3-Day Quote Challenge, #1

I was nominated for the 3-Day Quote Challenge by two great bloggers—thank you for that guys! One is Stu at https://stubaby777.wordpress.com and the other is Stefan at https://thefourthdimensionoflife.wordpress.com. Please take a peek at their blogs (you know you want to!😉).

The rules are as follows:

Thank the person who nominated you.
Post a quote for 3 days, and explain why it appeals to you.
Nominate bloggers each day!

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 9.08.02 AM

This quote is from a book by Dr. Stephen R. Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.   (I’m not affiliated with Amazon, so I don’t get a kick back if you click on the link)

In his book, he talks about the four main ways we communicate—reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We are taught the first three from early on, but we get very little training in how to listen.

Dr. Covey stresses empathic listening as being a key ingredient of good communication. Empathic listening is where you seek to understand where the other person is coming from, what their perception of the situation is, what perspective they’re seeing it from, where their heart is on it. 

Solid relationships are built on good communication and poor communication can easily destroy a relationship.

Our Lord values relationships. We were created to be in relationship with Him. He wants us to talk to Him, but He also wants us to listen to Him, and to “hear” where He’s coming from, to understand His heart for people. 

We can’t really understand where someone’s coming from until we get to know them better.
We can’t get to know them better if we can’t communicate effectively.
We can’t communicate effectively if we don’t listen.
If we don’t listen, we can’t really understand where someone’s coming from.
It’s a vicious cycle, but we can put a positive spin on it if we’d just listen with the intent to understand.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19 (NIV)

I’ve heard it said that’s why God gave us two ears but only one mouth 😉. 

So many times in the Bible the phrase, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand,” and often it’s Jesus saying it when he’s talking in parables. (see Matt 11:15, 13:9 & 13:43, Mark 4:9 & 4:23 & 14:35, Luke 8:8 and 14:35 for starters) 

In Matthew 13:13-15 (NLT), Jesus says,
“That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’”

In Revelation there are many verses (see Rev 2:7, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22, &13:9) that say, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

We need ears to hear, yes, but we need softened hearts and willing spirits to really understand. Hardened hearts are not interested in listening, nor in understanding. A hardened heart will not be home to a willing spirit, yet we need to approach God with a willing spirit, hungry for true communion with Him, seeking to understand His heart, listening for and to the Holy Spirit. 

“Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.”

Try this principle with those you wouldn’t normally associate with—maybe you’ll show someone the love of Christ.

Try this with someone you know or suspect is hurting or struggling—maybe you’ll help pull them out of their pit of despair.

Try applying this same principle in all your relationships and see how life changes for you. It’s not easy, but it’ll be worth it.

 

My nominations are:

https://mcharlesthoughts.wordpress.com

https://thirdseasonblog.com

https://barefootinaholler.com

Please don’t feel obligated in any way to follow through with this challenge if you don’t want to…

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

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Talking With God

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

Some of us may freeze up when we think about praying, especially around others. Some of us have rote prayers we recite over our food, at bedtime with the kids, or in church. Some of us start speaking in this weird church-speak reserved only for God or when talking to others about God. Some of us automatically launch into a list of requests (read: demands) we have for God.

On FoxNews.com (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/05/03/on-national-day-prayer-let-us-pray-that-our-nation-is-on-gods-side.html), Scott Gunn, an Episcopal priest and executive director of Forward Movement, wrote a good ‘opinion’ piece where he says, “Too often, we tell God what to do, instead of asking God what we must do.”

The deal is, though, that although the word prayer can conjure up all kinds of fancy, ritualistic, legalistic, or traditional pictures in people’s minds, prayer is merely a conversation with our beloved heavenly Father.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.”
Matthew 6:7 (NLT)

We’re told that the Lord hears the prayers of the righteous (see Prov. 15:29) and that the “earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16b). Sin distances us from the Lord. Right now, you may be saying, “Well, what’s the point then? God won’t hear my prayers anyway, because I’m certainly not righteous!”

“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”
Isaiah 59:2 (NLT)

So, who is righteous since none of us is perfect and we’ve all done sinful things?

23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

So the good news is that we are all declared righteous in God’s sight. The only prerequisite is to believe in the resurrected Christ, then we are washed by the blood of Jesus. We repent of our own sins and forgive others of their sins, then live a life of faith, obedient to the Lord’s commands.

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Mark 11:25 (NLT)

It doesn’t matter where we are in life, what we’ve done, what we haven’t done, or what someone else has done to us, God is waiting for us to come to Him in prayer with a repentant heart. Jesus made it possible, through his death on the cross, for us to enter into the presence of a holy God, speak with Him as we would a loving Father, and cultivate a relationship with Him. What an amazing privilege!

We’re told to pray continually. How is that possible?

“One day, Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”
Luke 18:1 (NLT)

“Never stop praying.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

We can pray no matter what we’re doing—taking a shower, vacuum-cleaner-268148_1280driving, vacuuming, or chopping wood—and it can take the form of praise, thanksgiving, worship, intercession for someone else, or just giving God a commentary of your thoughts, fears, doubts, and struggles as you go about your day. This will keep you focused on Him and keep that channel of communication open.

But it’s also good, and often necessary, to clear our mind of all distractions and follow Jesus’ example by going off on our own where we won’t be disturbed. There we can be still and quiet our minds before the Lord and this gives us more of an opportunity to hear Him speak to our hearts.

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Matt. 6:6 (NLT)

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

It is during these quiet times that we will be most likely to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit as He brings certain people to mind or puts burdens on our heart. But don’t worry, if we are sincerely wanting to pray for our nation or other people groups around the world but still don’t know exactly what to pray, His Word assures us He will help us. Isn’t that comforting?

26And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

To read an excellent prayer for our nation, see Anna’s post on https://alawyersprayers.com/2018/04/29/nehemiah-rebuilding-the-walls/.

If you’re one of those people who has a hard time clearing your mind of all the distractions in life or remaining quiet for any length of time, you may find it helps to writewriting-1209121__480 out your prayers. A prayer journal kept in this way means you can go back and log any answers you get to certain prayers.

It’s also good to remember that God is always at work, and although we may not recognize the ways He is working or even understand that whatever’s going on may actually be part of the answer to a prayer, we should continue to pray, in faith, nevertheless. We don’t always see things the way God sees them, because His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8,9) so we must be open to answers that may not be what we were expecting or even wanting.

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” Romans 11:33 (NLT)

So, whether you see the visible changes you’re hoping for as a result of your prayers or not, continue to pray. Remember, those righteous prayer warriors who are persistent are rewarded (see Luke 11:5-10) for God is much more patient than we usually are and He doesn’t want anyone to perish!

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

Thank God that He doesn’t want anyone to perish because I still have family and friends who are blind to the saving truth of Jesus. I don’t want them to perish and I can be reassured He doesn’t want them to either, but I have to remember and rest in the fact that He’s the one who’s going to draw them to Him and they’re the ones who have to decide if they will or won’t choose Him.

I figure that if He saved me, He can draw them to Himself, too. I won’t give up hope and I won’t give up praying for their salvation.

How long has it been since you earnestly prayed, and maybe even fasted, to hear from God and seek His will for something or someone, or our nation?

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

A Battle of the Temporary vs. the Eternal

I’ve been feeling a little grumpy lately.

I’ve noticed it, my husband’s noticed it, and I’m sure the older grandboys have noticed it. When my husband asked me about it, I said I wasn’t sure if it was hormones, medication related, or what my problem was.

He talked about how he feels grumpy when the anxiety builds along with his ever-growing to-do list.checklist-2589418__480

My husband’s to-do list included the pitiful condition of the yard, the wills we finally got around to doing online 2 years ago that still needed to be notarized, the need for a storage shed to put the mower and other stuff in so the garage could be cleaned out and reorganized, the need to remodel our master bedroom and bath (the only part of the house that hasn’t been remodeled since we moved in 15 years ago), budgeting, and housecleaning (including renting a carpet cleaner, again, since the cat has the annoying habit of throwing up on the carpet!🤮), among others.

As I listened, something inside me stirred. I began to think my grumpiness was related to some thoughts I’d been having along those lines, too.

All the things on his list are good and necessary things, in and of themselves, to stay on top of. They build up a discomfort in both of us when they’re not attended to because they’re all things that need doing on a regular basis. Our habit of procrastinating when it comes to something we’re not sure how to handle, only makes it worse, not better.

cleaning-268126__480*No matter how clean we get the house, a few days later it needs cleaning again, especially since we can’t figure out how to get our robot vacuum to do the dishes or laundry or mopping when all it wants to do is vacuum in a haphazard pattern 😉.

*No matter how many infuriating weeds we pull up or spray, they keep coming back with a vengeance.

*No matter how well my husband ‘balances the books,’ the money keeps coming and going, so he’ll have to do it all over again soon.

That’s just the thing that struck me about all these tasks—how very temporary they all were, how very worldly they all were, how much they were a part of the busyness of everyday life—housekeeping, yard work, laundry, grocery shopping (I’m working on 5 vintage-1895925__480loads of laundry as I write this). Always being done, needing to be done, or just finished being done—the consequence of home ownership, the bane of life.

The thing that bothers me is there’s no eternality to them, if that makes sense. How much do those things really matter in the eternal scheme of things? What difference is it going to make, really, if we check those things off our to-do list today or next week, or both times?

Sure, the house might look a little nicer if it was cleaner, freshly remodeled, and the yard was in tip-top shape, but all that has to do with appearances, outward stuff, temporary things, worldly things. Don’t get me wrong—I feel a lot more comfortable when the house is clean and tidy and the yard is well-kept and blooming beautifully as much as the next person, but…

My heart has been burdened for eternal things lately.

The temporary, worldly things bothered me, not so much because they weren’t getting done, but because they’re so good at keeping us distracted and busy. They keep us focused on the here-and-now, preoccupied with the trivia of everyday life, harassed by woman-1733881__480the pressing interruptions of this world. We’re left with no time to consider the bigger picture.

When we allow the urgent to take priority over what’s really important, the eternal things of this temporary life, we are left with no chance to hear from God or to dive into His Word, let alone participate in God’s plan to bring more people into His family.

“You have been raised up with Christ. So think about things that are in heaven. That is where Christ is. He is sitting at God’s right hand.” 
Colossians 3:1 (NIRV)

I have long had a heart for the lost, the struggling, the downtrodden, the abused, the victims of the evil of this world. Whether the circumstances they find themselves in is a result of their own ignorance and subsequent poor choices, or someone else’s, I want to reach out to those who are unaware there is something better for them, there is a way out of their seemingly hopeless or pointless situation.crying-1315546__480

I want them to know there is a brighter future in store for them if they turn to the One who knows that future.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

I want them to know that if God got through to me and pulled me out of the mire I was stuck in, and turned my life around, even to the point of relocating me 6500 miles from my birthplace in the process, then He can do the same for them.

I want them to know there is hope. And His name is Jesus.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Romans 5:8 NLT

The Lord loves everyone, no matter what, where, or who, which means no one is beyond hope. No one is beyond redemption. No one is beyond the reach of the Lord.

“¹I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. ³This is good and pleases God our Savior, ⁴who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. ⁵For,
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. ⁶He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
1 Timothy 2:1,3-6 (NLT)

He wants everyone to come to a knowledge of, and belief in, the saving grace and mercy offered through Jesus.

The best way I know to be a part of that is to continue to make time to grow in my relationship with the Lord, show God’s love to everyone I come across, and to share His message through my writing (since I can do that wherever and whenever), so that’s where I’m putting my focus.

plate-1767422_1280.jpgThe dishes can wait, the dust can keep piling up, the weeds can enjoy a few more days of sunshine—I’ve got more important things to do!

 

P.S. I do believe that everything we have (our home, our yard, our cars, our body, etc) is a gift from God, and we should be trustworthy stewards, taking good care of everything we’re blessed with.

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

We See As We Are

It’s funny, and not haha funny (well, I guess it could be laughably funny, depending on the circumstances), how different people see things. The same thing seen by ten people can easily have five, if not ten, differing opinions, viewpoints, or descriptions of it.

This phenomenon has been demonstrated multiple times.

Below is one of the more famous instances of where different people see different things—either a young woman or an old lady. Do you see the wife or the mother-in-law (or both)?

My_Wife_and_My_Mother-in-Law
By William Ely Hill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eyewitness accounts of crimes have been heavily used in courts of law, but it is also well known how notoriously inaccurate they can be. It has been shown in studies¹ that trauma and stress affect memory, as do distractions and verbal cues from third parties. Quoting from a 2010 article in The Scientific American², “devastating mistakes by eyewitnesses are not rare, according to a report by the Innocence Project³, an organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that uses DNA testing to exonerate those wrongfully convicted of crimes.”

Fortunately, these days, we have the ability to analyze forensic evidence to reduce errors and help overturn wrongful convictions.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are great examples of different eye witness accounts of the same experience—Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead. Some use the differences in the Gospels as a reason or excuse or “proof” that the Bible is not accurate, which is absurd. Any experience written about by four people is going to be expressed differently, with emphasis on different aspects of the event, depending on what each one thinks is more important. Fortunately, there were hundreds who witnessed the resurrected Christ.

butterfly-true

I originally started this post after my youngest daughter’s baby shower when she posted pictures of the cake I made for the occasion on FaceBook and Instagram. I was horrified. All I noticed were the flaws, the mistakes. I texted her to tell her I was embarrassed by the cake. She texted back, “Any other mom would have bought one or made a normal sheet cake. I don’t care about/notice the little stuff. No one else does either. Sometimes you just have to accept that the work you did do is appreciated and stop putting yourself down for it.”

Ouch! At first, I was hurt. Where was the empathy? Then I read this quote:

“In my own pursuit of God, I often became preoccupied with ME! It was easy to think that being constantly aware of my faults and weakness was humility. It’s not! If I’m the main subject, talking incessantly about my weaknesses, I have entered into the most subtle form of pride.”
― Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles

Double ouch! Okay, so less focus on my shortcomings and more focus on God’s awesome power working through me, despite my faults and weaknesses.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Besides, according to God’s Word, no matter what I’ve done or didn’t do, I have been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus, and that goes for you, too, if you’ve accepted Him as your Savior. Now I just need to remember that when my “subtle form of pride” gets the better of me😉.

¹⁰For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. ¹⁴For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
Hebrews 10:10,14 (NLT)

Can you think of a time when you and someone else had different feelings/experiences about something you both saw or did?

  1. https://www.simplypsychology.org/eyewitness-testimony.html
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/
  3. https://www.innocenceproject.org/causes/eyewitness-misidentification/

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

Prisoners

 

We claim it’s just a need or habit that’s ingrained,
When we give in to our passions,
Or binge shop the latest fashions.limousine-601462__480
With media pressure, can we really be blamed?

We’re told material possessions show our worth.
New cars, big houses, latest phones,
Best technology in our homes,
We buy to keep up with the Joneses, then feign mirth.

cheerleaders-654359__480We’re taught beauty is what we see on the outside,
Where skinny should be our desire,
And tall men are who we admire,
We seek wrinkle-free skin, and want teeth straight and white.

We’re conditioned to follow societal norms,
Sex with anyone is okay,
“Ev’ryone’s doing it,” they say.
We cuss and take God’s Name in vain, ’cause it conforms.

It’s all about us, living easy and pain-free.
“God doesn’t see or care,” we gripe,
Then we fall for the latest hype,
“I deserve it” and “I’m doing what’s best for me!”

We believe the lie that we’re gods in our own right,fight-2666577__480
Entitled to fleshly pleasure,
Owed our share of worldly treasure,
Shackled to our ego, we’re locked in a cage-fight.

Trapped in a cycle of shallow, selfish action,
We seek out love and approval,
Hoping for judgment removal,
And then wonder why there’s such dissatisfaction.

Are you being led by your own lustful desires?
Do you just want to feel needed?
Are you longing to be heeded?
Or are you driven by what someone else requires?

foodcravings-2842185__480Are you after prestige from the things money buys?
Or is it acceptance you chase?
Does addiction dictate your race?
Does a quest for love or perfect looks draw your eyes?

Checking the boxes, crossing to-dos off a list,
Won’t provide what we’re looking for.
Those false paths leave our spirit poor.
This earth isn’t meant to fulfill our ev’ry wish.

Why do we let this world have such a hold on us?
The more we have, the more we want,
Our lives are wasted on the hunt,
Yet worldly gains are left behind when our time’s up.

Mind games, heart wounds, perversion, neglect, abuses,
Chasing the idols of this age,
The devil keeps us in bondage,
Focusing on ourselves, all tricks Satan uses.

Where’s your mind drift when first waking in the morning?
Note where your time and money goes.
Thoughts and words—what’s in your heart shows.
Those not bound by this world see this as a warning.

Choose eternal rewards over temporary,key-3197584__480
Conformity leaves us empty,
True freedom through Jesus is key,
Despite the world’s programming to the contrary.

Nothing can compare to what Jesus freely gives!
What we’ve been or done, no concern,
His love and grace, we cannot earn.
Only He breaks strongholds, releasing the captives.

Run to Him—with open arms, He waits patiently.
There’s no pressure, we’re free to choose.
It’s a no-brainer, a win-lose.
But our choice destines where we’ll spend eternity.

snow-3108069__480

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

The Disappointment of Unanswered Prayer

I must admit I was disappointed in God (and even a little mad, if I’m honest) by the time Tuesday evening rolled around and, as midnight rapidly approached, I lost hope.

baby-feet-847204__480Monday night, I slept with my phone by the bed—normally I leave it charging on the bar in the kitchen, with the ringer turned off—but I was anticipating a call from my daughter saying she was in labor and heading to the hospital. I had faith my daughter would have her baby before I started my 7 day stretch to work, 12 hours per night, 7pm-7am.

For the past week, I prayed based on the scripture from Matthew 21:22 that says,

 “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Matthew 21:22 (NLT)

Jesus said this after a fig tree immediately withered when he cursed it because it had no fruit on it and yet he was hungry.

²⁰The disciples were amazed when saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
²¹Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.”  Matthew 21:20-21 (NLT)

So I prayed my daughter would have her baby Monday or Tuesday, before I went back to work. I even put my prayer request on T.R.’s community prayer list, with Matthew 18:20 hands-2168901__480in mind:

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20 (NLT)

With other readers/prayer warriors praying, I also hoped to increase my odds, since I knew the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective, based on the second part of James 5:16, which says:

When a believing person prays, great things happen.

James 5:16b (NCV)

So when my daughter didn’t have her baby by midnight Tuesday, I was confused and disappointed.

Why hadn’t God answered my prayer?

  • Was it that I hadn’t paid attention to the first half of James 5:16 and had unconfessed sins? It says:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

James 5:16a (NCV)

  • Was my faith not even as big as a mustard seed?

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!”

Luke 17:6 (NLT)

  • Was it that my motives for asking were wrong?

And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James 4:3 (NLT)

  • I knew without a doubt that God could cause that baby to be born, if He wanted to. However, just in case there were some pockets of unbelief tucked away somewhere I wasn’t aware of, I prayed that God would help me overcome any unbelief, as was the case when a man asked Jesus to heal his son, if He could.

Immediately the father shouted, “I do believe. Help me to believe more!”

Mark 9:24 (ERV)

  • Was it that I doubted God would answer my prayer?

But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm.

James 1:6 (CEV)

A couple of those struck a chord with me.

I asked myself why I wanted the baby to be born on my days off. If I was honest, it was for selfish reasons—I didn’t want to miss out on the built in overtime and shift diff I would get from working the two nights I had to take off. It’s not like it was that big of a deal for us financially, either, so I’m not sure why that was important to me. Thankfully, two night shift coworkers were available and willing to cover for me, so it wasn’t even a matter of not having coverage or not being allowed off.

Every now and then, I could feel myself being tossed by the thought, “Will God answer my prayer?” I’m not sure how to completely get rid of those seeds of doubt.

I’d love to have the faith Jesus verbalizes in the following verse!

“I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so the people here would believe you sent me.”

John 11:42 (CEV)

So, obviously, I had no room, no reason, to be mad at God for not answering my prayer. I asked with wrong motives and had doubts he would even answer my prayer. No wonder I didn’t get my prayer answered.

What about you? Are there prayers that aren’t/weren’t answered for you?
Did you get mad at God?
Did you suffer some of the same heart issues as me?
Have you figured out how to have enough faith to never doubt a prayer would be answered, like Jesus?

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

Easter

Long ago, the Scriptures foretold
how these events were to unfold.
His triumphal entry into town
with cloaks and branches thrown down,
Palm Sunday, was a sight to behold.

By midweek, preparations were made
for the Passover meal, when he prayed
for the new covenant bread and wine
passed round the table where they reclined,
and true servanthood he displayed.

That night, praying in Gethsemane,
He begged, “Father, take this cup from me.”
But He wanted God’s will done, not his,
so Judas betrayed Him with a kiss,
bribed with money by the enemy.

The vile condition of man’s heart
meant His trial was rigged from the start
and just as Jesus prophesied,
Peter, three times his Lord denied,
while others were quick to depart.

No false witness or insult barred,
lead-tipped whips and fists left Him scarred,
with crown of thorns and mock worship,
stoically, Jesus stayed tight-lipped,
though character and body marred.

In ignorance, soldiers tossed dice.
Willingly, Jesus paid the price.
Nailed to the cross, by hands and feet,
done out of love, for you and me,
He made the ultimate sacrifice.

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He took on Himself the whole world’s sin.
Repulsed by evil, God turned from Him.
The temple’s curtain split, the earth shook,
even doubters took a second look.
He breathed his last under skies so dim.

The plan for His life from before the womb
now finished, Joseph laid Him in his tomb,
with entrance blocked and sealed by a boulder,
guarded either side by an armed soldier.
Disillusioned, disciples headed home.

Women with spices came early, day three,
to find angels at His tomb, now empty.
“Why look for the living among the dead?
He is risen! Remember what he said?”
Multitudes met Jesus in Galilee.

Resurrection glory! Overwhelming love!
Redemption, in human form, sent from above.
Undeserved grace and mercy, personified.
For us, to approach a Holy God, He died.
Man’s foolish wisdom transcended by His blood.

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©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Three Blogging Awards! Oh, my!

Wow, I am blown away by everyone’s kind comments and the three award nominations after publishing my short story Lifeline—not that I’m saying it was a direct result of that short story post—but just the fact that I was nominated for 3 awards at the same time by 3 different bloggers was a little overwhelming, to say the least. From now on, though, I must declare this blog an “award-free zone” in the interest of my sanity 😜.

Thank you Candice, Lynn, and Savannah!

The awards are listed below, in no particular order, with their respective logos and stipulations.

For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to answer all the questions required as a recipient of the awards, but I do want my readers to know how truly grateful I am for all of you who take the time to read my blog and comment on occasion. Hopefully, you will find something of value in what you read, some personal growth nugget or insightful takeaway, some encouragement, inspiration, or validation of your worth as a wonderfully unique creation of The Most High God.

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Thank you to Candice at https://thismademesmiletoday.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/the-liebser-award/ for nominating me for The Liebster Award. Her blog is a great reminder to appreciate the little things in life and encourages us “to see the small things around us that can cause us to be inspired, be grateful, or just happy.”

In choosing to accept this award, I must write a blog post about the Liebster award in which the rules are as follows:

Acknowledge the blog who nominated you.
Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
Nominate 11 other bloggers.
Ask them 11 questions.
Let them know you have nominated them.

(Candice’s Note) My Nominees: If awards aren’t “your thing,” please answer a few of the 11 questions in a post or two. I’d love to read your perspective on some of these subjects.

Her 11 Questions:

  1. When did you start your blog, and why? I felt called by God to write (hence the name of my blog) and after many years of trying to ignore that nudging for fear of having nothing to say, I finally embraced it and started my blog back in November 2016 (after revamping my site and deleting a lot of the older posts, though, you won’t find anything older than 6-8 months ago). I am also working on a novel. I must say, though, the blogging is taking up way more time than I imagined it would, especially when it comes to reading all the other blogs I want to and commenting or replying to comments.
  2. Where did you grow up? Auckland, New Zealand.
  3. Who, living or dead, would you most like to meet/have met?  I know I’ll meet him in heaven one day, but I’d like to meet/have met Jesus, here on earth.
  4. Who was the greatest influence in your life? Definitely Jesus!
  5. If you could go back in time, when, and where would you go? Even though I’d like to meet Jesus on earth, I don’t think I’d want to go back to the time He was here on earth. Really not sure…
  6. If you could stay at any age, what would it be? I think if I could go back to my mid-thirties, but still know what I know now, I’d do that. The 30’s were some tough years for me at the time, but if I were wiser from a close walk with the Lord, they’d surely be a lot better.
  7. What’s your favourite pastime? In no particular order: writing, reading, cooking and cake decorating, painting, quilting, watching movies with my husband, traveling, and spending time with grandkids. I can’t just narrow it down to one! 
  8. Do you have a pet, or pets? Molly, the cat my daughter left with me, is the only one at this time.
  9. What is one highlight of your life? Being saved by Jesus!
  10. What’s your favourite holiday? I think I would have to say Thanksgiving, which probably sounds weird coming from someone whose native country didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but not only do I like the fall season, but I like the whole idea of giving thanks for all we’ve been blessed with, plus getting together with family and enjoying a good meal together.
  11. What’s your dream job? See question 7. I’d love to make a living doing my hobbies. I’m going to have faith that one of these days, my writing will pay off 😉

 

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sunshine-blogger-award

Thank you to Lynn at https://throughinkandimage.com/2018/03/15/two-blogging-awards/ for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I encourage you to visit her blog to see her beautiful paintings and wonderfully insightful messages.

Here are the basics for those who accept the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you;
  • Answer the 11 questions asked;
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions;
  • List the rules and include the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.

The Eleven Questions are

  1. Where do you get inspiration from for your blog posts? Life, the Bible, my devotionals, Rick Warren podcasts, the Holy Spirit’s leading, other blogger’s posts, and wherever/whenever/however they come to me.
  2. Morning or night person? Definitely night person
  3. Favorite bible verse I have too many favorites to list! Some of my favorites are Hebrews 11:1, Matthew 21:22, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 11:29, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 2:7, Colossians 3:13, 1 John 4:10, 1 Timothy 1:16, Psalms 34:18, Psalms 37:23, the whole of Psalm 103, Proverbs 3:5-7, etc, etc, etc 😉
  4. When did you give your life to God? Around age 33
  5. Do you prefer a large family or a small one? Small one
  6. Favorite book and why? That’s tough!
  7. Who is your mentor?  My life mentor is Jesus. My writing mentor is Jerry B. Jenkins, the author of the Left Behind series and hundreds of other books. I belong to his writing guild and a novel writing Facebook group of his.
  8. If you were to eat one thing all your life, what would it be? Mexican food 😊
  9. What is that thing you can’t do without? Jesus (plus air, water, and food, of course 😉)
  10. Introvert or extrovert? Introvert
  11. Please offer a word of encouragement to your readers. Remember God made you just the way you are, He loves you just the way you are, and He wants a relationship with you, no matter what you’ve done or had done to you. Step out in faith and be all God made you to be; don’t get to the end of your life with regrets!

 

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the-versatile-blogger-award

Thank you to Savannah at https://rejoicinginhope1212.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/versatile-blogger-award/ for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I recommend her blog for some truly uplifting messages.

The rules are pretty simple:

1. Thank the lovely person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog!

2. Nominate 15 of your fellow bloggers whose work has stood out to you! (You should probably let them know too!)

3. In your post, write 7 things about yourself that others may not know!

I can’t think of 7 things to tell you that you don’t already know, so I’ll give you 4…

  1. In high school, I could speak, read, and write in 3 languages: French, German, and English, plus we were taught Maori, but I wasn’t very good at that. Now, of course, I’ve lost all that.
  2. I had mice, rats, and guinea pigs as pets growing up.
  3. My mum and dad were both in their 40’s when they had me and my 2 sisters, and surprisingly we all turned out without any birth defects 😜 (quiet in the cheap seats! 😂) Since it was a second marriage for both of them, I have/had half-siblings old enough to be my parents.
  4. My dad was red-green color blind and my mum must have been a carrier, so my two full sisters and I are all color-deficient, which is pretty rare in females. That just means we don’t get 100% on the color-blindness tests and we have trouble distinguishing some shades of green, brown, and gray, especially when they’re close. Plus all three of us have Raynaud’s Syndrome, where we lose circulation in our fingers and toes when we’re cold (and/or stressed).

 

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I’m not trying to be a spoil-sport or anything, but I’m not going to nominate 37 other blogs for these awards. There are so many awesome blogs out there who are all deserving of an award, it would be so very time-consuming to decide which ones and besides, it just seems so unfair when they’re all amazing in their own way. Several of them have received one or more blogging awards of some kind already, and some of them have declared their blog an “award-free zone.”

Please do not be offended by the fact that I broke the blogging award chain. Personally, I feel like the value of the awards is lessened by how freely they are passed around and your continued reading and sharing of my posts and a heartfelt, positive comment every now and then, is worth way more in my eyes. If you feel differently and really need an award, for whatever reason, just let me know. I have several to spare 😉.

Blessings to you all and thank you again!

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

“What if…?”

“What if…?” is a great question to ask yourself when you’re brainstorming ideas, story concepts, plot points, or scene options for a novel. It allows for all kinds of possibilities to pop into your head and then you can sift through them and cull out the implausible, absurd, or inappropriate ones that wouldn’t work in your particular situation or fit into the story you’re trying to develop.

“What if…?” may not be the best question to ask yourself, however, if you’re timid about stepping out of your comfort zone, or fearful of trying something new. If you’re the type of personality that risk managers come to for ideas, asking “What if…?” may just result in your usual state of analysis paralysis and chances are you’ll stay right where you are for fear of making a mistake.

Even if you’re not quite that bad, you’ve probably noticed what creatures of habit most of us are. We are comfortable with a routine, the predictability of good day, no ugly surprises thrown in or deviations from our chosen plan of action. We usually have a myriad of activities going on and a schedule to keep. We want our day to go smoothly so we can check things off our ‘To Do’ list and get from A to B without a hitch. A day like that makes us feel good about ourselves and our world.

If things pop up that cause us to detour from our plan, it’s easy to get irritated. Being inconvenienced is not usually okay. Anything that throws our schedule off can put a damper on the whole day, if we let it.

breakfast-1062749__480If you spill grape jelly on your shirt as you’re gobbling down breakfast, forcing you to hurriedly change clothes before rushing out the door, does that make you mumble under your breath and wonder if the whole day is going to be like that? If you’re late for work because of a traffic jam that forces you to take an alternate route or, even worse, you’re delayed because you have to change a tire on the side of the highway, does that throw the rest of your day off and put you in a bad mood?

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for most people to focus on the negative?

Let’s look at that from a different angle, though. What if being stuck in the traffic jam or having to change your shirt at the last minute delayed you for the necessary few minutes needed to avoid a tragic accident? If the delay hadn’t happened, you might have been the one involved in it and may have even lost your life.

There are stories like that of people who were delayed by something minor and as a result were not yet at their office in the one of the twin towers when the planes hit on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001. That kind of stuff gives me goosebumps.

I was supposed to go to a meeting the other morning at 10:30. The Holy Spirit prompted me to verify it was still on, so after more than 30 minutes of texting various people, I found out at 9:50 it was cancelled. I was going to have to leave at 9:55 to get there on time. I was frustrated, to say the least, but probably not near as much as if I’d driven the 28 miles to get to where I thought I was supposed to be. Checking my Waze app, I found there had been an accident on my intended route.

accident-1497295__480What if the things we regard as delays and inconveniences are really just God looking out for us and keeping us safe? It makes me wonder how many times God has saved me from a tragic accident or prevented me from being involved in a life-changing event, when I just got frustrated because things weren’t going my way.

I was reminded of this yesterday when, as we stopped for the stop sign before pulling out onto the main road after picking our youngest grandson up from school, my husband spotted a baby squirrel in the road. I love animals so, oblivious to the cars waiting behind us, I just jumped out and picked the little fella up.

He didn’t try to run from me and didn’t try to escape once I had him in my hands. He actually looked a little dazed and confused, which of course he probably was. We did a lot of research on him trying to find out how to take care of him and found out by his appearance that he was probably only 6 weeks old.

At that age, the best care involved keeping him warm and secure, as little human contact as possible (so only one person should be taking care of him), a large cage with dirt and branches where he could run, jump, and climb, and feedings from a syringe every 4-5 hours with a specific brand of puppy milk substitute (that cost almost $20 at the pet store—cow’s milk or baby formula would kill him) plus introduction of fruits, veges, and nuts as time went on.

20180320_155906-1I kept him in the pocket of my hoodie and rehydrated him (the first step in caring for him) as soon as we got home with a solution of water with a little sugar and a sprinkle of salt, after which he perked up a lot. He was probably dehydrated and hadn’t eaten in a while. Later that night we took him to a wildlife rehab place nearby since I knew I couldn’t give him the care he needed while working my 7-day working stretch that started tonight.

My point in telling you all this is, what if God allowed him to walk out into the street as we were pulling up just so I could have the pleasure of saving this little fella’s life?

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

What if God orchestrates certain delays or what seem like irritations to us, for our benefit? What if God sends an angel to protect us in situations where we need divine help, like me for that baby squirrel?

What role then, do the angels have? The angels are spirit-messengers sent by God to serve those who are going to be saved.
Hebrews 1:14 (The Passion Translation)

God is in control of everything. God loves us and wants the best for each of us. His Word says He knows how many hairs are on our head and He has all our days numbered.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Psalms 139:16 (NLT)

Try praising Him as soon as you wake up each morning and be thankful for each day you’re given, knowing He has your life under control and everything is happening just as He planned it.

Every bone in my body will shout: “No one is like the Lord!” You protect the helpless from those in power; you save the poor and needy from those who hurt them.
Psalms 35:10 (CEV)

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com

Lifeline (Fiction—Short Story)

A yearning propelled me forward, drawing me to the water’s edge. Even in the shallows, I felt like I was in way over my head. I doubted my sanity, wondered why I’d broken away from my group. I just knew I was searching for something—everyone was—and I hoped I’d recognize it when I found it.
Back on shore, onlookers huddled together, wrapped in their cozy blankets, staying warm and dry and safe. They egged the rest of us on, bravely or stupidly (I wasn’t sure), into the water, daring us like fools to take on the unknown, yet predicting our defeat.
Transfixed by my shuffling feet, the murkiness of the disturbed water permeated my mind, dulling my vision and suffocating any further objections. The current jerked my legs out from under me as the wave receded, sucking me into the fray and leaving me floundering with everyone else.
Hecklers jeered, then quietened down and sunk back into their chaise lounges, clasping their ale in hand and resting it on their ample bellies.
Now one of the flailing crowd, I swam blind in the dense fog that blanketed the water in darkness. Along with everyone else, I was tossed by uneven swells, beaten by relentless storms, dumped on by crashing waves, hounded by lurking predators, and pushed around and down by others in their own selfish pursuit of what evaded them. Which was what? Maybe a hidden treasure, an unbroken promise, an elusive ‘happily ever after’. Who knew? One person’s guess was as good as another’s. Sure, everyone had their druthers, their theories, but nobody knew for sure.
“Rocks!”
“Watch out for the undertow!”
Warnings hollered out, usually too late, caused a frenzy of thrashing as everyone did their best to steer clear of the dangers. I lengthened my stroke and put more power behind it, finally diving beneath the rough seas to distance myself from the threats. I surfaced to screams that soon muffled to gurgling then silence as people were dragged under. A crashing wave on nearby rocks ended with a sickening grunt, the familiar sound of a body slammed down like a discarded rag doll. Squawking signaled the scavengers swooping in for the choicest morsels. I turned and swam as far away as my tired limbs would allow, tears and saltwater stinging my eyes.
Who was I in this sea of humanity, anyway? I certainly didn’t know. No one seemed to care if I was struggling out here or still on shore, so long as I stayed out of their way. Each one did their own thing, going nowhere fast, even swimming in circles sometimes. Yet, as with everyone else, I worked to keep my head above water.
Stubbornness and pride fueled my endeavors.
A prickling at the back of my neck told me someone was watching me. At first, I didn’t know who was in the shadows, and I didn’t want to know. I focused harder on the task at hand to distract myself. Dawn’s dim light seeped into my consciousness, and I glimpsed my father hovering nearby, but I ignored him. I probably hurt him, although he didn’t show it or give up on me. He waited patiently just out of sight.
Every now and then his alluring song or reassuring whisper reached my ears, “I’m here for you when you’re ready.” It made me even more determined to make it on my own.
This sick game so numbed my senses, I soon lost track of time. Eventually, fatigue and hopelessness settled in my bones. How could I find something when I didn’t know what I was looking for? Too tired to keep treading water, I sank to the rocky bottom, welcoming my soggy grave. Instead, something inside me called out, a shaky voice I didn’t recognize as my own bubbled up from the depths of my being.
Rays of brilliant sunshine filtered through the water, clearly illuminating my father for the first time, as his big hand reached for me. I clung to it and he lifted me into the boat. My thankful tears mingled with the seawater dripping off me. He gave me clean clothes and wrapped his loving arms securely around me, without saying a word. I soon recovered in the sun’s warmth.
It finally sank in, this is what I’d been looking for all along. “Why didn’t you tell me before I ventured out on my own?”
“Would you have listened?” he said, pausing to lift my chin so I’d look at him. There was no condemnation in those loving eyes. “Some people like to test the waters and go their own way. Everyone’s free to make their own choices, but they must live, or die, with the consequences.”
I knew it was true, but that didn’t mean I had to like it.
We were lost yet ignorant of the fact, directionless despite our perseverance, clueless but too arrogant to admit it, and our mindless activity only wedged us deeper in our quandary. So we all went through the motions, like a line of choreographed marionettes dancing on a broken stage, oblivious to the lifeless orbs staring vacantly from our own skulls.

***

My own rescue hadn’t been that long ago, but now, I was on a mission to rescue others. Every time I planned one of these trips, I sought Dad’s counsel first, even though I knew he’d be driving the boat, and each time he’d tell me, “Remember, you can’t force them. They’ll come when the time is right.”
I wanted to trawl along with a net and scoop everyone up. Then they couldn’t choose to ignore me when I told them the truth of what they were missing out on, but I knew that’d make a lot of people mad and wouldn’t accomplish anything.
This morning, we launched our boat once again, in search of those who were ready. Dad sang his usual love song, dispelling the darkness from directly around the boat, but I used his strong searchlight to probe farther.
I soon spotted my brother Kamron plowing his way through the sea of people. I was relieved he was still afloat, but then, he’d always been smart, athletic, and up on the latest of everything, the polar opposite of me, so it was no surprise he’d do well for himself.
He forged on, despite the increasing waves, sometimes grabbing the shoulder of someone nearby to help propel him forward. He made pretty good progress. Part of me thrilled at his success, part of me hated it. Why would he be interested in anything I had to offer?
When a burly man’s wake threatened to push him under, he sputtered and choked but recovered quickly, rolled with it, and pressed on.
Dad maneuvered the boat a little closer.
“Here! Grab the rope!” Several people turned towards me, scowling, when I yelled and tossed the flotation device in their midst.
Nobody grabbed the life preserver.
“Nah, don’t worry—I’ve got this!” Kamron assured me. I’d thrown it within arm’s reach, but he swam on blindly.
I was offering him a ride home, a way out, and he didn’t want it. Tossed around in the melee, his lifeline soon drifted away, but others could still reach it if they wanted to.
“Anyone?” The offer was out there.
No takers, only mockers.
“Are you saying we’re weak and need rescuing?”
“You think we can’t handle this?”
“Come on—only sissies need that!”
I still didn’t understand completely. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, but only because I now basked in the sunlight.
“You’re going the wrong way! I know what you’re looking for,” I said, tugging on the rope and coiling it around my arm. I readied it to throw out again.
“You’ve already given up, so how would you know, Miss High-and-Mighty?” someone said, splashing me, “Just ’cause you’re up there and we’re down here, you think you’re better than us?”
“There isn’t a wrong way!” someone else piped up as they backstroked by, “We’ll all make it there eventually.”
“Where is there? Where are you going anyway?”
He kept swimming and had soon gone too far to hear me.
“This is the way all right. Everyone’s going this way, so it must be right,” Kamron said.
“What, and you’d swim through a swarm of box jellyfish if everyone else was?” I didn’t say it loud enough for him to hear because, knowing him, he’d do it on a dare, but I wanted to shout the question to everyone. How could I get them to see I was just trying to help?
“Watch out! Sharks circling!” Screams followed by an ever-widening area of blood proved the warning was too late for at least one person.
“Well, this is getting fun, isn’t it?” He laughed nervously. “Best get going then. Catch you later.”
“No, you don’t understand. If you get in the boat, you’ll be safe and we can go home.”
“If I’d wanted to be safe, I would’ve stayed on shore. Besides, why should I throw in the towel, just because you have? Don’t you see? I’m doing what’s best for me! Why is that so wrong?” His voice had an edge to it, like I’d touched on a nerve.
“I see more clearly than you do,” I mumbled. I interrupted my father’s beautifully haunting singing when I turned to him and said, “You could just make him get in the boat.”
“You know that’s not the way it works,” he said, smiling.
“Yeah, I know.” I felt like a deflated balloon. “Let’s just go. This is pointless.” Kamron was long gone when I turned back around.
“Listen,” Dad whispered.
“What? I don’t hear anything.” The din from all the surrounding commotion drowned out everything else.
“There is one.”
I cupped my hand around my ear and focused. Way in the distance, a tiny voice pleaded, “Help! Please! I can’t do this anymore.”
Warmth bloomed in my chest as Dad swung the boat around in the direction of the feeble sound.
Yes, at least someone was ready!

 

 

©️ 2018, Mia Manumit, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com