“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses
against you that I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live …”
You know, sometimes writers live in a vacuum, and no, I’m not talking about the Hoover kind because God knows I wouldn’t know how to use one of those. No, I’m talking about this bubble we all live where we post something on Facebook or on our blog or on Amazon and we wonder if anybody ever really reads it. Now, usually on Facebook you will get a response, but not always, so when I get an e-mail from someone who has read a Journal Jot that blessed them, I gotta tell ya—I get blessed too.
You see, Journal Jots is the one place I tend to pour out my heart more than anywhere else, except in my books, of course, so I always hope and pray that what I’ve written doesn’t backfire, but blesses someone like the situation blessed me. It’s rather risky for an author to do, actually, because I’m one of those that bleeds onto the paper (or keyboard), spilling my guts when sometimes it would be a whole lot better if I just kept my mouth shut. Or so my husband tells me, the man who is scared to death to read my Journal Jots for fear of what he will find. 🙂 Nonetheless, if nothing else, I’m honest to a fault, although I do admit I am a firm believer in what my daughter refers to as “sugarcoating” negatives so they go down a bit easier. But bottom line? What you read is generally what you get with me. The good news is people get to know my heart that way. The bad news? People get to know my heart along with some of my dirty laundry. Oh well … what’s dirty laundry if we can’t clean it with the grace of God and hang it out to dry for all to see???
That said, I want to give a heartfelt thanks to those reader friends of mine —and you KNOW who you are—who never fail to contact me to tell me how the JJ blessed you or relate a similar situation in which God taught you the same lesson. Gosh, how I love that … AND how I love you! NOTE: this is not a ploy to get more e-mails from my JJ readers because God knows I don’t need that with my schedule, but if a JJ particularly impacts you and you have a story to go along with it?? Oh my, I LOVE to hear those things for sure.
Like this week, for instance. I received an e-mail from a wonderful lady and writer by the name of Mindy Obenhaus (and no, I’m not exaggerating here—this gal is flat out wonderful because she is the Carol Award coordinator for American Christian Fiction Writers who is SO kind, helpful and encouraging to anyone who enters that contest). Anyway, her e-mail so spoke to me—as I hope it will you—that I asked her permission to reprint it here today. If it does bless you, then all I ask is you say a prayer for God’s blessings on Mindy and if you are so inclined, leave a comment on her blog info below. Here’s the e-mail:
Julie, I’m giving you fair warning. I may have to stop reading JJ. I just read your post from the 21st. Girlfriend, just because you cried doesn’t mean you have make me cry. That is just not right.
Okay, so this is where I get to do my Julie Lessman impersonation and get really lengthy. Hold on just one sec, though. I need to go grab some more Kleenex.
I am a woman on the edge. The edge of what, I’m not really sure, but here I sit wondering what in the heck in wrong with me. And this was before I read your JJ post. You see, a little over two years ago God called me to care for our now four-year-old granddaughter while our daughter served in the US Navy. It was supposed to be for eight weeks. Then that stretched to five months, eight, and, before all was said and done, we’d had her for all but five of twenty-six months. Did I mention that this was the offspring of my strong-willed child? Well, she was like her mother on steroids! The older she got, the more I cried, “God, I can’t do this anymore.”
Aila was determined to defy me at every turn. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “Aila, if you would just listen to Grammy,” or “If you would obey, Grammy.” And so many times, as those and similar words rolled off of my tongue, I had the distinct feeling that God was saying the exact same thing to me. But nothing was more vivid than something that happened this past spring. We were closing in on two years with Aila. I had taken her to Wal-Mart with me, something I rarely did because I never knew what she might do. Trust me, I went through things with this child my own children (five of them) never put me through.
So we get out of the car.
Aila: “Grammy, Mommy says I can walk now. I’m a big girl
Me: Not likely. “All right, but you have to stay with Grammy, otherwise you’ll have to get in the cart.”
No sooner had we made it through the door than she was off and running. I guess I should pause here to say that aside from my short list of items I was planning to get Aila some finger-paints and a small toy. Of course, she didn’t know that. But, after several warnings, her butt was in the cart and I’d crossed the toy off of my mental list. Then she looked at me and said, “I want to go to the toys.”
“No, we are not going to the toys. You didn’t listen to Grammy.”
“I want to go to the toys.”
“I’m sorry. But you disobeyed.”
“I WANT TO GO THE TOYS.”
At this point I’m thinking, not only are we not going to the toys, you’re not getting any finger-paints either. I’m getting what’s on the list and we are out of here. So, all the way through the supercenter this child is screaming, “I want to go to the toys.”
Mortified and exhausted, I get to the car and hoist her into her car seat thinking, Aila, I was going to take you to the toys, I was going to get you something. But you disobeyed so I couldn’t give them to you.
Oh, my. I felt like I’d been hit with a two by four. In that instant I wondered how many gifts God has had to withhold from me because of my disobedience. Ouch. I figured out something else just then too. God knows I’m a visual learner. Seeing my granddaughter’s actions mirrored the way I often behave toward God. I don’t know if that was the lesson He wanted me to learn, but less than two months later, she was back with her mama.
Before Aila came, I was used to having a chunk of my time to myself. My boys were both in school (my youngest is now twelve) and I had a good bit of freedom. Freedom I lost when she came. Now that she was gone, I could recapture that freedom again. BTW, I also have to care for my mother, which for the most part consists of taking her to the store, doctor, and hairdresser. Then my husband fell. Once again, I was the caretaker. No biggie, you just do what you have to do. Right? Well, I guess I never realized how much he did until I suddenly had to do it all. Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not complaining about any of these things. I’m simply stating facts.
These last two weeks in particular, I’ve really been struggling. I’m up, I’m down. I accomplish nothing. I beat myself up because the words won’t come when I try to write. There are things I need to do but don’t want to do so I end up doing NOTHING except what I HAVE to do. I don’t want to care-take anymore. I want to cry, but I can’t do that either because hubby will see (he works from home) and I have to be strong for him. Just like I was at the hospital. This isn’t his fault and heaven knows he’ll probably have care for me at some point. Someday I will cry. Someday when I’m alone and Richard won’t know.
So then I read your post. “Think about it, Julie,” he continues with a sideways glance that’s almost as moist as mine, “When a person dies, people don’t talk about how many books they wrote or how many awards they won, they talk about how that person affected their lives.” How they encouraged them, was kind to them, a simple smile, a sincere compliment … or even taking them to the dentist five times despite an occasional moan and groan.
In my heart, my own floodgates opened with yours, though my eyes only sprang a small leak. Nobody’s going to care if I ever write another book. Nobody’s going to care if I’m never published. Heck, they aren’t even going to remember if my house was clean or not (at least I hope not). But what will they remember about me? Will Aila remember that Grammy loved her as her own child, despite frequently stomping up the stairs and slamming the bedroom door?
I am not a good person, Julie. I am selfish. I want what I want when I want it. And I want things to go my way. But God has a way of keeping me in check. Funny how He knows just how to do that. He Who gave a lonely little girl, an only child, the desire of her heart—a big family. Guess I gotta take the bad with the good, huh? Because someday, they’ll be the ones taking care of me. And goodness knows, they’d better get it right. 🙂
Thanks for helping me put things in perspective. However I’m still miffed that you made me cry.
Mindy Obenhaus 2010 Genesis Finalist – Romantic Suspense
Discover the best in today’s Christian fiction at Divine Imagination
F.A.I.T.H. — 6 authors, 6 unique personalities, 1 awesome God www.thefaithgirls.com
Okay, is anybody out there crying besides me right now because I am leaking like a sieve. When I read Mindy’s line, “I wondered how many gifts God has had to withhold from me because of my disobedience,” I literally sobbed (yeah, yeah, I know I’m an emotional CDQ who has stock in Kleenex, but as God is my witness this was a bona fide sob). Why? Because this is the heart of the message that God taught me when I was writing A Passion Most Pure, for which our Scripture quote today is a theme. A choice between life and death, blessing or curse, all based on obeying God’s precepts … or demanding our own way.
Like Aila, I wonder how many “toys” I’ve missed out on that God wanted to give me just because I chose my way over His. It’s kind of a scary thought, isn’t it? But the good news is that the very next opportunity we have to choose between life and death—be it the choice between gossiping with a neighbor or not, tailgating the schmo who pulled out in front of you at 20 mph or not, or screaming hateful things at someone who hurt you or praying for them instead—is an opportunity for a new blessing from God, a new toy if you will, when you choose to do it His way rather than yours. Talk about instant gratification!! Not only do you FEEL God’s pleasure when you please Him, but you feel stronger, more confident and more “grown up” in Him than ever before. And, WHOA BABY, that doesn’t even begin to tally the blessings that are sure to follow. So test it out this weekend … the first opportunity where you have a choice … choose life! Then just watch the gifts that our God sends your way!
AND SPEAKING OF GIFTS … NEW GIVEWAY!!!
OCTOBER 31 to NOVEMBER 14, 2011
Join me at Debbie Lynn Costello’s blog, Edgy Inspirational Romance, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my new release, A Heart Revealed at:
OCTOBER 11 to NOVEMBER 14, 2011
Join me at Book Reviews by Lady Katy blog for a Q & A session and a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
Happy Weekend, All!