Site Retirement

If you follow me here, all future blog posts and all past blog posts can be found at vickiwhitlock.org so you can follow me there.

 

 

Blessings – Vicki

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Independence

I’m sitting here at two o’clock in the afternoon listening to the fireworks going off, as they have for several days. It is July 2, 2017. So I know there will be more days of the daytime noises and the night skies lit up until midnight.

We do like our fireworks, don’t we? Our way of celebrating the anniversary of the publication of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776.

 

As a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, I understand independence as a freedom from the weight of sin that held me in bondage.  I understand that my dependence on God allows me that freedom. The same God our founding fathers also depended on, in ways I’ll never understand or know the depth of.

We have no guarantee that our independence here will remain forever. But we celebrate what we have, why we have it and have hope for the very best for those who will follow us.  And, as believers who walk in The Way, we can be assured the freedom God has given us is eternal. Both are ways of independence well worth rejoicing.

This is an oldy, but….well, that’s just me. Please be safe, and have a great holiday….Happy Independence Day!!

Choosing – with peace

In the process of trying to find a new direction, for my life, my writing, maybe even how to live out my faith, I’ve backed away from some things. Faith By Choice was one of them. But, you know what? Here I am again, rambling about faith and choices and the God that loves us more than we can ever imagine.

I’ve spent a lot of the last month attending online training webinars on writing and marketing and things I sat and just shook my head at. Is that really me?

One webinar last week got me really excited. It was practical. It had veins of spirituality running through it. It required choices to move forward. It said nothing about praying about the choices, but I believed it was put in front of me for a reason. I ultimately made choices and began a new direction.

And then the Lord reminded me that I had made all those choices according to what I felt was right for me, what I believed was the best course of action, jumping right ahead without waiting on confirmation from Him.

I was reminded of some of the guidelines I learned to use in making choices. Did my choice line up with the Word? Was it lining up with His character? Was there peace in moving in the direction I wanted to go?

Okay. So, there was some of that in some of my choices. But I know that only because I looked after the fact, hoping that I wasn’t totally off track. Which is a testimony to God’s grace and mercy. He keeps me grounded enough to not get crazy wild, but still, the process is equally as important as making the choice and there was a flavor of “I’ll do this to keep Him happy and I still get what I want” in the decisions I had made.

I knew, but wouldn’t acknowledge, that there was no peace. I sat for four days staring at my new websites. Two of them. One business, one personal. Playing around with the design, killing time. Trying to determine what to write, how to “work” the plan.

No peace. None.

So I offered my apologies and got away from the computer, and the television, and the radio and waited on God. I prayed for every person on my prayer list, I prayed for the nation and for whatever came to mind to pray.  I sat and waited for that still small voice to offer me a breadcrumb. Nothing. So I went back to the computer and sat and stared. I was frustrated. I was ready to quit. That old nature was moving dangerously close to a rebellious tantrum.

I turned on the television and a preacher I like came on. So I listened. Oooohhh. The lesson was on making sure we were lined up with God. So after it was finished I turned it off and picked up the Bible and was led to start reading Provers. Wisdom.

So I read, and prayed, and stayed away from the websites and this morning I just wanted quiet. I sat by the open window and listened to the birds and had my morning conversation with my Father. And then I read some more in Proverbs. It was not like I’d never read it before, but it was blowing me away. Not because I felt any wiser, but because it was clearly defining, in just the first two chapters, how wretched the world can become without wisdom, and how pursuing wisdom is our way to security.  Funny thing, I wasn’t even concerned about my writing or my websites or my attempts to continue my working from home.

I turned on the television and went to my Roku menu, looking for one specific teaching pastor I always gained insight from. I found him and started to listen to a sermon from the first of the year. I didn’t know what he was about to share.

It was about finding God’s will for your life. Finding God’s direction, and the ways to do so.

I had to laugh. God was definitely telling me something, even if the venue wasn’t that still small voice. For the next hour, I listened to familiar scriptures, and the importance of seeking God, and the fact that the “way” of the journey is more important than the destination.

Then I came to the computer and pulled up both of my websites. “Okay, Lord, you know I just want to be pleasing to you, so whatever you say, I’m in.”

And, here I am. This site that was retired, now active again. The other sites, still active as well. The choices I made were not bad ones, but I had left something very important out. In making my decisions, I made them on who and what I thought I was according to worldly definitions.  Sometimes we label ourselves according to those definitions, and we might not be far off in our estimations, but they are weak, without substance without God as our foundation.

And as I sit here and ramble on about decisions and the journey to them and away from them, there is peace. A reminder from my Lord that Faith is by Choice, not always easy, but without regret.

Blessings – Vicki

 

 

 

 

 

No complaining . . .

That’s what I told myself as I looked out the window at another cloudy, damp day. Specifically because this area is in near drought condition and it finally rained off and on all day yesterday, rained a little today, might rain some more over the next four days.

Not going to complain about a lot of things. Mostly because it is counter productive, and because it just  means I’m making comparisons and that is something not particularly pleasing to my Lord.

In fact, instead of complaining, I’ll rejoice. Listened earlier to a study on the power of the tongue and decided way too much complaining goes on, even when I don’t always recognize it as such, so now it’s time to do as we are instructed.

“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.”– Philippians 4:8

Learned a lesson the other day about giving up. Or I should say I learned another lesson about giving up. You know, you think you’ve finally got it, and wham something happens and you realize that there’s still more residue of that filthy rag deep down inside to be submitted to God for cleansing.

Giving up on unrealistic dreams held onto for years and are accomplishing nothing but creating hindrances. Ouch.

Giving up on a direction that is not bad, but in painful, honest moments you know deep down that it is not the best direction to focus on.

To give up some of the things you have created when called upon to do so.  Because the joy in the creation should be enough. Holding on for the wrong reasons speaks of pride, and greed, and even fear; things that become stumbling stones.

So, for today, and prayerfully for every day, I choose to give up complaining, and instead choose pure thoughts and praise.

 

A few ramblings from the rocking chair. Blessings. – Vicki

 

 

It’s going to be okay. . .

I’m a day later than my projected blog schedule, but yesterday got away from me. Here in northwest Missouri we were bombarded by high winds and then later multiple tornado reports, so my weather fascination kicked in and that was my late afternoon and evening.

God and I talked through the whole thing. Well, I did most of the talking, I knew several people in the forecast danger area, occasionally slowing down just long enough to get the sense of peace that enabled me to continue on with my amateur weather forecasting. I did step out into the hallway a couple of times to give the expected weather report (I guess I have a reputation) and some went downstairs “just in case.”

South of my home was hit hardest. But, praise the Lord, no serious injuries. Yes, serious damage to homes and businesses, and minor injuries, but the storm finally passed.

They do, you know. Storms come and they can be violent and then they pass. And, like today, the skies are clear and the air is fresh and clean. But there is always something left behind to remember, to have to get through.

From his experience of losing his home to a tornado several years ago, a veteran newscaster offered encouragement to any who might be going through what he had gone through. Gave them insight on what to expect. Not only in dealing with the damage, but how they would feel during the process. I paraphrase what he ended with, “What you can do now is pray for them. And if you can, go find someone and put your arms around them and just tell them, it’s going to be okay. Not today, or even tomorrow, but it will be okay.”

I don’t know if this newscaster is a believer.  I do know that what he said last night a lot of people probably needed to hear.

For believers, isn’t that what God tells us? That storms come, and havoc results, but He is there to put His love around us and show us that it is going to be okay. And He teaches us the importance of community, of supporting one another.

So whatever you’re going through, allow God to be the one who holds you up, who guides you through the storms. Offer support to and accept support from the people God puts in your life. Then, maybe some day, when something happens to someone else, you can draw on your experience and say to them, “it’s going to be okay. And let me tell you why. . .”

Blessings from the rocking chair.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NASB): For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;  to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
   I love this passage. Sacrificing, putting other people first is a demonstration of love, commitment, loyalty, and faithfulness to God. But the last thing I want to do is diminish the wonderful truth in this by watering  down the Word of God, minimizing the law, by taking on the ways of the world in order to “prove” something. I don’t save people. Jesus does. But my life is a witness to what Christ has done in and for me, and that means I follow the whole Bible and do not take scripture out of context or reword it to fit something I want to do that does not line up with what God teaches me in His scripture. Either it’s all true as written, or none of it is true.
   Neither do I recite it like a mantra or chant to bring about what I’m seeking. It is the Word of God, not to be treated irreverently. It is my guide in prayer, in action, in thought. It is truth that guides me. But I need to know it. Understand it from every angle possible. From history to linguistics to definitions. It is a life long study that must never stop because what is to be gained is endless. It is priceless.
   I trust God to bring learned scripture to mind when temptation tries to lure me.  He has promised to provide a way to stay out of sin. However, in order to avoid sin, I need to understand what sin is, and that is what the law is all about. Not knowing doesn’t make it right.
   Notice Paul says he is free from all men. And then chooses to be a slave to all. My choice? To keep digging, growing daily in the Word in order to be fully convinced. To rejoice in the power of repentance and God’s forgiveness.  Then, with the resulting understanding, to exercise the freedom Paul talks about. Freedom to be who God created me to be, in service to others in service to Him, by the fruit of His Spirit, not my own. (Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.)
   The more I study, and the more I learn, the more in awe of God I am. We live in a world that needs to see all the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated. God’s people, his called out ones, His church, we have a big job in front of us. People are blinded by the half truths out there, they don’t really know what the true church is about. I wonder if it is because many in the church don’t know what church is really about.
   I’m learning everyday how short I have fallen, and I believe in my heart I’m one of the people that “get it” as far as I’m been able to “get it” to this point in my life.
  So I keep looking out for sin in my life. I keep repenting. I keep rejoicing in forgiveness, in God’s mercy and grace. And I pray to be shown those to whom I can demonstrate the truth of Christ, introducing them to a joy beyond compare, to accept Jesus by faith and join us in this incredible journey.
 

I was born to be. . .

I don’t know if it was multiple days of rain, or persistent clouds, or general winter blah, but by the time the sun finally came out today I was not celebrating. Opening shades and windows wasn’t doing it. I was restless, unsettled. I did my study on James, which helped. I did some editing on the novel, which did make me feel like I’d at least accomplished something. I paid a bill and cancelled a couple things that would create bills for next month. But no “real” work came in today. Again.  Being self employed is not always easy.

I stood and looked around the apartment and saw all the things that needed done but I couldn’t seem to settle in to get them done. I thought of things I’d like to do, changes I’d like to make, and was tempted to feel discouraged. But I know God is in control and is the very best provider, and I don’t want to grumble or complain. So I told myself to think of  things that are true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely. . .

Then I noticed the guitar sitting in its stand against the west wall of the apartment. Behind it was the notebook of worship songs MB had given me. I thought, well, I haven’t practiced for a while, maybe I’ll see if the hands are working today.

I was pleased, and a bit surprised, to see I was having no trouble with the chords. Trying to sing along was hilarious, but no one could hear me. (I hope) I went through a few songs, warming up, and then I hit one of my favorites and found myself sitting up straighter and smiling and singing notes that were almost on key.

Then I got to the song. A song I hadn’t played, or even heard, in at least ten years. I started finger picking it, something I’m way out of practice doing, but it was working and something inside of me was stirring. As I sang, the tears started and sometimes the words just couldn’t come out, but I kept on, half laughing at myself, half in awe that God would touch me with a simple little song. It was like an embrace, a reassurance that He knows what I need, when I need it.

“For I was born to be, your dwelling place, a home for the presence of the Lord, so let my heart now be, separated unto thee, that I might be what I was born to be.”

 

 

 

 

 

Choice Continues

I am purposeful in not starting anything new on January 1. I like to give myself a week to determine if my ideas have any solid foundation to them before I jump in.
A week into this new year I have a desire to do more, to be more, in this life of faith. Like everyone else, I am limited to some extent by circumstances surrounding me, but what lies in my heart, in my mind, are God-given realities that circumstances can either weaken or make stronger. It all depends on what I do with, and within, those circumstances.
One thing remains. Choice. To live by faith. Even when people don’t understand. Even when it’s hard. Even when it downright hurts. Even when it demands me to give up things, relationships, physical comfort and convenience. To trust that He has a plan that is far better than mine could ever be.
I choose Jesus, the Christ. I choose His promises. His direction. His joy. Yes, His Cross.
I choose the passions He has put in me to work for His Good. Not my own good.
2017. Another year of choices made in faith. Not always easy, but without regret.
– Vicki
 

Celebrate Christmas? Why?

Okay, so this time of year can be…difficult. I’ve watched it in the lives of family and friends and co-workers. I’ve lived it myself. Sometimes we put a smile on our face and just get through it. Sometimes we ignore it. Sometimes we fall to pieces and hope no one notices.
But the real question seems to frequently come back to, why do we even celebrate Christmas? If we can truthfully determine what Christmas really means to us, then I can’t help but believe we can get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the reality of what this holiday is all about.
It’s so easy to watch those cheerful Christmas movies, the television specials and walk the aisles of the stores where the sales scream at us to be a part of something bigger than us.
Wait…isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be? The chance for us to be a part of something so much bigger and better than us? Something that has all there is that is wonderful about the depth of a love we’ll never truly understand?
Sometimes you just have to make up your mind you are going to “do” Christmas. Be a part of something that represents a gift like none other ever given. To not just mask the pain, the anger, the grief, the rawness that can suck you into the abyss that becomes “the holidays.”
And no way am I saying it will ever be easy. But it is possible, and it can be a time of joy – real joy. IF you do not lose sight of the why in Christmas. Neither am I saying to ignore the memories wrapped in whatever pain you live with that makes this season so hard. This is the reality of life. You were created to feel, but not created to be enslaved by or addicted to the woe that is buried inside you.
Christmas truly is about Christ, and he can, he wants to deliver you from the bondage of whatever level of angst this season brings. That’s why he gave up his spot next to the Father to come and live all the joy and agony we ever have or ever will experience. For us. So we’ve picked a day where we can come together in unity to celebrate, to thank him, for that great gift. To offer to each other what we can of the love he demonstrated, in however we are best suited to do so.
For me, this year, I started telling myself back in August I was going to celebrate Christmas. Not just participate in the seasonal traditions. I knew it would take time for me to prepare myself. And when December One came, I started a personal Christmas Bible Study. To remind myself what this season is – to me. To get my eyes off of myself and the resurrection of things that torment. To acknowledge them, yes, but to allow Christ in me to keep the balance where it needs to be.
So I challenge you, in the seventeen days left until Christmas, determine in your heart what Christmas is to you and just go from there.
“Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King!”

Luke 2:1-14 (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The times we live in . .

The plan was to do monthly grocery shopping at the discount store on Monday. Money is tight, and the ads looked pretty good. But on this Saturday morning I was out of coffee creamer, and almost out of coffee, and thought I’d just run down to the neighborhood store where I usually shop since they had coffee on sale. It was early and I knew there wouldn’t be many there yet so no long waits in line That can be a problem with these crazy knees. Why I avoid large stores most of the time and especially with Friday and weekend busyness.  I appreciate the sense of community that goes with neighborhood stores.
So I walk in and the first thing I see is a big sign saying 25% off everything at the checkout. Oh no, that’s not good. I look around and the workers all have downcast faces. Big oh no. I go down the first aisle…good sales. So I put a few things in the cart and go down another aisle. More good sales. Things I was going to get Monday. On sale here as well and with an additional 25% off. Every aisle had just what I was going to get Monday on sale. I checked out and looked at the receipt and the 25% off had given me an additional $34 in savings.  I am grateful, not only for the savings, but for the short lines and less physical distress.
However, the conversation I had with the lady who checked me out brought about another kind of grateful that was wrapped in concern and even sadness. Yes, the store is closing. It is amazing the sadness that brings. Another family business lost. And as this poor woman opened up about losing her perfect job that gave her perfect work hours to raise her grandchildren she was often close to tears. The workers had thought the store just being sold. But the sale didn’t go through and now everyone was facing loss.

Loss of that kind is hard at any time, but somehow this near to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it always seems harder. She did tell me she had another part-time job, and she was just probably going to have to go back to her old job working evenings.  So I did the best thing there is to do, I told her I’d be praying for her. Her reaction? Part of the sad part, she just looked at me, almost in shock, and then averted her eyes, nodded and said in a trembling voice, “I can use all the prayer I can get.”

I assured her she had it, and I’ve shared it with a neighbor so she can be praying as well. How sad though, that someone is so surprised that anyone would offer to pray for them. It should be the normal thing, to offer prayer, to accept prayer. To know that people do care.

But it’s not. Not in this world we live. . .where faith in Christ, the demonstration of His love, seems no longer the norm.

And whose fault is that?  How serious does it have to be before I offer prayer? That is the thought on my mind, the ache in my heart this morning. Thankful for the opportunity to offer that support. Praying that God do a wondrous thing in the woman’s life and she remembers back to that odd lady in her line who said she’d pray and that a tiny seed planted will sprout.