Sunday, March 1, 2015

The ending is sure

“These words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 22:6 NIV
My friend George Caylor and his wife, JoAnne, once met the late actor Charlton Heston when he visited Lynchburg, Va., where they live. Now George is not one to pass up an opportunity to meet someone like Heston, whose career included lead roles in such movies as The Ten Commandments, El Cid, and Ben Hur, for which he won an Academy Award in 1959.
Heston regaled them with the story of filming the famous chariot race in Ben Hur. Refusing to use a double for the scene, the actor had practiced for months. He was trying desperately to win the race when Director William Wyler drew him aside.
“Chuck,” he said, “the plot has been written! You win! Just stay on the chariot!”
What a reminder for believers!
We, too, often feel as though we’re running a desperate race—and losing.
Jostled about, thrown from side to side, bouncing every which way, we try to stay on our feet and maintain control. We take our eyes off the finish line to see what the enemy is up to.
And we do have an enemy—an unseen adversary who does whatever he can to trip us up, sidetrack us, get us to doubt our faith. If we abandon that faith, he’s won.
Have no doubt: This enemy is real, and he means business.
“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood,” Paul wrote the Ephesian believers, “but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world” (Ephesians 6:12 LB).
Indeed, our adversary prowls around like an insatiable lion, looking for his next meal (2 Peter 5:8). One of his favorite strategies is to get you to take your eyes off the finish line and look in the rearview mirror—at your past. Your sin. Your guilt. Your shame. “How could God ever forgive me for what I’ve done?” you wonder.
Don’t fall for that trick. Your sin, guilt, and shame have been washed away forever by the blood of Jesus. As the saying goes, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”
The race may be fierce, but the outcome is certain: You win; the devil loses (Revelation 20:10). If you’re a believer in Jesus (see 1 John 5:11-12), your victory was sealed over 2,000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem by none other than God’s own Son.
So if you’re being tossed about in this race called life and it seems as though you’re losing, remember: The plot has already been written! The ending is sure! You win!
All you have to do is stay on the chariot.
When doubt steps up in my life chariot and I try to take over the reins, remind me, Lord, that You are in control. My victory is certain, for You won it for me on Calvary. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. Amen.

More tea: Read Revelation 19-22

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When in deep water ...

Punxsutawney Area Middle School swimming pool, where I'm learning to swim

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. – Isaiah 43:2 NIV
The first couple of times I jumped off the low diving board at the local swimming pool, I landed on the sloped side near the ladder, so I didn’t think it was a problem that I couldn’t swim.
A teenage girl wants to do the things her friends are doing, right? And I was tired of playing it safe in the shallow water while everyone else was having a blast in the deep end of the pool. Back then I didn’t even know how to tread water. The only thing I knew how to do was the dead man’s float.
“How hard could it be?” I thought as I watched the others splashing off the diving board that long ago summer day. All I had to do was hop off the side so I landed on the slope near the ladder. So I swallowed my trepidation and took my place in line.
My strategy worked twice. The third time, however, I plunged into waters above my head.
I don’t remember how many times I bobbed to the surface, panicked and thrashing, my short life passing before my closed eyes. Then strong arms pulled me to safety. As I sat on the concrete beside the crowded pool, gasping and trembling, a lifelong fear was born.
For five decades, deep water terrified me. My kids all learned to swim, no thanks to me. When we went swimming, I stayed in the shallow water. When we went boating, I made sure I had a life vest strapped on tight.
Then my son and daughter-in-law bought an above-ground pool. Hot summer days found me cooling off in sun-warmed water that only came up to my neck. I learned to tread water and to propel myself beneath the surface. I practiced floating and splashed from one side of the pool to the other. As long as I could touch bottom (and my head was above the water), I was fine.
Maybe this long, cold winter made me stir crazy, but earlier this month I bought a pass for the indoor pool at the local middle school and began swimming lessons. By December, I told myself, I’d swim from one end of the pool to the other.
Last week, at the end of my second lesson, I met that goal, swimming on my back, my instructor beside me every stroke of the way.
“You’re doing fine,” she’d say. “Just a little farther.”
And so I kept going—swimming in 12 feet of water—something I didn’t think I’d do for a long time. But I couldn’t have done it without my instructor there beside me, encouraging me, giving me confidence with her presence.
It’s the same way with my swim through life.
When I must navigate deep waters, I’m not alone. My Instructor is beside me, encouraging me, ready to pull me out should I go under. His presence gives me the confidence I need to push on, just a little farther, stroke by stroke, until I finally reach the other side.
Thank you, Father God, that You never leave me or forsake me—even when I get in over my head. Amen.

More tea: Read Isaiah 43:1–7

Friday, February 20, 2015

Website moved

Dear readers,

As part of my annual project of streamlining and improving my online presence, I've MOVED MY WEBSITE to WordPress: Click here to come over and visit 

You'll find all the information on the new site that was on the old one, but in a less cluttered, less busy, and more user-friendly set-up. 

My SPEAKING page contains a list of my speaking topics, and you'll find a list of upcoming events where I'll be speaking and teaching in the sidebar on every page. There's also a CONTACT FORM on the SPEAKING page should you want to contact me about speaking at your event. 

Clicking on the BOOKS tab will take you directly to my Amazon author page, where you can browse my titles and order what you want to read next (or give as a gift). 

You can also purchase my books which have been published by Helping Hands Press on the HHP online store. The audio version of Fifth Wheel Vol. 1, "Gracie's Gift," is available only through HHP. To download a FREE SAMPLE  of the audio version of "Gracie's Gift," click here. I still have to put this information on the new site. As I said, it's a Work In Progress. 

Also to be added yet is a section "About Me," but, hey, if you've been reading this blog or my newspaper column (God, Me & a Cup of Tea) or any of my meditation books, you already know all about me! Hopefully "About Me" will be added by early next week.

I still haven't decided where to put the NEWS section: on the home page at the bottom or make a separate page? What do you think? I value your feedback, so please do leave your opinion in the comment section of this blog or send me a comment using the CONTACT form on the webpage.

Speaking of news, if you haven't already signed up for my NEWSLETTER, which you'll receive right in your email inbox, please do. Click here to sign up to receive MEMO FROM MICHELE as soon as it's hot off the press. I won't share your information, and you can opt out at any time. 

Speaking of which . . . if you've signed up to receive the newsletter and haven't gotten any since the first one was released back in November and you're wondering why . . . I simply dropped the ball. I'd hoped to put a newsletter out bi-monthly, but it looks more like it will be quarterly (every three months). Look to receive the next edition at the beginning of March.

And finally,  I want to THANK YOU, dear readers, for all your support, encouragement, prayers, and faithfulness. I look forward to hearing from you and staying connected. And I pray that the words that I write and speak will be to you a cup of inspiration, a spoonful of encouragement, and a generous outpouring of the milk of God's love. 



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dean's jungle

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38–39 NIV
I call it “Dean’s Jungle”—the potted plant my husband lugged up from his mother’s house after she passed away.

That was in 1999. You’d think, with my track record with plants, the thing would be long wilted. But no, it’s green and growing and ugly (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, remember).

Even after having once been cut back to its roots, it stands over 5 feet high and is just as wide, its thick branches spreading out like an unruly child - branches that produce waxy, jungle-like leaves that spit wax because everything within a foot of it eventually acquires a waxy coating that’s a bugger to clean off.
During the summer months, Dean’s Jungle soaks in the sunshine on the back deck in a corner where I can’t see it, but where it gets plenty of wind, which, when strong enough, blows it over, spewing potting soil that you-know-who has to sweep up (not DH, and it’s his plant).
When fall comes around, it’s time to bring the monstrosity indoors. Last winter, my daughter-in-law kept it at their place since I didn’t have the room. So I claimed. Truth be told, I just didn’t want to make room for that dreadful thing. But, knowing what it means to my husband, I couldn’t bring myself to leave it outside once the nights brought killing frosts.
When spring arrived, guess what else did? And here I’d hoped the plant would grow on its adopted family. But no. Back on the deck Dean’s Jungle went to endure another windy summer. But come fall my daughter-in-law said she didn’t have room for it. She probably didn’t. Despite being blown over and alternately drowned and dried, the thing had grown up and out.
Fortunately for DH and unfortunately for me, we had the room downstairs since I’d given away my piano. Dean drove two 5-foot wooden stakes into the pot and tied the branches to them. At first the plant rebelled, dropping leaves like a mangy mutt during shedding season. Dean feared the plant was dying. I hoped it was.
But, alas, it was just preparing for another growth spurt. Now it thrives in the light streaming in from the southwestern window. Despite the fact that Dean forgets to water it and I purposely don’t. It just reaches for the sunlight and survives.
Dean’s Jungle is a living example of the kind of love Paul describes in1 Corinthians 13—a love that perseveres even when neglected. A steadfast love that never gives up, never fades, never wilts. A love that is everlasting.
The kind of love God has for us.
Father, forgive me when I take Your love for granted—when I ignore it, reject it, treat it as though it was something I deserve, something I’m entitled to. Remind me Your love is a gift I don’t even have to ask for. It’s there for the taking. Help me to love others as You love me. Amen.

More tea: Read Romans 8:31–39