Posted in Writing

Get Out of the Boat!

Recently, I was asked by our MOPS leader what is your life phrase for the New Year. I didn’t have to think about mine. For a while now, God has placed the same Bible story in front of me. Don’t you love it when the same passage comes up over and over? Maybe God doesn’t need to do that to you, but my Creator knows about my hard head and ADD.

The story is of Peter seeing Jesus walking on the water and asking to join Him. When Jesus grants permission, for a moment Peter feels what it’s like to walk on water. My phrase for the year of 2017 is “Get out of the boat.” God’s calling me to step out of my comfort zone.

 

Jay and I decided this summer we will move to the farm. It will definitely be a lifestyle change. You see, the farm has been a reprieve for us as a family, a get-away place to enjoy with Jay’s brother Shaun and his family, but soon it will become a new lifestyle.

This decision has come about after much prayer, contemplation, and confirmation. Last week, while cleaning the kitchen, I asked God to give me another sign that this is what He truly wanted. Earlier that morning, I signed up on a ministry’s website called Embrace Grace, and an hour later they sent me an email with a bloom word. My bloom word was “Adventure.” The email stated they had prayed over me and felt God had a word of encouragement for me today.  The attached verse was Judges 18:6 ESV, “And the priest said to them, ‘Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.”

Under the word Adventure it went on to say…

“New adventures with the Lord are often exciting and filled with a lot of unknown.

Your sense of calling is like an unfolding, epic adventure! Be encouraged that as an uncharted path is before you, God is with you. When we seek His wise counsel and draw close to Him, it is His voice that leads us. A journey that is directed by Him comes with His protection, oversight, and blessings. Pack your bags with only the items that He wants you to take. Leave your worries and past behind and step into your new adventure with courage knowing your heavenly Father is right beside you! Let the new adventure begin!” (Embrace Grace Bloom Word)

 

To top it off, it came with a print button, so you could print off your sign and hang it on the wall. God has a sense of humor. He sent me a literal sign an hour after I prayed for it. Although there are still lingering doubts, we’ve decided to jump off the gangplank and see what happens.

Life on the farm is in extreme opposition from the life in Orlando. For one, I will have to cook dinner every night. Although, I do it a few nights a week, cooking is not one of my creative talents. Can I get an “Amen” for Uber Eats?  There is no Uber Eats at the farm.…sigh. The nearest decent grocery store is a thirty-minute drive down dirt roads, across a one lane bridge, and into another city. We are in the sticks people!

For another inconvenience, my driving son will be in college, and I will have to drive my boys until November when my second born is able to get his license. In Orlando, if all the drivers are unavailable to pick up from Lacrosse practice or a theme park, we Uber our boys home. It’s as easy as entering an address into your cell phone. There’s no Uber at the farm…ugh!

In O Town, we have entertainment and fine dining around every corner. I am convinced, we are some of the most entertained and well-fed people in the USA. At the farm, there are ATV’s, animals, slow internet, and satellite television which goes out during a storm. In fact, if you goggle the area and ask for happening local events, you get a barbecue restaurant by the tracks and that’s a fifteen-minute drive…snore.

There is one sacrifice I am cringing about…my freedom. Here, I have sitters for Bella whom I trust, so I can go to the Barnes and Nobles down the street and put in a full writing day. The cafe is my office away from home. There are no babysitters or bookstores near the farm…boo hoo!

 

Although, my life will not have the comforts and luxuries of this one, I feel this life will help us grow. It is good to step out of your comfort zone on occasion. In the following weeks, I will write about the pros and cons of this change, my fears, and the steps we are taking with the boys for a smooth transition. Eventually, The Writer’s Roost will become the story of a spoiled Orlando Momma who moves deep into the sticks and what that life looks like. You will follow me as I start over, learning my way in a new town and meeting new people, and as always when I’m at the farm, God will provide the inspiration. This Momma will bravely step off her perfectly manicured lawn, and onto the sea of manure. So slip on your muck boots and come along! Watch out for that runaway bull!

If you’ve ever felt the need for a change, or if you’ve experienced a lifestyle switch-a-roo such as this, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Christian, Writing

Seeds of Love…Seeds that Change

 

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“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” Mother Teresa

            We’ve been supporting Abilaisha through Compassion International since she was wee thing, now she’s fifteen. What happens to a ripe, innocent girl in India when Christian funding is forced out? Those that sleep on the concrete, untouchable floor of the Caste system are often sold, used, and abused. I didn’t get to say goodbye to a girl who called me Momma in her letters. Abilaisha was abandoned.

Compassion International has been serving the poor children of India for 48 years through an American sponsorship program. According to Guardian, since the election of Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who ran on a promise to rid the country of corruption and to promote Hinduism as the National religion, twenty-five, foreign-funded charities have been forced out. There is a fear by Modi and the BJP, India will lose its Hindu culture, and Compassion International is setting out to convert Hindus to Christianity. Compassion President and CEO Jimmy Mellado denies this accusation, for Compassion International has only worked with already established Christian churches to help them feed, clothe, and educate their needy. Undoubtedly, this shut down is allowing India’s Christian impoverished to slip through the geysers created by its political climate.

According to Open Doors an organization that raises awareness of Christian persecution around the world, since Modi’s election there is also a rise of Christian persecution in India.  Churches are being burned, pastors beaten, and out of the 64 million Christians, approximately 39 million have reported suffering direct persecution.

What will happen to my Christian daughter Abilaisha?

One ordinary day, I was complaining about laundry and dishes and boys dirty socks scattered about, when a letter arrived. I recognized Abilaisha’s foreign script and turned over for the translator’s version. Inside, I read the words carefully printed in pencil.

A typhoon hit her village, wiped out everything. Both her parents had Typhoid Fever and she was caring for them in a small tent. Then, as if nothing in her world was falling apart, she asked about me and told me she prays blessings on me every single day. Me, her spoiled American Momma. No complaining or pity party splattered her page. You see, she’s used to this life, used to the struggle, the hunger, the fraying of her hem, the holes in her shoes, but being used to it doesn’t make it okay.

I tracked down her village on goggle, tons of trees doted with small dwellings. I thought it would make me feel closer, but as I stalked her like a hawk from above, it had the opposite effect. She’s there, somewhere in a tiny hut, and I’m here in a palace. Our worlds lie far apart and I am humbled by my blessings and helplessness.

I stressed my concern to Prem my Indian sister-in-law with indignation, “Why doesn’t India do something to help their poor?”

“Honestly Tammy, the problem is so big. There is so much corruption and so many poor,” She shrugged, “where would you even start?”

I suppose the disciple Thomas felt that way. He was naturally a doubter, wanting to place his fingers in the holes of Christ’s hands to believe His resurrection. When Thomas reached the vast land of India, I imagine he felt a bit overwhelmed. Eventually, he died there, speared in a village like Abilaisha’s, but not before converting many for the gospel. If he hadn’t started Abilaisha may never have received the good news of a God who loves her unconditionally.

Heres where I find my starting point, planting seeds of love.

Although, she’ll probably never read this, this is my love letter for a little Indian girl named Abilaisha, which I’ve lost to a government that doesn’t want me to help her. I ask everyone who reads this to pray for Abilaisha and all the Indian children,  for their safety, their needs to be met, and their unfaltering faith. We have to start somewhere.

 

Note: In order to protect Abilaisha, her last name and village has not been included in this post.

There is a great need for the sponsorship of children around the world. If you would like to become a spiritual momma or daddy to those less fortunate, please consider sponsoring a child by contacting www.compassioninternational.com.

For more information on Christian persecution: www.opendoors.org

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

The Grace of Surrender

John 14:6 NIV: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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When I returned from making a phone call, she was sitting on the kitchen table getting freaky with it. Bella squeezed out an entire tube of expensive orange paint onto her paper and was splashing around.

“Bella, that’s naughty! No No!” I said. “This is Mommy’s and you wasted it.”                                 She looked up with those large brown eyes. “I’m sorry Momma.”

“Okay, but don’t ever do this again.”

“Good mornin Momma…” No matter what time of day, if Bella thinks she’s in trouble she’ll say “good morning.”  It is her way of making sure we are okay.

I smiled. “Good morning.”

Then it happened. She slipped down from the table and ran off, leaving me wondering how does she do that? How did she accept grace so easily? I think Jesus liked that about children. How they believed in His forgiveness and humbly accepted His gift of grace without any qualms.

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 NIV.

We could all learn from Bella how to accept grace. Why is it so difficult for adults?

 

Last weekend, we drove up to the farm. When we arrived, we found a bird flying around our family room. From experience, I knew if we turned out the lights, a bird will fly towards the light. We made the house completely dark and flipped on the porch lights to test my theory, but the bird wouldn’t budge. Eventually, we gave up, and decided we’d try again in the morning.

The next morning, the bird left its signature on my perfect white walls. You know the white that isn’t too yellow or too blue just perfect? Now my eyes can’t see perfect, I only see poo.

In the kitchen, Jay was making coffee. I walked in and grabbed a cup. “We have to get rid of this bird this morning, or I’m going to have to repaint the walls,” I said. “Don’t turn on the lights. It’ll confuse him.”

When the sun peeked over the trees, we opened the front doors. The bird fluttered around a bit, before flying straight through those doors into freedom. The bird accepted grace. The night before, the bird didn’t hear the call of its peeps, and it recognized the porch lights were artificial. Ya can’t fool a bird.

It is the same process when we accept the saving grace. We must feel the call of the Holy Spirit, acknowledge the true Light, and accept the freedom it offers. It seems so easy, then why do we struggle? A friend explained it this way. “It’s not that believing Jesus is difficult” she said. “as much as the path to salvation is too narrow for most.” I think she meant, we like to carry things: our plans, our mistakes, our sins we’re not willing to give up, our hurts, our good deeds, our culture, our own belief system, and most of all our control, all of which, are burdensome. I find with my arms and heart full of mine, there’s no room for His. You must release that burden in order to fly through the narrow passage into the light of grace.

Matthew 7:13-14: 13 NIV:  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

There is only one way to the grace that provides life eternal and true peace, and that is through Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Grace Under Bella

 

 

“But behind all your stories is your mother’s story, for hers is where yours begins.”

— Mitch Albom, For One More Day

 

 

Some days I want to curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb. Isabella is turning out to be quite a handful of stubborn will and steel backbone.

“She comes by it honestly.” Momma said yesterday on the phone. “You’ve just described all the women in our family, and her paternal grandmother too.”

I just didn’t think I’d be raising one…but I am.

Bella is in the throws of it… those good ole two’s, and I am praying daily she will come out of it before this Momma starts catching invisible flies in a paddy wagon. To be honest, there are days I am raging mad. You see, I’ve packed away my dreams again to raise another child, and one that lately bucks me over everything. I am ashamed to admit my selfishness. I love her with every part of my being, but I was rambling down freedom road. Wait freedom? What is that? Frankly, I don’t know, but it was on the horizon waiting to be discovered. I’ve only experienced a few years without children at home, within those years, I wrote a “slush pile”novel, took care of my sister while undergoing chemo, and for another I was pregnant. Forgive me if this sounds like complaining, I’ve come to believe God doesn’t like to see me get bored.

I admit my fuse has been short. It is a battle between my imposing will and her standing her ground. Somedays, we are like the bulls at the farm, locking horns. There are nights Jay comes home and thinks his wife has gone cray-cray. “She’s just a toddler.” he’d said one evening. Steam poured from my nostrils. (All you men out there, never say this to your wife.) I am envious of him. He’s out the door using his mind building things, having lunch, and adult conversation. When he returns, he gets the good Bella. The nighttime cuddles, books, and tired kisses. She’s an angel, laughing in his lap and charming him with her lashes. I want to know where was that child all day long? Meanwhile, I get the tantrums, “the two more minutes,” the naked girl running around the coffee table, the broken lipsticks, and lotion smeared on everything. I won’t even go into our potty training…which is not going well.  Did I mention I am in my upper forty’s? So, yeah there’s the age thing.

I know your thinking there’s nap time. A frantic rush to get the laundry, dishes, dinner prepped, and floors done. Just one more thing, I tell myself before I allow writing time, but there’s always one more thing isn’t there?

This past weekend at the farm, my sister-in-law, Prem and I found a little black calf outside the electrical fence, along the trail. I parked the ATV and jumped out thinking the babe was dead, but as I approached, it raised its head weakly. We put in the call for help. While waiting for the farm manager to arrive we lowered our daughters from the ATV, so they could see the calf up close. Its large sad eyes looked up at us. He still had an umbilical cord attached, and I knew he was dehydrated. He was helpless and alone, with its mother no where in sight.

Sniper, our farm manager arrived, and he carried the calf down to where majority of the herd was grazing. He placed the calf inside the fence, but a watery ditch separated the calf from the pasture. The calf stood alone.

“Where’s the mother?” I said. “What if she’s not in this herd?”

“She’ll find him eventually.” Sniper said unconcerned. He jumped into his ATV and drove away. While we waited and watched.

The calf’s legs wobbled as he attempted to cross the ditch, but fear kept him from doing it. Finally, he mooed out a cry for help. The sound carried across the pasture and one head popped up from the grass.

“There she is.” I pointed to the far end.  Immediately, she made her way towards him and tried to get him to jump the ditch, but he still refused. Finally, she jumped the ditch and met him where he was. It is something I will never forget, and it was undoubtedly something God wanted me to see. The Momma cow extended grace to her calf. She didn’t insist on her way. She met him where he was.

A mother’s love is full of grace that can mold steel wills into masterpieces. Somewhere drowning in Bella’s toddlerhood I’ve forgotten that.

One afternoon, I admitted to Prem how difficult it’s been. The sun brought fire to her black hair as she leaned on the kitchen counter.

“I’m going to remind you of something you told me not long ago,” she said.

“What?”

“Love them through it,” she said. “Fill up their love tank. This season won’t last forever.”

“I said that?”

“Yep.”

 

Stay tuned for Part II next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome!

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Welcome to the Roost!

Plop in a comfy chair and grab a cup of coffee, while I tell you a story. I hope to entertain, inspire, and point you towards our Heavenly Father. I like to connect with my readers, to know who you are and where you’re from. Feel free to drop me a line from time to time. It can get lonely out here on the farm.