Today, (as I explore the island of Maui) I have a guest post from author Terri Tiffany. I met Terri 6 years ago (time sure goes fast) when I was blogging at my other place, Connecting Stories. I’ve always been inspired by Terri’s writing and her tenacity! She’s also an excellent photographer and she picked up guitar around the same time that I purchased my first one! I’d say we were meant to connect. Her first novel, The Mulligan, was lovely and I’m looking forward to reading her latest release, The Bend. Enjoy, my friends.
Ever receive a challenge in the middle of the night?
Two years ago, I opened a fresh document and typed one sentence: “She was perfect.”
My tenth novel. Would this be the one I’d free myself to let go and write the story I wanted to write? Until that time, my novels always carried a hint of people and situations I knew first-hand. I had never pushed myself to write a story from pure imagination.
The Bend became that challenge.
But first I needed a main character with a trait most people don’t have. Since my hobby is photography, I gave Kate Snow that occupation. With a twist. She could see details in her photographs other people couldn’t. Then I needed a place where her gift, curse or blessing, might transform her and those around her. The town of Bend became reality. I also wanted the town to come alive as much as my characters. That’s why I called it The Bend instead of Bend. It’s a place most of us wouldn’t want to spend a night.
As I rest away in Maui this week, I have a special guest to fill the page! Meet Joy, a friend and writing comrade who opens her house each month to our Christian writers group, Writers Cafe (and must also say provides the sweetest treats as well my favorite brand of coffee)!
There’s been something niggling to get to the forefront of my mind all week. Something I keep shoving back. It’s a No-I-don’t-want-to-do-that! kind of shove.
But then an email from a friend arrives:
“Have you surrendered your role as _________________ to God? Are you willing to let it go completely and allow that His plan may be different, and not just resign yourself to that, but embrace it with anticipation?”
Rats! Way to bring up the elephant in the room. Now I can’t shove the niggling thought – the conviction from God – away. There it is, staring me right in the face.
God’s plans are not syncing with my plans. And I’m not happy about it!!
“Patience,” she says. “After all, Niagara Falls wasn’t formed in a day.”
“Mom,” I say, my ten year-old self feeling smug and smart. “The saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day, not Niagara Falls!”
She doesn’t stop pinning the hem of a dress I am to wear to my eldest brother’s wedding. We’d pick the material and pattern out on a shopping trip to the fabric store in town about a month before. And this was at least the fifth time I’d had to stand on the step stool in our kitchen as she tucked, pinned, and chalked the paisley printed cotton.
“Rome or Niagara Falls…great things take time,” she say. “Now straighten your knees or your hem is going to be as crooked as the tower of Pisa.”
I straighten in obedience. Anticipation of the new dress had me excited but irritable with the time it was taking. Yet, with each fitting there was a new piece added, stitched thoroughly. The dress changed to be suited perfectly for me, with my mother’s skill and with time.
Usually I just scroll by or hit the delete tab, but this time I didn’t. Maybe the picture of an international city on my bucket list to visit or the tag line appealing to my growth mindset were the draws. Regardless, I clicked on the embedded video link in this email from the advertiser that I’d still not yet ‘unsubscribed.’
You know you are loved, she says, this beautiful woman gowned in a dress that flows gracefully to the top of her knees, and wearing such high-heeled shoes that I wonder if she practices walking on stage prior to addressing the few hundred woman that attend her conferences.
The camera spans across the women at white-clothed tables, women eager to better themselves and their businesses, of different nationalities and faith.
Her bracelets dangle as she sweeps her arms up and around as if to embrace someone. You are absolutely loved and it is from knowing that love, that you can give your best to the world, she continues.
“This reminds me,” commented G, “of an 18th century painting where Jesus is knocking but there is no handle. Only the one inside can open it.”
“I wonder where that painting is now?” C questioned. But G was not sure.
We were gathered together, our group of four, to discuss what the Spirit showed us in the scripture passages we’d been led to read, to re-read and to reflect.
It is a cold Monday evening, the temperature just dipping below -20 Celsius and I resisted to take the 10 minute drive to my church to attend the first evening of Solemn Assembly.
The church auditorium is open every night this first week of the calendar year for a gathering of guided prayer and meditation. It’s a time to ‘take an extended pause….to turn to God in prayer’ the printed guide defines.
But I found myself resisting the invitation, this invite to be present in prayer.
What if, I think, He stays quiet, like I feel He has for these many months past?
So many unanswered prayers (at least in my perception) had me discouraged and my intellect mind challenged.
But I gathered up my bible and my favorite blue pens, and drove the snowy roads, grateful for the heated car seats. Yet, in a small act of defiance I see now, (I’ve shown up for you front and center God, now it’s time for you to show up for me!), I slipped into the second row from the back instead of my usual third row from the front position.
A few moments later, on the other end of the pew, G and B take a seat, B being the woman I wrote of here, whose welcoming act and invitation when I first ever attended this church, began the breaking down of my defensive barriers as a single attending a church.
When we move in our seats to be closer together, G, B, C (a lady who took a seat behind me) and I, B asks a question of me, a confirming question that is. And, I ponder, is this an answer to prayer?
And C and I, we learn, have a mutual friend from another church. And our smiles mirror, as we reflect on how lovely this lady friend of ours is, and oh! what a small world it is!
But is it?
Instead of a small world of random chance, could this time be divinely orchestrated by the One who always is there to prosper me, because I showed up?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
Maybe, just maybe, rather than waiting behind our gates of resistance, our gates of uncertainty, or our gates of discontentment, it is when we move, take a step in faith by taking a step of action, is when we open the door for Christ.
Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:21-22
The handleis on our side. Jesus is just waiting for us to open the door so He can come in.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty the Lord mighty in battle.
Is there an action of faith you are resisting to take? Are you waiting on Christ to make the move? Or maybe, just maybe, He’s waiting for you to lift open the gate….?
“Oh, no. Now what?” I mumble to myself, my arm tiring from creaming together the ingredients that I thought were right. Except glancing at the recipe on my Ipad screen, I see I was to add in 1 cup of coconut sugar, not the 1 cup of coconut flour I was trying to blend. Worse yet, reading further, the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup coconut flour.
Interrupting the expletives piercing my thoughts, I come up with the only solution that may redeem these gluten-free snacks I am making for my daughter’s family.
Triple all the ingredients. And hope for the best.
As I search my pantry, praying I have enough of the necessary ingredients times three, I chastise myself for not reading the recipe closer in the first place. See, it is not the first time I’ve made these treats. So I guess I figured I already knew how.