Sunday Thoughts: Boredom

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Sometimes the everyday hustle and bustle of life rubs and rubs until you become blind, deaf, and dumb with the wear. You stop seeing magic. You stop seeing joy. You stop seeing life.

But, what has truly happened is you’ve stopped seeing by faith and started seeing with fallen, old-man eyes. Faith no longer clouds your view. Only deep dark shadows fill your world. You fall before the boredom and monotony of eating, sleeping, cleaning, chores, bills, needs, election cycles, loads of laundry, care for the young and old, wars and the rumors of war, birth and death. The repetitiveness of the world weighs down on you until you forget.

(NOTHING CHANGES!)

This malaise seeps into our churches. The preaching becomes only so many words falling together, powerless as autumn leaves. The saints are no longer a glorious army of the Lord riding forth on white steeds under Christ’s mighty banner. They’re dull, ordinary, offensive people you no longer wish to be with. Sunday isn’t our day of rest, or the Lord’s Day. It is an interruption, taking away hours that could be spent trying to maintain control of everything else in life, or actually resting.

Believers see with eyes of the world. Our old, dead eyes. We get lazy. We stop being Vigilant. Our Christian-colored glasses slip off our nose and aren’t pushed back up. We haven’t stayed in the fight. We haven’t kept the hope.

The regularity and rhythm of life bows us down.

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Awake! Awake! Awake, my soul!

Renew. Refresh. Push your glasses tight against your nose and SEE by FAITH!

The Kings of the earth rage and God laughs.

His hand isn’t weak. His kingdom isn’t failing or even losing the battle.

Put back on your armor and fight! Fight, by God’s grace and in His might, the temptation to see life with dead, old, rotten eyes. They lie.

See with truth!

The preached word is our mighty King speaking to us. The church is the body of Christ and our true family. Do not let the world push you down in the rut of life and cover your eyes with the muck at the bottom. See the world around you with the light of the Word! Christ has already won the war. He is King over-all and He is saving His people!

This is our true reality, our true eternity.

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(Inspired by Dr. Robert Oliver’s preaching on Psalm 2)

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Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!

One Year Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Saturday I marked the 1 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m a year old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband lead our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed. I have had more views this year than I had in the total run of my previous blog. I have made some good online friends, connected with other Confessional blogs, and I may have made a few enemies. That was terrifying interesting.

Let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 160
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Claudiajswain, Cindy V, and Lizzigroves.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Canada, the Untied Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia.
  • Top Posts: My Church is a Failure with 1,376 views. It is followed by Happy Mother’s Day! with 291, and Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 221. Look at the difference. That’s quite a jump from 291 to 1,376. One of my friends said the My Church is a Failure went viral. I don’t know that it went viral as a whole, but maybe amongst Reformed Baptist.
  • August 2014 was my highest traffic month with 2,384 views followed by Feb with 1,564 when a guest post I wrote for Strokemanswoman was shared by Tim Challis. This guest article has gotten as many or more views as My Church is a Failure.

This year I also submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration.

God is good. God is trustworthy.

You might think that’s easy to say with the limited success I’ve had with my blog. Of course, I think He’s good when things are going better than I could have ever imagined. God is good, not because this change in my life has rewarded me with better blog success. God is good because He has saved me and made me His child, then He slowly and gently worked in my life to bring me to the point where I could lay aside what I wanted for Him. Seeming material or no material reward, I would still praise Him for He is mighty. He owes me nothing for the sacrifices I have made for they are just a happy following after of my elder brother, my heavenly husband, my Standing Lamb. If the blog had flopped, I would have experienced His sanctification in that and by grace would praise Him still. The success of my blog or lack thereof doesn’t change the joy I have at the great mercy He showed me. I trust that He would still use the gifts He gave me even if it’s not how I expect. He has given me everything and owes me nothing. These aren’t rewards. These are graces. These are a kind gift from the hand of a kind Father, not a debt He owed me for my great sacrifices.

I’m very thankful He gave me some tangible gifts when I switched my writing course. He didn’t just give me some, He richly gifted me. Its humbling and all I can say is use me more Lord. Pour me out for your sake.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my stories, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this first year!

Do I have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian?

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WordPress keeps its bloggers abreast of their stats, followers, and which searches led readers to their blog. We even get a little map of the world with bright colors showing us which countries our readers come from.

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Just fyi…these are not my stats. 🙂

Several months ago someone googled: Do I have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian? This question led them to me and I’ve been pondering it for a while now. (I wonder if the lady who searched Google for information was surprised to come across a blog with posts about soldiers and action flicks? Not very gentle and quiet, huh?)

My pondering, which included talking about it with my husband, focused on the fact that much like Christianity the answer is yes and no. No, you don’t have to be gentle and quiet to be a Christian. To be a Christian you have to be a sinner in need of grace and you have to have faith in Christ and his work. That’s it. Those are the basic requirements. You will never in this life be a perfect Christian lady, but, thank the good Lord, perfection isn’t required for salvation! Thankfully, we live under grace and not law.

As a sinner who deserves death, but has been clothed in the blood of the Son, accepted, and adopted, do you not now wish to live for the one who saved you? Are you not motivated by His love to do whatever he asks? He died for you, giving all, and enduring the wrath of God in your place. Will you not die to yourself for Him?

Now, a misunderstanding of what gentle and quiet means may inspire part of this question. Gentle is defined as kind, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent. Are you severe, rough, or violent? Do you use your strength to lift up or destroy? Would you like to live with a man who is gentle or rough? Would you rather be a violent woman or a gentle one? Does this definition mention guns, trucks, tomboys or any other “unfeminine” thing? No. A gentle spirit is a woman in control of herself who doesn’t use her tongue to destroy her husband or anyone else. She is gentle.

Quiet means . . . well quiet. Not loud. Does this mean women have to talk in subdued voices all the time? Let’s look at the context of the verse. The context is instructing Christian women who are free in the Lord but married to an unbeliever who is possibly abusive. Does Christ say dig in your heels and fight? No. He says a gentle and quiet spirit. (I’m not trying to say don’t get help. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, get help. If your husband breaks the law, call the police. But, don’t respond in harsh yelling.) This means be kind to the ones who are unkind and quiet to those who are loud. Don’t nag.

You know what nagging is? It’s worry. When you’re worried, when I’m worried, I get loud. I nag. And I can be verbally ungentle, especially to my husband. How do we know it stems from worry? Cause we’re told not to fear anything fearful and to be like Sarah who had plenty of reasons to fear.

Unattractive.

Unattractive.

Can you see how this pours forth from a heart that the Lord has changed? If you’re afraid because your husband is talking harshly to you, your gut response is going to be to fight back. Yell back. Push back. Instead, trusting in Christ who has already secured your soul, you respond with a kind word. You take your fear in prayer to Him and rest in Him instead of nagging your husband. Maybe your husband isn’t diligent and you fear him losing his job, or paying the taxes, or taking care of you. Don’t nag. Do him good, be gentle, and be quiet. This is a work of the Lord and completely counter to your gut reactions. This takes incredible strength, courage, and trust.

Do you have to have a gentle and quiet spirit to be a Christian? No. God has saved many loud, obnoxious, and mean women. But, all true Christian women should prayerfully strive to be gentle (self-control laced with kindness) and quiet (non-nagging, quit worrying, stop trying to be in control).

Pray that God will help us understand this and see the ways we fail. Pray that when we fail, He will remind us of his grace and the work of Christ. It’s not pleasant to see our failures, but it is very sanctifying. We all need to seek out wise older women in our church and talk with our elders and pastors.

God has richly supplied all our needs through His Word and His Church, use them. Don’t spurn His gifts by ‘going it alone’.

Trust Christ—who died for you, endured torture, lived in perfection when you couldn’t—when you’re afraid, worried, or just concerned. Remember Sarah.

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Guest Post: Rob Akers on Blogging

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Rob, with only mild kicking and screaming, agreed to be the last guest blogger talking about why they blog. I can understand the fear of being the last one in a row of excellent writers, but I trusted Rob and that trust wasn’t unfounded. On his blog, Rob shares personal thoughts, which are always amusing, and he also shares the story of his time in the Middle East. I found Rob through a mutual respect for our men and women in uniform and have enjoyed reading his posts. Now he’s asked me to do the first Alpha Reading on his novel. I have his permission to bleed all over it. I took him at his word.  He may regret it later, but it’s too late for that!

Rob is a husband and father residing in Culloden, West Virginia. An airline pilot by trade, he served twelve years in the West Virginia Air National Guard at the rank of Major. He deployed to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan among other foreign nations and earned multiple medals including three Air Medals, four Aerial Achievement Medals and two Meritorious Service Medals. He is a freelance writer for the Putnam Herald-Dispatch and the online magazine The Magill Review. He hosts his own blog and has been published in a collection of works including the Words for Warriors Project. He is working to complete his first fictional novel.

Check his work out!

Next week will be the last installment of this series where I will talk about why I blog. But for now, enjoy Rob’s thoughts.


 

Hey Y’all,

If you are thinking that the usual link to Abby’s Gentle and Quiet World took you to a strange place, don’t be alarmed. This is only a temporary phenomenon that will soon be replaced again by the quiet and wonderful musings of the beautiful soul that is Abby. Unfortunately, Abby made a poor decision; she invited me to take control of the airwaves for the day. Let the record state that she approached me, offering me a seat at the motherboard of one of the most wonderfully peaceful places on the internet. Initially, I declined the invitation. But she persisted and we all know how a persistent woman can get what she wants. Is that called preaching to the choir or saying it like it is?

Abby told me that she wanted a man’s perspective on blogging. I always welcome comments from a professional and Josh is the walking embodiment of a professional writer. But Josh likes to wear those little biker shorts while pedaling his mountain bike in the hills of Colorado. I know from experience that it is really tough to be a man while wearing spandex. That is what my friends said when they caught me walking down Bourbon Street, dressed in a fishnet shirt and biker shorts. My friend, Mercedes kept calling me “En Fuego.” I still don’t know what that means and this is a story that I probably should cut short.

My point is that I refused Abby’s request to write this article because I didn’t want to be responsible for leaving man smell in the boutique. She said that potpourri and candles work wonders. Then I asked what does an audience of respectable women want to hear? She said just to be myself and we all see where that took us. I asked what could possibly go wrong. She said that y’all would immediately know that my wife is a lady of honor, full of the Spirit, compassion, integrity and that you would bless her soul. Out of excuses and ideas, I took a double dose of testosterone, a cycle of steroids and a shot of Five Hour Energy before I summoned up the courage to say yes. Ladies, strap in tight and hold on because we are going behind the curtain.

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The topic is why do I blog? The easy answer would be because I have something to say. But that isn’t true. I don’t feel like I have to express myself to be happy and complete. In fact, I prefer to sit out of the spotlight and throw verbal rocks at those in the public eye. In times past, I served as an Air Force pilot. Returning from the Middle East, my wife and another lady were interviewed by the local news station while they waited for us to land. They agreed to allow the cameraman to follow them, record the reunion and then interview my friend and myself for the nightly news. When I stepped off the airplane, my wife ran up and gave me a huge hug and kiss. I didn’t mind that by the way. Out of the corner of my closed eyes, I felt the presence of a stranger.

I came unglued yelling at the cameraman and reporter. I told them that they were not allowed to film me and if they didn’t turn off the camera immediately I would break it. As I remember it, the words came out a in a hostile tone smothered with inappropriate language. I have embarrassed my wife before and since but the possibility of being filmed never entered my mind as the ideal start to the reunion. They did stop filming us and walked away. My friend and his wife had center stage for the one minute segment on the local news station. It turned out to be very cheesy, we all laughed later. The moral of this story is that I really don’t want to be on TV. I really don’t want to write for the local newspaper, I don’t want to be a blogger and I don’t want to be famous. I could be perfectly happy living a quiet life, staying in my little cocoon, raising my kids, working nights for my airline, watching TV during the day, doing fantasy football and never venturing out into the public arena.

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Why would anyone do something they don’t want to do? I am a seasoned veteran of life having lived out all seven of the deadly sins to their fullest extent. All I learned after twenty years of excess is that the allure of sin nearly turned me into a dead beat, ex-husband. Fortunately, my wife is a lady of extreme forgiveness and understanding. In the last ten years, I have tried to replace hate with love. It is a hard way to live and I am by no means a finished product. But I began to recognize that love is the path to true happiness. It is the path to forgiveness and to healing. When my life came crashing down, someone told me the secret. The Bible verse Matthew 22:37-40 held the key behind my future life and to my blogging/writing career. I urge you to read it for yourself, I interpret it to say; Love God with all you got and love every human on the planet the way you would like to be loved.

I don’t write for me, I write for others. If you read my blog you might think the main goal of my writing is to write stories about my life in the Middle East. But those stories are for my kids. They are too young to understand today but they should know about the guy that would become their dad. I occasionally write about the novel that I am working on. But the purpose of that novel is to honor the men and women who keep us safe and to serve as a fictional example of how we should deal with evil. That answer is with Love, by the way. I write for the local newspaper. But the articles I write tell the story of the local community in a way that honors and encourages us all. I write for The Magill Review but I write to bring a different perspective that goes much deeper than what we would find in any mainstream news publication. I accept invitations to do guest articles on friend’s sites. But that Abby invited me in and gave me the run of the place. Sometimes smart people do dumb things. Ha Ha!

I am still the same fun loving guy that is documented in the stories above. But now the lenses that I view the world are colored by love. Yes, I still like my music loud and inappropriate. Yes, I am prone to an off color comment in the wrong company. I do get a kick out of the look I get when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people. I don’t enjoy the elbow from my wife and her reminder that I am out of control. But I can’t help if people don’t get my extremely sarcastic, gallows worthy humor. I built a reputation and an aviation career on the fact that if you give me an inch, I will take a mile.

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I will leave you with this. When you come across the guy or gal who doesn’t quite fit in with what is going on in your world. Don’t be surprised if they throw out an unsuitable comment that hangs in the air like a floater in the punch bowl. Just redirect them like you would your five year old. But sometimes you can’t stop a guy like me because his mission to bring a shot of reality to your life. There is a chance that he is doing it because he likes rattling the cage or maybe he is doing it because he wants you to have a greater appreciation of your husband. In either case, never let him know he is irritating you because that is the best form of encouragement. Sometimes all you can do is accept him because even a knucklehead needs love and acceptance. And sometimes, your example can teach that knucklehead to love and accept others. We are all works in progress and when given a chance, that scoundrel might turn into someone that you can trust when life veers off the tracks and will surprise you with a wonderfully positive outlook when times are tough.

I want to thank Abby for the invite and access to all you wonderful folks. Once again she proves that she is a lady that walks the walk. At my heart, I am a writer of fiction. One of the stories I told is 100% true and the other is complete fiction created at 01:30 AM. Choose wisely.

On my site, I always sign off with this phrase: Until next time, keep on rockin. I truly hope there is a next time because I have enjoyed the trip behind the curtain. I hope you did too. Faith, Hope and Love to all.


I think Rob’s article was the most interesting of all my guest posts…if that’s the right word. 😉 Actually, I really enjoyed the fact that he took the more humorous point of view. Again, we see another take on blogging, and we get some good advice: Write for others. Josh said this same thing in his article. Notice the beauty of writing? Josh said it one way while Rob said it another, both made a good point. We are here to love and serve one another. Your blog should be no different even if the themes are as diverse as the guest posters I’ve featured this month. Thank you for reading. Next week I’ll answer the question as our last article on the issue.

Check out the other Guest Posts here:

Heather FitzGerald

Deanna Brown

Raelea Hiller

Josh Magill

 

 

 

Quote of the Weekend

“Contrary to popular opinion, faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  I know that’s how it’s often depicted by those within the so-called word-faith movement, and (for that matter) among countless other people.  They have sorely misrepresented the true nature of biblical faith.  Let me say it again: faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen.  So, what is it?  It’s the confidence that what God has promised will happen.” – A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille

(Faith is confidence in God and thus in the promises He makes.)

A Life of Faith instead of Sight: Mary

You told her she would have a king,

You sent an angel to inform her,

He declared the impossible birth, creating wonder.

An inspired Elizabeth gave witness to the miracle,

That You told her she would have a king.

You told her she would have a king:

And Joseph she almost lost,

Death at the worst, shame and pain at the best,

These became her future,

You told her she would have a king.

She holds you , her son, in her arms,

She studies your face,

But her faith is not sight,

She still lives by grace.

No castle, no gold, no glittering fabric,

No maids, no servants, no friends,

Just a barn on a dark night ,

You told her she would have a king…

But no king is seen…Where is her promised one?

She holds you, her son, in her arms,

She studies your face,

But her faith is not sight,

She still lives by grace.

You told her she would have a king,

And your mercy shown in the night,

Your mighty messengers came,

With a declaration of peace from the heavenly fight.

The shepherds came and told her she had a king!

And Mary treasured up these things,

Her faith made strong by grace,

She believed what she could not see,

That she had a king.

As her son, held so close in her arms,

Dies before her very eyes,

Mary holds to what she cannot see:

She has a risen King!

Mary:  a beautiful example of living life by faith and not by sight.

Inspired by Pastor Steve Garrick and Jarrett Downs during Ladies Bible Study.

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.”