A Gentle Whisper

As a person in our Sunday School class read 1 Kings 19 today, I was struck in a new way by a story I’ve heard many times.

I seem to be in a stage of tiredness and overwhelmed easily. And, that is where we seem to find Elijah – mentally and spiritually tired.

Elijah worked hard for the Lord. He was so in-tuned with God and God with him. Elijah was faithful and obedient. Yet. Yet, I feel he was exhausted and needed time away to reconnect with God. To revive the passion. To just be.

Have you ever felt like that? (I’m talking to you, women!)

In chapter 18, Elijah had just proven God’s existence as the one and only God. And, then Elijah’s life was threatened in chapter 19 (yes, that escalated quickly). Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He ended up in the wilderness crying out to God, “I’ve had enough, Lord. Take my life…”

Yep, how many times have I said that myself? (except for the take my life part) Life seems to be like that…when it rains it pours to the point of “I’ve had enough!”

Elijah (like most men) fell asleep. An angel woke him up and provided food for him as he was going on a field trip. God knew Elijah needed some time of renewal and had a spot picked out for him — the mountain of God. And, like any good man would do, he found a cave on that mountain and spent the night…probably snoring the night away.

After this, we read of Elijah’s melt down. He basically told God what he already knew. And, God answered him . . .

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

I Kings 19:11-13

Can we talk about these verses? Did you catch it? God wasn’t in the big ‘things’. He was in “a gentle whisper”. We, humans, seem to focus on the big. We seem to focus on the big things and feel inadequate when we don’t live up to the big in our minds.  (a great book about the small is Church of the Small Things)

But, with God and Elijah, they met each other in the small. In Beth Guckenberger’s book, Start With Amen, she talks about the Hebrew word of “gentle whisper” or in some versions, “a still small voice” is kol d’mama de kah. (page 26) The author used the example of a mother and a newborn child. A mom snuggling close to the newborn and making quiet sounds to him. The newborn response with his own sounds of communication. Neither know what the other is saying but in the close intimacy of the moment, it doesn’t really matter. The proximity and intimacy is enough. “Connection is being forged through these gentle whispers.”

page 27: “The Lord was expressing to Elijah that he is not always found in the big demonstrations . . . I will find him in this intimate exchange where his face is drawn close to mine and all others are now blurred out. This is where his voice is the clearest and where I’ll be near enough to hear him address my heart’s concern.”

I can just imagine Elijah experiencing the wind, earthquake, and fire. Sitting in the cave and just thinking, “Nah, that’s not him yet.” And, then the gentle whisper. I imagine the tiny hairs on his neck and arms raising. I imagine a slight smile as he stood to walk out of the cave thinking, There He is.

God knew Elijah needed time away. Away from the work. Away from distractions. Away from people. Away to renew. Away to refresh. Away to regain the passion for his calling. And, Elijah knew that gentle whisper was the connection he didn’t know he craved until that moment.

May we recognized the small and connect with God through His gentle whispers.

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Church Of The Small Things Review

bigmama_booklp-v4_03Church of the Small Things by, Big Mama herself, Melanie Shankle, takes the reader on a journey of the small things. Small, ordinary, and what we could possible consider boring things.

How many of us have heard the cry, “Dream Big!” Well, I don’t know about you but that honestly freaks me out when I think about it. I mean, can we talk about the pressure? If-you-need-me-I’ll-be-over-in-the-corner-rocking-in-a-fetal-position-singing-“Jesus loves me” kind of freaked out.  (I may have hyperventilated a little bit just typing that)

But, what if we realized, and believed, a smile, holding the door open for a mom of littles, helping an older person reach for a just out of reach item in the store, or packing lunch for another person is just as important as the big?

Author Melanie Shankle’s humor blended with truths, and a list of ten lessons learned at the end of almost every chapter make it a joyful read. Shoot, her dogs, Mabel and Piper even bless the readers with a haiku or two. That in of itself is a worth the price of admission.

I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob. (high-five if you grew up with your kiddos watching Veggie Tales)

Like most authors, Shankle put out a call for live bodies to be a part of her launch team and street team. I made the latter team. *Spoiler Alert and Disclaimer: I received a free PDF of the book from the author for an honest review…and if you couldn’t tell, this is an honest review.*

When the PDF showed up, I couldn’t wait to tear into it. There are so many wonderful quotes. Here are a few of the serious…

“Life is more about how he [God] uses us to make a difference to the people who cross our paths, even while we are just going about our normal, sometimes boring, lives. ”

“We are in God’s will when we wake up with the willingness to go wherever he leads that day, to seek him in the ordinary, and to love and influence the people around us. Sometimes that can look a whole lot like packing a lunch.”

“I believe God wants us to walk out on the waters of our faith and calls us to things that are greater and deeper than any of our fears.”

“When we open ourselves up to the life God has for us, it probably isn’t going to look like what we had planned, and it isn’t always going to feel safe, but it will be infinitely better because it’s a life filled with purpose.

I know, right?!

Now go. Go do yourself a favor and purchase the book! And, if you are still on the fence, there is a sample that will push you over to the right side.

 

 

 

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride – Review

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a few of Author Jill Kemerer‘s launch teams and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Jill is a local (to me) author so that is a huge plus for me when I’m finding new books to read.

Her new release, The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride (1st book in the Wyoming Cowboy series) is, in my humble opinion, her best yet!

The tease:

The RanchersWedding planner Lexi Harrington needs a manager for her inherited Wyoming ranch. Clint Romine is the perfect man for the job, but the ruggedly handsome cowboy soon presents a new dilemma—distraction. Lexi can’t fall for a small-town rancher when she’s planning to return to her big-city career after the holidays. Home has always been elusive for former foster kid Clint. Working alongside Lexi at Rock Step Ranch feels too cozy—and too risky. Opening up to her means revealing a secret about his past that could jeopardize everything he holds dear. This Christmas, can Clint learn to trust Lexi with the truth…and with his heart?

When I first sat down with the copy the author sent me (full disclosure…free ebook but this is my honest opinion), I was thinking, “It’s a Christmas book and it is too early to think about that!” **Spoiler Alert: Christmas is 89 days away…you’re welcome** Well, I was hooked from the first page!

The themes of past regrets and mistakes, forgiving, death, love, etc. are done so well. The reader will relate with the characters instantly. Yes, it has a Christian theme yet not “preachy” as some Christian Fiction can get.

Go. Go purchase this book now. I loved it and you will, too.

 

The Story

Turning to the right out of my childhood drive, pedaling as fast as my little legs would allow on my one-speed, banana-seat bike, just down the road to the crossroad where I would slightly weave as I turn my head to make sure no cars were behind me. Left turn, pedal faster to get up the steep hill leading to to bumpy train tracks, at times needing to get off of the bike to get over the stones and tracks. I’d often lift my feet off of the pedals as I would coast downhill seeing my grandparents two-story, red brick home, silo, white barn, apple orchard, huge garden and yard.

Walking in like I owned the place, I’d often find my grandma in the kitchen. We, grandkids, knew to check the oven for sweet goodies. My grandpa either in his office, outside or off working at his trade of carpenter. My family would spend much time visiting my grandparents. It was a second home.

My grandpa was a chorister at church, blowing the pitch pipe and leading the congregation in song. Sitting at his kitchen table, he was the first to teach me about music using the hymnal to point out timing of songs. That is where I learned of one of his favorite songs. The song playing in my just-woke-up mind this morning.

I Love To Tell The Story, which because of grandpa’s love became one of my favorite hymns. As it played on in my mind, I began to wonder, Do I?

I love to tell the storyDo…  I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story,
Because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story,
’Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story
of Jesus and His love.  …???

Do I love to tell others? Or do I cower in this current society of twisted words? Do I love to tell the story or make an excuse of someone else can say it better than I?

But, God used the uneducated. He used the least likely. He used everyone to spread His Glory.

Welcome to my Tuesday-5 a.m.-mind. My mind and I have so much fun together.

Amen, I know You can use anyone in any situation for Your Glory. Help me, dear Jesus, to be obedient to speaking or living Your Words to soothe another soul for You.

 

Follow Through

You guys. I have a confession.

I stink at follow through. I start a personal project and never finish it. I’ve always been this way. But, is that an excuse not to change? Nope.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I follow through with projects at work. Almost too perfectionist at times. It’s just the personal dreams.

Dreams. That’s a scary word. What if I fail? What if someone hates my project. The project I put so much effort and “self” into. What. If.

Sure, we could talk about all kinds of issues; perfectionism, dreams, goals, fear, discipline, bravery, obedience, etc.

So, bare with me as I try to reach my goal of writing a book. (my heart fluttered and palms began to sweat when I typed that sentence) I don’t have a college degree. I don’t use fancy, big words. I stink at sentence structure.

But, guys, I have to try. I know it won’t be easy. I know I will want to give up. Yet . . .

Obedience.

Someone asked me recently what makes me write. I seriously didn’t know how to answer. But, slowly and surely the answer came out.

There is this nudge. You know the “nudge”.  The God-nudge. I would love to tell you God just recently nudged me but that would be a big, fat lie. For years I’ve had the passion. For years I’ve ignored it. For years I’ve had “write” pop into my head without forethought when hearing a sermon on obedience and calling.

Yet, I sat on my hands thinking I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. Comparison my enemy as Confidence coward in a corner.

So, my friends, I’m going into November promising myself to write every day. Finally being obedient to my ever-patient, merciful God.

I’m trying the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I attempted participation in this annual, internet-based group a few years ago. It was going okay for the first week until my dad became ill and ended up in the hospital. So, I’ll try again.

fingernail biter cartoonIt’s scary to type this out quickly and hit “publish” before I chicken out. So, forgive the typos and confusing parts of this story. But, I know myself and my inner editor would more than likely erase the entire post.

Thanks for reading and hope your week is filled with joy and obedience to God’s plan.

Here’s to bravery (as she hits “publish”).

Remembering The Light In a Fallen World

Cool morning air filtered into the house. The sky and sun were showing off again. Four busy feet head toward the kitchen table, arms full of text books. Two very active hands push tiny race cars around an imaginary track on the dining room floor. And, the teacher sipped her lukewarm tea about to turn off the morning news program and begin the teaching day.

Pushing herself off the couch with finger on the off button, she witnessed something alarming. Images on the screen didn’t look right. Smoke billowed out of a building in lower Manhattan. Normally calm and collected voices held a hint of confusion as the cameras continued to roll.

As her mind tried to play catch-up to what her eyes and ears took in, quiet took over. Cars no longer traveled by. Train whistles silent. Air traffic non-existent. Birds resting their voices. It seemed the world knew. The world knew the nightmare. The world knew it best to cope with silence.

How. How would she tell her young children the truth of what man is capable of doing to what God created in His image. No matter what age-appropriate language she used, questions would be asked. Answers to questions she didn’t understand herself.

Information flew at her the rest of the day. Death and destruction – nothing made sense. Hoards of helpers would no longer open doors at shifts end to be welcomed home. The kiss and hug goodbye that morning would be their last memory.

The nation changed that day. The world changed. Nothing would ever be the same. Churches began to burst at their seams following the destruction. A call for God to bless the nation. People needing hope. Comfort. Love.

Yet as the years went by and life returned to the new normal, the church seams relaxed. Congregations had a bit more elbow room on Sunday mornings.

Hurricanes, floods, fires, riots, and a nation divided scream from the morning news today. The sun bright in a hazy sky. Cars zoom by, birds squawk, train horns blare. Phones ring, orders taken. Nuclear threats and name calling. Has our nation really changed?

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Darkness creeps into our lives daily. We wonder what is next. Why is it so dark?

Yet, there is life-giving Light. The Light of the World still sitting on His Throne. Still loving us. Still wanting us to love and spend time with Him. He is waiting and won’t give up on us.

Light always overtakes darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12 ESV

When the Rain Falls

It’s so hard to understand. Hurricanes hit fast and furious. Flood waters rise in the blink of an eye. Millions left picking up pieces — materially, physically, and mentally. And, those preparing for another storm to hit, the anxiety of the unknown.

Rain falls.

Wind blows.

Waves stir, whirl and crash ashore.

People pray for mercy.

Have the prayers gone unheard?

Questions of why God didn’t stop this begin to roar.

I remind myself over and over again, He is God and I am not. I am ever so glad.

We will never know the answer to the age old questions we, mere humans, feel the need to ask. Yet, we know He is with us. He is in the storm. He is in the helpers hearts and hands. He is in those of us so many miles away who are sick with feeling helpless for those in the path. He is guiding our prayers. He is not sitting back. And, neither should we.

Prayer, financial gifts, material gifts, the gift of giving life giving blood, putting wheels on our prayers and perhaps physically going to help the devastated area.

Amen, what would you have me (us) do, dear Jesus.

There is no overnight fix this microwave society seems to love. The rebuild will take years. The physical and mental rebuild, too.

Perhaps this is our calling to practice kindness. To look one another in the eye and see a human in need of love and kindness — not color, not wealth, poverty or the in-between.

It seems easy to forget the pain and devastation when the media moves on to the next big story. But, let’s try to remember. Remember those still homeless. Remember not only those in our own country ravaged by the chaos but those in other regions ravaged by storms. Because it seems we all are in need of putting others in front of ourselves lately.

…we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

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