Wait Just a Minute

Hold on a minute. Let me check my email. I’m expecting a few, and they may need my immediate attention. Okay, I’m back. But the cat is whining by the back door. I really should go let it out. Back again. You know I haven’t checked my posts on Twitter and Facebook in a couple hours. I really should do that. It’ll only take a minute, and once I’ve done it I won’t have to think about it anymore. Hello, again. I really hate it when my documents folder gets congested with a lot of different documents. I should take some time to get them organized into sub-folders. That’s better. Now, I can concentrate on what I really need to do. But my husband just got my grilled ham and cheese done. I should eat it while it’s hot. Hey, he even added some chips and French onion dip. Score! I’ll be back just as soon as I’m done eating.

Believe it or not, this is exactly how the last hour has gone at my house. Well, I guess you’d have to add in a couple deep sighs with my head thrown back on the couch in frustration and an episode of New Girl. Oh, and chocolate.

I had every intention of sitting down, getting right to work, and having my post written and up in no time at all, leaving the rest of my evening to work on my novel’s sequel. But once I turned on my computer, my plans changed. I still wanted to write the blog, but I was met with a blank page. Some days there is nothing as difficult as facing a blank page.

What do you do when that happens? I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate. It’s not that I don’t intend to do whatever I started out to do. I will. I know I will. Just not right now. Maybe if I wait, I’ll come back and the page will magically be filled with words. How sweet would that be? Maybe if I spend just a little more time doing other things, things that don’t take a lot of thought, I’ll come back to that blank page and the words will start flowing freely from my fingers. Probably not.

The things I’m filling my time with aren’t bad. Eating is necessary for life. Chocolate is too. My documents folder really did need some organization to make it more user friendly. And I’m waiting on emails from a few authors answering Main Character Monday interviews and one from the person making a book trailer for the release of Faith’s Journey. Those aren’t unimportant. Plus, if they have questions, I do need to answer them promptly. Besides, the documents folder and emails are all part of this business of writing. They do need attention. Just maybe not right this minute.

That’s the problem with procrastination. It’s easy to get sidetracked by doing good, helpful things and convince yourself that it simply has to be done. But just because they’re good things to do, doesn’t mean they are the right things to do at this time.

The procrastinators of the world understand that this doesn’t just apply to writing or work or unpleasant things. It can carry over into our spiritual lives, and we have to be careful not to let it overtake us there. Sometimes God asks us to do something unpleasant. Maybe we are supposed to witness to a perfect stranger. (I know, that’s not unpleasant for some of you. For others, like me, it’s a level of unpleasantness that ranks right up there with a root canal.) Maybe God’s asking you to forgive someone that hurt you or forgive yourself for sins He’s long since forgotten. Perhaps what God is asking isn’t unpleasant, but it’s new for you and that makes it uncomfortable to begin. The unknown can be a scary, and begs for us to avoid it through procrastination.  Maybe He wants you to start using the gifts and talents He has given you to minister to others.  Maybe you’re supposed to start a new ministry or set aside a specific daily time to spend in prayer or God’s word.

Whatever God is asking of you, it’s easy to let ourselves get sidetracked by other good things. It goes something like this, “God, I know you want me to spend one Saturday a month feeding people at the shelter, but I don’t know anyone out there. Besides, that’s when the choir practices, and I was thinking of joining them.” Singing in the choir isn’t bad. It’s a good thing. But if it isn’t what God is telling you to do then it isn’t a God thing. In fact, when we know God is telling us to do something, and we keep coming up with excuses why we can’t right now, it’s worse than just not being a God thing. It’s actually a sin. James 4:17 tell us, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

We like to make the excuse that we aren’t not doing it, we just aren’t doing it right now. According to James, that doesn’t cut it. We can come up with a million and one reasons why we shouldn’t, but if God is telling us to do something none of those things matter. We can replace what God wants with a hundred other good, spiritual things, but if they are not what God is asking us to do, we are sinning. Turns out, there is no time for procrastinating in the kingdom of God.

By the Book: Spend some time searching your heart to see if there are things God has asked you to do that you’ve been putting off. If so, ask Him to forgive your unwillingness to do it and help strengthen you to follow through with what He wants.

It’s a Mystery

It was a winding, narrow gravel road like any other country road. It led to Grandma Stearns’ farm. But there was a single stretch of that road lined with trees on both sides, as deep as you could see. Their limbs reached across the road creating a canopy overhead. This nature made tunnel was dark and cool. Sounds peaceful, right?

It might have been, if it weren’t for my older brothers. They informed me, while I was a young child, this stretch of road was called Sleepy Hollow. Now, I hadn’t read the book, and I didn’t know the story that well. What I did know was that a headless horseman terrorized and killed people in Sleepy Hollow.

Suddenly, that small piece of road became an endless tunnel of certain death. The shade became sinister, and evil lurked in the trees. I hated driving down that road. It made me anxious. Even today, as a logical adult, that old childhood anxiety sometimes tries to creep in. I blame my brothers.

Is it a trend for older brothers to traumatize their younger sisters? I can honestly say this isn’t the only time it happened in my childhood.  And experiences like this one taught me that I don’t like feeling anxious or afraid.

I believe it’s part of the reason I’ve never gravitated to reading mysteries. The unknown, especially when there is a sinister plotline, isn’t fun for me. It keeps me up at night and fuels bad dreams. My two favorite authors have challenged this dislike at times, and because of them, I’m branching out. I’m learning that just because something is a mystery doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.

Linda Fulkerson proved this with her mystery, Dead Broke. I chose it to introduce myself to a new author, but I wasn’t quite sure I would like it. It’s a mystery. A mystery with the word dead in the title. But I tried to keep an open mind, and I’m glad I did. The mystery begins in the very first chapter for Andy Warren, a sports photographer. And as Andy goes back to her hometown, the mystery continues to grow, becoming more complex and dangerous for Andy. It doesn’t help that her hometown is the typical southern small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. It gives Andy plenty of suspects and just as many doubts about each one. Every time she thinks she has it all figured out, Andy finds out something new that sends her back to the drawing board.

It’s these twists and turns that keep readers guessing, but they cause a lot of frustration for Andy. It’s a feeling most of us can probably relate to. There are lots of things scripture tells us about life. We know sin separates us from God. We know that God sent His Son to die so we could be forgiven. We know that when we accept God’s forgiveness, we come into relationship with Him and will one day spend eternity in heaven with Him. We know that the battle has already been won, and good wins over evil once and for all.

Knowing these things is great. They bring hope and peace into our lives. It’s the things we don’t know that sometimes cause us frustration. Life is messy. It’s full of twists and turns. We seek to live the way God wants us to live. We want to do His will. We trust that God has plans for us, just as it says in Jeremiah 29. But those plans aren’t usually spelled out for us in black and white. And even when we do know what God wants for us, unexpected situations come up and seem to throw everything out of whack. People hurt us, disaster strikes, jobs are lost, or people get sick.

Whatever the situation, we don’t expect it. We think we have it all figured out, and then something comes along to send us back to the drawing board. Sometimes, we’re still on the right path, but the path looks different than we imagined. Other times, the situations force us into a completely different direction. Whatever the case, the mystery, the not knowing, can cause anxiety, fear, and doubt. The things that cause people to love a good mystery novel don’t feel so fun when they become part of our daily lives. But even in the middle of the chaos and unexpected circumstances, we have something to hold onto that will calm our frayed emotions. We have the promises of God.

Scripture never says bad things won’t happen. The book of Job is a good reminder of that. What it tells us is that no matter how bad the situation is, God will use it to bring something good into our lives when we love Him (Romans 8:28). He also promises us strength when we feel weak. (Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We don’t have to worry about being alone because God promises to never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). And these are just a few promises to help us through the circumstances we don’t understand.

You may think it seems too easy, but there’s nothing easy about it. When you’re going through the most difficult times in your life, easy doesn’t exist. The pain still cuts. But because of God’s promises, you can know peace in the pain and confusion. You can rest in His strength and look forward to what He will accomplish in your life through the circumstances. You can let go of your fear of the unknown, understanding that to God, your circumstances are not a mystery.

By the Book: What mysteries threaten your peace or bring you pain? Look up the verses above and search out other promises of God. Ask God to help you experience these promises in your life. Write them in a notebook or journal to meditate on when the unknown threatens your peace.

Main Character Monday #1

MCMphoto

Welcome to Main Character Monday. It’s a little different than my regular blog posts, a little more lighthearted. But stick with it, and you just might find some characters you’d like to read more about. And even though it isn’t my usual devotional style, you may still come away with an encouraging word from the Word. I hope you enjoy Main Character Monday!

Today’s Guest is Kat Williams from Callum’s Compass by Sara L. Foust. Thank you for joining me Kat.

Could you please share with us your favorite Bible verse?

Psalm 103:12 (KJV)– “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” This verse reminds me that God loves me, no matter what my past indiscretions and sins have been. When He forgives, He forgives for good, and I am very thankful for that.

Is there a person from the Bible that you most relate to?

Boy, this is a hard question. Maybe Thomas. I never believed God didn’t exist, but I did doubt that God could love me. Thomas doubted that Jesus had arisen, and until Thomas could see for himself the proof he refused to believe. Until I finally humbled myself to the power of God’s forgiveness and love, and saw for myself that beautiful Light, I doubted that it was possible for me to ever feel free from Callum’s death. I miss my little brother every day, but I don’t blame myself for his death any more. That is God’s love working in my life.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Is there one of these characteristics you find easier to show than the others?

It is easiest for me to exhibit self-control because I have always been a bit timid and self-conscious. Even to a point that I am a little too in control. For many years now, I had been stuck in guilt from my past over losing my little brother Callum. Over the years, self-control became a habit. And I withdrew even farther into my shell. I am so thankful Clayton (I miss him!) believed in me and offered me a “taste of adventure” to help me break free from that self-created prison!

Which one is the most challenging for you?  

What hadn’t been easy for me was love. I blamed myself for Callum’s death and felt unworthy of love from anyone, even God. It took a treasure hunt filled with danger and a handsome new friend with a past loss of his own to show me that love is possible, even for me.

If you could give one message to those reading this interview, what would you tell them?

God loves you unconditionally. You have never done anything so “bad” that He doesn’t still love you. It took a long time for me to realize that. I wasted a lot of years missing out on life and love because of my guilt.

Just for Fun:

Dark or Milk Chocolate? Milk chocolate

Beach or Mountains? Mountains!

Sweet Tea or Lemonade? Sweet tea!

If you could describe Sara Foust in three words, what would those words be? Faith-filled catalyst. If it weren’t for Sara pushing me into a situation (really, several situations) I was extremely uncomfortable with and forcing me to deal with my past, I never would have discovered the light of God’s love.

Thank you for joining me for my first Main Character Monday! I hope you enjoyed it. Callum’s Compass is available from Amazon in both ebook and paperback. And thank you, Sara Foust, for letting us get to know Kat a little better!