"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Different Family?

What if you had been born into a different family?
Children of the World
            Let your imagination run wild with that thought for a minute. What language would you speak? How would life be different for you? What would you look like?
            My daughter has a friend whose Mom is one of the cool ones. For many of her visits to their house, she only encountered the Mom.  The first time she spent the weekend at Luci’s* house, she met the Stepdad and found out their life wasn’t as ideal as she first believed. The Dad drank and treated Luci badly, yelling at her and making life generally hard for her. It wasn’t that way for the children born of this marriage. Luci finally left home and went to live with her Dad.

All Grown Up
Jimmy, Cathy, Tommy, & Peggy
            In my family there were four children, two boys and two girls. The oldest girl (me), and the oldest boy (Tommy) were not treated like the youngest girl and boy. According to Momma, they had needs and we didn’t. One had a learning disability and the other had emotionally triggered asthma attacks. Tommy and I called ourselves the bad kids although we knew better than to get out of line. We reasoned the other two must be the good kids because they got all the rewards.
            Tommy and I wore hand-me-down clothes purchased at the Salvation Army store while the good kids got new brand name clothes and shoes. The needs of the good kids were always met at the expense of the bad kids. We were held to a higher standard academically and socially than the other two. One of the worst parts of this disparity is that it continued to the next generation. The children of the good kids were treated preferentially, while the children of the bad kids came in a distant second. The grandkids noticed.
            I thought all families functioned like ours. I had no other frame of reference. It was a real shocker when I found out we were dysfunctional, but at the same time I was relieved. I had always felt like I was the holder of all the puzzle pieces and if I could just put them together correctly, life would be good. It took Jesus, my Wonderful Counselor1, and I many years to work through the yuck of my childhood so that I could be grateful for the hardships that made me the person I am today. 
            I am now part of an amazing, new family. All members are on equal footing, no preferential treatment given or expected. Everyone looks forward to the same inheritance and the benefits begin now. The rules are the same for everyone and there are only two rules to remember2.
            My Dad blesses me every day out of His great bounty, giving me everything I need to thrive each day. I’m not bragging or elevating myself above you. He does the same thing for all of His children. The exciting part is that you can be part of this family too. It’s the family of God. You are accepted just as you are, no matter what warts or baggage comes with you. Here’s how to gain entry:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and
believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified,
and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10 ESV

Jesus Stands at the Door and Knocks
Will you let Him in?
            One simple prayer opens the door. Say something like this, “God, I want to be part of your family. I confess that I am a sinner. I believe you sent Jesus to pay my sin debt. He lives and reigns with you today and I want Him to live in my heart from now on. Amen.”
It’s that simple. Won’t you become part of the family today? If you have questions, contact me. I can introduce you to the best brother you’ll ever have.

Go in peace and spread joy-

 1For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Luke 10:27 ESV

 2 “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 ESV

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Am I Really Saved?

Last year I had the privilege of being in the Delivery Room when a young woman was born into the Kingdom of God. She recently approached me saying she wasn’t sure she was saved that day because she doesn’t feel any different.
            I asked her if she meant the words she said when she prayed the sinner’s prayer. She responded with, “Yes, I did.”  I told her we could pray the prayer again if it would make her feel better but I felt like, if she was serious the first time she gave herself over to Christ, then she was indeed saved. We talked for a while so I could assess what was happening. She was deeply bothered and needed assurance. I told her I would pray about it overnight and we would talk again the next day.
            My heart ached for this precious girl and the answers she needed from me, an older woman she has trusted for right answers many times. I prayed most of the night, sleeping fitfully at best. Here is what I feel God wants her, and us, to know:
            Not all salvation experiences are alike. Some people, especially those who have lived a rough life, can have a more dramatic conversion. When they turn from their old ways and start living a new life in Christ, the changes are evident to all who know them. Those who have lived a good life, obeying the laws of the land and being kind to the people in their lives, can have a more gentle change as they slip into their new life.
            Create an Ebenezer Stone. I encourage new Christians to write the date they were saved in the front of their Bible. Then when satan is whispering lies about their salvation, they can open the Bible and say, “You see here satan? This is the date that Jesus saved me from the likes of you. Go away and take your lies with you! I am a child of the King”
In the Bible, the Israelites built an altar at the places where God made Himself real to them. Later, when they doubted God, they traveled back to the last stone altar they had built and got a booster shot. They said, “We know God was real here. He hasn’t changed, so He is real where we live now.”
Start doing the things that Christians do. Rather than sitting around waiting for a “feeling” to overtake you, get busy being a Christian. Read your Bible every day, join a Bible study at church or in the community, learn to pray by practicing, look beyond yourself to the people around you. Bake cookies for the shut-in down the street or call someone with an encouraging word. It doesn’t have to be difficult. God has gifted you to make your ministry easy.
The fact that she wants to be different, shows she is different. My Sunday School teacher says that when we are saved, our “want to’s” change. We’re not the same because now we want what God wants. Our wants start falling into line with what He wants for us. We gain the mind of Christ and our thinking changes to be more like His.
What about you, Dear Readers? Has satan whispered lies to you? How did you handle it? What advice would you give to this young woman?
Have a joyfully blessed day-

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Over the summer I have been confronted with the kind of determination that shows strength of mind, willpower, resolve, fortitude, stubbornness of purpose and grit. If you’ve read my blog, That One Elusive Goal, you will understand why I admire people who are able to set a goal for themselves and overcome all the odds to come out victorious on the other side. My writing goals, though important to me, are nothing compared to the examples I’ll list for you.
I saw determination in the face of a young soldier trying to get used to his new prosthetic legs, his real legs being lost in battle for our freedom. It was an excruciating, sweat-producing, face twisting kind of determination not often seen in public places.
   "Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough." Og Mandino

Flowers growing from a
mountain's rock face

I saw delicate flowers growing through the stone face of a mountain. What kind of determination did it take for them to press and struggle against solid rock to get a peek at the sunshine?  How far was it from their hidden roots to the fresh air they struggled to find? Was it an act of worship to their creator that caused them to want to show themselves so beautifully?

 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

I saw a woman who suffered through cancer to come out on the other side determined to show the demon cancer it had not stolen her life. She trained and entered the 2011 Ironman contest in Hawaii.   The Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed immediately by a 112 mile bicycle ride, and concludes with the running of a marathon. 
Official rules say the race has to be finished by midnight of the day it begins. This precious lady made her way through all three events, breathlessly crossing the finish line at four seconds past midnight. Official records indicate she didn’t finish, but she and her family who greeted her as she crossed that line, know that she accomplished what she set out to do. She proved to herself, her family, and to cancer that she still had life to live.

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." Mario Andretti
On a lighter note, I saw my granddaughter, Emma, and my grandson, Matthew, new swimmers, diligently trying to learn how to retrieve diving rings from the bottom of the swimming pool. Not known for having very long attention spans, I saw these five-year olds throw the rings into the pool over and over for more than an hour and a half. The spirit of competition between them ramped up their determination. They had fun working together, got some fresh air and exercise, and learned a new skill in the process.
 "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Albert Einstein
What does your determination level look like? Are you an “I am, I can, I will!” or an “I can’t, I should have, I wish I had?”  I find that my perfectionist, procrastinator personality makes me some of both.  Because of the examples I’ve seen this summer, I am determined to be more of an “I am, I can, I will!”
Will you join me in this quest to be all I can be through the One who created me to be like Him?
Go and make this a lovely joy-filled day-

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That One Elusive Goal

Today marks the twelfth week I’ve been meeting with some fellow writers on Tuesday mornings. Our purpose is to set writing goals to be accomplished before the next Tuesday. We all felt this would help us make more progress in our writing journeys. We’ve all seen an increase in writing quality and quantity during this time.
               My list for today (from last Tuesday’s meeting) looks like this:
Write blog for 9/4
Finish reading Write His Answers (a Bible study for Christian writers)
Finish editing Thursday Thoughts for 9/6 (my guest blog site)
                                                                               Write an extra blog
Sadly, I’ve only done two of the four, the first two. The “write an extra blog” goal has been on my list since week two. I’d love to be a week or more ahead on blogging so that if something catastrophic happens, I’m prepared. Most weeks I have achieved the goals I set for myself, except for that one goal that keeps eluding the “completed” check mark.
I’ve been able to add other memorable writing-related activities to my weekly lists. This week, in addition to what I asked to be held accountable for, I have researched an illustrator for a children’s book I am ready to send to a publisher, done some pre-planning for a writer’s retreat I will be participating in, publicized a one-day writer’s workshop The Encouragers Christian Writing Group is having soon and handled the e-mail responses, started reading Unleashing the Writer Within by Cecil Murphy , managed responses from three writing groups I’m part of on LinkedIn, promoted my blog on Facebook and Pinterest, gained some new followers via personal contact, and read some of my favorite writer’s blogs to see what I could learn from their writing styles.
               But, there is still that one goal that keeps haunting me. It glares off the page at me every time I look at my list. What is it about me that keeps me from being able to mark it off my list and then stay a week ahead?
               I need a deadline. If you give me a project to do, and say, “Do it whenever you can. I’m not in any hurry,” you’ll never get it. Part of the problem with this get-a-week-ahead goal is I haven’t been able to fool my brain into thinking it is urgent and HAS to be done by the next Tuesday.
I’m a procrastinator from way back. I comfort myself with good excuses. So when my granddaughter calls and asks if I can take care of my great granddaughter for the afternoon, I jump at the chance. Not just because they are the loves of my life, but because it gives me a good excuse not to work on that one looming goal. When a friend calls and wants to talk over a problem at lunch, I drop everything and go. It’s great for the friendship, bad for the goal.
It’s my personality type. My friend Debbie Potts writes a wonderful blog about personality types and how they react to various aspects of life. I’ve taken the assessment she uses and I always look forward to reading how people in my group characteristically act. She’s doing a two-part series now on goal setting and the four personalities. I can’t wait to read mine in part two. Maybe it will help me overcome my natural tendencies so I can get rid of this albatross around my neck.
What about you? How do you do with setting and accomplishing goals? Have you got any tips that might help me and others?
Go out and have a glorious joy-filled, goal reaching day-

P.S. It's a little past 2 am on Tuesday morning. I am thrilled to share that I have overcome myself and I can check off that elusive goal that has been hanging around my neck for ten weeks. Halleluia! I have next week's blog in the bag and scheduled to post. Woo hooooo!  What a great feeling!