Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankful for Blogging

I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit speaks to so many of us on the same topic on the same day. My bloggy friend, Denise (over at Shortybears Place) and I are both thankful today for blogging.

God has used blogging in my life to challenge and stretch me both as a follower of Jesus and as a writer. I have met incredibly faithful Christians in the blogosphere who (whom?) God has used to inspire me to take longer strides of faith and deepen my trust in Him. I have also learned that with God's vast imagination and ability to stretch time, I am capable of much more as a writer than I ever thought possible. I am daily thankful that the Lord has brought me to this place. Just a year ago, although I had heard of a blog, I had no idea what the whole concept of blogging was about.

I am also thankful for Brianna Renshaw, who was the first person I ever met who had a blog. She introduced the idea of starting our own blogs to my friend, Dawn, and I.

I praise God for Dawn and her three E's--encouragement, enthusiasm, and energy. Without her, I would never have started a blog or accepted the 2011 A to Z Challenge.

Which leads me to Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, who is the founder of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Haven't heard of it? Bloggers are challenged to commit to writing a post a day every day in April (except Sundays)--with the added stipulation that April 1st's post has a theme beginning with A; April 2nd's has a theme beginning with B; etc, to April 30th, which has a theme beginning with Z.

Last year I was one of over 1200 people who took the challenge. Who would have thought that writing everyday would be so popular? Want to know more about the it? Click on  A to Z Blogging Challenge. You will meet sooooo many great Christian bloggers through it.

That's how I connected with so many of you kindred spirits who are now following 2 Encourage. Your loyalty and positive comments warm my heart and carry me through dry spells (both writing and spiritual). Thank you, all!


God's greatest blessings!

©2012 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Little Twist To Our “Thanks For” List

Photo by Snapshots of Joy

This means that anyone who belongs
to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Our pastor (who happens to be my gifted husband) suggested that this Thanksgiving we try a little twist to our “Thanks for” list: Rather than thanking God for what he has given us, Dick suggested we thank him for what he has taken from us. I thought that sounded a bit odd until I heard his examples: Former smokers can be thankful God delivered them from nicotine, an abused girlfriend can be thankful God helped her end the relationship, a cancer patient can be thankful God guided the surgeon’s hands in removing the cancerous tumor, etc.

As an exercise in praise, I decided to write my list of things I was thankful God removed from my life:

  • the penalty for my sins through the sacrifice of Jesus
  • our seven-year wait to adopt
  • the prison of worry
  • my ulcerative colitis flares
  • my mother's cancer.
  • sole responsibility for 1stWrites
  • the overgrown shrubs in our yard for a tenth of the estimated cost
  • our children's dependence (Proud to be the parent of two independent, responsible adults!)
  • legalistic religion

What's on your list of things you are thankful that God removed from your life?

©2012 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hurtling Through Life

East Broad Top Railroad
Orbisonia, PA
As children, my brother, sisters and I could hear the whistle of a train several times throughout every day. The tracks dissected our little town. Depending on the weather, the whistle was sometimes loud and clear; at other times it seemed muffled by the humid air of summer or the dampening of a million snowflakes in winter.

As the train approached the center of town, the whistle would crescendo to the point of piercing, and then decrescendo to a whisper in the distance. Even from five blocks away, we could hear the train wheels go clacked-y-clack, clacked-y-clack on the tracks when the train crossed the overpass.

Though hard to believe, the sound of the whistle sometimes blew unnoticed, even in summer with all the windows open. Repetition can dull our ears to even the most obvious and persistent sounds. On sleepless nights the sound punctuated the darkness and underlined the obvious—you are still awake . . . you are not getting the sleep you need.

Despite the station still situated near the underpass, the railroad companies no longer service our area. Once busy, the town is now devoid of those industries that required rail service. The train just hurries through, its clacking and roaring and whistling seeming to say, “I have more important places to be, more important people to transport, and precious cargo to deliver.

In those wee hours of a sleepless night one might consider the whistle of a train a lonely reminder that life is moving on. However, I wonder if it might be an opportunity God gives to take stock of where our life is going and to re-examine who and what is precious and important to us.

With Thanksgiving upon us and the "countdown" to Christmas just ahead,  are we like the train, hurtling our way through life? Are we so intent on getting everything done that we bypass devotions with God and miss fleeting moments with loved ones who deserve our time and attention in more than a cursory way? Is God trying to blow the whistle on us? Are we listening or have we grown accustomed to his persistent voice and don’t really hear it anymore? Let us heed God's warning whistle so that Jesus will never say of us, 

"These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing.
They have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see.
Their ears never hear. Their minds never understand."
Matthew 13:15

©2012 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Things

Photo by Bart Heird

I found out this week that Chicago is a humongous city! Dick and I spent a couple of days there visiting family. Driving in the big city proved dauntingly slow and difficult. And while we have managed to get around Washington, DC on the Metro for years, the intricacies of the unfamiliar Chicago EL deterred us from trying it. New things seem to affect most of us that way.

What about new ideas in the church? Do innovative suggestions overwhelm and intimidate us? Are we resistant to newfangled notions? Have we argued, “We’ve never done it that way”?

Listen to Isaiah 43:

18 But the Lord says,

“Do not cling to events of the past

or dwell on what happened long ago.

19 Watch for the new thing I am going to do.

It is happening already—you can see it now!

I will make a road through the wilderness

and give you streams of water there.

20 Even the wild animals will honor me;

jackals and ostriches will praise me

when I make rivers flow in the desert

to give water to my chosen people.

21 They are the people I made for myself,

and they will sing my praises!”

Our God is the Lord of original thinking! He uses all that creativity to reach us, whether it is in the spiritual desert of our souls or in the wilderness of sin that tempts us. Shouldn’t we be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit even when it might make us a bit uncomfortable or force us to tread formerly untraveled paths?

Let’s follow God’s instructions through the prophet Isaiah and let go of events of the past and refuse to dwell on what happened long ago. Let us watch for the new thing that God is doing, and join Him in it

What “new thing” is God doing in your church? In your life? How exciting it would be to read in the comments section about these new movements of God!

©2012 Pamela D. Williams