David, the Shell by Dorinda the Artist

My next door neighbor is truly a remarkable woman. Two years ago her husband was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma cancer of the brain. They fought that battle for over a year but the cancer finally took his life in early April of 2019. Dorinda and John had a very strong love and were devoted to each other.

John’s death has been very difficult for Dorinda and often excrutiatingly painful. But as strong as their love was for each other, their love for God is even stronger and Dorinda has been an amazing witness to the love, compassion and tenderness God has provided for her through this most difficult time of her life.

Dorinda recently began a blog that I find uplifting and inspiring. Her blogs give you insight into her delightfully playful personality, the depth of her character, and the loving ways in which God has made His presence known to her.

I have copied, with her permission, her most recent blog for your enjoyment. I will also include her blog address so that you can go to her site and follow her posts. You’ll be glad you did!

David the Shell

God is so cute! I say this in the most reverent manner possible.

On this beautiful day, after I spend time MEDITATING in God’s gift to us of His word in the Bible, I go for my morning run along the beach. About halfway through my run I glance down and see a beautiful shell that I know I want to keep. I’m always so grateful when I find a really pretty shell.

I thank God for His amazing creativity and beauty.

Some days the beaches are clean and some days they are littered with shells but often times they’re broken pieces. I reach down and pick up this cute “keeper-shell” and put it in my small pocket that I have on my left sleeve on my running shirt. I finish my run and go about my regular business that I need to attend to for this day.

Thursday, the next day, I decide I must do some laundry. I put the laundry in the wash and then the dryer. When the dryer is finished, I open the door and there before my eyes, on the very front edge of the  dryer compartment is God’s beautiful, mini shell that I found on the beach yesterday. It’s staring me in the face as if to say, “I think you forgot about me!” I can’t help but giggle. I KNOW God put it there.

I had completely forgotten to take my adorable shell out of my pocket on my sleeve. It went through the washer and dryer. God then carefully places it right on the front edge of the machine so I can not miss it. It’s the first thing I see when I open the dryer door. This perfectly made shell by our glorious, wonderful God! He gently displays it right in front me.

Wet clothes tumbling around in a hot, tumultuous dryer compartment are realitively very heavy compared to a tiny little shell. Everything inside is whirling around somewhat violently in the small and hot space. God’s precious, little shell sits happily and beautifully displayed on the very narrow edge of the dryer when I open the door. Not coincidence!

My heart and soul hears God tell me, ” I love you, Dorinda.” 1 Samuel 17

That little shell defeated the laundry! I have now named my shell David and the laundry,  Goliath. God loves you so much! ALWAYS be on the lookout and listen for the many ways God shows His IMMENSE  love for you!

dorindatheartist.com

I just Checked a BIG, BIG Item Off My Bucket List8

I have said for years that I wanted to write a book. In my twenties, I started a romance novel…that didn’t get very far! After my kids were grown, I started writing a parenting book. I finished it but it was never officially published.

In January of this year, I started another book. This time I was determined to finish it and publish it. I completed the rough draft by the end of April, and by the first of August I published my first book on Amazon!

It’s a nonfiction book designed to raise awareness of the damage that all of the incivility we are exposed to every day is doing to our families, our communities and our society. You can find it on Amazon in kindle version or in paperback.

The title is: Taking Civility Out of the Box: The Insanity of Incivility and What Can Be Done About It by Barbara Mason Condra.

Are you wondering what made the difference this time? Why was I able to get the book written this time and get it published? Well the difference is that I didn’t try to do it all by myself. This time I had a writing coach and lots of information about how to go about putting the book together. I found a company that was great to work with and provided me the right guidance to get the job done.

That company was Self-Publishing School and if you are seriously considering writing a book, I highly recommend them. You can check them out using the following links:

Link #1 – Https://self-publishingschool.com/how-to-write-a-book/

Link #2 https://selfpublishing.com/self-publishing

If you have questions about the company, please feel free to contact me.

Lessons Learned from NOT Taking it Slowly

All  my life I have walked fast, moved fast and talked fast. That’s just who I am and how I’m wired. I’ve always told people I only have two gears: OFF and FAST. There is no in-between.

I know other people don’t always appreciate that. I remember when I was in college, I worked part-time in the office of my dorm putting up mail and other minor chores. One day the dorm Mom and I were putting the mail in residents’ boxes, when all of a sudden she yelled, “STOP!” When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “You’ve got to slow down. You’re going so fast it’s making me nervous.” (Oops! I tried to go slower but it wasn’t easy.)

However, this past week I had three lessons about the importance of slowing down. I think they are worth sharing.

The first lesson happened last Saturday when I broke my little toe! I was barefoot and walking quickly across the living room when I caught my toe on the wooden leg of the footstool. I knew instantly that I had broken my toe. It was definitely bending in a direction it wasn’t suppose to go.

So, I taped it and iced it and now I’m limited to certain shoes I can actually walk in. And, yes, I’m walking more slowly. “Why was I barefoot? I don’t know, because I seldom ever walk around barefoot. But that’s not the lesson.”

The lesson is that there really is no need to walk that fast just to pick up something I’ve left in the other room. If I miss a phone call they’ll either call me back or I can call them back. I just have to learn to walk, NOT run!

Lesson number two comes from a video of Sheila Heen, a speaker at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this summer. I wasn’t able to go this year but I did see a video of her presentation at another meeting on Saturday.

Near the end of her presentation she told the story of a study that was done on a college campus recently. A group of students were told that they were to present a speech at a meeting across campus, and they had only had five minutes to prepare. As they were going to the other building they passed a person who was in need of help. (I’m not sure if they were hurt or upset, but their need was obvious and “Yes” they had been deliberately placed there.)

Wanna guess how many of those students stopped to help? Only 10%. They did this a second time with another group but told them they had 20 minutes to prepare and get to the lecture hall. This time 50% stopped to help.

The lesson is this. When we are in too much of a hurry we often aren’t aware of the needs that are right around us. But, if we slow down and take a little more time, we are more likely to recognize the needs around us and act on them.

And, finally, lesson three. Earlier last week I was reading J. I. Packer’s book “Keep in Step with the Spirit.” We are studying the Holy Spirit in our Community Group this fall and Packer has some very insightful things to say about the Holy Spirit.

One of the things he says in the introduction is that our society, which includes our churches, has high expectations for people to be very active. Lots of activity is often seen as a demonstration of our commitment to a cause. For Christians, we often equate our activity level as indicative of our closely we are following the “leading of the Spirit.” Packer believes, and I agree with him, that focusing on activity is not a barometer of how close we are to the Holy Spirit. In fact, it usually prevents us from being aware of His presence. We are just too busy to listen and we don’t see what He is trying to tell us.

That connection came to me this morning as I was telling a very good friend of mine the story of the college students. The rest of that story is that these weren’t just any college students. They were students who were studying theology as they prepared for the ministry. And the 5 minute talk they were to give was on “The Good Samaritan.”

Hmmm? Makes you think, doesn’t it.

SOAP BOX TALK – #2 Civil Discourse

In simple terms civil discourse is the engagement in discourse intended to enhance understanding. Civil discourse can only occur when each side demonstrates respect for the other’s right to their opinion; listens to understand, and doesn’t assume that their side is right and the other side is wrong.

I believe that our country is sadly lacking in Civil Discourse. Discourse intended to enhance understanding seldom happens and when it does it is generally not civil.

Raise your hand if you can honestly say you have observed or been a part of a discussion where two people who have opposing opinions on a political or social issue have been able to have an honest but reasonable conversation without getting angry or raising their voices.

Now, raise your hand if the only conversations about political or social issues you have are with people whom you already know are in agreement with you?

Most of us don’t engage in any civil discourse because our previous experiences have taught us that it will just result in an argument and sometimes can even result in the loss of a friendship.

If we do engage in discourse about an issue, it is not because we want to enhance our understanding but rather our intent is to affirm what we already believe by talking with the people whom we already know agree with us.

It is alarming to me that in a country that has “free speech” as one of it fundamental principles, it is almost impossible for us to exercise that right without being yelled at or condemned for our viewpoints by those who disagree with us.

A democracy needs Civil Discourse in order to thrive, grow and change. The honest exchange of ideas between individuals or groups with different opinions and strategies is a part of the strength of this country and democracy.

We are facing many important problems in our country: immigration issues, safety within our communities, racism, poverty, sex trafficking, and more. These are complicated issues. No one person or group has “THE” right answer, but if we got together and participated in Civic Discourse through a Civic Dialogue process about these issues over time we could come up with solutions that could be accepted by all.

As I was researching some sites about “civil discourse” I came across the Bill of Rights Institute. This organization promotes education of young adults about the Bill of Rights and the process of Civil Discourse. I’ve pasted the link to YouTube that shows a two-minute video about the definition and importance of Civil Discourse. I found it both enlightening and encouraging. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear your thoughts about it as well as your opinions about what I’ve stated in this blog.

Paste the following URL into your browser to view a 2 minute video produced by Bill of Rights Institute:

https://youtu.be/go5pjCDE          (If this url does not work, then go to You Tube and search for Bill of Rights Institute and you should come up with their video on what civil discourse means.) I tried this URL earlier today and it took me right to it but when I tried it after I posted it I got an error message.

Definitions of Civic Discourse Civic discourse is when people talk about issues in the “worlds” around them to begin a discussion where people communicate with one another about political, social, cultural or economic issues that are faced by their community.

Definition of Civic Dialogue This is a structured format for public dialogue that provides a tool to build bridges across the chasm of public viewpoints. Civil dialogue helps people communicate in vigil and productive ways especially when they face “hot topics” and need to employ “cool heads.”

 

Being Bold

Yesterday I shared the story of Achsah who asked boldly for what she needed.  And I also told you about the life of Martha Sperry, who founded a college in Georgia and who once received a donation from Henry Ford for a million dollars because she asked for it.

Today I want to tell you about Freda Lindsay, the child of poor Russian immigrants. Freda learned to work at a very young age and learned to pray for God’s help as a college student who was never sure how she was going to pay her tuition fees. Freda, who had studied theology, married a young minister and the two of them began a ministry together. In 1970, they formed the Christ For The Nations Institute designed to train young ministers.

However, in 1973, Gordon Lindsay died following a massive heart attack. Freda was suddenly on her own and thrust into the role of leading a national ministry with huge obligations. She was also confronted by some of her ministry supporters who demanded that she resign because she was female.

However, Freda knew to ask God boldly for what she needed. Within 11 months supporters had given her $83,000 to pay off the loan on the headquarters building. Freda continued with this ministry, for many years. She oversaw the building of several dormitories, a chapel and an athletic field.  She stayed in this role until 1994 when, at the age of 79, she turned the leadership over to their son.

How did Freda do all of this? She accomplished great things because she had faith in God, faith in the ministry she had chosen and she had learned to approach God boldly and ask for what she needed.

Like Achsah she didn’t just ask for land; she asked for land and a spring. “She grabbed hold of her Father and did not let go until He blessed her with a double portion.” (Fearless Daughters of the Bible.” p. 76 by J. Lee Grady)

Is it possible that there’s an adventure waiting for you but you have been fearful of the challenge? Have you asked boldly for direction and for support? Could God do similar things through you? Is there an issue you have a passionate concern about; like feeding hungry children, sex trafficking, abused women, mentoring troubled kids, or providing water for African villages?

If there is something that just hurts your heart, then do something. That “something” can be as simple as talking to God about it and asking for direction. If He has something for you, He will show you what it is and He will provide what you need.