Welcome to "Showers of Blessings" which is a blog for writers and their readers! It is my prayer you will find many blessings in these humble words as you open your heart to hear about my best friend, Jesus Christ. He has called me to write for Him and though I remain stunned by this, wondering how He could use someone like me in this competitive industry, I know He has equipped me to do the job or He would never have opened all the doors He has to a career in writing. He gets all the glory for such an awesome plan, believe me!

Below each post there is an indication of the number of comments for that post. If you click on that it will bring up the comments for you to read and allow you to leave a comment for me if you would like to do so. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and thank you for taking the time to step with me into the showers of blessings He shares with all of us through His Word!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God’s Waiting Room

Are you in a waiting room right now? Perhaps you sit beside a loved one in anticipation of the results of an exam or the completion of a test or surgery, or maybe you wait for the doctor’s nurse to call your name to check out a disturbing symptom or other physical concern. You feel that loss of control, the helplessness that comes from not knowing and being unable to hurry things along. Well, I can relate!

For the past several months as we have been getting closer to having Gary qualified for the liver transplant list, there have been several lengthy times of waiting we have had to endure. Sometimes we’ve been here at home waiting on the phone to ring. Others we have been at a hospital waiting for the doctor to come tell us news. Let me tell you, this particular aspect of the whole transplant process I am not crazy about!

Last week while once more doing this, my least favorite thing, it dawned on me that we all spend time in waiting rooms of various sorts from time to time. Moving from one event in life to another, God requires many periods of waiting. He seldom hands us an answer on a silver platter, for instance, with all the loose ends neatly tied up in pretty bows, all perfect and attractive. Mine are usually disheveled and smudged, evidence of the normal hassles of life. Why can’t they look like those out of Southern Living? The “plate” is most often a hard wooden or plastic seat in a place where whiffs of various odors waft through unbidden. Why do they constantly assault my senses like they do?

At those moments we are inactive, forced to sit still while others are busy working presumably on our behalf, we can do nothing else. They will get to us when they can but meantime, we are perched on the edges of those seats wondering if the news will be good or bad or somewhere in between. Ours lately have not been particularly good, but I’m also keenly aware how much worse they could be, and I take whatever crumbs I can gather and paste a smile on my face and determine to give God the glory. I’m not being false or hypocritical here, just honest. We are called to hope, not to blindness or being brain dead! I can honor Him even when my heart is breaking.

As an author I also find myself waiting. Recently I submitted a Proposal to a prospective literary agent and sure enough, then I had to—wait! For twelve long, agonizing weeks. Without knowing a thing about its status. Wondering if she liked the story or was impressed by my marketing plan or repelled by my lack of experience in the publishing field. It was her prerogative to meet my implied questions with silence, and that is what she chose to do. I may never know why she rejected the Proposal and thus the manuscript. How can I improve if I don’t know what was wrong? I knew the risks when I sent it in but when that date passed without any word, I have to admit it still hurt. For a writer, this situation is replicated many times over and can feed your paranoia if you don’t know how to trust in God’s goodness. So I plow ahead, prepare the manuscript for yet another agent, and have faith in the Lord’s ultimate plan for the story to be told . . . someday!

After all, isn’t that the point? God requires us to trust Him. That means not knowing yet remaining confident He has everything under control. Whether it is a medical test result, news about a job interview, reply from a publisher, or a phone call from an estranged loved one, we all must wait from time to time. And trust. And believe. Hebrews 1:11 defines faith as “. . . being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other words, it’s not faith if we know ahead of time what’s going to happen! It takes time to develop friendships and it takes time to grow in maturity and knowledge. These waiting rooms are hard to go through but well worth the effort. For as we wait patiently, God is growing us in dependence on Him rather than on our own efforts. He hears our prayers and will act; we just have to take courage and have faith in His timing.

So as you sit in your waiting rooms this week, ponder what a blessing we possess in belonging to a God whose sovereignty trumps all ignorance or disaster!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

God and Feet, Part Three

The last installment in this series is taken from the book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper. Again, I urge you to read the entire book to grasp the fullness of the author’s purpose, to show women today from lives of women of the past the importance of following this extraordinary God wherever He leads.

As a child I attended the movies one time to see “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” which is the story of Gladys Aylward who served as a missionary in China for many years. This film had a profound impact on my life and formed the basis in later years for a sensitivity to missions in that country a long time before such an effort was possible from a political/governmental view. I find it interesting how God has used that for the past 50+ years to shape my desire to pray and give to missions, even though He has never opened the doors to my going.

For a long time, the same thing happened in Gladys’ life. She was poor, uneducated, and without any resources whatsoever to go to China; yet, she felt God had impressed on her heart this was where He desired her to serve Him. Gladys was born in 1902 in a poor section of London, did not like school at all and eventually dropped out to become a parlor maid in wealthy households. Through many of these contacts, God began shaping her life to experience Him in a real and personal way she never dreamed possible. He prepared her carefully for her future but for quite a while she had no idea where her future lay. Once it became clear how He had equipped her spiritually, she began wondering how He would manage the financial aspect. It cost a great deal to travel to China back then and no missionary group would commission her. That didn’t concern her, though, because she knew God had called her and He would provide—somehow. Of that, she was absolutely certain. How was up to Him.

Eventually she was hired as a maid by a famous adventurer who had explored much of China and Tibet. How’s that for God’s purposes being fulfilled? The day after she arrived, she prayed once more about her desire to go to Asia to share the Gospel there and then laid out on the bed all her money at that point, promising God that if He continued to call her, she would go even with this meager provision. A moment later, she got word her new mistress wanted to see her. With great anxiety she entered the room but the kindness of the lady of the house soon dispelled all her fears. She repaid Gladys the money she’d been out to get to their home and within seconds, through no effort of her own, God managed to increase her savings more than a thousand percent! The goal was still a long ways off but this excited young woman took it as a sign that God would, indeed, provide the way for His calling on her life.

And indeed, He did. She eventually went (the story of her journey itself is amazing!) and through great difficulties, tremendous danger, and apparently insurmountable odds over the next twenty years, accomplished acts of service that truly seem more the stuff of Hollywood than the people of God! Hers is a breathtaking story of excitement, frustrations, anxiety, starvation, and hiding from authorities to avoid execution, and even a bittersweet love story. Most importantly, it is a tale of God’s provision far beyond the human ability to see how He has planned for it, and not once but many, many times during her lifetime.

At one point Gladys led more than 100 children on foot over mountains and rough terrain to avoid Japanese soldiers during the war in order to deliver them safely to an orphanage that had agreed to take them, achieving through sheer determination in following God’s leadership what man said could not be done. Another time she was called by the local mandarin to quell a prison riot and soon found herself in grave danger amongst society’s worst in horrific circumstances, yet God used her to bring peace to these men that opened the door to her service among the people for years to come. Soon after arriving she was appointed Foot Inspector and this unique position allowed her to minister God’s Word throughout the region unfettered and with the authority of the government as she freed young girls from the horror of foot binding wherever she went. Our God is, indeed, a mighty Sovereign!

God used the lowly foot to provide an opportunity for Gladys to share Christ in amazing ways among the Chinese people, even as He put feet to her desire to take her Savior to the lowliest of the low in that society. Many footsteps were taken over those dangerous and enemy-filled mountains in her daring rescue of the children, with some leading directly to Heaven through loss of life and others leading eventually to a new home far away from the sounds of war. But always, she managed to follow in His footsteps.

Can we do any less with our humble lives? We may not be called to China or ever experience the horror of war. But God has a plan for my life—and for your life—and if we are willing to go, He will provide the way and the direction, of that we can rest assured. Over the seas, over the mountains, over the rough terrain of any unknown place—these are the steps God shows us and calls us to follow, even right here in our own country. Let Gladys Aylward’s life serve as an example when you take those steps today that lead you closer to what God has planned for your future, either as a Christian or as a writer or as both!

Monday, May 16, 2011

God and Deep Waters, Part Two

Another aspect of the book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper that I would like to share with you was also found in the story of Lilias Trotter’s life, in addition to my last post about her. As she struggled to find ways to make contacts with the Arab women in Algeria more than 150 years ago, she faced many setbacks and times of discouragement, as you can well imagine. One of the first challenges was learning to speak Arabic.

Back then, there were no language schools for missionaries so Lilias scrambled to learn as best she could from listening to it daily in the marketplace or in homes or on the streets. She developed embroidery classes for girls when she realized the children were the key to reaching the mothers. In addition, she held Bible classes for the girls and women alike, since most were illiterate and not permitted to attend schools. When invited into homes, she fellowshipped with the women as is done all over the world: chatting about parenting, satisfying curiosity about the world outside their city, and discovering similarities with these women to whom God had called her. She dreamed of Christian literature being made available to them where they could learn on their own and in their native language, a dream that came true finally in the early 1900s much to the delight of this energetic and dedicated missionary lady.

As she and her fellow laborers for Christ learned more about the culture in which they lived, the more evil reared its ugly head on every side. She described at one point how our enemy seems ever ready with a counter-move to every move God makes! Strange illnesses manifested themselves everywhere and many appeared to be more a case of demon possession than true sickness. It was an oppressive environment but God continued to bring victories in spite of it all.

One particular lesson I gleaned from reading about her amazing life in service to our Lord came in an example she drew from studying Scripture references to shallow waters versus deep ones. For you see, in shallow waters you can neither sink nor swim! Their very nature won’t permit anything but plodding through them. Not much danger but then, neither is the triumph important in the end. Anyone can manage to do that, putting one foot in front of the other and maintaining your balance so as not to get soaked.

It is when you encounter the deep waters that the real test of faith emerges. When you suddenly realize, as you lose your footing on the bottom, that you are in over your head and the imminent peril from drowning screams out at you with each desperate gasp for air, that is when your need for a Savior, a Deliverer, is essential! You cry out for Him to set your feet on a rock that will hold you above the waves; you cry out for rescue to keep you alive; you cry out for an ability beyond your own to survive this threat—and He answers! That answer might be in a reminder of how to quickly move out of the danger by swimming for safety. Or, He might reach out His hand as Jesus did to Peter one time and lift you into a place of safety without any effort on your part. But more than likely, it will require you to do something, even in a leap of faith and trust, to bring about your safety.

Do not rail against the shallows for they give you opportunity to strengthen your muscles and ability to trust in a compassionate God who sees and cares! And do not panic when you find yourself in over your head. It is then our God’s power can best be shown, through our weakness and helplessness. Lilias Trotter learned to accept both and the successes God earned through her efforts were tremendous and are still today being felt by missionaries everywhere.

God is faithful in the shallow waters as well as the deep ones. It is up to us to discover this truth whenever our pathway leads us to them. God is always faithful!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Recently I read a book called Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper (thanks to the urging of my oldest daughter!). The author has collected the stories of five women in history who took strong stands for their faith in the face of great persecution, physical and emotional torture, severe hardships of various sorts, and even near-martrydom. To be honest, I’d only heard of two of them and didn’t know that much about either one. I was fascinated to read about all these women who were certainly known to God for the incredible suffering they endured in vastly different places, times, and circumstances, emerging stronger in their faith and with amazing stories of influence and victory because of all they went through.

There were several lessons that stood out above the others for me personally and I will try to recreate these for you here in another three-part series as I feel they bring to light how God works in our lives today as well, as Christians and as writers. However, I would urge you to get this book and read the full accounting for yourselves. It will be well worth it! I’m not trying to review the book as much as reflect on how God has used it in my own struggles as a Christian writer as well as personally in other areas of my life. Hopefully, you can apply these to your own experiences as well.

God and the Eye - Part One

Lilias Trotter lived in the 1850s in England and eventually became a missionary to Algeria for over forty years, opening doors to ministry with Muslims that paved the way to modern efforts today in that part of the world. In her younger years she had potential to become a great artist but chose to enjoy her art as a gift not as the passion of her life when the call God had on her heart for missions became inescapable. What a courageous act of faith! Due to her artistic training and experience, one of her consistent thought patterns centered around how to find the focus of one’s life as it fluctuates and changes and keep it more balanced.

Where does your mind go early in the morning before you are out of bed? Where do your thoughts wander when the pressure is off your hectic pace and you finally have a moment to relax? And at night when you are seeking sleep, what are those last conscious moments filled with? Answer these questions and you will discover the true focus of your life quite easily!

And how are things brought into focus when the optic nerve senses shape and form before it? Not by looking at the surrounding items, the ones you don’t care about and could be dropped from view. But by staring at the one that is to be brought out! Your eye begins thus to focus and recognition dawns. It is only then that the others come into sight, giving perspective and balance to the entire picture.

In the same way we are to focus on Christ alone and foremost. Everything else is interesting and often helpful but still not the center of what our God wants for us. Only in first defining the role our faith plays can we possibly hope to bring everything else into the proper context. We gaze at His face and all else dims and fades away in importance and even relevance. At that point He can successfully direct our minds and emotions to channel our energies into what He has planned for us to experience.

Use Lilias’ example and remember her sacrifices as you tune out anything that would distract you from the drive God has placed in your heart, whether it be to write, serve others, study His Word, find the beauty in the world around you, or just be available as He leads. It may not be to the foreign mission field, as He did with Lilias, but who knows where your path might lie? She was rejected for missions because of her poor health yet God used her in powerful ways when she persevered in spite of those limitations. Her life is an inspiration for all who desire God’s best over the mundane good around us. Focus your eyes and prepare to be amazed at what God reveals!

Next post: God and Deep Waters