Thursday, November 29, 2012
That’s the story of Christ’s love for us. He loved us when we didn’t even know who He was. He loved us when we treated Him as “just a friend.” He loved us when we were angry because He let us fall or told us a truth we didn’t want to hear.
And though we too often treat Him like the neighbor with the good toys, hoping He lets us play at our own leisure—in other words, using Him—He still loves us.
Full, complete, whole love.
My prayer is that our lives end as one of those great romances, where we see and understand the depth of the love from our Savior, the ultimate the sacrifice, and know not only His passion for us, but we become keenly aware of our own for Him.
Song of Songs 2: 10 “My lover spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.’”
Can You Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner?
Relax, Let Go—And Let Him Carry You
Amazing Grace, Do We Take It for Granted?
Friday, November 16, 2012
If you are a reader of fiction, you probably know Brandilyn Collins as a bestselling author. If you’ve ever been to an ACFW Conference, you know her as a wonderful Master of Ceremonies. But I’ve discovered, this year, her greatest gift—that as Prayer Warrior. Though many have seen—and felt—this gift in action around the “prayer room” at the conference, this story is not about her own wielding of His Sword, but largely of how she was the recipient of God’s Mercy through the prayers of others. Take time to absorb this one. God is very, very Big!!!
Here it is …
I have battled Lyme disease twice. The second time came with a reinfection in 2009. At that time I caught the disease fairly early and wasn’t nearly as sick as I was the first time. With the help of a Lyme-literate doctor, and after about six months of aggressive antibiotic treatment, I became well. To this day I remain completely healthy. I am a testament to the fact that long-term antibiotics can be effective in the treatment of Lyme.
My first battle began in 2002 and ended with a very different kind of healing—a miraculous one. I report that story here. You may read it and say, "Praise God." You may not believe the story at all, or even find yourself hostile to it. I cannot control your response. I can only say—this is what happened. In the New Testament, in the book of John, chapter 9, is a recounting of a blind man healed by Jesus. The religious leaders of the day grilled the man—why did this happen to you, how did it happen? The man couldn't answer all their questions. Finally he said (verse 25), "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" In the same way I can't answer all the questions that arise from this story. I can only say, "I was crippled but now I walk."
By May of 2003 I'd battled Lyme disease and two of its coinfections for nearly a year. I was very sick. I'd gone from being a fit, five-miles-a-day runner to crippling around with a cane, unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I'd lost my ability to write, and then, even to read. My entire body hurt. I had the horrific brain fog so common in Lyme. My eyes were sensitive to light. The bottoms of my feet felt like they were on fire, and I was constantly exhausted. Most of this time I was home-bound. I'd been diagnosed in late January of 2003 and had begun antibiotic treatment in February. By May, after three months of aggressive treatment administered by an experienced Lyme-literate doctor, I was worse. I learned this was not uncommon with Lyme patients as they begin their treatment, because the Lyme bacteria give off toxins as they're killed by the antibiotics, causing "Herx" periods of worsened symptoms. With Lyme, things truly can get worse before they get better.
The last week of the illness was a relatively good one for me, which was expected. I'd cycled off part of the medication for a week, allowing my body to rest. On Monday May 12th I was scheduled to start another round of medication, the harshest yet, and one expected to cause the worst "Herx" periods of all. Taking advantage of my better week, my husband, Mark, and I decided to go to our second home for the weekend. Then on Tuesday 6th God impressed upon me that we should visit the Healing Rooms in Spokane, Washington. I'd never gone there before. This is a Christian ministry with a plethora of miracles in its history.(Please see the Web site at www.healingrooms.com. There are various Healing Rooms across the country.)
Meanwhile, a friend from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) e-mail loop felt a strong impression to set up a 24-hour prayer time for me on Saturday May 10. She began signing up people to pray for 15-minute slots, starting at midnight Friday night, Central time. No one on the loop knew I was planning to go to the Healing Rooms that very day. But God knew. And He'd now made it clear—Saturday was His day for me.
At that time I couldn't read much and couldn't sit at the computer to view emails. But through phone calls I began hearing from others in ACFW how the list for praying was filling up. I cannot adequately express how that made me feel. It's very humbling to see others choose to serve you, when you've done nothing to deserve such service. Yet there it was. And to see that people were even willing to get up in the middle of the night! I thanked God, knowing my unworthiness, yet also knowing that He was planning something big—for the good of us all.
Saturday morning I was really hurting, paying for trying to do too much on Friday. I hobbled into the Healing Rooms using my cane as much as I could, but with a weak upper body, you can't lean much on a cane. My son, daughter and husband went with me. The four of us met with two different prayer counselors in two subsequent sessions and prayed for my healing. I was expecting a miracle—but nothing happened. I was deeply disappointed. Why had God led me up to this, and then—nothing? But one thing I had learned during my illness was to praise God whether I felt like it or not. (Many times I didn't.) So in those deeply disappointing moments as we returned to our car, I willed myself to praise God simply for who he is—regardless of the fact that he'd "let me down."
On the way back home we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. When I got out of our SUV, I jumped right out of it. Getting out of that high-sitting vehicle had been a major issue for me. As I walked into the restaurant I suddenly didn't need my cane. At all. I walked slowly, but NORMALLY. I hadn't walked like that for months! Leaving the restaurant after lunch, I walked even better. By the time we got back to our house, I felt like a new person. The pain was gone. My knees were stronger. My elbows and neck didn't hurt. I felt ENERGY again. I went upstairs—taking those steps completely normally. Then I came down them (really hard for weak legs), again like the strong, fit person I used to be. For months I'd had to turn sideways and come down one step at a time, lowering only by using my left leg, because my right knee had been the worst. Now I just sailed down those stairs. I let out a whoop and called the family to come see. So of course I had to run back up the stairs—and sail down them again.
We all were beyond amazed.
Next I just had to strap on my jogging shoes. Hadn't had them on for a long time. I went outside to walk around our driveway. The driveways altogether around the house and garages and up to the road and back form about a 1/3 mile loop. And there are some grades to them. I hadn't been able to go up and down the merest grade, even with a cane, for a long time. Suddenly I was just walking up those hills. Then walking down. I ended up doing 3 laps, about 1 mile. The last lap I actually did a light jog.
I was healed! Completely, unbelievably healed.
I wanted to keep walking after the five laps, but I knew I should take it easy on my muscles, which weren't used to the exercise. So I went inside and turned on my computer to read emails. (Yes, I could now read!) What an outpouring from folks at ACFW who were praying! They still didn't know I'd gone to the Healing Rooms. Yet post after post came through about the powerful prayer times people were having. They were being blessed, and God was giving many an expectation of a miracle. I realized then that this day of prayer, indeed, was not about me. It was about God releasing His power—in my body, and in the minds of all of those who were praying. Some of them even mentioned telling others—spouses or friends—about the prayers, and how those people had been affected. One of the women stopped the work in a beauty parlor, as she was getting her hair colored when her time came to pray. Her hair dresser and the receptionist prayed too, and the receptionist said, "I've never felt closer to God than right now." Others mentioned their spouses' amazement at the day of prayer--and how it was a witness for them.
By this time it was about 4:00 Pacific time. People would still be praying for me until 10 p.m. my time (midnight Central time). I knew without a doubt that I could not write the ACFW loop and tell them what had happened yet. God was continuing to pour out his blessings on those who were praying, and I needed to allow that to continue. The following day, after the 24-hour vigil had ended, I would tell them my incredible news.
Here are a few more of the many statements from those praying as they wrote the loop on Saturday:
"I could see Christ's light of healing and love going right through Brandilyn's life."
"No words would come except for Brandilyn's name. The more I tried to concentrate, the more her name kept being repeated. So I spent the whole time just saying her name, figuring the Holy Spirit knew what He wanted to say."
"This prayer list was called forth by God Himself. He will be lifted up and praises from the results of this day will be spoken throughout the world for some time to come."
"I really felt the presence of God."
"By the time I finished praying and crawled back into bed at 3:05 a.m., I knew that God had already begun to answer."
"I felt the strong desire to pray that God would heal Brandilyn right then."
"I was amazed at how blessed I was MYSELF during my half hour of prayer."
"God impressed me with the need to pray for healing right now. That prayer stream went throughout the day."
"When I closed my eyes to pray, I felt like I was already at the throne room of grace."
"It was a time of indescribable peaceful communion."
And the last one to pray, from 11:45 p.m. to midnight:
"The song 'Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children' kept running through my head and interrupting my prayers, so I finally decided to just sing the song and changed my prayer of supplication to a prayer of praise for what I knew God had accomplished that day through the faithfulness of His children."
God had done an amazing thing. He'd used a need in my life as a springboard for pouring out His blessings on many.
When I finally went to bed that night, for the first time in months I didn't need to put a long pillow lengthwise under my legs. I'd had to do this because I couldn't straighten my knees, and because I needed my heels to hang off the pillow so they wouldn't rest on the bed, which hurt. But no longer did I need that pillow.
Mark and I got up the next day—Mother's Day—and went for a three-mile walk. Three miles! I'd counted it wondrous when I could shuffle a lap around the downstairs of our home. Then I came home from the walk and cleaned the kitchen. Did some vacuuming. Vacuuming!
From that day on (until a reinfection in 2009) I remained completely well. I immediately started writing again, and running. Before long I'd worked back up to my regular five miles. To this day I praise God for what he chose to do for me.
Click the link and scroll to the bottom to see Brandilyn’s television interview about her healing. http://www.brandilyncollins.com/healing.html
And for more information on Lyme’s, check out her resource page: http://www.brandilyncollins.com/lyme.html
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.
Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.
When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.
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Friday, November 9, 2012
So, you have faith, but do you really TRUST God? A minister acquaintance of mine once told me about a man who was known for walking a tightrope across Niagra Falls. He was so skilled, when he asked his audience if they thought he could carry across a man in a chair, they answered with an enthusiastic yes. So, he pointed to a chair and said, “Get in.”
Can you just see the audience’s collective step backwards? Can you hear the clodding of multiple pairs of shoes as they distanced themselves from their previous statement? That’s just what happened. Yes, they thought—possibly—he could do it, but they weren’t willing to stake their lives on that belief.
Is that what our faith in God looks like? Ask yourself, do you have a get-in-the-chair kind of faith? Do you step out, taking risks to follow what God calls you to do with complete trust it will be for your own good and His glory? Do you trust God enough to obey His commands?
I don’t know about you, but I have some problems with what’s written in the Bible. In fact, when I first met intelligent people who actually believed it was the Word of God, I was dumb-struck. I mean, yeah, I believed in God and all … and I kind of knew Jesus died for me, but there’s a lot of stuff in that thick, onion-page-filled book I didn’t like. I was a feminist after all. Sheesh!
Not only was I well educated (I know, LA-TEE-DA), but I could site lots of behavioral and sociological research that “proved” the Bible didn’t make sense. Ha! So why did these intelligent people read, study and act on the words in that book?
Because, when done in His name, it works. Not because some human predicted it from statistical analysis, but because God, the Creator of the universe, said it would.
So I conducted my own little experiment. I stepped out in faith. In little ways, mind you, I’m not the bravest of souls. And guess what?
God is faithful.
And He means what He says.
Those little steps prompted me to take larger ones, and I’ve found when I act Biblically—for God—He backs me up and even blesses me.
So, I’ve dedicated my life to following Him. Have I gotten “in the chair” and trusted He’ll carry me over perilous drops and treacherous surges of water? Hmmm, I don’t trust myself enough to claim that level of belief. But I do hope I am continually growing everyday so that I can one day boast a Get-in-the-chair kind of faith.
How about you?
Have you ever stepped out in faith and found His blessing? Tell us about it below.
Knowledge and Wisdom
Let Him Who Boasts, Boast in the Lord
An Empty Vessel
Friday, November 2, 2012
Genesis 2: 1b
It’s been a hard few weeks in the Almony household. I’ve had to travel more than I’m used to, one child has had a serious illness requiring medication that makes her very ill … and let’s not forget Hurricane Sandy (which, though the eye practically passed right over us, we were virtually spared of much of its horrific effects).
With all of these things pulling at me, I am comforted to know, as I attempt to model myself in the image of my Creator, there is a time for rest. Because this is a topic on which I can expound in great length, having worked as a counselor with over-achieving, perfectionistic women suffering from anxiety disorders, I think I will do so in my next post on Writer’s Rest on November 8th. But for now, I will heed the call to be like my God in this one thing.
I will rest.
And since there is not more of a post to read, take this time to pray for those who were impacted by the hurricane.