Monday, March 30, 2015

best laid plans...

I pulled out my quote notebook this morning (yes, I have an entire notebook dedicated to the quotes I find and love and just have to write down somewhere--doesn't everybody do that?). I was looking for a very specific quote, and I had a post planned that would fit nicely with it.

The thing is, my quotes aren't organized. Kind of like in my life, physics and writing and Bible verses are all jumbled together with no real rhyme or reason. I can usually remember which side of the page a specific quote is on, but that still means I have to scan through at least half the book before I can find what I'm looking for.

This morning, while looking for the Mark Twain quote I was going to write about, I came across this:

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O LORD, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of Your hands.
~Psalm 138:8

I've struggled a lot with not knowing what's in store for me. Here in just over a month, I'll finish my Master of Science in Education and Physics, which follows my Bachelor of Science in Physics...but I have no idea what I'm going to do with my degrees.

Teach? Maybe, but I've come to find out lately that to be able to teach high school I will have to go through an alternative license program (despite the fact that I've taught and that part of my degree is education--gotta jump through those hoops, though).

Write? Maybe, but I've come to find out that it doesn't go very far in paying the bills.

To be honest, I'm scared about the future. I'm not good at not knowing. I told my best friend that not too long ago, and she told me that apparently that's something God is wanting me to be good at since that's the lesson He's been trying to get through my thick skull for so long (those weren't her exact words, but when you've known somebody for 20 years--wow, that's a crazy thought--you know what they're really saying when they're trying to say it nicely).

The thing is, even though I don't know, God knows. He has a plan in mind, and He's working every little thing in my life to bring me to where He wants me. Maybe I'm taking the long road because I'm just so stubborn that I fight against Him trying to shape me into who He needs me to be, but no matter how many twists and turns there are in the road, it still leads to His purpose for my life.


Yes, sometimes--most of the time--I wish God would clue me in on His plan. I wish I had a road map, something to show me the whole path planned out nicely. But God doesn't work that way. He does, though give me a promise:

"...He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 1:6b 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

laughter in tears

This past week, my family said goodbye to one of the best men I've ever known, Charles Edward DeLozier. I've been trying to find the right words, but they don't come. Last summer I wrote about both my grandfathers and how blessed I am to be part of the legacy of each of them, and those words are no less true now that both those men have stepped from this world to the next.
 
While there were tears at Papaw's, there was also something that might come as a bit of a surprise--laughter.

Lots of it.

It filled Papaw's house as old friends told stories and family dropped by to reminisce. It came from tales of stock car races, mowing escapades, and rescues from possums. It came from finding trays from t.v. dinners, bowls from frozen pot pies, and popsicle sticks--all neatly organized and saved just because you never know when you might need them (popsicle sticks make great splints for broken fingers, you know).

It was at the funeral home office when they were straightening out all the details and my uncle asked, "Is that your best offer?" because his dad always haggled for everything. It was at the funeral service when my dad said that maybe Papaw's comment of "That boy could tear up an anvil" was meant as a compliment when taken in light of Papaw rolling a dump truck, getting a mower stuck in a pond, and falling through a roof with the chainsaw still running. It was in my cousin's words in an essay read at the service, saying if you weren't doing something Papaw's way you weren't doing it right.

It was at the graveside when the family stood around talking for far too long, remembering good times and people gone on before us. It was in the thought of reunions taking place in heaven and the memory of "singings" held at houses long ago. It was filling the church building as people ate food prepared and brought by loving hands to serve as a comfort.

In the midst of tears, there was laughter for only one reason--because in the midst of our tears, there was God. Because of Him, there was peace in the knowledge that one day we will all be together once more, for eternity. There was comfort knowing that Papaw didn't have to struggle to breathe. There was joy knowing that he was reunited with his wife, brother, grandson, nieces, and a whole host of family who were all there to greet him, and I bet their laughter mingled with ours was a beautiful sound in Heaven.

Beauty above the storm

On the ground looking up, the sky was gray and dreary. The forecast was calling for thunderstorms with damage possible from hail and wind gusts. It looked like it could get rough, something every farmer was hurrying to get ahead of. It was supposed to be time for the sunrise, but the clouds kept it hidden from view. We flew up into those clouds, and the pilot warned that we were about to hit some weather. Out the window, all you could see was gray.

But then, we passed through the clouds.

The sky all around was bright blue, the sun shining so brightly that t was almost blinding to look out the window. Below us were those clouds, that ones that seemed so dreary from below. From above, they were thick and fluffy and white, the sun reflecting off them with a brightness seldom seen from the ground. In the midst of the storm it was ugly, but above the storm there was incredible beauty.

It didn't stop with the fluffy clouds, though. We rose higher, and the clouds spread to form a solid blanket beneath us. As strange as it sounds, they almost seemed to be protecting the world below. The radiance with which the sun shone off of that blanket of clouds was unbelievable--I wish I had had my camera with me to capture just a hint of what I saw.

When you're in the midst of a storm, everything is dark and dreary. The Light seems so far away, and beneath the clouds it's easy to wonder if it's still shining.

But above the storm--up there, God's light still shines even brighter than you can imagine. His radiance is blinding, made brighter by its reflection off of the storm.

So hold on--the Son will come again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

on being a lady...

So, I want to start a project (there's nothing like adding another pot to the stove, right?). This one's different, though, because I'll need your help to make it happen.

Growing up, my mom taught me that I would grow up to be a woman simply because I was born a girl, but that it takes more than that to become a lady. These days, it seems like people have lost sight of that. The world seems to depict ladies as weak, powerless, and insignificant, when those things couldn't be further from the truth.

My own little girl is growing up now, and I want her to know what it means to be a lady. That's where you come in--I want your stories. I'm sure you know someone who is the epitome of a lady (because I know some of the ladies you all know!), and I want to hear about her. I want your stories of women who are ladies because of their strength, dignity, compassion, perseverance, kindness, hospitality--all those character traits that set them apart from the crowd.

From all your stories (and some words of my own), I want to write, "On Being a Lady." The book would be made available in paperback and on Kindle, but that's only if we can get enough stories. If your story is used, I'll send you a copy of the book for free once it's finished. Don't worry about your writing skills, because I'll make sure everything's polished (and I'll make sure you're happy with how your story is included) before everything is finalized. Also, everyone who submits a story will get a discount code to use of CreateSpace for the paperback once it's finished.

Like I said, I can't do this without you all. So send me an email at ajkilbourn.ajk@gmail.com . For those of you back home, if you want to you can drop off your story at Green Forest Flowers & Gifts and my mom will make sure it gets to me.

So please, share this post and send me your stories! Let's show everyone what it truly means to be a lady!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

just a catch up...

So, I haven't been keeping up with things here on the blog for a while--sorry about that. I'll try to do better!

To be honest, I don't really have a lot to say today, either. I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you in on what I've been up to lately. As tends to be the case, I've got a few irons in the fire (maybe too many, but that's pretty par for the course around here)...

I've started working on book 2 of the Sons of Tundyel series. It's called The Darkness and continues the story of Paodin and Syndria where The Prophecy left off. I'm enjoying writing it, even though I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised by where this story has taken me. Here's the tentative cover:
I'm also in the planning stages of a new devotional. Right now it's called Walking with Peter: following the Way when you can't see the path. Kind of a long title when you include the subtitle, but things could change. Here's a tentative cover for that one, too:



The other news on the writing front is my longterm goal of creating a series of 28-day devotionals to follow Glimpses of His Magnificence: A study of God's power. The plan is to do Glimpses of other attributes--and that's where I need your help.

Are there other aspects of God's character that you would like to see a study on? I could just come up with some on my own, but I really want these devotionals to be on topics people find helpful so I would love some input!

I hope March is off to a great start for everyone...it's definitely the start of a busy season for our family.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

politically incorrect

Anymore when I look at the world we're living in today, I don't recognize it.

What happened to right and truth versus wrong and falsehood? There used to be clear distinctions between the two, but today instead there seems to be some sort of sliding scale. Or even worse, there's the idea of "whatever works for you--each person has his own truth."

The problem with that is that there is only one Truth.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

But somehow, even Jesus is being used to push a certain "progressive" train of thought, one which usually revolves around being politically correct. In that ideology, we as Christians shouldn't be speaking out against things because that isn't being loving. We are told that we are being judgmental and turning people away when we take a stand.

The idea that we should be politically correct is even being preached from some pulpits today.

So that begs the question, would Jesus be concerned with being politically correct?

While it's true that we have accounts of Jesus being followed by greats crowds of people who wanted to listen to His teachings, we are also told numerous times that there were mobs who wanted to kill Him--and they eventually did kill Him.

At one point, Jesus made a whip to drive people out of the temple for defiling it by selling animals and changing money.

Another time, He told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, and a brood of vipers.

While some would argue that being against the hypocritical Pharisees is what political correctness is all about, I disagree.

The hypocritical Pharisees of old where men who thought they were better than everyone else because they were somehow more holy, more deserving. Today's hypocrites are those calling out their own superiority based on their lack of religion--or their religion of total inclusion with no mention of Truth or sin. They are those who claim to be calling for peace and acceptance while instead creating hatred and division by saying that we have no right to stand up for our own beliefs--we're just supposed to accept and fall in line with society's views.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that God loves and accepts each of us. Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." His death was His gift to us, given solely in grace. It was given freely to all of us, no matter how long a list of sins we had.

But then He says what my Momma always said, "I love you too much to let you act that way."

Jesus died for us while we were sinners, but He did not intend for us to stay in our sin.

A little bit later in Romans 6, we read that when we believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, that means we join in His death to sin and His resurrection to a new life. Though we were once slaves to sin, belief in Christ makes us slaves to Him. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

Jesus wasn't worried about being politically correct because He was too busy teaching the hard lessons that a lot of people really didn't want to hear. Most people know John 3:16 without really even having to think about it: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

What about the rest of His words to Nicodemus (a member of the Jewish ruling council, by the way) that night?

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." ~John 3:17-21

As followers of Christ, we need to step forward into the light. Our condemnation has been lifted, and we need to speak the truth so those around us--those lost in the dark and afraid of their deeds being exposed--can come into the light and no longer be condemned, slaves to sin.

We have the key to unlock the chains, so why in the world should we keep quiet about it in the name of being politically correct?

I don't know about you, but I'm more worried about being right with God than being politically correct. In today's world, you can't be both. We have to take a stand and speak love and truth, even though we will be hated for it.

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of His appearing and His kingdom,
I give you this charge:
Preach the Word;
be prepared in season and out of season;
correct, rebuke, and encourage--
with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come
when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead,
to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them
a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth
and turn aside to myths.
But you,
keep your head in all situations,
endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist,
discharge all the duties of your ministry." 
~II Timothy 4:1-5  

 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Paths in the snow

Sometimes, I wish I was the type of person who could learn lessons from nice things, like a cup of coffee. You know, how some people look into a steaming cup of coffee and see lessons in the light creamer and dark coffee mixing together or in the sweet and bitter combining?

That would be nice, but apparently that's not how I learn things.

Instead, my lessons come in the form of shoveling snow when the temperature reads 1 degree Fahrenheit outside.

The kids had a 2 hour delay before school this morning because we've had quite a bit of snow the last few days. Nathan had already left, so I needed to clear a path for the kids to be able to walk out to the bus. I started on the steps, then all I had to do was follow the sidewalk. The first thing to throw off my progress was a decision when the sidewalk came to a T: right or left? Should the kids walk over to the driveway or up to the road? The driveway seemed like the obvious choice at first, partly due to the fact that I wouldn't have as much shoveling to do. The ice under the snow over there changed my mind, though. It would be nice to have a clear shot to the car when we needed it, but I could just see both kids falling flat if they went that way.

So, left. Okay, sounds like a good plan. The sidewalk that way leads straight up to the road, so it should be a straights shot.

The thing was, when I started going that direction I quickly lost track of the stone sidewalk. The snow was too deep for me to shovel down to the ground in the amount of time I had before I needed to get back inside to finish getting the kids ready for school. No big deal--I just needed to shovel a straight path up to the road for the kids to walk to the bus.

I was almost to the road when I looked behind me. Not only was I not on the stone sidewalk, I wasn't making a very straight path, either.


The path wasn't very straight, and it wasn't where I was planning for it to be. It would work, though; it was a path to take the kids from the front door out to the bus without them either getting their boots full of snow or having them fall on the ice.

Right now, I have no idea where my path is headed. I've had many times when I thought I knew where the sidewalk was, where I knew what would be the best path. Instead, though, the path God has me on seems to be winding its way around so much that I can't even see where it's headed.

My kids didn't question the path I cleared for them. They simply walked it.