Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stepping Onto the Next Level

As 2012 leaves us… or maybe, as we leave 2012 behind and embrace 2013, God has brought me to a crossroads of sorts. Maybe He has brought you to one as well. My particular crossroads is, in all actuality... a staircase. There really isn’t a “take this road or this one” kind of situation for me. The path I’m on stays basically the same, but there is another level that I have to get to. And 2013 is time for me to climb. So, I can either stay at the foot of the staircase and meander here at the bottom throughout 2013, or I can begin my climb to the next level, where the Lord is trying to get me to come to.

Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? What exactly does that mean? What IS “the next level” anyway? I have NO idea! I won’t know until I climb the stairs. But here’s the situation: it is MY decision on whether I climb to the next level or not. The fact of the matter is, if I stay where I am, I will still be where God has led me, but I WON’T ever advance. If I climb the stairs to the next level, “great and mighty things which [I] do not know” await me (Jeremiah 33:3). Now, that’s where it gets exciting to me. For once in my life, I’m not scared. I am truly excited! I don’t know what’s at the top of the stairs, but I absolutely know that God is standing just behind me with His hand on my back, steering me towards those stairs.

And here is yet another twist in this journey: the closer I get to the stairs, the more slippery, bumpy, and gnarly the path is getting. I have slipped up. I have tripped. I have caught myself on many things I should not have said, thought, or done. I have felt awful for messing up and wondered where exactly I “lost” my “oomph!” Because back in May, when God shook me up and gave me a new path to follow, I was “gung-ho” about where I was going. But you want to know something? I am human, not perfect. If I didn’t have mistakes, I wouldn’t learn anything. And because I am still learning…I am still growing…and the last time I tripped, I bumped right into God! Then I realized that not only did I know that God wanted to move me to the next level, but so did the enemy…and he doesn’t like it one little bit!

The thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. 
~John 10:10(a)

So, as I showered getting ready for church on Sunday morning, I said a quick prayer asking God to forgive me, and to speak through the pastor and give me a message. Going to church expecting God to show up…don’t you know that He DOES! My slipping, tripping, and bumping the last few steps to the staircase took me right to the base of the stairs. The message God gave me was, “Take the first step. Trust Me.” Well... Okie doke!

In 2013, my life is going to change drastically. I don’t know exactly what I will be doing, but I am confident that it will be a deeper step into this ministry He has called me into. Once I got over and through the intimidation and oppression I suffered for years. Once I got over trying to “read between the lines” every intimidating person was hinting at around me. Once I realized that my life was not determined by what others think of me, but by what God wants of me… I’m now ready to take the steps to the next level.

I am going into a “Sold Out Believer” mode of my walk with God. I will no longer be tolerant of anything less than that. However, that does not mean that I won’t like certain people, places, or things. It just means that, for me, I won’t be subjecting myself to things that do not bring glory to Him. Nor will I subject myself to people or things that will tempt me to slip up… to the best of my ability. I won’t be perfect, nor do I expect to be. But it is the fact that I have set my mind to TRY. And that is all that God is really after. My desire to at least strive for what He wants me to do. In that, I believe I will succeed.

As I say good-bye to 2012, I can truly say that God brought me through it and is now leading me to a new level in 2013. What’s in store? I don’t know. But whatever it is, it will be exciting! I hope you’ll join me to find out! And my prayer is this: 

May God richly bless you and guide you through the New Year and beyond. May you seek Him and find Him, and may He totally rock YOUR world!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

A few weeks ago, I was tagged in a sort of "bloggers chain letter" so-to-speak, by a friend of mine, Lisa Lickel (Lisa is an Author, Executive Editor, Freelance Editor, Book Reviewer, Interviewer, and Mentor). Of course I dropped the ball, but I'm picking it back up and here it is! This is "The Next Big Thing" for me... I'm writing a book about the motorcycle ministry my husband and I do. It is in the works as of right now. But the term " in the works" is something that this writer knows is a loose term. Below are some questions and answers about what I'm working on...

What is the working title of your book?
     Two Wheels Toward Heaven: The Adventures of a Motorcycle Ministry

Where did the idea come from for the book?
     I was taking a class with my daughter on "How To Write A Book," which taught us how to blueprint our book idea, then start writing it. We had to come up with a working title for the book. Since I was going to be writing about our journeys with our motorcycle ministry, my daughter suggested the title, "Two Wheels Toward Heaven." Then she added, “The Adventures of a Motorcycle Ministry.”

What genre does your book fall under?
     Christian Non-fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
     If there was ever a movie rendition of what I'm writing, I'm not sure who I would choose to play our characters. That would have to take a lot of thought. However, Sam Elliot comes to mind for at least one character (don’t ask me why). But that’s as far as I have ever got with that idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
     The one-year adventures of a motorcycle ministry couple, with a very unique conversation starter.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
     More than likely, my book will be self-published, as I don’t have an agent, editor, or a publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
     First draft? It's been several months and I'm still working on it!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
     Not sure. I really don’t know of anyone else who does what we are doing. In other words, I really haven’t researched it. Probably due to the fact that pulling a casket behind a Harley is a rare thing. Especially for what we are doing it for.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
     I was thinking about the number of miles we traveled in one year and the many people we met along the way, and I thought wow...I could write a book about that! Not to mention some of the people we talked to and the things they have said, were things that were sometimes even hard for us to believe. And we heard them firsthand!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
     The fact that we pull a full-size casket behind us makes it interesting all by itself. But the number of miles we traveled in one year, the different people we met and talked to, and the places we got to see would make it interesting for anyone, I think. Plus the trials we have been through with it and the fact that it is a ministry. Add to that the reason we began pulling a casket behind a Harley in the first place is something every person we have met wants to know. The answer is in this book.


You can visit our website to see more about our motorcycle ministry. You can also visit Lisa's website to check out some of the books she has written and some of the stuff she does as well.

Where 2? Ministry

Lisa Lickel

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trust Issues

I've been broken and bruised both mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And while I talk about it here on this website, I don't do it to rehash the things I've been through, but to extend hope and healing to those of you who suffer the same things. You see, though I've been broken, I've been healed. From the inside out, I have been healed. And while some of those scars still remain in the healing process, the worst of it is gone. Yes, God healed me. Yet, being the human that I am, I remember. I remember because that's how humans are. We remember. But the difference between me and the next girl or guy is this: I'm using what I remember to bring glory to God. I'm using what I remember to help someone else who is stuck in the rut of oppression.

It's not easy being the recipient of yelling, screaming, or verbal, mental, or physical abuse. It's not easy to get over, either. But the GOOD NEWS about it all is that, while God knows every single event of your life; while He knows every single tear you have shed, He also knows the way out and will use every negative thing in your life to make something good out of it.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28 (HCSB)

You may be stuck in that rut today. May I encourage you? You won't be there for long. It might seem like a lifetime to you, but trust me, it is but a moment to God. He is working something wonderful for you. It is up to you to hang in there and trust Him. It sure helps if you cry out to Him. He is there, listening, watching, waiting.

Many years ago, I was at a Youth Camp with my oldest daughter. One day, as the adults went out for their activities, we were blindfolded, then put into a line holding hands. There were about thirty of us. Then we were directed to walk through the woods, blindfolded, following the sound of the voice of the "Leader." We did as we were told and before long we came to a rope stretched across the trees. We were then told to find our way out of the woods. Following the rope, we walked, still blindfolded. But just as we thought we were to the end, we ran into other people, also blindfolded. We were at an impasse. What to do? It didn't take long before we discovered that there was another rope away from our designated rope. But we were instructed to stay together. We couldn't leave anyone. We worked and worked and before long, we found our way out and were told to remove our blindfolds. What did we learn? How to work together. But here's the real moral of the story: In order to get out of our dilemma, all we had to do was ASK. If we had only called out to our leader, she would have come, taken us by the hand, and got us out of our mess. Uh-oh.

It's the same way with God. When we are in a mess, all we have to do is ASK. Call out to Him and He is there, ready to help us out of any and every situation we are in. The only problem is that we never think to ask. We are such a "Do-It-Yourself" bunch of people, that we think we can get ourselves out of our own messes. "You got yourself into that mess. Get yourself out!" is what we've grown up hearing. But it is such a LIE! Directly from the father of lies, the devil. And the sad thing is...we LISTEN!

When he [the devil] tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. ~John 8:44b (HCSB) (brackets mine)

How do you think God feels when He watches us, His children, floundering around in our own pig sty of a mess, wishing we would only cry out to Him? You think He keeps us in the mess and doesn't come for help? He does His timing. We may think He's left us to our own devices when in all actuality, He is teaching us a lesson. The lesson? It is different for each of us, but yet the same. The outcome may involve many different aspects, but one of them remains the same for us all. Trust in Him. Trust! Do we trust Him? We should.

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me? ~Psalm 56:3-4

There are many things going on in the world today. Many people running this way and that, trying to figure out the meaning of life. Many people trying to figure out the wheres and whys of the things going on the the world. But if we would all just stop, and simply cry out to our Leader for help, He will! Oh yes, it's as simple as that. Just cry out to Him!

The best Christmas present you could ever receive is the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. But He won't force Himself on anyone. You have to come to Him and ASK. I was in a bind for many, many years. I had no earthly idea that my issues could be resolved just by asking. I knew salvation. I knew prayer. I even knew to pray for others. But the deep-down-break-your-heart-I-have-lived-with-this-all-my-life issues, I did not know He would remove. Until one night when someone else called it out for me. That's when I knew. That's when He came. That's when I was healed.

Make this Christmas one of new beginnings. You won't regret it one bit.  Trust the Lord with everything you have. And I can tell you, it's the most wonderful experience you will ever have. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slippin' 'n Slidin'

I've been slippin' 'n slidin' lately. Nope... there has not been one bit of ice or snow near or around me. I've just slipped a bit. I don't suppose anyone else has slipped? You have? Welcome to the club! It happens. Want to know a secret? God isn't the least surprised, either!

One thing I've learned about slippin' up, is that it is easier to get back on track than what we make ourselves believe. Oh yeah, it is! You see, always before when I messed up, I found myself running even farther away from God. Why? Because I thought He would be so mad at me that I would be extremely punished for messing up. I thought I would have to "do" tons of make-up work to gain His love, understanding, and trust once again. Oh, how WRONG I was!

God doesn't have a "To-Do" list that He brings out when we finally come to Him, head down, tail between our legs, sniffling and whining, begging for forgiveness. It's not like He says, "Alrighty then, you did what? Oh, THAT! Okay, let's take a look at what the penalty is and what you'll have to DO to make up for it." Uh... no. There is no "To-Do" list. The only thing we are asked to do is ASK. Once we do that, He forgives.

Don't believe me? It says so right here, out of my Bible: 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:9

Let me tell you something; God is NOT surprised by anything you have done or anything that has happened to you. You CAN go to Him. He is the only One who understands, who will accept you, and never ask you questions. He will take you AS IS. Trust me.

In light of the things that have been happening around us, in Connecticut, in the movie theater, at the grocery store, wherever...our country is in a Slippin' 'n Slidin' state. But the GOOD NEWS about it is this: God wants to restore our land...but there's a few things we need to know first...

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land. ~2 Chronicles 7:14

We want America to change? If we'll humble ourselves, pray, and seek God's face...and turn from our wicked ways...THEN He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. We can't go to God for forgiveness if we aren't humble. You don't stand in front of someone and in a condescending attitude say, "Okay, I'm sorry!" No. You walk up, take a deep breath, and in a soft spoken voice, with a sincere heart, apologize. It's the same with God. He's here. He's waiting. Our slippin' 'n slidin' can stop any time. He's ready to catch us and turn us 
"Upside Right" (as my pastor says).

The night I went to Him with years of pent-up mental and emotional scars that no one knew about, He knew. He took care of them even when I didn't even know HOW to ask Him to. But He knew why I was there. And here's the really cool part... I knew I needed healing, but I didn't know from what. I just knew that something needed to change. God knew. I was willing. I was ready. And I asked for healing and forgiveness. God took care of the rest. 

Instead of slippin' 'n slidin' ourselves right into more trouble, how about if we slip 'n slide ourselves back into the arms of God...where we should be in the first place.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Whoa! Which Road Are You On?

I was trying to find my way not long ago. I was supposed to bring some supplies to my husband and son at a house they were working on. Since they are contractors, they often need something extra, or something that didn't get picked up for the last delivery. That happened this particular day.

DA called me and gave me directions. They were clear...until I got to "the fork in the road." By the time I had run to the lumber yard, picked up the item that they needed, chatted with the guys in the store, then drove the few miles to the road I was supposed to take, I had forgotten whether or not I was supposed to go right or left at the fork. I was pretty sure I was supposed to go left, and I did... the road became gravel, then became more narrow, and then I realized I was NOT "in Kansas anymore, Toto." Because there was another fork in the road, and a driveway...oops, left went into a driveway, too. Back up...take out the cell bars...great...try anyway. As DA answered his phone, I explained that I thought I was lost, because there were TWO forks in the road.

"Did you turn at the sign on the tree that said, "Whoa!"?"
"No, you didn't tell me THAT."
"Honk your horn." ... I honked... "Oh, you're here. Turn at the "Whoa!" sign." And he hung up!

Fantastic. I was there and didn't know it! I turned onto the road with the "Whoa!" sign. As I came around the bend, there stood my son on the roof of the house, waving. Gee whiz, I was there the whole time and thought I was lost. I gave DA his item and said, "I had NO idea all this was back here!" I have lived in the same area all my life, and the road I was on was a complete surprise to me.

As I was leaving, I realized that many times we take the road everyone else is on, never knowing that a whole other world of beauty is out there, if we had only taken the "road less traveled."

"Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." ~Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus teaches that in order to get to Him, we have to take the narrow path. The gate that not many are entering through. In today's society, following the "norm" is what's popular. If we don't, we are generally shunned. Not only by the general public, but often by our own Christian brothers and sisters. Because many have forgotten that being a true follower of Christ means being a sold-out believer. And well, for some that's just too big of a commitment.

So which road are you on? Are you standing at the gate wondering which way to turn? I wish there was a sign that said "Whoa!" letting us know that this is NOT the right road to take. But there's not. Instead, we have the words of Jesus in Matthew 7. Will you take the narrow gate...or will you follow everyone else?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Stop Watching the Rear View Mirror

Have you ever had "Rear View Mirror Syndrome?" Don't know what that is? I guess it could be confused with "Rubber-Necking." But not exactly. I just made it up.

Rear View Mirror Syndrome, in my book, is looking back as you're moving forward. Of course, if you're constantly looking in the rear view mirror, you won't see where you're going and you might miss something in front of you. In fact, you might miss a LOT of things. You could even wind up crashing into something if you aren't careful. Then again, you may just end up crashing altogether.

I had this problem of watching my rear view mirror. I was always looking back on what I could have done better, what I should have done better, how I could have, should have, and didn't avoid mishaps in my life. I had a lot of regrets. But the difference now than then is that I have learned to get over Rear View Mirror Syndrome.

 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead... ~Philippians 3:13

It's that whole "Forgiveness" thing. We know that God forgives us. But what we fail to recognize is that when he forgives, he forgets! But the saddest thing yet is that WE don't forgive OR forget. We maintain that Rear View Mirror Syndrome. Not only with ourselves, but with others.

The saddest thing for me to see are those who simply will not let anything go. They continue looking in the Rear View Mirror of life, watching reruns of things long gone, things they refuse to let go of. What's more, looking in the rear view mirror doesn't give you a true picture. Because everything in the rear view mirror is backwards, obscure, and tend to get a bit foggy. And most people neglect to read the writing on the mirror before looking: "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." Maybe that's why we crash while watching.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ~Hebrews 12:15

I know people who have Rear View Mirror Syndrome. They constantly bring up things of the past. In so doing, they cause a lot of arguments and hurts while dredging up things better left alone. Because each time it's dredged up, it is distorted more and more until it no longer looks like it did when it happened twenty years ago.

But you, man of God, flee from all of this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. ~1 Timothy 6:11

Forgiveness. The best remedy for Rear View Mirror Syndrome. As the Christmas holiday approaches, maybe this is the year to lay to rest your RMS.... and 
"press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [you] heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:14 (changes in brackets, mine)

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