Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sex, Lies, & Holiness FREE Kindle ed.

Good afternoon, one and all.  I'm just letting you know that from today until Sunday, you can get a free Kindle copy of Sex, Lies, & Holiness on Amazon.  You don't have to have a Kindle as there are various free Kindle reading apps offered by Amazon.  I'm looking forward to the continued discourse from this book.  It has certainly been interesting so far.

Monday, August 12, 2013

25 for Living Manifesto

This post was inspired by Ann Voskamp's 25 For Sanity Manifesto. In her post, she states that her 25, "which would be different than yours...[is] not a law, but a scaffolding for the shaky, struggling days." Some days are really difficult. So difficult and dark that we feel like tomorrow's sun is too far to reach us. My manifesto is for every day; but it is especially for those days when I need a cold douse or the zing of inspiration or an old friend's familiar hello.

1. Forward Ever. In Jamaica, we have a saying, "Forward ever, backward never." Even in reflecting on the past, it should be to inform our present or our future. We shouldn't get trapped in the past or backward behavior.

2. "I will never leave nor forsake. I will come again." My paraphrase of Christ's promise to always be with us and His promise to come again one day to end all the troubles and sufferings of this world that we deal with on a day-to-day basis. To end the war between heaven and earth once and for all. And the great thing is, heaven's side has already won the war by Jesus Christ's sacrifice. All we have to do is accept that sacrifice and endure to the finish. I find immense comfort here.

3. Journal. Whether my prayer journal, personal journal, or writing journal, scribbling down my thoughts has always been a good way to corral my emotions and get some perspective. And I'm much more relaxed about my writing when I journal. So, it takes a load off.

4. Vielleicht. This is a reminder that, somewhere on the periphery, I still have German words and phrases waiting to be utilized. That all those years spent doing conjugations weren't meant to be wasted. More importantly, this is one of my favorite German words. It is pronounced in layman's terms, fi-LIE-kHt. It means, perhaps, maybe, possibly. This is a charge to engage ideas or opportunities, give them a chance. All things are indeed possible with God.

5. Give God His due. This is an important one. Hence being at the top in large font. We have to pay taxes and the like to the government for the services they provide and for living and existing on the land they've conquered. But we balk at giving God the best of our selves and our things. We don't make time for a relationship with Him, but we expect Him to come through. We put Him in a box and treat Him without regard. But when we acknowledge this God of all comfort, who knows the number of each hair on our heads, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and knows exactly how many stars are in the universe, who is the Ancient of Days, a God of order and righteousness, and judgment--when we acknowledge Him in every aspect, our lives become masterpieces. We experience a revolution. We come into intimate conversation with the most powerful entity in the universe. We begin to live.

6. Darkness is the absence of light. It is said that when no visible light is present, we have darkness. In a spiritual sense, this is also true. When we're not connected to God, the darkness of this world gets a foothold in our lives. In a practical sense, this means I need to make sure I'm getting lots of natural light every day and that if I'm in a dark room during the day, I try to brighten it. It also means that I need to tap into God's light every day. This is one way to keep the melancholic birds from fluttering around me.

7. Good ole days: Remember. Make more. I think one of the ways to embrace living your life, as opposed to talking about living it, is to seize opportunities to make good memories. And what's the point of having good memories if you don't, well, remember them? Then, go and make more!

8. Embrace your naturalista. Being close to nature has always been a good place for me. It keeps me close to God, the Creator of it all, and it keeps me healthy. When I get outside more, I breathe more fresh air, get needed sunlight, and take time to appreciate the natural beauty around me. Being a naturalista isn't just about having natural hair, either. We must eat well (healthfully), think well, and live well. Embrace being whole.

9. Take a load off: smile. Sometimes, I forget to smile! To laugh. And it's so good for you =).

10. Unless. This is from Dr. Seuss's book, The Lorax. The quote reads, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Each of us has something that grabs us deep inside. Some way we can make a difference for one person or ten or a million. Find it and do it.

11. Compose a soundtrack. Music can be such a lifter. It can set the heart at peace. King Saul knew this; hence asking David to visit court and play minstrel.

12. Power. Love. Sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Fear doesn't come from God. I'm not talking about the fear that Job talks about ("the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom" Job 28:28). I'm referring to the fear that links arms with anxiety and doubt and pessimism.

13. De-clutter. For me, this goes beyond tidying up my workspace. It includes simplifying. Getting organized. Clearing mental cobwebs. This week, I discovered that baking something actually helps with those cobwebs. Me. Baking!

14. Habla. Spanish is my third language--though it's more of a second language these days. This Writing comes fairly naturally to me. I sometimes have a challenge with speaking, though. Speaking my mind. I value being honest, straightforward. But finding the right way to say that? That's what gets me sometimes.

15. Amber. Whenever my son comes upon a traffic light or even red, green, or yellow lights, he reminds me what they mean. Amber reminds me to slow down. Encourages me to stop. It's so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of stuff in life. SLOW DOWN.

16. Needle to the pole. I love the quote that involves this phrase from the book Education by Ellen G. White. I wrote about it on my other blog. It says, "The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. " I want to be this sort of person. A person of integrity. Someone who doesn't give up easily. Who'll stick it out because it's right.

17. Write. Rebuke. Share. This is from Jon Acuff's take on fear. You know those doubtful and fearful voices in your head? For some of us they show up once in a long while. For others, they're there every hour--every minute. Jon's advice? Write down those voices. Block them with the truth. Then share them with your trusted circle. Or anonymously on Jon's new site.

18. Nap. Being a mom can really wear you down. But I've learned through the years of pregnancy and parenting that naps are miracle-workers.

19. Blackout. Some time ago, we were without power for almost the whole Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), and on the one hand it was quite the blessing. We had more quality time and life was much simpler. I love plugging out. It reduces my stress when I don't have to be inundated with everybody's "news".

20. Create. This is an activity that rejuvenates me. I love to use my creativity. Stopping to do a culinary experiment, or write, or photograph, or design a project, or brainstorm a plot for my one of my current works-in-progress[or Brainspark Prompts for The Write Stuff Radio Program =)] can really inject some life into my day.

21. Out of touch? Cloud watch. Sometimes cloud watching is the most grounding thing I can do midst a day of titrating tears. It reminds me that there is Someone Whose hand can measure the heavens.

22. Heal. This is a calling for me. And it's funny how it was always in my life in various ways, but I didn't recognize it until God opened my eyes to this calling. In my capacities as wife, mom, writer, health professional, I am actually being called to heal. That my words and my actions may cure disease and bind up wounds--whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

23. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

24. Listen for the jittery bird. When my husband and I were going through our first year of marriage, which also happened to be his post med school internship year, things were super hectic. He worked at a large regional public hospital here in Jamaica and sometimes it felt like it would never end. But every evening, as it was getting dark, we noticed some tiny birds that would fly overhead making this jittery little noise [the rhythm is like saying "1-2-3-4" over the space of 1 second]. It was the only place we'd ever noticed these birds. Hearing them at the end of each day became a symbol of God's faithfulness. Then we moved from there and we didn't hear them any more. Until the year after we moved, when we were on the other side of the island and were going through some difficulties, and there it was again. Then we didn't hear it for some time. Until, once more, we needed that assurance of God's faithfulness. Now, we still hear it from time to time, and whenever we do, we know God is assuring us that He will see us through.

25. Sweet incense. I believe that when we worship God, our worship rises up to Him as a sweet savor--as sweet incense. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, "the joy of the Lord is your strength". Praise and worship, especially in difficult times, is sweetness. It lifts our hearts and minds out of our miry pits and focuses our attention on the God who is more than able to turn our circumstances around.