To Die For

It’s been a while, Wordies! Like most of you, I’ve been bogged down with the cares of this world during a pandemic. However, that hasn’t kept me from writing! I’m so excited about upcoming events and just wanted to share a few updates:

  • Be on the lookout for a new website, new look, and maybe even a new web address!
  • I’ve partnered with Story Origin! I’m exploring new marketing opportunities to get the word out about the Touched series. Key links will be posted at the end of the newsletter going forward.
  • AND … (drum roll, please!) I’ve nearly completed the finishing touches on my upcoming novel, Pale Rider! I can’t wait to share it with you.
  • Of course, it’s holy week and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share a word from scripture with my fans. It continues to be my goal to make God’s word relatable for it is truly needed during troubling times.

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11

On Good Friday, Rocco, the wonder dog, fell sick like he’s never been before. We (my daughter, his doggie mom, and I) were helpless in the face of his illness. For me, it was reminiscent of the days when my children were small and couldn’t tell me what was wrong. Our playful pup (though he’s eight years old now, he still has boundless energy) was rendered lethargic and wouldn’t eat. Off to the ER he and my daughter went, for that was the only place that would take him on such short notice, and we knew the bill would be hefty. But she couldn’t let cost be a deterrent. We would do whatever was needed to heal our doggie baby.

Thankfully, he’s home now and expected to make a full recovery. Once the immediate danger had passed, I was drawn back to my reflections for this time of year. Of all Christian holidays, this is the most important and always humbles me. That God would do this for me. To save me. He thought I was important enough to die for and that no cost was too great. Immortal God, who cannot die, wrapped himself in flesh so that he could. He paid the penalty in such a complete fashion that he announced, “It is finished.” Forever finalized. No reneging. No take backsies. Done.

Thinking of Rocco and how my daughter would not rest when she saw how sick he was, how she couldn’t stop until she had found a remedy for his situation, I was reminded that she is now a mom, too, if only to a canine. His life is just as important to her as any child she could bear. She thought he was worth anything she could do to save him.

I think it’s important that we relate to Jesus, to put ourselves in his shoes, and understand why he did what he did. He went through a whole lot of trouble to identify with humanity so we could do just that. He became human and lived as one of us, died as one of us, but with an important difference. He rose victorious, with all power, and conquered death, for our sake. So there’s really no mystery why God set a plan for our salvation in motion from the foundation of the world. God is our Father. He loves us, immeasurably. And like earthly parents, He would do anything to save us. And he did, not stopping at sacrificing even his own skin.

I’m thankful for His example of love during this most holy week. We’ve been through so much with the pandemic and the loss of loved ones during the past twelve months. To be reminded that his love endures is powerful. I see it in my love for my children and my daughter’s love for her furry baby. Rocco, like all of us, is much loved.

Be blessed,

Loria

P.S. Look for updates in the coming weeks to anticipate the release of book four in the Touched series! New website, new look, new book, COMING SOON! Click the link to access the first novel (FREE!) and get ready for the best sequel EVER! I’m excited and I just know you will love it!

Touched (storyoriginapp.com)

Also, I’ve partnered with Story Origin and other authors to get the word out about Touched. If you’re looking for more good reads, check them out here:

https://preview.mailerlite.com/l5a2n0/1652189632688821904/z6i7/

Details, Details

Whew! Cooking the Thanksgiving meal is a big deal! As a cook, you want all your dishes to turn out just right so you can be proud of the dinner you serve. You plan, you shop, preparing for every contingency so that your efforts will be well received. And if you leave out one thing – let me just say that if I turn up without ham and potato salad, there will be an uproar. All these details just for one meal (okay, and yummy leftovers).

I recall a few years ago, I moved into a home that did not have central air. I thought we could deal with it. But summer began early and was in full effect that year. It was so hot, my daughter and I were melting in the heat. My dog, Rocco, walked around the house, his eyes pleading and full of abject misery. Help me, he said with his eyes. His tongue hung out as he panted while trying to cool off. My daughter and I could have probably toughed it out, but my rottweiler? Not so much. 

So, I bought window air conditioners only to be stymied at their installation. Some things I’ve just never learned to do, sad to admit, so the prospect of doing it myself was off-putting. The instructions looked intimidating with all their verbiage and pictures. Daunted, I put off their installation, even going so far as to purchase a portable unit that should have been easier to install. An abominable failure, let me tell you. It made the house HOTTER, somehow. But I was still afraid to tackle the challenge of installing the window units. I even tried to hire someone to put them in, without success (the fellow almost laughed at me). Firm in my resolve, I set out to solve my dilemma. My daughter and I successfully installed air conditioners without further preamble and I found that all I really needed was to change my mindset from I can’t to I must. I had no choice. Rocco was depending on me. But I let myself be defeated early on because of my phobia of instruction sheets.

I’ve been listening to the Bible on Audible, lately. (I finally found a version that works for me and my devices and that I like. We fit well together.) It seems that having someone else read the scriptures, dramatically, at that, is breathing new life into them for me. As each reading truly should, LOL! I decided to start, in the beginning, at Genesis and just make my way forward. Sometimes, though, when it veers away from simple tales to specific information it can be hard to digest and my eyes glaze over just a bit. As previously stated, it’s overwhelming for me to take in all of that detailed data. In particular, the dimensions of Noah’s ark, the minute instructions for creating and constructing the tabernacle, and statistical information wreak havoc with my ability to comprehend. But as I drove while listening to Exodus after they crossed the Red Sea and God gave Moses the law, this scripture caught my attention: 

“Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn all the way around the lower hem, with gold bells between them, so that gold bells and pomegranates alternate around the lower hem of the robe.” Exodus 28:33 

I thought, Lord, what do you want me to learn from this? Why was it important for the Israelites to know all the details of even Aaron’s outfit? This scripture accounted for the design of his royal, priestly garb, right down to the hem of his robe which alternated pomegranates and bells. Huh? Why be so precise? Unbelievable that even this small detail, seemingly insignificant, would matter to God. It struck me then that God revels in detail. He is a God of order. There is a saying that goes, the devil is in the details but I think we have it rather wrong. God can be found there.

The pomegranate may have been merely decorative or a placeholder. But the bell served a specific purpose. Only when Aaron put on these garments could he enter into service and the bell was for his protection. When the bell tinkled as he walked in, the next verse tells us, he would not die. The bells announced his coming and also foretold who he was, his position and God-given authority. It set Aaron apart from the rest of the congregation. Anyone entering without that authorization would die. When I enter into my secure office building, I have a key fob. The door will not open without authenticating who I am and I am meant to be there. Isn’t that amazing? God set up a system of secure identification before computers. Cool.

So God gave Moses a detailed instruction sheet more daunting than my AC unit installation. Predictably, my head swam trying to digest the information. Until I realized that as all of the pieces of my AC unit had a purpose, so did God’s individual pieces. Then God revealed his true reason for taking me to that scripture. He created me and you with just as much detail in mind and when he was done, there were no random, mystery pieces left over that he didn’t know what to do with. He had a specific purpose for creating us and designed us with that in mind. My body is not the result of a random selection of genes from my mother and father. God made me purposely this way. Intentionally.

My sister is a baker of beautifully designed, haute couture cakes. Once, she put together her batter, put it in the oven, only to realize she forgot a crucial ingredient. She later mourned her outcome, saying: I put my good butter in that cake! She always uses good butter, by the way, and premium ingredients to ensure she achieves the desired end result, but I always thought that was funny. With those words, she revealed herself to be our mother’s daughter and a great baker, who would never want to waste good food on a subpar effort.

Our Father is like that, too. He created each of us with premium ingredients, using his “good butter,” too! He knows what he put in our construction and his designs were unique for all of us. He saw this world and decided that it needed one of you to make it better. And when He was done, he saw it was good. What we consider flaws may be part of his plan. For instance, many cakes require baking powder, others need baking soda instead. My sister stumbled upon that fact one day when her red velvet cake would not rise. It was still scrumptious, though! So you and I can be different and still equally delicious, LOL!

The upcoming holiday season often makes us pause and reflect on what makes us thankful. Today, I am thankful for God’s design and plan that created me, and all of us, uniquely. Purposely. Flaws and all. I’m thankful that He put detailed thought into making me. I’m thankful for everything he instilled in me, knowing that it was for a specific purpose. I’m thankful for all those precise instructions that went into the making of Loria, and you, too. And I’m so very glad he used the very best ingredients, including his “good butter.” It was for good and for me to make a difference. Now, it is up to me, and all of us, to use this life and the gifts he put in us. Let’s all choose to be a vessel that is used. It is the very best way to say thank you to our Creator. Happy Thanksgiving!

Be blessed,

Loria

Samson-ish

“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb.” Judges 13:5

“The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” Judges 13:24-25

I’ve been thinking about Samson lately. His story has become interwoven into my speech these days and I can’t stop talking about him. Seems like God continues to use the life of the legendary strongman to bring fresh revelation into my own. When the subject originally came to me, it was more of a caution: don’t be like Samson! Many of us can recall the story of Samson and Delilah and how she betrayed him to the Philistines. He, in turn, destroyed a vast number of them with his superior strength. As I dwell on his life now, I see how Sampson contributed to his own downfall, ending with his spectacular death. He took down his enemies with him in a real blaze of glory, worthy of a hero.

But Sampson wasn’t the smartest cookie, plainly, when it came to love as evidenced by his choices. He was gifted with supernatural ability and dedicated to God from the womb. But on the love front, he often made poor decisions. He first chose a girl of the Philistines, enemy and oppressor of Israel. At their wedding, Samson made a foolish bet. If the guests couldn’t answer his riddle, they’d owe him thirty outfits, and vice versa. (I’m thinking he wanted to be sharp, LOL! Then and now, a person’s wealth could be judged on the quantity and quality of clothing.) His wife then sold him out to the angry townspeople to save her own skin. Samson’s ego was damaged when she told her neighbors the answer to his riddle. He had to pay up now. Samson was so upset with them for acquiring the secret of his riddle that he paid the debt grimly by accosting thirty men and stripping them of their clothing.

A pattern began to emerge. Although Samson is listed as a judge of Israel, he chronically lacked good judgment. His actions were more like those of a spoiled, denied child. You could pretty much preface any display of strength with, in his anger …. Samson was ever re-acting, having tantrums instead of behaving like a great man of God. His epic strength was not accompanied, alas, by wisdom. Still, as my kids would say, God rocked with Samson. God’s gift was not predicated on Samson living a perfect life. The job of the judge was to deliver Israel from their oppressor. Repeatedly, the Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came over Samson, giving him the power to defeat his enemies. Even down to the end, God restored Samson’s strength, which enabled the shackled, defeated judge to destroy more Philistines in death than in life.

So many lessons I’m gleaning from the life of Samson but this morning I saw his life through fresh eyes. Samson was born different. Entered this world to be different. Was never supposed to fit in. Never meant to assimilate. He would always be a big fish in a little pond, ever misunderstood. When your greatness is evident that doesn’t mean you will be revered.  Reviled, more likely. It occurred to me, Samson may have reached for a Philistine wife because that may have been his way of trying to find his place in the world. Did he even have a friend? Where did he belong? In one instance, when he left off killing the Philistines, he was found dwelling in a cave. The enemy came a knocking and his own people turned him in, again to save their skin. Samson promptly destroyed more of the enemy. But he had no focus or direction, never a carefully laid out plan, only in response to something done to him. Imagine if that power were channeled and purposely used? Might he have been an even greater champion?

Do you ever question where you are in life? Why are you the way you are? Feel like you don’t fit in? Have you ever felt mistreated because you don’t belong? I know I have. But until recently I didn’t understand why. Samson’s story answered my questions at last. When you’re born to stand out, (to paraphrase my brother) people won’t know what to do with you. Simple as that. Because they don’t understand you, you’ll be rejected. Your differences, your quest to just be true to you will make others uncomfortable. That’s because some folks spend their entire lives trying to be like everyone else and have what others have. You don’t. And that challenges your family, coworkers, and neighbors, even your sisters and brothers at church and makes them wonder if they are doing all they can to live up to their calling. Your life judges them. Your very presence disturbs them. It screams different. And so, people actively do things to disturb you, to shake your peace because they don’t understand your drive to use every gift you have and be everything you can be. Rather than discover that journey for themselves they want to force you to be more like them.

And so, my lesson this morning is still: DON’T BE LIKE SAMSON! LOL! Don’t let your potential die with you, unfulfilled. Sure, he took a lot of people with him but as a judge, he should have led people to more than their deaths. He was supposed to lead a nation. Maybe like David, he could have developed an army, created more fearless warriors like himself and really done some damage. Instead, he died alone, with no wife to mourn him, childless and no legacy for the nation of Israel other than that he died well. Don’t let others cause you to react and live your life on their terms. When you allow other folks to direct your actions, they become your puppet master. Don’t be afraid to be you, unmistakably and undeniably, and let others deal with their own discomfort. Perhaps you will set such an example as to inspire them to live a more authentic life. Perhaps not. Folks won’t make it easy. Just remember the first two syllables in beautiful are your key to a life well lived and full of supernatural feats of your own: Be you. Know that it’s ok to be different. You weren’t designed to fit in.

Be blessed,

Loria

The Children’s Bread

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. But Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Matthew 15:25-27

I recall a conversation I had with my sister some years ago when Puff Daddy (I believe this was before his P Diddy incarnation) was taken to court for child support. Some folks held the opinion that the mother of his children was asking for a lot, far more than she needed. But my sister said, summing up the matter nicely:

“If Puff Daddy rides around in a limousine, so should his children!” In other words, if my father eats caviar (never tasted the stuff, looks unappetizing, LOL!) so will I! That seemed like sound reasoning to me.

When my siblings and I were young, we went through what most children did of our time. You ate what mom cooked. Much of the time, MaDear indulged us and cooked what we wanted, our short order cook and waitress all in one. But I still remember the standoff she and I had over greens – I didn’t want ’em and she was determined I would try them. They were a cold congealed mess when I finally touched the fork to my lips, but try them, I did. I admitted they weren’t bad and I’ve eaten them ever since.

And then there was the showdown between MaDear and my little sister over chicken. (It was epic, on the scale of the Everybody hates Chris episode when Tanya refused to eat the surplus sausage.) The youngest, being the baby, could normally get away with murder although she never did perform anything so heinous. But our MaDear clearly wasn’t having it that day. She stood her ground and informed her baby that she would sit there until she finished that fried chicken leg. My sister wailed and insisted she couldn’t because of a phenomenon we’ve all experienced at one point or another. You know – when you bite into the drumstick and see that ugly red vein protruding – ugh. Even I, whose stomach is not so tender, must admit its appearance can be off-putting.

You will eat it, MaDear insisted, even if you have to sit here all night! 

But my sister couldn’t. Unlike with me, our mother relented when she saw her daughter was genuinely repulsed by that particular cut of meat. For years afterward, she would only eat only the breast, as it contained no obviously offending veins. This brings me to the next well-known tradition in many households, also ala EHC – Daddy gets the biggest piece of meat! The breast belongs to him! But, notice, we ALL ate chicken. If he received steak and gravy, concurrently, so did we all. And my father was a big fan of this notion. It was his habit to purchase gallon sizes containers of ice cream daily during the summer and personally see to it that we joined him in polishing it off. Sometimes I was cajoled into partaking in one of his down-home delicacies, say cornbread and buttermilk (yucky, btw) because he insisted that we eat what he ate. To feed us from his plate was his delight.

Recently, it occurred to me that this analogy held true with the children’s bread. See, my rambunctious Rottweiler Rocco, could not, nor should he, receive everything I eat. (Some of it he wouldn’t even appreciate, being a dog.) But my daughter can. And never does she have to qualify for the privilege or prove her worthiness. She eats what I eat, simply because she is my daughter. I offer it up freely; it is my pleasure. To care for her, even though she is grown, brings me joy.

Today, I thank God for this revelation because I’ve struggled most of my life with whether or not I deserved my blessings. Could I ever earn such a thing, or would I ever be good enough? My life has been a series of failed experiences in proving my value to the world. I’ve spent a good portion of my time creating accomplishments to justify my worth to man. This has been an unsuccessful effort because, mainly, the problem lay with me. I didn’t believe myself worthy. But now I know, my blessings have nothing to do with my worthiness. He is my Father. My value lies in the fact that I am His child. I get what He gets, have access to the things He has access to and I eat what He eats. Maybe He still gets the big piece of chicken, LOL! But in true Father fashion, I am allowed to eat from His plate, sup from His bowl, simply because He wants me to enjoy what He has. I don’t have to do a thing to deserve it, other than be His. Can you imagine a baby deserving a meal? Crazy, right? Think about it – a mother’s breast will excrete milk in response to her baby’s cry. We are hard wired and designed to give to our children, provide for, and respond to their need.

It has been said by some that healing, based on the context of our scripture, is the children’s bread. But I say, let us not stop there. It’s all ours! Everything God has belongs to us. Consider this: Would any of us withhold provision of ANY sort from our children? Is there any advantage we wouldn’t want to give them? And if they asked, or we saw their need, who among us wouldn’t give MORE than enough according to our ability? My children are welcome to anything and everything I have because they are mine. And so it is with God. I’m walking into this new year secure in the knowledge that my Father’s bread, is MY bread. Whatever He has belongs to me. Yes, all the cattle on a thousand hills and more are MINE.

“If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

Happy New Year,

Loria

Book Signing Event!

 

It’s that time again! Author L G Boyle will be at the Shepard Winter Arts/Crafts Show this Saturday!

Alan B. Shepard High School
13049 S. Ridgeland Ave.
Palos Heights, IL 60463.
Saturday, December 2, 2017
9:00am – 3:00pm.

Be sure to stop by and get your signed copies of Touched, Immaculate and Triumvirate!

Holiday on the Farm Event!

I feel blessed beyond measure to be a featured author (again) at Holiday on the Farm Artisan & Craft Market. Author LG Boyle will be on the scene with copies of Touched, Immaculate AND (God willing) a special preview of book three: Triumvirate! I may even have advance copies available – YAY! I hope to see you there. I’ve included the details below:

7626 Ashley Rd, Yorkville, IL 60560-9741

Saturday, September 30th, 10 AM – 4 PM

Admission: $5 per car

Meanwhile, enjoy this synopsis of TRIUMVIRATE!

Three young children, Mal, Ari and Martha, have been “touched” and are in possession of enormous talents, bestowed on them by a chance encounter with the Young Master. Now Ari, Mal and Martha find themselves in the wrong place and time because Ari has done the unthinkable, resulting in a perpetual red dawn. But that is the least of their worries! Ari is on the run, while Mal and Martha attempt to keep their enemy at bay. The Strange Man is back and he’s got even more sinister tricks up his sleeve …

 

On Hiatus!

Dear Gentle Readers,

I wish I could assert that I am taking a well deserved, much-needed break from work, writing and reality. Sadly, that would be far from true! I am fully immersed in all three, while in the process of editing the latest novel in the Touched series. I am, however, taking a vacation from writing this here blog so that I can deliver the best book EVER!

Triumvirate promises to be everything you’ve been waiting for and I am so thrilled to share even more adventures of Ari, Mal and Martha with my fans! From conception, I believed this effort would yield a trilogy (at least) and now we’re here! Look at what God has done! I anticipate that the e-book will be released by the end of summer, followed by the official launch and book signings in early fall! More to come, so keep a sharp eye out for your email notifications. Be sure to subscribe so you’ll be among the first to receive announcements regarding upcoming events. That’s all for now. Singing ala Disney’s Seven Dwarves: Heigh Ho! It’s off to write, I go (whistling) …

Wishing you all the best,

Loria

Don’t be afraid of the Dark

Are-You-afraid-of-the-dark-1024x552“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” Edward Teller

It’s time to take a leap of faith. Again. Launch out into the deep. Get out of the boat. ARGH! Why can’t things ever be easy? The unknown is a dark, murky place. And I’m afraid of the dark! I’ve always been “scary,” ever since I was a child. I grew up watching one too many Creature Feature movies. (And Svengoolie – it’s a Chicago thing!) My brothers didn’t help matters by always trying to scare me. Spooky stuff happens in the dark. It’s the place of “what if?” and all sorts of horrible things that could possibly occur. Nothing good ever happens there.

I had cause to rethink that assumption after reading a little blue book, The Secret to Success. It made me see that on the other side of that fear – that very thing you don’t want to do or go through – is where your success can be found. Maybe you’ve tried once before and were defeated. That should’ve been enough to stop you but it merely curtailed you. It slowed you down, yes. But also, it made you more hungry and determined to succeed after you’d gotten back on your feet. We go through and persevere, not because we are unafraid, but because our fear of what many NEVER happen, what we may NOT be able to achieve if we don’t go through it, is greater than our reluctance to tackle the unknown. This thought alone is enough to propel me forward.

Fear can be so debilitating. My son recently shared with me a nugget of wisdom gleaned from a friend who broke it down thusly: Everything falls into one of two categories, familiar and unfamiliar. Things that are unknown to us, we fear. BUT, and here’s the good news, once you’ve done that unfamiliar thing there is no longer any need to fear it. You have conquered it and can quite reasonably move it over to the things now familiar to me or “known” silo. It loses it’s power to terrorize you and you can expect that the next time will be easier. For example, the process of writing a book once frightened me, but no longer. God has enabled me to do it twice and now, we’re working on book three. The thought of book signings used to make me want to hide somewhere! But after doing several events, I have a handle on them now. I am not fearless when it comes to such things but I push past the fear because what I’m trying to accomplish is on the other side. I can’t NOT do it.

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matt 14:29

We know from many stories that Peter was brash and bold. He could be cocky at times. But he was a regular person like you and I. His faith could fail. I think any confidence he had was owed to his association with Jesus and not naturally occurring. To step out of the boat required great faith, true, but he was relying on Jesus. When the disciple took his eyes off the Master, he began to sink. Looking to Jesus in the midst of that storm allowed Peter to walk on water. He became his own miracle. Any confidence I have to work miracles or do great things comes from my relationship with God. 

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

Peter, like us, could become discouraged or disheartened and give up. But, as in the second scripture example, encouragement from the Lord was all it took to get Peter to try “one mo’ gin.” After a night of fishing and catching NOTHING, Peter obeyed the command and caught more than humanly possible. Jesus is our constant source of encouragement. In His power, we can do more, be more. He stands before us saying: Yes you can. He prods us to go a little bit further.

To walk in the dark is to be aware, more than ever, of the presence of, and need for light. Even as a pinprick, it will be evident in it’s display and proof of existence. When light is all around us, more light is hardly a necessity. It is in the darkness that light is made more brilliant and more needful. We lean on it. Search for it. Look to it for illumination and for guidance. Move towards it. Oh, how we need it then!

When things are dark and hopeless is when I need Him most. He IS the light and His Word a lamp unto my feet. When I’m struggling with how to move forward, I know I can look to Him to show me the way. I can depend on you, Lord, to help me work my miracle, too. I’ll leave you with the words of a song I learned as a child which encourages me to this day:

When you walk through a storm, keep your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of the lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.

So, don’t fear the destructive power of that storm, I say to myself. Yes, it will tear up some stuff and leave you heartbroken with your loss. But, and here’s the important thing to remember, you will recover. Don’t be afraid of the dark, or the unknown. Though your steps may falter, walk with the sure knowledge that God is with you. Get to the other side where the air, heavy with moisture, smells like fresh rain and vegetation. And you just know all of that rain is a harbinger of good things to come. It is sustenance for the soil, preparing the earth to bring forth new things. Likewise, our storms may be meant to bring to fruition our vision of better days ahead.

Be blessed,

Loria

Reflections

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

I came across a picture of my daughter and I among my FB memories that made me smile and reflect. So much ugly has been going on in the world, it’s been all too easy to become distracted from my purpose. It’s the goal, or should be, of every Christian to somehow be in this world but, not of it. To know that we are but travelers and should not find ourselves so easily ensconced in the intrigues of this society. But we do succumb, despite our best efforts. It’s what happens when we walk by sight, instead of by faith, by what we see and what’s in front of us, instead of what we believe. 

I recently had an episode where I wound up in the hospital for a few days. It was nothing major, or at least, not something that couldn’t be aided with fluids delivered intravenously and emptying the contents of my gut – an evacuation order which my stomach willingly obliged. It was scary at the time, but simultaneously, not. I think it helped to clarify some things for me, helped to put my life in perspective.

My daughter always accuses me of being overly dramatic when I am sick (a few others may have agreed with her, lol!) but I made my peace with the idea of this being the end, just in case. Yes, I saw a white light – but my brother assures me that was merely in the process of fainting. No, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but my purpose did. I thought of my latest novel and how it wasn’t complete. Not now, Lord! I thought of my children and what leaving would do to them. I needed to tell them I love them. Then, I realized that this is the moment we Christians are supposed to be joyfully awaiting, preparing for this very event – to be absent from this body and present with our Lord. 

Today, a week later, life is back to normal. Obviously, I survived the ordeal with very little harm and a new respect for medications. I probably received the much-needed break and medical attention that I had put off for so long. It’s not what I wanted to happen but I see how the entire episode worked to my benefit. But that’s not what I’m reflecting on today. I heard a song by Brian Courtney Wilson, Worth Fighting For which stirred to remembrance in me:

Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, all you have planned for me …

And when I had reached the end of the song I was near tears. Maybe God isn’t finished with me yet. But more than that, I saw what God had already done. This is the day that my life flashed before my eyes. I was suddenly grateful; I am ashamed to admit, as I had never been before. This life is not what I expected. But it has been so worth it, worth living and worth fighting for. No, I didn’t see myself divorced before I turned forty but neither had I seen myself married either. That was an unattainable dream. I knew I wanted marriage but for some reason, I didn’t think it was in the cards for me. Same with children – never saw motherhood for me but I’m so glad God made me a mother. My children remain my constant motivation and are the great joy of my life.

On this day, I realized that even though I didn’t see these things for myself, I couldn’t conceive of it, but God did. Oprah said words to this effect – God’s plan for you is far bigger than anything you could ever imagine. I see now that I have lived a 

blessed life. I can sing as Smokie Norful in Dear God:

It may not be all that I’d hoped for and every dream has not yet been realized

but to see you face one day God I know it’s all gonna be worth it

Lord, so I thank you for … my life

I appreciate every single bit of it – even the bad – because it made me who I am. And it didn’t kill me, it made me stronger, resilient, able to bend but not break under pressure. That’s what this life has done for me. Today, I recall my purpose – to live as a traveler, enjoying what this world offers like one on vacation, knowing all the while that’s it’s nice to visit but I don’t want to stay. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize and wearing this world as a loose garment. I’m resolving to be moved by faith, not by sight. I mean to press onward toward the high calling in Christ Jesus – that calling that invokes in me the desire to utilize all the gifts I’ve been given to His glory. I’m able to enjoy the miracle that Jesus himself didn’t live to see, nor was he meant to – the joy of being a parent. Not only despite my travails but because of them now, I am thankful.

Be blessed,

Loria

 

 

 

What NOT to Wear

woman-1439909_1920All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Peter 5:5

I listened as the young minister spoke on pride and how important it was to humble ourselves. Pride goeth forth before destruction and all that. But I thought to myself, Loria are you guilty of pride? I had been accused of being humble and had actually begun to believe it. All things considered, folks thought that I could have a bigger ego because of all that’s going on. I could make a list but that would be ego 😉 Suffice to say, God is still blessing me.

But as I heard the words of the young preacher, his trial sermon, he read the definition of pride and suddenly I wasn’t so sure that I came down on the right side of the equation. I had prayed before he even got up to speak that God would let me hear a good word, something I could use or take away and apply to my daily life. God delivered just that. It came to me that I had a sense of entitlement about support I expected to receive from others. When I didn’t get it, I was understandably disappointed. But I realized that I shouldn’t have been. Hope that people will be there for me,  yes, but that they owe support to me is another thing. That mindset meant I had a right to feel slighted or angry, even, if they didn’t come through. And as the pastor continued with his sermon, I felt more and more convicted. I knew God was answering my prayer for I needed this lesson in humility.

The message continued to minister to me on the way home. I recalled the scripture that said, God hates a proud heart.  Oh! That hurt, but in a good way. I realized that God, being a good Father, was chastening me because he loves me. He wants me to do better. And He also knows that I want to position myself so that I can receive His blessings. My pride could interfere with that, He showed me. I began to ask myself the rhetorical question: What can He do with your proud attitude and sense of entitlement? I say rhetorical because the answer was obvious. Nothing. Not one single thing. The man of God quoted the verse, pride goes before the fall and I knew I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want to have to take a tumble to my detriment before I realized my folly. Lord, make me humble before events brings me down low. Don’t let me think more of myself than I ought! We are beautiful to our Creator when he views us through a covering of humility.bride-1969100_1920

But He gives grace to the humble, it then occurred to me. And I knew God  was fostering my understanding. This was a warning coupled with a correction. I was not past redemption. Grace, I have heard, is God’s unmerited favor. Yeah, I want more of that. So He has been dealing with me, truly humbling me. I saw that my attitude was all wrong. Gratitude, it seems, is a close cousin of humility – at least, in my estimation. When I became more humble, I began to thank God for all he’d done, concluding that I’d taken him and his blessings for granted in the past. With gratitude came a fresh realization that no one owed me anything. I began to be simply grateful that others had even thought of me. In humility, there is no expectation because whatever is done for you is gain. Therefore, there can be no disappointment because there is no sense of dashed hopes. Now hope in God is a good thing per the Bible, but hope in people will get you in trouble, LOL! Man will let you down. Because we are human we often fall short of everything we’d like to do for others, despite our best efforts.

Pride says, I should have this! And it is the I, as the fledgling preacher pointed out, which is the problem. That ego, again. The devil’s own sin started with rebellion: I shall ascend,  he said. He sold us on the benefit of this plan and convinced us to follow suit. Eat the fruit, said he, and you shall be like God. Therein lies the problem.We basically say, I don’t want to wait until you bless me, I want to control my own future. I is the root of the problem. Like wayward children who insist on independence when we don’t even know how the world works, we attempt to wrest control from Him because we are not persuaded that he knows best. The I’s have it.

beautiful-1868656_1920But there is no surrender in that, and surrender is important. Only when we give up and give it to him can he do anything with it. Ever heard the phrase, too proud to ask for help? If you don’t ask, though, how shall you receive it? We don’t ask even God because we feel we can and we want to do it on our own. We have problems submitting ourselves, bringing ourselves down low, to man and to God. I thought to myself, if Jesus was lowly and humble, never putting himself above anyone but speaking to sinners who the Pharisees thought beneath them – if Jesus could humble himself and make himself lower than his station – who am I to do less? Humility is the way, folks. The young minister concluded his sermon, “Defeat the enemy with your humility.” Simple. If you want more grace, be more humble. Another minister put it like this: We say we want more of God when really, God wants more of us. That may not mean DOING more. Sometimes that means SURRENDERING more.

Be blessed,

Loria