Monday, August 17, 2015

Relax! This is only a test!

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2

You know God tests us? My posts on The King of Hearts  are about that. Me moving to Nashville was a test, not to say I will never move there- 'cause you never know with God, that's why walking with Him is so exciting and NOT boring! I was really gona go! I went to look at apartments and everything! I didn't get into the one I wanted. And  honestly? I was afraid! I got married when I was 19! I never in my entire life have been alone ( although I have always felt alone) and on my own! I was preparing to go but from experience I know God also leads by opening and closing doors and I was rejected from these apartments! When I think about it now? I laugh! The apartment rent was like 1/3 of what this house payment is, the apartment wasn't even as big as 1 floor of this house- the kitchen is the size of my huge unfinished bathroom but I was totally OK with that. So I was like, "I'm rejected, now what Lord?" "Find another apartment, the next day I was reading my Bible and I was in Jeremiah 42:  

If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pull you up; Jeremiah 42:10 Wow!

He said He would "build me up" like a house, "The Seven Story House" My Bible study is starting at my house on August 31st! Then He said He would "plant me" like a tree! My book The Seven Story Tree  is now available on Amazon!

So because of all this and other things, I stayed. My legal adviser even said the judge does consider why the child says, I want to live with....My baby wants to live with me, she said she said the other cause she was mad- not gona fly with the judge! Last night after church we went to Books A Million and I bought her a bunch of books, one of which was a Bible and we got coffee (I got coffee she got a hot cocoa frappe) we got this ridiculously sweet peanut butter chocolate thing and it was fun and I said I need to start selling some Mary Kay fast! lol But God is GOOD people and He leads me!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Part 1: Faith - The Seven Story House

Here is the intro to, "The Seven Story House"

...."Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Jesus (Matthew 17:19-20)

I 've been told some details of my paternal grandmother's life, but not very much. She was from Edinburgh , Scotland. Her hair was auburn. This is a nice thing to know since she died when I was 5 years old and I don't remember much about her. All the pictures we have of her are in black and white. I am also a "ginger".

What transpired before my Dad entered the picture in 1928? What brought her and my grandfather to America? How did she meet my grandfather? Who I'm told was from Liverpool, England like my favorite band from the 60s. Perhaps I should search the internet to find out more? But do I search for my "blood" relatives? Or for the relatives of my grandparents -I am speaking of now- who adopted my dad?

Grandma Hewitt was a Christian and went to the Presbyterian Church which makes sense because the Presbyterian Church originated in Scotland.

Paul writing to his son in the faith, Timothy said, "I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also." 2 Timothy 1: 3-5

My Dad was born in San Francisco on February 4, 1928. I was told by my mom that my grandmother adopted him on February 14. Mom also said that they didn't even tell him he was adopted until he was 13 years old!

As I grew up, Mom gave me some of my grandmother's things. We got everything because my dad was/is an only child. We don't know very much about anyone else in his family. My Dad's dad had passed away before even most of my siblings and I were born, in the early 1950s. One of the things I received that was Grandma's was a mustard seed pendant. I am sorry to say that I lost it when my oldest children were small.

Now I also have some books that were my grandmas. One that I saw on the bookshelf when I was a child in California is by Catherine Marshall and it's called, "A Man Named Peter" I thought that was interesting because my dad's name is Peter and his (adopted) dad's name was also Peter. I used to think this book was about Peter the apostle. I didn't read it until I was grown. I should say it was devoured because I loved it and began getting more of Peter and Catherine's writings and reading them. Reading Catherine Marshall's books and writing a Christmas letter every year (From 1994-2008) is what got me interested in Christian writing. But I never said a word to anyone about it.

In the Summer of 1999 we "broke ground" on our house. That Summer we also flew to California for my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was bitter-sweet for several reasons: First, my parents had some "rocky times" in their marriage. It wasn't 50 years of faithful marital bliss but then again there are not really any of those especially these days. Every marriage of considerable length goes through, "tough times". Secondly, my sister and my mom were in a fight and my sister didn't go to the anniversary party and I was pretty much in agreement with my sister. Mom was being "difficult" as she sometimes was. Lastly, I, for the first time ever, stood up to my mom and told her she was wrong. This, I believe was a major turning point in our relationship, although it was unpleasant, it was necessary to get our relationship to a "healthy" state.

I was always struck with the appropriateness of that song Prince used to sing,

"How can you just leave me standing
Alone in a world that's so cold?
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold

Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like when doves cry"

Building our house was something Bob wanted to do, that I reluctantly went along with. At that time we had four children: Sarah (12), Teddy (9), Ian (6) and Claire (3) and I was homeschooling them. I had wanted Bob to be able to help me more with this but because of his decision to build, he'd be helping me less instead.

Christmastime 1999: A good friend of mine, Becky invited me to her church's ladies prayer meeting which met once a month in someone's home. So here I am at this meeting and Becky suddenly remembers we were supposed to bring a gift to exchange. "Oh well, that's O.K., we just won't get a gift" I thought. I soon found out, though, that this was no ordinary gift exchange: Some brought gifts with a certain person in mind, some didn't, but all of them brought what they felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to bring. There was a woman there named Judy who is a Christian writer. She's written for Christian magazines and devotionals and just had two of her books published. So, she had a book and she said "I have here a book, I don't know who it's for, I won it at a writer's workshop, it's for someone here who's thinking of becoming a writer". This story was on my old website: "I Love to Tell the Story". In early 2000 I went to see Judy and brought her all I had wrote so far. She returned them to me with a note saying she felt I had a ministry (Christian Writing) and that I should use it for God's glory. It wasn't until now that I see this incident was just a tiny "seed" which I had to plant and nourish for it to come to fruition. And speaking of "seeds" when I went to speak to Judy I don't think I was aware of it yet, but I was pregnant with Lydia , our fifth child.

In November of 2000 was probably the last time I had any contact with Judy. I went with Becky to my first Joyce Meyer conference in Atlanta, by this time I was (obviously) pregnant and due in January of 2001. Becky, Judy and another friend of Becky's, Tanya (not her real name) shared a hotel room.

On that afternoon in Atlanta when we girls had some free time between Joyce's messages, we went shopping. We were looking at jewelry at J.C. Penney's and I saw a mustard seed pendant! So I told them the story of my grandmother's pendant that I had lost. So Becky said, "I want to buy you that pendant" and she did.

The evening before the conference was over us four women talked about the various things we were involved in; Becky, as always, was involved in real estate and would often help out people in need through the money she made buying foreclosed property and renting it out. Tanya's husband was a pastor and they also has a Christian Coffee House. Judy, listening to us all and as the oldest of the four of us, offered her wisdom and encouragement like it says in Titus chapter 2 about the older women teaching the younger women. Since her encouragement about my writing, I was raring to go! I was ready to find me a publisher right then and this was 14 years ago! But in her wisdom Judy encouraged each of us in our varying "ministries" and said to me, "Your ministry is to your family right now" . Talk about "bursting someone's bubble" -I don't know if she realized it but she really disappointed me. However, she was right! I was homeschooling our four children, 7 months pregnant and my husband was still building our house!

In the beginning of our Christmas letter in 2000, I said,

We pray this letter finds you all well. I had hoped to write you this from our new home but such is not the case. Like last year's letter the “projected” month is February, however, the “projected” year has changed. But we’ve already seen recently how these “projections” go, so your guess is as good as mine!

I had thought that everything was going to be "Peachy keen" since I obeyed my husband like I am supposed to. I believed that in obeying my husband I was obeying God and in most cases this is true. But it seemed that I obeyed God and all Hell broke loose! I was once again "thrown for a loop" by Satan that great deceiver! Could this decision that eventually tore our family apart have been God's will? Was it God's will that we be in debt? Was it God's will that we have a huge house and thus a huge mortgage? Was it God's will that my children's father spend his every free moment working on the house? I have come to learn that is it NEVER God's will for a father to neglect his family.

Because of my husband's decision our family entered a "storm" when we were building our house.

Not unlike the storm the disciples found themselves in:

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Matthew 14:23-32

It seems Jesus asked this question often;

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40 When He calmed another storm.

O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Matthew 16:8

How many storms did the disciples have to go through, until they trusted Him? At one point they asked Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), perhaps that is the reason they had to go through so many storms? George Muller said, “The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials.”

Peter in the Bible went through them. He "wept bitterly" when he realized he had betrayed Jesus, just as predicted. But I think he gained strength to press on from remembering what Jesus had said to him, "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22:32)

In Luke 18 is the story of the persistent widow who pesters the unjust judge until he grants her request. Jesus is teaching us to be persistent in our prayers to God who is just and loves us. He wants us to trust Him.

Hebrews 11:6 says "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Jesus ends this story about the widow with a question again:

"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Verse 8)

In 2012 I found a verse that made me laugh. It's in I Kings 7, verse 1, it says, "But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house; so he finished all his house." I read it to Bob and he said, "So I still have time then?"

I replied, "No, your time is just about up" It's been 14 years now since we started our house and so much has happened. There were times when I'd think, "I need to write my book now" but then "life happened" and it ended up I didn't "get around to it". I heard a whisper from God to my soul, "Wait Susan, I'm not done writing that story yet."

I was thinking about an ending for this chapter, one morning in May of 2013. I was also "beating myself up" once again, lamenting that I had wasted my writing time the day before on facebook. I started my then new ritual of going through my house praising God and praying for my children. I usually listened to Colton Dixon's song, "You Are" on my newly acquired android phone while I did this. I walked into perhaps the room that's "changed hands" the most in our house. First it was the school room/computer room/guest room, then it was Sarah's room, then it was Ian's room and then it was Teddy's room and now it is our library. I was astonished when I walked in the room and saw a banner, hand painted with green, black and gold paint on the newspaper end rolls I acquired long ago for my kids to do art on when we were homeschooling. The banner read in big letters:

"Faith without action is dead" James 2:17

Was that a "still small voice" I heard again? Yes it was, He said, "Now, it is time."

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:3-9

When the Lord speaks a word into our lives, it is like a seed. It takes time for a seed to sprout. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. God knows when we’ve reached the time of germination. T.D. Jakes

I'm so excited! Click to buy my first book! "The Seven Story Tree; A book of Poetry" 

Check out my new webiste;  and get my new children's book, "What Elephant?"

The next topic in this series is Virtue

Prayer for This House by Louis Untermeyer (From our 2000 Christmas letter)

May nothing evil cross this door,
And may ill-fortune never pry
About these windows; may the roar
And rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, these rafters will
Withstand the battering of the storm;
This hearth, though all the world grow chill,
Will keep us warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
Touching our lips with holy wine,
While every casual corner blooms
Into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout;
And, though these sheltering walls are thin,
May they be strong to keep hate out
And hold love in.