Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Broken Cisterns

This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves.
Jeremiah 2:5
Despite my best intentions to avoid distraction and not battle the atheists on Facebook, I am drawn to them over and over again. It feels like my ministry. I post my blog with some sort of teaser on their page, and the atheists are usually all over it in seconds. Huge long discussions often ensue, and I can sometimes spend hours responding. 

I have no idea if anyone is ever swayed by my words, but I know God's word never returns void. So I never give up until another believer takes the baton. I usually bow out at that point, and resume the necessities of life like cooking, cleaning, and sleeping.

Strangely, I feel a great burden for those people. I don't know them, but I believe with all my heart that they are lost without Jesus. So, I do my best to persuade them that faith in Jesus is far preferable to the worthless idols so many of us traipse after. 

The world is full of alluring false idols -- fame, fortune, sexual freedom without constraint, big homes, fancy cars, expensive toys, the latest technology....The list is endless. However, think how often the "rich and famous" admit that their opulent life-style never brought all the expected joy and peace. In fact, it is often the opposite.

Living without restraint with the freedom to wander far from God often results in hollow, empty despair. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells us:
 My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

When we forsake God, no matter how desperately we try to fill ourselves with all the world has to offer, it will drain away. Without God, we are broken cisterns that cannot hold water. God longs to be the living water. Jesus says:
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him 
will never be thirsty again. 
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water 
welling up to eternal life. 
John 4:14 
I pray that all the atheists come to faith. I pray that they finally grow weary of the broken cisterns, the emptiness of chasing false Gods and false comforts. God may not have created Facebook, but like anything, He can use it for His glory.

John 7:38 

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Wind in My Sails

I used to sail, and I know what the wind being knocked out of your sails means. The boat comes to a screeching halt, all hope of moving forward vanishes, and the dangerous boom that holds the sail can come whipping around obliterating anyone unfortunate enough to be in its path.

Sometimes, it takes quite a while to set the boat heading in a direction again where the wind can catch and fill the sail. There is a period of helpless foundering. It doesn't seem possible that you will ever move on the smooth, beautiful tack you had once been on.

What does one do when this happens in life?

I love what the Message Bible translation of Psalm 51: 12-13, 17 says:
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!

Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home...

I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice.
Heart-shattered lives don't for a moment escape God's notice. I take comfort in that when the wind has been knocked out of my sails.
Psalm 51: 10-17
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Hope That is In Me

I was out most of yesterday at a Cities4Life Picnic, and today head out soon to the sidewalks of Charlotte's busiest abortion mill. My soul is saturated with the message of the sanctity of life.  I prepare my heart in the mission of urging women to choose life for their babies by reading Scripture. I look for a verse to meditate on and develop the message I believe God wants the women to hear.

Each week it is different. The verses that popped out to me for today:

I am feeble and utterly crushed.
I groan in anguish of heart.
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord.
My sighing is not hidden from you.
Psalm 38:8-9

Which of us has not felt this way at some time in our life? Despair is tugging at our coattails with increasing vigor. We feel unable to resist. Anguish overcomes us, and there seems to be no way out.
I know the women that seek abortion often feel that way. They have lost hope in anything but the terrible choice of killing their baby.

But there is hope, and it is the only hope that ultimately overcomes anguish of heart.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I hope.
Psalm 130:5


We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.  
Hebrews 6:19-20 

Some studies indicate that 44% of the women who have one abortion, will have repeat abortions. If we can not reach these women with a message of hope, and break the cycle of bad choices that led to the first abortion, this culture of death will continue.

So I go to the abortion mill this morning with a message of hope, the only hope that changes one's heart and one's soul.

1 Peter 3:15 

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Unexpected Paths

I have departed this earthly life for the past several days, and completed the rough draft of Book 3 in my Burton Farm Series. I had very little more than a rough idea of how it would end, but the book knew where it needed to go, and by the end, it arrived. I was just along for the ride.

I spent the rest of the day drawing the picture that I hope will go on the cover of the new book. It has a long way to go before publication. However, having a completed rough draft in record time, and a working cover picture brings me great joy.

I always have a rough idea of a book outline when I start, but it never seems to go where I expect it to go. It develops a mind of its own, and soon, I toss the outline, and follow the muse.

This is not unlike how God leads me. I think I have a general idea of where He wants me to go, and I head off happily in that direction. Invariably, I have not taken more than one or two steps and He veers so sharply that I am thrown completely off track. I scramble to follow Him or give up (to my peril) and go in the direction I thought was best.

In short, I never end up on the path I thought I would end up on. Never. this can be a source of great despair, and anxiety (usually my first response,) or of wide-eyed excitement and wonder (the preferred response.)

Psalm 37:23 reminds me The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.
I admit, I need to delight in His way more, and trust where He leads me. It is not easy to go blindly on a journey where the destination has not been revealed.

But honestly, I really like how book 3 ended, which was a surprise to me, the supposed author.

Proverbs 16:3-4 

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

He Who Stills the Storm

Charles Spurgeon asks: Living in peace, do not the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

One would hope so. How does one find this life of peace? Psalm 107 describes the life I am more familiar with. Continual struggle and trial, rebellion, sin, despair, calling to God, and His rescue...only to have the pattern continue over and over again.

Psalm 107 has the same refrain repeated four times:
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble
And He saved them from their distress.

You would think they would learn!

It is probably safe to say there will be no peace on earth. So living in peace cannot be based on external events. It must be an internal phenomenon. I wish I could capture the key, and unlock the secret for you. I can't. I want to live in peace, but at this point, it eludes me.

Psalm 107 gives a clue. Life is described with the metaphor of a ship mercilessly tossed in a storm by stupendous waves, that reach to the heavens, and to the depths of the earth. I don't know about you, but that picture resonates with me. There are periods where I feel like I am scraping my fingernails on the very vault of heaven. There are also periods  where I feel the fire of Hell licking at my soles. They often vacillate as rapidly as waves crest to crest.

But then, the psalmist's despair suddenly shifts:
He stilled the storm to a whisper.
The waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm
And He guided them to their desired haven.

Peace is not in my power, but in the power of God. He stills and hushes the storm, He calms the water, and He guides us to the place where we find rest. To find peace, we must find God. The hard part is He may not still the storm for a very long time, and maybe not at all this side of Heaven. The peace comes not from the fact that He stills the storm, but that He can.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Restrained Power

It rained most of yesterday. We needed the rain, and I don't mind rain, but I was stuck inside all day. This was not totally a bad thing, I discovered. Because I could not walk, or bike, or kayak, I worked on book three of the Burton Farm Series.

As often happens, I didn't come up for air until thousands of words later. In fact, I am closing in on the end section of the book. Since it has been fifty years since I trained the horses I write about in the series, I watched several videos on specific training issues with horses. Every time I see a horse willingly submit to a puny human, I wonder anew. They could so easily crush us, but they don't.

There is almost nothing I admire more than restrained power. It is why I love the USA. We could nuke the whole planet when they tick us off...but we don't. It is in part why I stand on the sidewalks of the abortion center pleading for the babies' lives. They are completely weak and vulnerable and at our mercy. Abortion is an example of power without restraint.

Of course, the most wonderful example of power with restraint is God. God could squash us in an instant, destroy us and create a less depraved group of creatures (like horses...) but He doesn't. Instead, He beckons us, guides us, died for us, and redeems us. It is as ridiculous as the 1,000 pound horse letting us guide him with thin leather reins that God lets us choose when and if to come to Him.

Job 12:10 

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Isaiah 41:10 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When All Will Be Made Right

Personally, I think this is really great abstract art. Guess who the artist is? Someone really famous, right? Nope. Me. Personally, I think I should be a millionaire, but I am not. Not even close. So, in the photo below is abstract art that is worth at least a million dollars. One of his paintings sold for $30 million. I ask you. Do you see any difference between the painting above and the one below?
Me either. Now don't get me wrong. Kandinsky is great and I love his stuff. He has the advantage of being dead. That instantly ups the value of his work. But other than the fact that I can still create art and he, being dead and all, can not...can someone please tell me why I am not shoveling caviar in my mouth on the Riviera with a silver spoon????

Life is not fair. It just isn't. Kandinsky was born into a rich family, and was given a "generous allowance" by dear old dad long after most people had cut the umbilical cord. He never suffered from lack of funds or prestige, no matter what stage of crazy art he was experimenting with. As far as I can tell from his biography, he never suffered, though his paintings did increase in value after he died.

There are countless examples of the unfairness in life. The only consolation God gives is "it ain't over till the fat lady sings." That is not in the Bible, by the way, but the point is that we have to adopt an eternal perspective if we want to see that it all evens out in the end. The story will come to a satisfying conclusion, but we have to be willing to trust God despite the evidence during our sojourn here on earth. The wicked will prosper, evil will reign, bad things will happen to good people. But God who numbers every hair of our head sees all. In the end, all will be made right. The scales will balance. Those who mourn will be comforted. We will all stand before the Lord and give an accounting of our life to the One who cannot be bamboozled.

Luke 16:19-31

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers[b]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hopeful Seeds

I got a call from one of the mamas I work with who chose life over abortion. An altercation with a boyfriend led to her leaving the relationship in which she had been feeling increasing concern. This young lady is taking steps to "get right with God." Moving out of the relationship struck me as an important step on many levels. When she described what she intended to do to continue on the path she felt she should be walking, I was much encouraged.

Her despair led to a wonderful discussion about God's plan for our lives, and the blueprint He provides regarding marriage and children (preferably in that order.) I asked her a series of questions, and she came to the following conclusions: that God would not bless her if she continued in disobedience to His commandments, her first priority was to protect herself and her children, she wanted one day to marry a Godly man who would be a role model for her children, she wanted her children to walk a better path than she had, and she needed to get her own head straight and right before God.

I understand words are easy, but at least they are a start. If all we do is talk without walking the talk, it is useless. But for someone who had never strongly considered this particular plan from God as one that was not only wise, but protective, it was a big revelation. This was a woman who left the abortion mill in a flood of tears, not knowing how she could possibly have her baby. It was a huge first step for her to make the choice to let the baby live.

Supporters of Cities4Life have stepped in with promises of Christmas gifts and several months' supply of diapers for her other children, furniture and a refrigerator for her apartment, maternity clothes, financial counseling, and spiritual mentorship.

A wonderful ministry that works closely with Cities4Life, Truth and Mercy Pro-Life Ministries, will be providing a baby shower for this mama in a month. (Two full years of baby clothes and supplies are provided at these lavish showers.) We discussed the details of the upcoming shower as we closed our discussion about God. Then she asked me, "Miss you think you could find a pastor who would come to the shower, to bless me with my new steps in life?"

I cheered, and praised God for His wonderful spirit that takes a seed, and grows a mighty oak. Then I contacted our Cities4Life director who pastors a home church, and asked if he would join us to bless this brave woman's new life. He told me he would be honored.

And it is an honor. A miracle. A joy. Out of the ashes, a soul is being reborn. And we get to be the audience applauding in front row seats.
If interested in how to donate or be involved in these wonderful ministries, please visit:

2 Corinthians 5:17 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

John 5:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Light Shines in the Darkness

In the darkest place on earth, where innocent babies die by the scores each day, a light shines. Every single day that the busiest abortion center in Charlotte is open, teams of volunteers from Cities4Life gather. They are armed with prayer, love, and a deep desire to share the hope and love of Jesus in a place where there is no hope.

On this past Monday, two women chose life over abortion. One who came to us weeping admitted that God had been speaking to her on her entire long drive to the center. She expected to come to a quiet, secluded building, walk in, abort her child, and leave. It would be sad, but it had to be done.

However, as she drew near, the sidewalk was filled with volunteers. Many children were there as well. A huge RV was in front of the building, with signs promising free ultrasounds, free counseling, resources, and hope. A prayer tent stood on the corner, with women bowed in prayer. On the microphone, another volunteer was speaking of the sacred value of all human life, made in the image of God.

Volunteers stood on the side of the street, offering frantic quick counsel, and pamphlets with information and resources. She pulled into the parking lot of the abortion center anyway, knowing God was sending her yet another message. All those people are here proclaiming the sanctity of life. She averted her eyes and tried to close her ears. Though she went into the center, she emerged a short time later. As she drove out of the parking lot, she stopped, rolled down her window and told us, "I can't do it. Can I get your free ultrasound?"

I was the lucky one who had the joy of counseling this sweet woman. Her heart was broken over what she had contemplated doing. When she saw her precious baby on the ultrasound, his face was so clear, it was almost as though he were in her arms. He held one hand to his mouth, and the other arm was stretched straight up, as though he were praising God. I told her he was thanking God for his mama. She told us, "He will be a wonderful baby for some family who could not otherwise have one." She decided then and there she would deliver her baby, and place him for adoption.

We gave her information about maternity resources in her area as well as adoption resources and numbers to call. We loaded her arms with pamphlets, gifts, and of course, a Bible. I shared the Gospel with her, and she listened intently, eyes brimming with tears. I told her the hope and promise of Jesus was available to her now, this very moment. With shining eyes, she told me she wanted to accept His gift of salvation secured for her by His sacrificial death on the Cross now. We prayed as she gave her life to Christ.
"How do you feel now?" I asked her.
"So much better than when I was fighting God!"

CS Lewis said: Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid be- cause we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

In the darkest place on earth, where innocent babies die by the scores each day, a precious soul stopped struggling against God and chose life for her baby, and herself. At least for that moment, light chased away the darkness.

if interested in how you can help, go to

John 3:19 

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. ...

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why God, why?

I received a private message today from a stranger, a woman who saw my pro-life work. She shared a horribly sad story of her life, and asked me, "For you who believe so strongly in life, can you tell me WHY?"

I hadn't known for sure what to blog about today, but my answer to her was the best I felt I could do with such a difficult question. (Particularly since this morning I go out to the sidewalks of the abortion mill to plead for life over abortion.) Feel free to comment, in case she reads this blog, with other words of comfort and understanding. Join me in prayer for her and her devastating circumstances. I pasted my response below:

First, my heart breaks for you and the terrible struggles you and your family has endured. I am moved to tears, and if I were God, I would remove all pain from the world. Your question is the one that keeps so many people (including me for years and years) from believing in God, or trusting that He is good. Believe me, I do not have all the answers, or maybe even any. But here is what I do believe. Life is precious. Whether it is for a short time or a long time, whether in struggle or in ease, the intrinsic value of life doesn't change. God is the creator of Life, and of all His creation, humankind alone is made in His image. Humans hold a special place in His creation, and have a sacred value above all other life. The Creator alone has the right to take back what He has given

I also believe that the life he has given us is spent but a brief time on earth. Our ultimate home is with Him, and we were created to spend all eternity with Him. However, if our only choice was to be with Him, we would be little more than robots.
Yet incredible as it seems, He created us for fellowship with Him. Thus He had to allow us the possibility to leave, and reject Him or we would not really be making a choice for Him. Sin thus entered the world when we exercised our right to reject God.
Now pain is similar, in my estimation. If all we ever received from God's hand was blessing, no matter what we did or believed, God is no longer loved for being the Creator, but instead used as the Cosmic Santa Claus. Our love would be contingent on what goodies we receive at His hand.
I don't think that is what He wanted of us either. He wanted us to trust Him through good and bad, and not because of what He gives us, but because of who He is, the Creator.
It is so easy to trust when all is well. It is a true test of trust when all is terribly wrong.
If we are able to keep an eternal perspective, keep our eyes on Jesus even when our life is crumbling around us, we have chosen not to love God for all He has given, but for all that He is: the one who formed the universe and all that is in it. I believe we suffer on earth to remind us earth is not our home.
We would not long for heaven or eternity, if everything was perfect here on earth without God.
When everything else is stripped away, we have a choice. Be bitter and abandon any hope that God is good or that God exists....OR...rejoice in what beauty and joy and good memories and thoughts we can find (and they are always there, though often buried beneath the pain) and cling to God all the more tightly.
I choose to cling to God
And I applaud you for overcoming your compelling reasons to abort, and to choose life instead. The pain of watching your children suffer is nothing like the pain of knowing you killed them by your own hand. The womb where God placed the child should be the safest place on earth, but it is one of the most dangerous now for the unborn.
May God comfort you in the midst of the pain with the assurance of His eternal presence. I do believe that He will not abandon you if you do not abandon Him. God is not immune, nor a stranger to suffering. He sent His own Son to be crucified, to die the most horrific death possible to take on Himself the penalty for sin that we deserved. That is how I know God loves me, even when it doesn't feel like it.

1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. ...

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Aroma of Christ

Yesterday,  Cities4Life teams that volunteer on the sidewalks of the busiest abortion center in Charlotte did a different volunteer job. We gathered and cleaned garbage from the street where the busiest abortion mill in Charlotte is located. Our organization "adopted" the street. On the very street where thousands of babies are killed each year, a small sign is posted: "adopted by Charlotte Cities4Life."

As soon as I heard about the garbage clean-up date, I signed up to help. The symbolism was too magnificent to ignore. We may not have been the ones that dumped all that garbage, but we could pitch in and be the ones to clean it up.

While gathering garbage, I found several articles of clothing in wooded areas. Countless liquor bottles, cigarette butts, soda cans, trash bags, and even an old television set. One of our workers found a copperhead snake. (eeeeek!!!!)  We collected at least twenty huge bags of garbage.

At one point, I picked up a full soda bottle. I opened it to dump it out before putting it in my garbage bag and it spilled all over my hands. It smelled so disgusting that I wanted to vomit. I don't think it was just old soda in there. I had to spend the next hour smelling that filth and trying not to spread it on any other part of my body. The stench soaked into my soul.

Then I reached the abortion mill itself. It is in the background in the photo above. Even in the mid-afternoon, cars were still there. Babies were still dying. But I wore the vest of the city garbage picker-upper, and felt powerless.  I was not there armed with literature, resources, or a pro-life mobile ultrasound. On Mondays, I show up before the abortionist arrives, with all those tools, and can influence women while their babies yet live.

Yesterday, I was an observer, picking up the garbage that people left behind. I stood there, watching the people leaving the abortion center, knowing their child was no longer with them. Dead. Left garbage. Somehow, it struck me anew with great despair over what happens there.

We piled our bags of garbage, took a photo of all of us by our "cities4life" sign. Then I dashed to the nearby McDonalds' bathroom and scrubbed my hands and arms. I scrubbed and scrubbed till my skin felt raw, but still the smell of death and rot remained.


2 Corinthians 2:14-17

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Through His Spirit

The muse returned!

But not after a struggle. I settled down to work on Book 3 of my Burton's Farm series (books 1 and 2 hot off the press now!) Then I got a notice on my phone. My storage was full and terrible things would happen if I didn't manage my storage right away. I called Apple Care to help me. Four hours later, they had not solved my problems. I went to the Apple Store. I waited 2 hours, and then gave up. The Apple Geniuses were in hot demand.

A whole day wasted, and I so wanted to get back to writing. Ideas tumbled in my head. One final call to Apple Care, the situation was lassoed under control, and I opened Book 3 manuscript. It was as though the fictional world I had created came alive. I was living the story for the next two hours. I could have written forever.

This is called being in the zone. It doesn't happen often enough. It is when all self-consciousness flees and the floodgates of one's essence are wide open. There is nothing like it, the powerful feeling of utter oneness with whatever one is tackling. It is hard to describe, but it is as though boundaries between self and the universe dissolve. Anything is possible.

There is a spiritual parallel. When one is in such deep communion with God that all sense of separation of God's will and one's own will blurs, heaven feels real. Self is completely unobserved, unimportant, unremembered... and strangely, that is when one is most fully who one was designed to be.

What is most frustrating is it is hard to manufacture that moment, though in the spiritual life, I come closest when engaged in daily, fervent, intentional prayer. The other frustration is it is also hard to maintain.

I wrote the bulk of this blog last night, and this morning, read my daily dose of CS Lewis. Strangely, he addressed a very similar thought. I will conclude with his beautiful words:

When I attempted . . . . to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the land- scape loses the celestial light. . . . . For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. Now we wake to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance. We may go when we please, we may stay if we can: “Nobody marks us.” A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment. We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.
From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis


Romans 8:11 

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Friday, September 18, 2015

MY Thoughts are not Your Thoughts

I am ashamed to admit this. I spent the better part of a day when I should have been writing or promoting my books instead looking for "toe half socks." If you don't know what those are, join about 40 million retailers. They are half socks that only cover the toes, and are PERFECT for wearing with clogs or flats that don't rub your heel but do give you blisters on your toes.

I went from store to store to store searching. When I asked the salespeople, they looked at me as though I had two heads. I don't have two heads. I have blisters on my toes, and "toe half socks" solve that.  "Do you have any?" No. "OK. Do you know Jesus? Perhaps we could chat about that instead?"

Here's the strange thing. I prayed FERVENTLY  that morning that God would let EVERY WORD from my mouth glorify Him. Why would He make finding such a simple thing as toe half socks so impossible, thus squandering the time I could have used for His kingdom? It's not like I was hunting for the fountain of youth.

Finally, I found half toe socks after store hopping for three hours. They were not black as I would have preferred, but at least they were in the genre of what I was searching for.

"Are these comfortable?" asked the saleswoman as she checked me out. She scrutinized the toe half socks as though they were specimens in a rare bacteria laboratory. Clearly, she had never before seen them.

"Yes, very. And your store is the only one in Charlotte that sells them."
"Hmmmm.I will have to try these."
"You should. I love them."

Why? Why God, why? In all the AMAZING ways you could have used me yesterday, why was it so...pedestrian? I helped one saleswoman learn about toe socks. You have a whole world suffering and dying for the Good News...and that was my only positive contribution to humanity. And I prayed so hard to be useful.

I just finished a marathon month of editing, writing, and then publishing the sequel to my first horse book. Truth be told, while I had settled down yesterday and worked for an hour or so on book #3 in the series, I was worn out. My creative juices were dry. Suddenly, the need for half toe socks was all-consuming. I could not write another word. I must have toe socks. Now.

So I got out in the fresh air, I chatted with many wonderful sales people who invariably chuckled as I divulged the object of my quest. I walked a good three miles. When I returned home, I felt refreshed. Maybe I needed time away from my work for a little while. Maybe that was God's desire for me that day.

Here's the thing. God never works in the way we expect, but He never ignores our prayers. Our mission is to pray, obey, and trust. Probably in that order, but I could be wrong. Afterall, I spent half a day hunting for toe socks.


Isaiah 55: 7-9
7Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Day of Small Things

I got my first PO box yesterday, and set up a work email. One would think I would have done this earlier for my author-related work, but I never did. Now, as my fan base has ballooned into double digits, I need a way to control the deluge of fan mail and gifts.

(Sarcasm alert.)

"What is your smallest PO box?" I asked at the post office.
The nice postal worker told me, and warned me it would hold only a few letters a day.
"That should be sufficient. What if by some chance, it overflows?"
"Well if it is happening regularly, we will insist you get a bigger box."
"Ok, that is what I will pray for."

Dear fans, if you go to the top right of this blog page, you will see text that says you can sign up here for author updates. Click on here. Not here...but on the upper right of my blog page. Go ahead. I will wait. I would be SOOOOOO thrilled if you would do so. That email you enter is used only to notify you of book updates, or promo pricing. The first five people that sign up today will get a free audiobook of  I'm Listening with a Broken Ear.  

You can write to me at to tell me you have done so, and give me the email address where you want your free gift notification sent.

I was complaining about my meager mailing list at my writer's group (to be fair, I only started pushing a mailing list this week...)  I mentioned the need for a PO box for the astronomical number of letters I expected from the 16 people on my list. One friend said, "Congratulations on the 16!"

Point taken.

One must start somewhere. Two months ago I had 2 Twitter fans. Now I have 3,657.

Do not despise the day of small things.

I met a young man who was helping me at the Microsoft store yesterday. When I explained what I needed my computer to do because I am an author, he told me he dreamed of being an author. He has written some, and loves to write, but doesn't quite know how to take the next step. He plans to research all the many things he would need to know and do before starting.

"Just write," I said. "Just start. No one knows all they will need to know when they first start. You will learn as you go along. If you wait till you know all you need to know, you will never begin."

I think of my life. If as a baby, God had told me all I would need to know till the end of my life, all the suffering, hardship, struggles that would ensue....I would crawl right back in the womb. I am not even kidding.

Do not despise the day of small things.
Do it.
Take the first step of faith,
of pursuing your dream,
of improving your life,
of helping another.

God takes the small things and "provides the increase."

And while you are at it, please sign up on  my mailing list.

Luke 16:10 

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Spirit's Prompting

I went to lunch yesterday with a mama I helped counsel to choose life over abortion. Some time ago, we prayed together and she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. She has become a dear friend, and I see her often. The baby she chose not to abort is now a year old. We hadn't seen each other in a couple of months, and she wanted to catch up with me. There had been a long period of her not responding to my texts. I was grateful she was reaching out now. Praying before meeting with her, I asked that God would lead me in whatever she needed to hear, or would help me listen in a way that helped her.

At lunch, I told her a story from my own life that had occurred only the week before. I had been prompted to express repentance to another person, not for something I had done, but for something I had thought. What made it stranger was the thought had occurred over twenty years ago. I had no idea why it popped into my mind. I told her the story to demonstrate the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, a subject I don't think we had ever before discussed. I felt she needed to hear that message. I don't know why my heart insisted I speak of it. Probably the Holy Spirit (again.)

Anyway, I told her I heard the prompting to ask forgiveness so loudly, it was almost audible. I fought it, because it made no sense, since my "sin" had only been a thought, not an action. The person never knew I had felt what I felt inside at the time. However, the thought was unkind, and unworthy of me. I was convinced by the incessant nagging of the Holy Spirit that I was to ask forgiveness of that person.  So I did.

My friend listened intently. Then her eyes watered, and she said, "Miss Vicky, there's something I need to tell you." She began crying, and told me she couldn't believe she was going to tell me, but my story hit a nerve. The Holy Spirit was convicting her. It was clearly something that had been gnawing at her soul, and I suspect the source of the period of silence from her in our friendship. So she told me.

It was a bombshell. I must admit it took me by surprise, and it must have been very hard for her to tell me. I am not sure I would have had her courage. We discussed the issue, from a Biblical perspective, and I hope the discussion brought about the beginning of healing. It led to a two-hour lunch with her asking very deep questions about God, including those old favorites, "Why does God allow so much evil?", "If God wants me to succeed, why doesn't He stop me at the moment of terrible sin?", "Who made God?", and so on. Nice easy questions. (Not.)

The waitress hovered nearby. She was listening. Two for one! I was getting an inkling that God had summoned me to this lunch for a purpose far beyond the delicious hot wings.

Then my friend told me about a situation where she had been terribly wronged. In response, she had said some hurtful things to another person. She had felt increasingly bad about it. The person deserved it, but she kept hearing a voice inside her saying she needed to apologize.

"I think that's the Holy Spirit prompting you," I told her.
"But if I apologize, I know this person will not respond well."
"You are not responsible for her response. You are only responsible for what God is telling you to do. What do you feel you need to apologize for?"
"I was disrespectful, and I cussed her out."
"Is that the person you want to be?" I asked.
"Then apologize for that. You are not condoning what she did, and you are not required to have a relationship with someone who is harming you. However,  if you behaved in a way that is not the person you want to be, that is where you ask forgiveness."

As she got out of the car, she told me, "I knew I needed to have lunch with you. That voice telling me to apologize has been bugging me for weeks, and eating at me."
 "Listen to it," I urged her.
"It's not easy," she said.
"Has it been easy disobeying God and living with the consequences?"
"Often what the Spirit requires of us is not easy, but I guarantee you will be blessed if you do what God is commanding you to do."

I prayed as I drove home. I felt as though I had failed her. If I had only reached out more often, perhaps I could have helped her avoid the terrible predicament she had landed in. However, if anyone needed to hear a message of God's guidance and forgiveness, it was her at that moment. I am not God, and if He chose not to stop her, I certainly could not have.

But it was a blessing to be the one who then held her hand, and reminded her of how true repentance and forgiveness lead to healing. How ironic that the very sins I had struggled with led to a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and immediately in the wake, led me to tell of His prompting and power to another hurting soul.

John 14:15 

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Against the Spiritual Forces of Evil

A young couple pulled over as I flagged them down on the road flanking the abortion mill. They both looked very young, and very frightened. The woman told me immediately she was here for an abortion. I asked her if she felt that was the right thing to do. She shook her head. The young man was on the verge of tears. He didn't speak English well, but he understood most of what I said. According to the mama, he wanted the baby.

Most days when I am counseling for life on the sidewalks, I feel none of me, and all of God. I feel empty, vulnerable, and utterly dwarfed by the enormity of the mission there to dissuade abortion-minded mothers from killing their unborn children. But every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirt, and at the times when I am weakest, God is strongest. He reminds me time and again, my only job is to show up and be a witness for Him. Convicting and saving is His job alone.

This time, as I leaned in the window, pleading the case of choosing what God would have them do, my eyes welled with tears. I told them one day they would be old, like me. (Frankly I would have preferred if they argued that bit about old...but they looked at me and nodded.) They would look back on this day with one of two responses. Either, they would be filled with remorse over a choice that they knew was wrong, but did anyway. Or they would mark Sept. 14, 2015 as a day they chose to do what was right, no matter the cost. If they chose the first path, I warned them, my eyes brimming with tears and voice cracking, they would look back with deep despair over the conscious choice to abandon their moral compass.

The young man began crying then. The mama asked if they could pull into the parking lot to discuss privately with each other. I begged her not to pull into the abortion mill lot. "Satan is real, and he is powerful. Please just pull over to the curb here to discuss. I will stand nearby, ready to walk you to our free mobile ultrasound unit should you decide to see your baby."

She nodded, and pulled over to the curb. I stood on the sidewalk, bowed my head, clasped my hands, and prayed. My heart broke for the young couple, but I petitioned God to convict their terrified hearts that He is indeed a refuge and strength. They need not fear walking His path. I know the other counselors who volunteer alongside me observed, and were all praying as well.

Finally, the young woman rolled down the car window. The couple had been in tearful discussion at least twenty minutes. They had reached a decision. They would go with me on our free mobile ultrasound unit, in the RV outside the abortion mill.

It was a hard fought victory, just to get them in the RV.  Neither could see beyond their fear. Hope sparked in me because the hardest step is often the first one. One small good choice, often leads to others. Sadly, the same is true of bad choices.

During the two hours the nurse and I counseled them, a spiritual battle raged in their hearts. The young man trembled violently, and collapsed in tears against the young woman. They held each other up as they walked to the ultrasound table, and the young woman lay down. When they saw their amazing baby on the ultrasound, both smiled, and clutched each others' hands. The little baby chewed on her hand, waved. Then, the most poignant moment of all; she lifted a hand with palm cupped as though in supplication. I mimicked her movement. No one could miss the child pleading for her life. I didn't, anyway.

Afterwards, they still cried and fought what they knew they should do. Then, with a shudder, they both told me, yes, they would keep the child. I shared the Gospel with them, and both wanted to ask Jesus into their lives then and there. The man stopped trembling, and they hugged each other a long time. New creations turned their calmer faces back to me.

We filled their arms with supplies, resources, information, and the promise to help in any way we could. They have my phone number, and were happy to have me text them with daily Bible verses to help remind them of the One who holds each of us in His hands.

Three lives saved by the grace of God. What a privilege to be able to see God's magnificent miracles before my very eyes.
please go to if interested in showing up, or aiding those who do.

Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ...

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.