Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to respond to difficult relatives this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, but what is family? For many it is your most beloved humans on the earth, the ones you adore and cannot imagine living without. For others, it is a gathering of people who are connected by genetics only, or marriage, or divorce. Black sheep of the family return. Prodigal sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. Joy and love and hugs may abound in some families, but in others, dread or guilt or annoyance may fill the day.

So what should our response be to this day of unexpected outcome? Let's look at Joseph and how he handled his brothers who had sold him into slavery when he was young.

Joseph was his father Jacob's favorite. For many of you, you know what this is like. Maybe you're the favorite. Maybe your brother or sister is. The fault lies in Jacob favoring Joseph and letting that be known. To make matters worse, Joseph told his brothers that someday they'd all bow down to him. Not the best choices. No wonder the brothers were mad. But, they didn't have to sell him into slavery, did they?

Years go by and Joseph has been in Egypt for so long and found favor with God, that now he is the number two man in the country. And there is a famine. The brothers come to Egypt for help and long story short, they come to Joseph, although they don't recognize him. In the end, this family reunion can go one of two ways. Joseph can get revenge on his brothers, or he can forgive them and help them.

I think he struggled with this. I really do. In fact, he messed with them just a little bit before he told them who he was. The brothers were terrified when they realized they were face to face with the brother they abused. Especially when their father was dead, they thought there was no more reason for Joseph to show them kindness. But here was his response:

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.”
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. 21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15-19

Joseph responded in comfort and kindness because he saw that God had turned what they had planned for evil and used it for good. He recognized that although they sold him into slavery in Egypt, God used this as a way to get Joseph there. He had a long, hard road in front of him as a slave and prisoner, but eventually, he rose to a position of power with God's help. Joseph saw that God USED the evil of his brothers for GOOD. He didn't cause it, yet he used it.

So what does this mean for us? Well, none of us may be the number two person in the country. But we've all had some evil done unto us by a loved one, I imagine. And here comes our big family reunion. How are we to respond to these people who have wronged us or others in the family? Should we be kind because they have changed? What if they haven't changed? What if they're just as lousy and miserable as always? What is our response?

First and most importantly, we must turn to God through Christ Jesus. We must look at our lives, the ups, the downs, all of it, and realize that God is all-powerful. Even those things meant for our harm by people have been used for GOOD by the God who loves us. Yet we may not see the good...yet. We may still be in our long journey. We may not be in our position of power yet. We may still feel like slaves. Yet, our heavenly father has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. And rest assured, he can use your messed up childhood-messed up relationships-, etc, for GOOD. Trust that that can happen. Trust that when our time comes and we look back on our life with the eyes of Heaven, we might see how it all worked for GOOD.

And then get that goodness started by your actions and attitudes this Thanksgiving. After all, it's a time for family. We cannot keep our brothers from selling us into slavery. All we can do is turn to God, ask him to walk with us and to give us insight into how He is using everything in our lives for good, even the bad stuff...if we'll just trust him and give him the time to complete his plan.

I pray for you true peace in your heart when your relative gets drunk this Thanksgiving and criticizes you. Or when he/she badmouths someone or cries hysterically just as you're about to serve the meal you've worked a week on. I pray for you peace and an other-worldly understanding that this, too, can be used by God in your story of redemption (and yes, even your nutso relative's). And most of all, I pray you will have true love in your heart for your most unlovable guest around the Thanksgiving table. That in the quiet of your heart, you might actually offer up a prayer of thanks to God that he has put this most unpleasant person in your life. For a reason.

Trust that there is purpose in it. And respond accordingly in Thanks. One day you might look back and see how this Thanksgiving was a turning point. When you stopped being enslaved by your past and emotions, and began to rise to a place of true power and peace in your own life and in the life of your family.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:27-29

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-14

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Written with Love

This writing journey has been a long, meandering one with highlights and low points, but I'll save those for another post. My biggest highlight up until now has been when Pat Conroy left a voice message for me after reading my letter. Then he blurbed my first published novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass. But that was my biggest highlight till now.

On Monday, my 10-year-old daughter finished reading the first book I ever wrote. No, it wasn't The Spirit of Sweetgrass, it was an unpublished book I wrote just before that. Just for her.

I began writing a middle grade novel when I was pregnant with my daughter. She was my first child, and I was terribly excited about her. I loved her before she entered my world, and I wanted to do something for her. So I began writing a book, a novel, inspired by the popularity of the Harry Potter series, but with a girl as the heroine, and instead of magic, more of a spiritual twist.

My character Hannah Bliss was born before my daughter. I'd never written a novel before. Didn't know if I could do it. Didn't know WHAT I was doing. But I finished it. It was bout 33,000 words, a good length for middle grade fiction. I wrote and rewrote it. I decided to see if I could get it published. It didn't go anywhere as I couldn't get an agent, but I learned how to write a query letter. I learned I could finish a book. This was all preparation for my next book, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, which hit me when I was pregnant with my second child, my son.

My first book in the Hannah Bliss series, Paradise, has been sitting dormant in my computer for the last 10 years. I thought it its purpose was served. It taught me I could write a book. But on Monday, I realized I had underestimated it completely.

My daughter was talking about science, and it occurred to me that Hannah Bliss loved science, she was also passionate, messy, a good friend, and sometimes my daughter. I decided maybe now was the time. I figured out how to put the book on my Nook and asked if she wanted to read it. Lately, finally, she loves to read.

She would go to bed with the Nook, and I would wait anxiously each morning to see what she had thought of the night's reading. "Are you enjoying it?" I would ask. She would nod, and that was pretty much it. But on Monday, she called me from the other room. "I finished it!" she said.

What you must know about my daughter is that she is very smart, very analytical, and will tell you straight to your face what she thinks, good or bad. I ask her about my paintings sometimes. If she's not enthusiastic, she's usually right, and I go at it again.

So before I could ask her any questions about Hannah Bliss, she said, "I think you should try to get this published."

"What?" I wasn't sure I heard her right, so she said it again.

Then she added, "I had to keep reminding myself that my MOM wrote this."

I took that as a compliment. From this point, I asked her all kinds of questions about plot, characterization, etc, and she had some honest critique and some encouragement for me. I wrote it all down. "How did you feel when it ended?" I asked her.

"Like I wanted another book," she said. I thought, maybe she's just being nice to me.

But then she came in when I was cooking dinner and started coming up with ideas for book two, what would happen with Hannah in the next book, the rest of the series.

Wow. I think she did like it! She went on to claim that it reminded her of the author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

"C. S. Lewis?" I asked. Dying. Gulp.

"Yeah, how he writes things that symbolize other things."

Wow again. I really think she did get it.

The night for me was a full-circle moment, one I never anticipated. It came upon me with the sweetest surprise. I stood there in my kitchen, remembering her in my tummy. I remembered struggling through that book. I had no idea it was preparing me for a career in novel-writing. No idea it would prepare me to write and publish 6 adult novels. No idea the satisfaction that would come about when my little girl was finally old enough to appreciate the novel just for her.

I had written it in love, and apparently, that's the secret ingredient to doing anything worthwhile and long-lasting.

When I picked her up from school yesterday, my daughter said she had Bible study with some of the 5th grade girls and a mom. They were talking about how some people try hard to get to heaven on their own. My daughter spoke up and said it reminded her of this book her mom wrote. "See, Hannah Bliss tries hard to get to Paradise on her own, but she's not ready. When she gets there, she can't stay. She has to stay here on earth and grow and mature."

She told me this, and my heart melted. She did get it. My most important reader understood and enjoyed my novel just for her. For a writer, highlights don't get much "higher" than this.

So I'm waiting any day now for my agent to get back with what she thinks about my latest adult novel. In the meantime, I'm thinking maybe I should dust off Hannah Bliss, and see what adventures she might get into in Book #2.

Do you have old unpublished books lying under your bed? Might you think about dusting them off and sharing them with someone you love?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bible Secrets Revealed

Today I thought I'd write about how God speaks to those who seek him in the crossroads of life. How this relates to the History Channel's new series, "Bible Secrets Revealed", I hope you'll read on to find out.

My life has been one of dichotomies, interesting opposites at pivotal points in my life. When I was in my late twenties and trying to choose the direction for my life--I had a good job, car, pets, newly built house, and was looking at marriage--I realized in no easy fashion that my best, the best I could come up with and achieve on my own, was not so great. Was this all there was?

At the time, my house was in an interesting place. To the right of me, was the backyard of a pastor of a local church. I am a member there now, though I didn't really know the pastor back then. To the left of me was a man whom I would find out later had embezzled a large amount of money and would go to prison for it. I was there in the middle of good and evil, so to speak. In my crossroads of life, my choice was crucial. Would I go on pursuing the American dream on my own, or hand over the reins of my life to God and let him guide it all? In the end, I chose God and prayed, "Your will, not mine," and meant it for the first time. I was no longer afraid he'd send me to some far away place and whatever else I was afraid of anymore. I'd come to the end of myself. That decision was, by far, the second greatest one I've ever made in my lifetime.

My first greatest decision came in college a decade earlier. I did not grow up going to church like my friends did. I did not know the Bible stories. At all. I was given a Bible when I was 6 years old by my father and occasionally read all of the "red" words of Jesus. I slept with the Bible under my pillow when I was afraid. I believed in God, believed in His power, believed in Jesus, yet didn't know His powerful truth for ME, and my life. So when I went off to UNC Chapel Hill in the fall of 1990, I was eager to learn about the Bible. What better place could there be? There were CLASSES on religion, for goodness sake! I signed up for RELI 021 and took it my first semester. It was an Intro to the Old Testament course. Any time I'd spent at all in the Bible so far had been in the New Testament in the "red" words, remember? I was so excited that someone would actually teach me what I didn't know.

I will never forget the feeling I had in this huge auditorium classroom with a small man up front, the professor, putting up his large slides and teaching me about the Pentateuch and Moses. And then, little by little, he would point out every perceived historical "discrepancy" in the Bible. My emotions were mixed. I was confused. Instead of teaching me about this book and about God, my professor seemed to be pulling it apart at the seams, lifting up some hidden curtain like in Oz, trying to expose a wizard. What I thought I would learn--something to build up my faith in a God I wanted to know--was not at all what was taught. If anything, it seemed to be geared to tear down any faith that already existed.

But such is the power of God Almighty... the opposite happened.

At the same time I had the non-believing professor of religion, I also had a knock at my dorm room door from a woman from Campus Crusade for Christ. Again, this crossroads, this dichotomy at a pivotal point in my life. She began to teach me about the truth of God, about his love for me and about his plan for me. She taught me how everything in the Bible pointed to this risen Christ as my way to salvation. I accepted Christ as my Lord and savior in the Student Union at Chapel Hill. With the eyes of the Holy Spirit in me, I was no longer confused by what I was being taught by my religion professor. Instead, I saw his teachings with new eyes of discernment. It is these same eyes which see him today as a multi-published author and wildly popular scholar of the Bible.

I received a catalog in the mail recently for The Great Courses videos. I saw one on the Bible and was interested. I started reading and something sounded oh so familiar. Then I looked at the professor. In the pit of me, I knew it was him though it's been more than 20 years since I took his class. I looked him up, and sure enough, he taught at Chapel Hill. Then, last night, I saw him again. It is this reason that I feel the need to write about the power of God to come through even when men try to disprove His truths.

The History Channel has just begun a new series entitled "Bible Secrets Revealed." I don't know how I stumbled on it last night, but there it was. I began watching. The narrator said something to the effect that all of what we understand of the Bible may now be in question based on new historical evidence. I tuned in. Something was familiar. Some scholars were interviewed, and I wondered about their beliefs, and then my professor appeared. It all made sense now. He has made quite a living trying to dispel the truth of the Gospels. He has studied every nook and cranny, every crevice of the Bible, who wrote it, who didn't write it, who influenced it, what has been translated properly and improperly, and on and on. He is quite the scholar of the Bible. He knows much more than I do about its historical ins and outs and, I'm guessing, can quote much more of it than I can. After all, I only made a C+ in his class.

But I can tell there is something he has missed. While he was busy trying to find fault with the Bible, he seems to have missed God altogether. This living, breathing book, opens like a treasure box with secret passageways when the Holy Spirit opens them up. God is revealed in his majesty in what is written, and between the words. Letters shift, rearrange and speak to the heart with the sword of simplicity. It is an amazing book, one of mystery and sacred Truth that unlocks parts of the soul one never knew existed.

Bible Secrets Revealed indeed. Last night I was concerned. I thought, there are thousands of people seeking to know God more, people just like I was, who will turn on the History Channel and watch this program, only to have what little faith they had in God, Jesus, and the Bible chipped at as with a chisel. But then, I remembered. Despite my unbelieving Bible teacher, the Lord spoke His truth to me. What I needed most back then in college, even more than knowing the books of the Bible, was Love and Grace and Forgiveness and Hope, and a living God to walk with me and guide me. That's what I found. So I do not worry for the souls of those who watch the show and are truly seeking God. He will find them. They will find him. And people like my religion professor will continue to publish gobs of books that seem to enlighten seekers, only to lead them down a much different path than the one they thought they set out on.

But I have discovered the greatest teacher is Jesus himself:

"If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9
He promises believers the Holy Spirit:

"When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." John 16:13

And without this Spirit of truth revealing the Bible, one might easily misunderstand it. Take a look at Matthew 13:

The Parable of the Sower

13 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.
Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears[a] should listen!”

Why Jesus Used Parables

10 Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. 12 For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You will listen and listen,
yet never understand;
and you will look and look,
yet never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown callous;
their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn back—
and I would cure them.[b]
16 “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! 17 For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word[c] about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. 20 And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction[d] of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

On the blog of my former Old Testament professor, he says he was once a Christian but no longer believes. He is an agnostic. He doesn't think that good will triumph over evil. He doesn't think that God will have the last word. He says that death is the end of the story.

It makes me wonder if we're reading the same book at all. I do hope he gets to the good part soon.

Postscript:  I realize my old professor is only teaching what he believes to be true and although I disagree, I do respect him for that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thirsty for More...and Thankful

A few weeks ago, I went for a run and came across three things within feet of one another: a snake, a torn dollar bill, and a water bottle. I left the snake alone but picked up the water bottle and torn dollar (right). I felt it had symbolism. Being a novelist, I can find symbolism in just about anything, but this, I was sure, meant something. Was I supposed to raise money for water somehow? I pondered and prayed on this.

A couple weeks later, my good friend Shellie Rushing Tomlinson all the way over in Louisiana posted this photo (left). Shellie and I had not talked about this at all. When she asked me to be a part of her 30 Days of Thankfulness project to dig two wells in Africa and posted a photo of a water bottle she'd found on her walk, I knew I was in. I sent her my photo, and we marveled at how the Lord had spoken to each of us about the same thing.

I've donated to this great cause and hope that you will join me in building these two wells. Perhaps you can spare $10 to help build a well? If not, maybe you could post and share with your friends. I, for one, often take for granted our clean drinking water. I don't have to walk for miles to get it. I don't get sick after drinking our water. I am blessed here. Perhaps I have something to share so that those in a far away land may be blessed with fresh water as well.

Thank you for considering joining Shellie, me, and a whole other slew of authors and good folks as we raise the money for clean water.
 You can donate here.

Here's Shellie's post:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We are Free

Yesterday I experienced something few people ever have the chance to witness. It was along the lines of the feeling one might have when walking upon a flash mob, a well orchestrated and emotional musical experience. Except there was no flash mob.

I was teaching a class of 1st graders art. We had prayed as we always do, and then I was beginning instruction, telling the class what we would be working on that day. That's when I heard it. A noise. More like a hum. Who was humming? As I spoke, I scanned the classroom and thought I picked out the culprit, a boy, someone who just might be humming during my instruction in order to disrupt me. It happens sometimes. I eyed him and stopped talking. Then I said, "Shhh." The class got quiet. The boy was not humming. Instead, there was a tune, a melody coming from somewhere. We all listened hard and realized there was noise coming from the sanctuary behind our classroom. We all recognized the song about the same time.

"Shhh," I said again, wanting to forgo my instruction for a moment to listen to the worshipful song. But then someone started singing along, "Je-sus, lamb of God, worthy is your na-a-a-ame..." And then another joined in and another and another, and before I knew it, I was singing God's praises along with my group of first graders. We were all one in this impromptu, unplanned worship experience, and as this one young lady began to belt it out in all the wrong notes, I realized that there, in that little art room, I and the children had been more free than most of the entire world. We experienced true Freedom.

This morning the government decided to open up for business again. The Land of the Free is business as usual today, and that's good. There are people who died for my right and for the children I teach, that we may worship the Lord and sing his praises whenever we like. I am so grateful for this freedom. But beyond that, I am so thankful for the unbelievable freedom that comes only in knowing Christ. Our little first grade art room "flash mob" musical experience was indeed orchestrated, but not by me or any human being. No person could have come up with anything that good.

If you'd like to hear the tune we heard and sang, here's a version of "You are My All In All."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Falseness of Facebook

Please don't get me wrong. I truly enjoy Facebook and getting to see snippets of my friends' lives, photos of their children, funny things that happen in their daily lives. I like to feel connected to people I might not be otherwise if Facebook hadn't come along.

But something happened this morning that made me realize there are some real problems with this sense of connectedness. An author acquaintance became a Facebook friend a while back. This author passed away last year, and although I wasn't close to her, her death shook me. Today is her birthday. I know because Facebook told me on the top right hand corner of my screen.

It reminded me again of her passing. This has happened many times before--some friends who have passed away remain on Facebook, their personas still there as if they are alive and well. I decided to check her page today to see who was remembering her as I was. That's when I saw the 'happy birthday's and "blessings and prosperity", etc. Do these Facebook friends not know that she died last year?

Facebook, as far as I know, has no way of knowing when someone passes away. On one hand, it is nice to remember the person as they were, see their posts, see moments of their lives shared for always. But today I am reminded that I have a false sense of who my hundreds of friends are. Just because I am your FB friend, I do not know what you suffer, think, or have experienced unless you have publicly shared it. And I don't know about you, but a real friend is someone who knows things that you will only share in private.

For me, I'd like to apologize to all those people I consider "friends" on Facebook, whom I do not take the time to know personally, in person, face to face. I pray I never blindly wish someone well who has passed to the hereafter, simply because Facebook prompted me to buy them a gift from Starbucks or send them an e-greeting.

I do want to be your friend. I just fear I am not such a good friend on Facebook. I'm much better when I get to know your private heart, face to face, over a real cup of coffee.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On Craving Meat (Or "Where's the Beef?")

I'm a pesco-vegetarian, which means I eat seafood and dairy but generally skip food from creatures that walk or fly. Occasionally, I'll have a strange dream in which eating meat is involved, but only rarely now, and I never crave it. So when I came across a Biblical passage in Numbers, verse 11, about the Israelites beginning to complain about not having meat, I took notice.

Since the Israelites had left Egypt and entered the wilderness under Moses' leadership, God had graciously sent manna from heaven that arrived each morning with the dew. This manna has been described as flakes or resembling coriander, or even a resin substance that may taste like honey to children and pastry to adults. It was to be gathered daily and not stored, for if it was kept overnight, it got rancid and filled with worms. Except on the Sabbath. On the day before the Sabbath, the Israelites could collect the manna and save it overnight and it would not spoil. In this way, they did not have to work on the Sabbath. The collected manna was ground and made into cakes with olive oil and boiled. I imagine the Israelites found every single way to prepare it.

It has been speculated by some scholars that since the Lord was providing this spiritual and physical substance to keep them alive, that the body did not have to eliminate, if you get what I'm saying. I'm not sure if this is the case, but I can imagine that if the body got used to a certain diet, changing it up would mess with the digestive system.

In Numbers 11:4 it says, "Contemptible people among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites cried again and said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”"

Notice that the verse says that the Israelites cried AGAIN. In the verse before this, the Israelites had started to complain about hardships. They had been freed from slavery, but now they were beginning to become dissatisfied with walking through the wilderness with God, trusting him to take them somewhere. The Bible says that the Lord was angry with His people and a blaze began to burn around the camp. This might be a good warning for some, but as you can see, once this grumbling and complaining began, it spread like a virus.

Now the people were remembering the good food they used to have as slaves and were crying to Moses, which was driving him crazy. Moses appealed to the Lord and basically said he couldn't take their complaints any longer.

This was the Lord's reply: "18 “Tell the people: Purify yourselves in readiness for tomorrow, and you will eat meat because you cried before the Lord: ‘Who will feed us meat? We really had it good in Egypt.’ The Lord will give you meat and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not for one day, or two days, or five days, or 10 days, or 20 days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes nauseating to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and cried to Him: ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’”

Yikes. Be careful what you ask for. God soon created a wind that brought quail all around the camp, hovering about three feet off the ground. The people spent a day, night, and a day collecting all of the quail, the least amount being 50 bushels per person. And then they commenced eating the meat. Can you even imagine how years of eating manna which was spiritual and physical food from the Lord had not prepared the body to accept all that meat?

You guessed it. The people got sick, very sick from a plague that came along with the meat (if you are of the camp that the people had not defecated in years, you can only imagine), and many died.

SO I was thinking about this passage. Something struck me about it. I don't crave the same meat the Israelites did, but perhaps I crave other meat. I looked at my life, and one area in particular (you writers might relate to this), and saw that the Lord has, indeed, provided manna for me for years--spiritual and physical food that he has blessed me with. But how have I handled it? Gratefully always? Or have I at times whined and complained to the Lord that I am now craving more substance? That this manna he has given me is great and all, but now, how about some real meat?

And then it occurred to me. Perhaps the "meat" I am craving will not at all suit me or my family. Perhaps I will not be able to digest this "meat" I am so sure I can handle and am ready for. Perhaps, like a baby, I don't have the teeth to deal with this meat yet at all.

Ouch. Here and now, I repent from my complaints. The Lord has so graciously provided for me my entire life. Who am I to ask him for something that may end up destroying me in the end? I will leave my destiny to him. I will say to God again, "Your will be done, not mine." I will continue to ask him for my "daily bread" and not a drop more lest it spoil. And if and when the Lord determines that I am ready for "meat", I will trust him to provide it when my system is ready to digest it properly. When the meat will be a blessing as the manna has been, sustaining and fortifying, and from God's provision, not from his anger with my complaining heart.

Is there anything you've been craving? Philippians 4:6-7 says, " everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, give your requests to God." I think the thanksgiving part is key. If we are to go before the Lord and begin asking for more in our lives, let us first begin with thanking him for what he has provided so far, for the manna that has sustained us. Perhaps then our hearts will be positioned more humbly, and we might find that our requests change to what He wills, and not to what we prematurely crave or complain about.