Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Plans, Agendas, Schedules

We've all been there. Life coasting along, going about our business, keeping up with all our plans, creating our agendas, checking off our schedules.

Then suddenly ...

Life happens.

One twist and turn after another, right in the middle of all our plans.

This week, one life happening event was named Hurricane Harvey. Houston and surrounding areas along the Gulf Coast are still dealing with its aftermath. Reading news reports and my Facebook feed of dear friends who are living right in the midst of all the devastation - it just makes my heart hurt.

This week, a cherished family member received a diagnosis none of us were expecting.

This week, a loved one's relationship ended.

This week, a friend died.

We want to take time to just absorb all that's happening - we need just a moment or two so we can process the emotions that flood our souls.

Sometimes, the images from these disasters are too much. Sometimes, the pain our loved ones are suffering is too much. Sometimes, the loss is too much.

Yet ... life ... goes ... on.

Sometimes, I just feel like screaming to life, "STOP! SLOW DOWN! LET ME CATCH UP!"

Instead, I take a few moments when I need it. I crawl into bed with my Bible, and I pray. And cry. And pray.

God's got all of this. None of these disasters, diagnoses, losses are a surprise to Him. Not a single moment.

He has a purpose for all of this. For every bit of it. For every tear shed. He has a purpose. And His purpose is good, regardless of how bad and how dark things might seem at the moment.

So how do we reconcile all of this? How do we cope?

We take that moment to absorb the devastation, the changes, the losses. We take that moment to breathe.

We take that moment to allow God to breathe life back into us.

We trust. Not in the world, but in Him. We trust that He remains in control. That He has our best interests in mind. That He has a glorious, eternal purpose for all this suffering.

And we praise Him in the midst of it all.

For the past few weeks, the Lord keeps pointing me to Isaiah 43. That chapter is speaking life to me in so many ways. I encourage to read it for yourself.

And more of God's Word to comfort and strengthen you during these turbulent times:

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding. ~ Proverbs 3:5

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you." ~ Isaiah 43:2

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. ~ James 1:2-5

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. ~ James 5:13

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What is Your Calling?

If you know me, or if you've read my bio, you'll know that I am an "upside-down, inside-out" kind of creature. My dad used to say I did things "bass-ackwards." I haven't yet decided if his words were prophetic or directional.

For most of my adult life, I've been a Christian (you can read my testimony here) and have heard people talk about their calling. Although I've followed a particular career path since 2005, it wasn't until a few years ago that I actually identified my calling.

My calling is to be a CONDUIT.

Does that sound as weird to you as it did to me the first time I realized it?

The idea takes a little getting used to. I thought I was called to be a writer and yes, I do write, but God gave me certain skill sets that propelled me to begin publishing other people's books. He's called me to help others in this manner and each day my work gives me incredible joy. The authors I work with bless me beyond measure, and I'm as excited as they are when their books come to life.

Like the image above, my publishing company TMP Books serves as the conduit to lead and guide others toward publication. Each of the wires inside the conduit represents a different author - each one is different, and each one has their own purpose, goals, dreams. My role is to get those writers from Point A to Point B - from a blank document to a published book, or from whatever stage they arrive.

One writer, a beautiful, intelligent, 75-year-old with an incredibly painful past, handwrote her whole book on legal pads. Another wrote a children's book when her son was small but did nothing about it until he was in college, and by that time, she'd written another experience in story form, too, so we published both books at once. Others wanted to have a tangible book to record family history or family memories, so they could pass them onto the next generation. Some of our writers teach valuable lessons to children through their illustrated picture books. Some have compiled their heartfelt poetry so that it could be published in book format.

Each book unique as its author. Each one with a different purpose.

And I'm honored to serve each one of them to make it happen.

I love being called as a conduit.

What is your calling? How are you using it?

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