avoid sin, and He’ll provide a way out.

Another reason I like this verse is that it’s reassuring that I’m not the only one in the world to get tempted. Yet, it’s not a sin to get tempted. It’s only a sin when I act on the temptation. Do you believe this verse?

May God bless you!

What’s Your Calling?

I keep hearing sermons or discussions among Christians about people following their calling from God. Then, I read book titles or newsletters on the same topic. Inevitably, the question arises, “Have you taken time to seek God to see what your calling is for life? What did God create you to do?”

When I’m thinking I’m hearing God in my thoughts, often it’s “Feed My sheep,” or “Write.” Sometimes it’s “Clean” or “Rest.”

(Eph. 2:10 NKJV):  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

This verse made me think our calling as a Christian is to walk as Jesus did. Not in malice, wrath or in jealousy, or covetousness, not causing strife, or gossiping. Gossiping hurts people’s reputations-it’s akin to murder.

So, I’m mindful of God’s commands in the Word and I’m trying to do what I think He wants me to do. When it feels like more than I can handle, I cry out to God for wisdom or whatever will get things done. God is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble; it tells me in (Psalm 46:1 NKJV). “Praise You, God!”

May God bless you.

Changes Discussed

 

Image result for how many lightbulbs does it take to change a person?https://www.newhopepublishers.com/shop/how-many-light-bulbs-does-it-take-to-change-a-person/

 

In our Ladies Bible study yesterday, we were on Chapter 12 in How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? with the subtitle: Bright Ideas for Delightful Transformation. It’s written by Rhonda Rhea, published by New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, AL and copyrighted in 2011.

The title of the Chapter is “Sometimes the Key to Change is…Change”. I almost anticipated her talking about pennies and dimes throughout the whole section, but I guessed wrong.

One of her favorite things is chocolate and it made the pages once again. She mentions candy bars and the various sizes available nowadays, but she got to the point of the title. We can’t change unless we’re willing to change. We have to shift gears and think differently, she tells us at one spot. God helps us with that, if we’re willing.

Then she quotes Jeremiah 29:11: “‘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.”

I love that Scripture. There are days when I need lots of hope, maybe more for others than myself, when I hear of losses and diseases from friends and on the news. Not that I don’t have stuff rear its ugly head, but I’m blessed with support from my family, our church, and friends. Scripture gives incredible comfort and prayer does, too.

I know some folks that sell or own essential oils and they’ll offer me a chance to inhale whatever fragrance that might help my mood to improve. I’m not against that, but today I anticipated someone saying, “Oh, you’re stressed. Let’s pray.”

They didn’t. They kindly opened first one bottle of diluted oil mixture and then another, suggesting I give it a try. I did feel better, but I think it was more because the person listened to me and the stressing agent wasn’t nearby. The aromas probably helped some, but it wasn’t a scientifically proven result.

Now I’m home, ready to continue my day. I haven’t written much lately because of housework and working on a story for children and babysitting grandchildren and practicing guitar for Sunday’s service with a pianist friend, etc., etc.

I hope this finds you well. May God bless you!

Encouraged, Exhorted and Rewarded

I went to a writers’ group last night. I left feeling encouraged with a plan for marketing and ideas for further chapters. That’s gotta be why the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians about not forsaking the fellowship of believers.

We need each other. Sometimes people can see we’re under spiritual attack and then they’ll promise to pray.

Besides, friends will listen to us and if they’re frowning, it prompts us to ask, “What’s wrong?”

Usually, I pray, “Lord, give me ears to hear what I should hear, and discernment to know what isn’t of You.”

When I used to volunteer at a ministry, I prayed the above plus asking God to limit what the other party said so I didn’t hear yucky things. Then, I’d pray I wouldn’t say things I shouldn’t say. That’s a prayer I ought to pray every time I interact with people. As a sanguine, my greatest gift can be my greatest weakness.

I was reading in the gospel of Matthew today and Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Matthew 16: 24-27, (NKJV)

I never heard the lie when I came to Christ that everything would be better and that prosperity is an entitlement for those who give money to certain ministries. I heard that God wanted me to be in relationship with Him; that was news to me. I heard that when you go through the deep waters, God would go with me. I heard that if I cast my cares upon Jesus, He would care for me. If I’m having cares to cast, that means things aren’t going my way.

One prosperous lady I knew lost her husband in their sixties after he became a born-again Christian. She stayed at the church, and made many friends. Then, she became a born-again Christian. She told me immediately, things got worse. She fell at a grocery store and broke both wrists. That made her helpless and vulnerable. She needed basic human compassion and care. Her son kept making lousy decisions and she would bail him out, time and again. Talk about family strife. The last major blow, she contracted Parkinson’s Disease. Yet, she had more joy over the latter part of her life than when I first met her.

She made friends that stuck by her for years. She had an incredible sense of humor. She was loyal to me and others. She knew heaven afforded her the closest contact with God and a reunion with her husband. She would have a new body in heaven. She wouldn’t ever sin again in heaven and Jesus said those who loved Him would have a mansion up there.

I moved away before the disease got worse. I would imagine she grew closer to God through the pain. I’ve seen some suffering saints glow with the love of God. I wouldn’t choose hard times, but I’ve seen the radiance and the peace afforded by them. So, there are compensations for those believers suffering on this side of eternity.

May God bless you!

Stretching

Is God asking you to do something that stretches you? Sometimes, stepping outside of our comfort zone gives us a zest for life and may help others in their quest for fulfillment.

 

What might the Lord be asking you to do that seems beyond your abilities?

 

There’s a Scripture that helps me, from the Apostle Paul’s writings: 2Corinthians_12:9,10, (ESV): But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

If He wants you to take a chance and do something different, He’ll confirm it through others and it won’t contradict His rules for proper behavior.

 

I rely on His strength!

 

Care to share if this resonates with you?

 

I am placing ads for writing services beyond my normal reach. I have been trained but not tested.

 

May God bless you!

Scurrying Fast and Furious

I’ve been like a hamster let out of its cage with bits of hamster food here, there and cast afar with me scurrying fast and furious.Marshmallow's Avatar

Running to appointments for me and my sister, shopping for better footwear to satisfy the doctor so I’ll have the correct support, and writing articles with a January 10 deadline.

(Pro 11:29): (ESV):  Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read my Bible early in the day and all my best laid plans got set aside so I could do the urgent instead of including the necessary habits that help my house stay in shape.

Thankfully, my husband and my sister helped so the place didn’t fall apart, but I felt like I took some major steps backwards.

Now, I’ll wait months to find out if the articles get accepted or not.

We’ve also been getting ready to start the new ministry at our church. We may get a man from a Bible College near a city north of us to give a teaching one night on overcoming hurts, habits and hang ups.

Is your new year a hasty pursuit of new responsibilities and endeavors? Or has it remained the same as last year and you’re content with it? Or none of the above?

I started reading through the Bible in a year again, but I never seem to stay perfectly on course. It’s amazing when I read things I’ve read before – maybe many times and get to see something I’ve never seen before.

My sister started as well, and she never realized Abraham got married to Keturah after Sarah died.

I hope you are staying safe and well if you’re in a place expecting severe storms as we are in New York State.

May God bless you!

 

 

Favorite Activities

Two of my favorite activities are writing and reading the Bible, not necessarily in that order. Yet, in striving for order at home, holidays, lots of company over, a new housemate and those demands, a ministry about to embark, and regular activities, the writing and Bible time have flown to the wayside.

No writing, no blogging accomplished. Little Bible reading, less peace. Eating in excess, plus adding junk foods in, less energy and less of a feeling of well-being.

Tonight, I’ve determined to set a new nighttime routine so I get better rest. So, this will be a small blog, but Praise God, at least it’s being done. I miss reading others’ blogs when I don’t blog. I wonder how they’re doing, what they’re learning. I miss researching for my blog. I like to learn.

I enjoy the holidays and I really enjoy it when they’re over!

Ecclesiastes tells us in A Time for Everything that:

Ecc 3:1  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Ecc 3:2  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

Ecc 3:3  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

Ecc 3:4  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecc 3:5  a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

Ecc 3:6  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

Ecc 3:7  a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Ecc 3:8  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Those verses were from the NKJV of the Bible. I remember a song based on those verses from the 1960’s sung by The Byrds and written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

May God bless you!