Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Beauty



For many the world has become a frightening place - filled with ugly and evil things. Every day, 24 hours a day, the air around us is filled with the most recent terrifying, discouraging news. As if that were not enough, social media all too often becomes a place filled with angry, hateful words tapped out with little thought of the consequences. 

I passed this little patch of verbena on my walk yesterday. Each violet colored bloom is made up of tiny flowers. Together they formed a wild, beautiful bouquet.

The Hand that planted them chose to put them right next to an ant hill. And not just any ants. These are fire ants, a name you will fully understand if you have the misfortune to be bitten by one. They stealthily crawl onto your person and deliver a vicious bite before you are even aware they're there.
And yet, He chose this place - an ugly, dangerous place.

In spite of their surroundings, they grow - and not just grow, they flourish and fill their small space with beauty. They are a sweet picture of a life lived well in the midst of difficult circumstances. They bravely do just what they have been created to do and, in the process, bless those around them.

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Good Gifts


A few weeks ago we hosted our Supper/Bible Study small group at our home. We prepared a large pot of chili, rice, salad, crusty bread and butter and apple pie for desert. It took a while to decide on a menu – something we could cook ahead of time and have ready when we all arrived, with rumbling tummies, at our house after Saturday evening church.
Part of the decision was which butter to serve -salted or unsalted. When I married my husband, I made the switch from salted to unsalted. I’m the one who adds salt to practically everything so I looked on it as a bit of a sacrifice. Over the years, I grew accustomed to the taste and even liked it. However, a little yearning for salty butter remained.
In order to ensure everyone’s happiness, we bought both kinds. Ah, I thought, here’s my opportunity to indulge in what I’ve been missing. After everyone had been seated and served, I helped myself to a slice of bread, slathered it with salty butter and took a big bite. To my amazement, it didn’t taste as delicious as I remembered. All that longing and anticipation, and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
For the rest of the story, please join me at Laced With Grace.

Blessings,
Linda

Monday, March 6, 2017

Finding Joy


Blessed to have heard, and embraced with all my little girl heart, the gospel message at an early age, I wanted nothing more than to please God. Truthfully, I wanted to please everyone - so of course I wanted the Lord to be happy with me. Evidenced by the many times I raised my small hand to receive Jesus into my heart. I guess I wanted to make sure He hadn't missed me - or, perhaps, that my Sunday School teachers understood I was a good girl.

Looking back at that little girl now, I feel a tenderness in my heart toward her. How easy it is for young to minds to process doctrinal teachings, words that don't translate well from adult language to that of children, and come up with a unique theology all their own.

I remember sitting in rapt attention, listening to visiting missionaries, evangelists or people of my own acquaitance give their testimonies. Invariably, at least to my young ears, the one unifying theme was a resistance on the person's part to the call of God on their life and, after a series of disastrous choices, ending up in the very place they had so hoped to avoid.

Ah well, I thought, this means I will one day find myself in the deepest, darkest jungles of South America because I can't think of a scarier place to be. And, obviously, God always makes you go where you least want to be. I will be doing good, but I won't find much joy. Thankfully, I've gotten over that and see things a bit more clearly. Or have I?

Have you ever felt this way? Let's finish the conversation over at Laced With Grace. 

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Free Ebook


I'm doing a little special on the Kindle version of my book. Beginning tomorrow, Thursday - March 2nd,  it will be free on Amazon! If you've been a bit curious about this cozy mystery, now would be a great time to get a copy. The special will run until Monday - March 6th. Just click on this link and it will take you to Amazon.

Thanks so much to all of you who have read Sleeping Dogs and been so generous with your kind words. I can't tell you how encouraging your reviews have been.

Blessings,
Linda

Monday, February 27, 2017

Saying Goodbye to FB


Our  40 day church fast ended this past Friday. That meant I could feel free to reengage on Facebook - except I didn't. Instead I felt a hesitance - a gentle hand on my shoulder holding me back.

When I began my fast, I worried about the friends I might inadvertently hurt. I knew I would miss important messages, requests for prayer, updates on the lives of friends I hold dear. FB seems to have even taken the place of email - let alone phone calls or a written note. I knew I would be out of the loop in so many ways. For a girl who struggles with a rather disproportionate need for approval the decision was a difficult one. Yet I knew without a doubt I needed to do it.

 It was hard in those first days. I admit, I worried about what people might think of me for not "liking" or commenting. I wondered what I might be missing. But as time went on I noticed a change.

I had always known FB consumed far too much of my time, but I don't think I ever realized what else it was taking from me. As the days turned into weeks, I felt a lifting of a weight. I didn't agonize over FB feeds filled with anger and spite. I didn't worry about the way believers were treating each other. And - I didn't feel guilty about spending too much time on FB at the expense of better things. I think we can safely conclude I can be a bit obsessive. We can also conclude the Lord knows that.

The 40 days passed far more quickly than I would have imagined, and now I am free. The funny thing is, I felt freer during those days than I had in a long time. More importantly, I didn't feel a release to go back to the way things were.

I won't be coming back to FB for now. I have discovered Instagram works well for me. I can put up a picture, write a few words, link to my FB page and move on. You can find me there @lindachontos. I get comments in my email and will always answer those. Please feel free to message me any time.

I'm going to be doing a little something special with my book in the next few days. I'll let you know!

With much love,
Linda



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Look Up!


Walking has been my exercise of choice for many years. I've tried other things, but they never lasted for very long. I have always come back to stepping out into the clear fresh air and onto the quiet little streets of our country sub-division. Most days a breeze sets the grasses in the fields and the branches of the trees dancing to the sweet melody of birdsong. If I have eyes to see, there are miracles all around me. However...

I have a terrible habit. I look down at the ground as I walk. All the articles on walking for exercise tell you to walk with your head held high and eyes straight ahead. I try hard to remember to do it, but minutes into my walk I realize I'm concentrating on the few feet of road right in front of me. 


I see asphalt, dirt, dead leaves, rocks, a stick or two - my own feet. You may think it nothing to fret about. At least I won't trip over something and fall flat on my face. In fact, I nearly stepped on a small snake one of the times I actually was looking straight ahead! But that is of little consequence. What is an occasional snake compared to the beauty all around and over me?


When I catch myself with bent head and force myself to look up, I feel a mixture of wonder and regret. Regret for all I've been missing and wonder at all the delightful things right in front of me - billowing clouds, green fields, looping butterflies, field grass swaying with the breeze swirling around me, puddles filled with sunlit diamonds, wildflowers peeking their tiny heads above the fresh green grass and home with its ancient oaks standing sentinel. If I tilt my head a little more there is a breathtaking glimpse of heaven - radiant and full of promise. Peace washes over my soul.


If I'm not careful, if I get caught up in the dailiness of life, I find my view becomes very narrow. I walk through my days, head down, eyes focused on all of the things I'm trying desperately to control...

Let's talk more about the way we look at things over at Laced With Grace. Join me?

Blessings,
Linda

Monday, February 6, 2017

Walking In Obedience



Merriam-Webster defines obey in this way - "to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with."

The Learners Dictionary definition is: "to do what someone tells you to do or what a rule, law, etc., says you must do."

For most of us being obedient isn't much of a problem in the ordinary course of our lives. We stop at red lights, don't take what isn't ours, refrain from harming others, just to name a few. However, when it comes to those intangibles - the choices I make in my personal life - it gets a bit stickier. After all, we're apt to think, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else, I should be free to do whatever I choose to do. And so we are. It's called free will.

Making the choice to walk in obedience to a higher authority can be a frightening proposition. What if we're asked to do something we don't want to do; what if it's something dangerous or frightening? Even when that higher authority is a God we say is good and loving, obedience often comes with a certain degree of fear.

Until we catch just a tiny glimpse of life from a heavenly perspective.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham had an extraordinary relationship with God. He walked in obedient faith, and the Lord blessed him. Isaac, Abraham's beloved son, was tangible evidence of God's hand of blessing on Abraham's life - the fulfillment of promises made long ago.

Than came the day when obedience to the God he loved, led Abraham on a three day journey to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice his only son. He had no way of knowing what God would do, he simply trusted as he took one step after another toward the place he had been told to go.

Our Pastor recently spoke about this moment in Abraham's life - that moment when he raised the knife over the bound body of his boy and, before he could bring it down, hearing the voice from heaven telling him to stop. Then, perhaps through tear dimmed eyes, seeing the ram in the thicket - God's provision.

Rams, our Pastor said, don't inhabit Mt. Moriah at that altitude. Yet, as Abraham walked obediently up the side of that mountain, God was sending his provision up the other side to meet him. He had no way of knowing what God was doing on his behalf, He only knew he could trust Him to make all things right...

The rest of this devotional is at Laced With Grace. Please join me there.

Blessings,
Linda