Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Taking a Break

Hello Friends,
For those of you who have been following this blog and reading my post, you may have noticed lately that I've had to re-post old pieces, or skip days that I normally blog.

Over the past year, I've been on a journey of putting all I have into my writing. As the year is coming full circle, I've become rather busy trying to make ideas come to life and earning a living at the same time.

Also during this year, I've had to learn discipline and how to manage my time. Some things simply have to be set aside for a season, and this is one of the things I've decided to set down. For now. At least for the summer while I build a new project and work toward making freelancing my main source of income.

I'll keep the blog up and running. Please feel free to revisit old post, I think the lessons are universal and never grow old.

I'd also love for you to visit my writing blog: Scribbles where I'll continue posting at least once a week on this years writing journey and what I'm learning along the way.

My new project can be found at In A Castle Faraway. My goal is to encourage a love of reading by offering parents and teachers ideas on how to make books come alive. I'll be introducing new children's books as I come across them, including an occasional novel and mid-level reader, and providing discussion questions, activities for free and for sale and author/illustrator information.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for visiting here, for reading and sharing with me. I appreciate you all. And I do hope to return to In Still Places sometime in the future.

God bless,
Jackie C.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - John 10

A shepherd enters through the gate.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep hear his voice and come to him.

He calls hiw own sheep by name and leads them out.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.

They won't follow a stranger;
they will run from him because
they don't recognize his voice.

John 10:2-5 (NLT)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Deuteronomy 32

He found him in the wilderness,
in an empty, windswept wasteland.

He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.

He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
overshadowing its young,

Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
teaching them to fly.

God alone led him;
(Deuteronomy 32:10-11 MSG)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Still Reflections: Pruning


My fault, completely. I'd waited for the perfect weather. Waited for the spare time. Waited...for what I should have simply made time for.
Now one plant had completely dried up and withered away. The young basil would be next if I didn't intervene...and soon.

Leaves hung limp. Brown spots covered the yellowing ones. Dirt, hardened and caked, became unmanageable around the thinning stem.

This would be painful.


First I soaked the earthen pot in water to get the dirt loosened and workable again. Then, ever so slowly and carefully, I plucked off each damaged leaf, knowing to leave them would sap the plants limited strength. It would need all it had to disperse its roots into the ground I'd put it in.
Sweet basil scent tickled my nose, enticing taste-buds of delicious meals it would one day flavor. But not yet... Not these diseased, damaged leaves. Gloved hand opened, as crushed, pieces of possibilities fluttered into the trash bin.

Once done, it looked about as pathetic as my dogs on bath day, all scrawny and trembling in the breeze.

Exposed. Bare. Weak.
Finally, I set the fledgling plant into it's home in my garden, conditioning the dirt around it, readying the ground to receive its new occupant.

Then I hoped for the best.

It seemed a harsh way to treat a plant. And as I worked, thoughts struck me as they often do while gardening....

How many times have I neglected my spirit?
How many times have I put off tending to it?
How many times had God needed to come in and prune off the dead, ignored growth in my heart?
Doesn't my spirit need good, fertile ground to take root in? Doesn't it need frequent drinks of His holy presence to quench thirst? Doesn't it require a strong Light presence to build up strength?
How many times have I found God plucking away the damaged parts of me?
I've been left feeling exposed, bare, weak...

Yet, despite how harsh it feels at the time, His loving hands work diligently to set me back in firm ground so I can grow strong again and produce what I've been created to produce.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers...Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Monday, May 16, 2011

When We Hurt Eachother

Does anyone really mean to hurt another?

I suppose, when we hurt, sometimes we lash out at others in our hurt and anger.
But purposefully? With intention? Not when it's someone we love.

Yet, it's the ones we love the most that we tend to hurt the most.
Like angry words at a child when they break something valuable.
Perhaps its a spouse who's not measuring up.
Maybe it's simply taking advantage of someone, forgetting they have feelings, or that they have their own issues they are dealing with.
Or it could simply be letting someone down who put their trust in you.
I don't know why this happens. But the more we love someone, the worse it feels when the hurt comes.

We forget our own humanness. We forget that people are fallible. And the only thing or person of perfection is God himself.

How can we avoid being hurt?

I don't think we can. We are human, and as we've been given the gift of love, so much comes within the pretty package: hurt, guilt, joy, fulfillment, failure, and so much more. We hurt because we love, actually. I just don't think there's any getting around it.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
"To love at all is to be venerable. To love anything and your heart will be
wronged and possibly broken. If you want to make sure to keep it in tact, then
you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with
hobbies, attachments and little luxuries, and avoid all entanglements. Lock your
heart up in a safe place like a casket or a coffin of selfishness. But in that
casket, safe and dark and motionless and airless, your heart will change. And it
will not be broken. Instead, it will become ungrateful... impenetrable...
irredeemable.... The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly
safe from all the dangers of love, is hell."

I hurt a friend's heart. And mine is broken as well. I cried many tears when it happened, and I'm sure they did as well in one way or another.

God gave me that friend and trusted me with a precious heart and I got careless. And it would be easy to blow it off, to say "Well, I apologized and they need to forgive and get over it." But it's not that easy. Sometimes we forget what a priceless gift friends are. We forget the price Jesus paid for us. As humans, we forget each other's value.

I never meant any harm. I made a very bad choice. Unwise. I had thought a lot about it, but I don't think I prayed it through enough. Or perhaps at all. That's so important. Involving God in all we do, especially when it concerns others. It's easy to run ahead and forget to not take a step until you have a tight grip on His hand.

Then your left with a thousand broken pieces and you wonder if it's possible to clean up such a mess. A mess I myself have created. And I don't suppose all the brooms and dustpans, all the superglue in the world can fix it. So I turn to God and ask for His intervention.

Father, I've made a big mess and I need your help to clean it up!

I sit and think of all the things I could have done differently. It's strange how much clearer all the should have dones are in hindsight.

I pray that time will heal what's been broken. That God will step in and repair the damage I've so carelessly caused. I pray  for given another chance. And with that second chance, I'll take better care and remember what a gift friendship is. Something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Father, teach us how to be good, solid friends. Help us remember to never forget what a precious treasure people are. We are all your children, and you love each and every one of us as if we were the only one on the face of the earth. Help us to value each other in that same way. Amen.


A repost from the archives, because some things are worth repeating.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Grime and Beauty

The price tag on the beat up old chair read $5. It had no seat. The wood was scratched, dirty, and banged up from misuse. 

I thought...
I can fix this. It just needs some sandpaper, stain, polish. A seat! 

Well, I thought I could. 

About half way through sanding, then adding new stain, I stopped. The wood now felt smooth to my touch. The grain... oh, the beauty!

And I wondered...
When we come to God, do we look like the worthless chair? Probably. 
Something the world has cast aside for trash. Yet He takes us and lovingly smooths down the rough places, cleans away the dirt and gives us a new finish. Or a new life. A new look. A new outlook. Soon, everything changes. 

Value. Appreciation. Appearance. Functionality. 

The chair did nothing. I did all the work. So does God. It's not by us cleaning ourselves up, but His skilled hand working in us. 

The chair...? Well, look for yourselves. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)

Monday, May 2, 2011

When Kindness Tumbles Out...

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matt. 22:37-40

So much hangs on that word... Love. Love God with all you've got. Love your neighbor ...

I was reading in my Bible this morning. It's raining and I'm dragging about gettting out of bed. (Don't judge- lol).

As I flipped through the pages, a bookmark tumbled out, one I'd printed a few years back. The header read:

10 Ideas for Kindness

The bookmark came from a site http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/. It's still there, I just checked. Can't find the bookmarks, but there's lots of good stories and suggestions on ways to be kind. For instance, this week's suggestion is to be kind to someone you don't like. Humm... sounds like advice from the same person who said love God and love your neighbor. Didn't later he say, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?"

Hummm... I think so.

So, the 10 Ideas, let me share them with you...

#1: Say hello
How hard is this sometimes? I'm a real introvert. It's hard, let me tell you. Yet, a simple smile and hello goes a long way when you're brave enough to do it. Such as calling or texting that friend or family member instead of waiting for them to text you. Yes? Yes.

#2: Visit a friend
This one isn't as hard. I enjoy hanging out with friends. Not real keen on visiting when they are sick, or down. Let's be honest here. Then it's kind of a drag. Or, how about visiting when you don't need something; like to pour out your frustrations, or to borrow something.
Like saying "hello" why is it so hard just to make the first move to appreciate someone? I don't know. I'd pull out my introvert card, but that excuse is getting kind of weak.

#3: Let another go first.
Yes, even on the highway when they cut infront of you. Instead of making rude gestures and shouting words only you and God can hear, will it really make us that much later to just let a few in? Yes, what they are doing is rude. Doesn't mean we need to sink to their level. And what about letting someone go in front of you that had a buggy full of groceries, instead of a few items? Wow, now thats a big one, J. That's asking too much. Yeah, maybe so. I'd be hard pressed to do it, too. But maybe, just once, you know? Just to see?

#4: Forgive mistakes
Ugh. Yet, aren't we commanded? Forgive to infintiy and beyond... basically. Forgive if we want to be forgiven. Ouch. Ugh. Drat.

#5: Share a smile
Easy peasy... unless I'm having a bad day. Better watch out then. My smile might look more like the Grinch's evil sneer as he planned to steal Whoville's Christmas. Just scary, people. But did you know, smiles, laughter and yawns are infectious? Try it sometime.

#6: Say hello
Hey, didn't we already cover this? Oh wait, maybe there's a reason it's posted twice. Think?

#7: Lend a hand
I'm hearing the song, "I'll be there, yah, yah, yah, you've got a friend..."  Okay, corney, I know. These things just pop in my head. I have no control.
This one... sometimes it's real easy. But when I'm pressed for time... well, that's another story. Or when you feel like you're being taken advantage of. Or when you're dry and have nothing left to give. Need to involve God, ask for help and wisdom. I do, anyways. Jesus didn't heal everyone he passed, only the one's God told him to. We need to be the same.

#8: Be tolerant
There's that push-button "T" word. Fact is, folks, everyone deserves a chance to get to heaven. We are all sinners, and have been seperated from God. And God has done everything possible to close the gap of that seperation. He's done it for everyone of his children. Every one. Love the way He loves. It's the only way.

#9: Offer a hug
Can I wear a sign, "Need a hug, here!!" I suppose to get hugs, you need to give them. When you give them, more often than not, you'll be hugged back, right? Right?

And the last one...
#10: Do an act of kindness every day.
Oh, if only we would. All of us. Everyday. Every day. One thing. Just one. It certainly won't make the world a worse place, right? Right?

Yeah, I don't think so.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Father, help me to be a comfort, to show kindness, to have a giving heart in all things, every day, in many ways. Amen.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonderment Wednesday - Psalms 46

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear,
though the earth give away
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea

though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake at their surging

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God
the holy place where the Most High dwells

God is within her, she will not fall
God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us
The God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord.
Psalms 46:1-8

Monday, April 25, 2011

Keeping Balance in a Crazily Tilting World

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was decieved by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2 Cor. 11:3

Typical day. Get out of bed, spend a few quiet moments journaling, thinking - usually about what I'm going to do that day, along with the standard prayer "God, where do I need to be going?" Follow this by jumping into the shower, getting dressed, the kids off to school, then rolling up my sleeves to tackle that To Do list I diligently wrote out the night before.

Typical next day? Get out of bed. A few moments of quiet time. Thinking. Asking... "Where do I need to be going." Followed by the standard shower, shove the kids off and schedule tackling. Back to a "New and Improved" To Do list.

I keep asking the same question. Sometimes, I wonder, am I asking the right question, though.

Rushing from one task to another, do I miss what's really important? Do I miss out on hearing God in my haste? Do I miss out on gifts He drops during the day? Like the bird's morning songs? The beauty of sunlight beaming across the dining table? The smile of one of my kids as they head off to school?

I'm trying so hard to stay balanced in this crazy, tiltling world.

But am I simply living for the now? Here in This Moment? Stopping to listen? Stopping to see? Waiting to hear?

Or do I keep rushing ahead, searching, yearning, wanting.
Wanting when right here. Right now....

"Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro.

He bustles about, but only in vain,
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you."
Psalm 39:6-7 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wonderment Wednesdays

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
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