A blog about writing

peachesHey, everyone. I realized the other day that I hadn’t ever really announced the writing blog I’m doing now. At the moment I’m working on a series about plotting a novel, and I occassionally post updates on things I’ve had published or contests I’ve won. I really only update it once a week, mostly on the weekends. But in case you’re curious about the other writing I do that isn’t devotions, stop by.

www.amycwilliams.com

It’s a glimpse into the odd depths of my strange mind. =)

Thank you all for reading!

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How I remembered that God is always working

I have been working in the corporate world for over a year now. I started at Viega on March 22, 2010, the Monday after I got back from my last trip to see Jim and Shelley and Jonah and Silas. And although I really love what I’m doing and the people I work with, I will be the first person to tell you that the transition has been difficult — much more difficult than I expected.

When I worked at the library, my projects were all large, but they all had an end. And usually, once a decision to do something was made, it stayed the same.

Where I am now, I have project after project after project that don’t seem to have any end in sight. Theoretically, they are supposed to end, but from everything I have seen I doubt highly that any of them actually will. And the powers that be change their minds constantly. Granted, their input is valuable and they all have wonderful, creative ideas, but after I’ve spent four months on accumulating copy and photos and layouts, having to start again at the very beginning is somewhat discouraging.

The corporate world is teaching me the subtle art of balancing passion with indifference. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I want to be passionate about my work. I want to do my very best, but usually my very best isn’t good enough. And I have to be okay with that. That’s the job. I can be as creative as I want, but if it’s not creative enough or if it’s not directed clearly enough for the powers that be, it won’t work. And I can’t get my feelings hurt becuase that’s silly. That’s the job.

So I am learning how to be passionate about the things I can change and how to distance myself from freaking out about the things I can’t change. . . . . maybe it’s a good life lesson . . . .

In any case, this is a very long introduction to a story I’m gearing up to tell. I don’t have my usual 15-20 minute morning blog deadline like I do with my devotional posts, so I’m kind of taking my time this morning.

I do a lot of traveling for my company, mainly because I’m accumulating stories on product installations around the country. The first time I traveled by myself, I went to Tampa, FL for a couple of days to cover three different jobs. The way the process works is that our field sales guys sell the product, build a relationship with the contractor, and if it’s a high profile enough job they call us. And if we can fit it into our schedule (and our budget) I go down to cover the installation. The sales guy is usually responsible for picking me up, making my hotel reservations, ensuring that I get something to eat, etc. etc. etc.

My boss had told me that it’s like having 150 brothers out in the field. I was kind of skeptical of that, but I doubt doubt her anymore. It’s actually very true.

The sales guy I met in Tampa is a Christian. And not just in name only but he lives it. He’s passionate about his faith. He’s passionate about the Bible. And the few days I had down there with him were great. I hadn’t expected to find another Christian in Florida like that. It was neat.

But I still thought it was a fluke. That is, until this last trip.

I had to fly to New Jersey to cover a product installation on McGuire Air Force Base, and because it was coming at the absolute worst time imaginable for us (and a budgetary issue) I had to make the trip an overnighter. We hired a videographer because we were also making a video out of this installation, and he traveled with me. I thought he seemed really nice. Come to find out he’s the technical director at a local church in Wichita and he watches Pastor on television! It was so refreshing to be able to sit and talk about missions and the Bible with him, discovering that his beliefs about everything from music to translations were almost identical to mine.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

We landed in Philadelphia, PA and the sales guy picked us up. And five minutes after we got in the car, his boss called him, asking why he had turned in his resignation. This was a surprise for me, because not many people resign from Viega. It’s a great company to work for. But the sales guy when on to explain that he was resigning because he and his wife felt called to plant a church in Rhode Island. He spent twenty minutes explaining to his boss how he and his wife had everything the world said made them secure, but that they wanted to do what God had called them to do in spite of the fact that the decision made no sense secularly.

When he got off the phone, both the videographer and I were so excited. And we all went around the car sharing our testimonies, talking about our churches and what God is doing in the world. We went ahead and went to the Air Force Base to scope things out, but afterward we went out to dinner and spent hours talking about faith and callings and the Bible. And it was awesome!

That night I went back to my hotel and lay awake for a while just thanking God.

It’s one thing to find believers at home. It’s another thing to go to a different state — one you’ve never visited — and find family you didn’t know you had. Between this sales guy and his wife and another couple of people who I think are some of the most amazing people in the world, I honestly think we may be on the verge of seeing revival in New England.

It’s so very easy to get tangled up in the day to day affairs of life. It’s easy to get so focused on what you’re doing in your life today that you forget to see what God is doing around the world, around the country.

God isn’t confined to your life. He’s out in the world, working through people every day. He’s working. He’s doing something out there. Do I know what it is? No. I have no clue. But He knows what He’s doing, and every event in life is evidence that He’s up to something big.

Leaving Kansas and meeting people who are passionate about God and about His Word helped me to remember that God isn’t still. He’s never still. He’s always moving, especially when it feels like He’s not doing anything in my own life.

It was beyond encouraging to remember that.

If you think about it, say a prayer for Gus and Debbie Piazza. They will be leaving New Jersey for Rhode Island in August, and they have no other source of income.

Whining = Pushups

I really should be doing dishes this morning, but when it comes to house work I am a terrible procrastinator (admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery; of course, the second step is caring enough about it to change . . . and I don’t). And I had enough folks ask me what a recent Facebook status meant that I thought I would offer an explanation.

When I was in high school, we had a rule. At the time, I thought it was funny. Looking back, I think it was brilliant (yes, Bro. Poore, I said brilliant). It was a way of sucessfully keeping order among a group of crazy teengers without being heavy handed.

The rule was this:

We had to drop and do ten pushups for every instance of whining, rebellion or stupidity.

I still remember a trip to Table Rock Lake when one of our vehicles broke down and we were eating at a Wendy’s somewhere in Missouri, and I don’t know what happened but suddenly there were five of our group on the floor doing pushups. Wherever we went, our group was always doing pushups.

Now, of course, I can’t touch on this without bringing up the only time I had to do pushups.

I was either a junior or a senior in high school (can’t remember and don’t feel like doing the math) and I thought I would make it until the end of my four years in youth group without getting a single pushup, mainly because I’m a deplorable people pleaser (I was worse when I was in high school) and I thought I would just die if I ever did anything meriting it. It was one of our Mexico trips. We had been living in a village for a week, subsisting on military rations, and we were eating at a steak house somewhere in Texas, and the fact that I had never gotten pushups came up.

So. I got ten just because I’d never gotten pushups before.

Oh, my. I was such a weird kid. I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t upset, that I was mature enough to see the silliness in it at the time. But man I was angry. Looking back now, I’m honestly embarassed about it (so embarassed that even as I write this I feel my face getting red). But I was so angry. I don’t get angry very often, so the urge to spit nails was a new experience for me. I had to leave the restaurant and go out to the parking lot and just stay away from people because I was so angry.

But that anger didn’t compare to how awful I felt when my youth pastor apologized to me about it. I felt lower than dirt because deep inside I knew it hadn’t meant anything, and it was stupid for me to be upset about something like that. So I guess that was my life lesson about not getting angry about stupid stuff. =)

Pride. The great equalizer. You’d think it lifts you up above other people, but it really just drags you through the dirt with everyone else.

In any case, if you ever hear me or anyone from the Class of 2001 refer to pushups or use the phrase “just drop” after somebody does something stupid, now you’ll know what it means.

Sincerity

So I’m going to be intensely, brutally honest today and I hope no one thinks less of me for it. I’m human, just like everybody else.

For the last few years, I’ve been pretty upset with my mom’s stepmother. It started out as real anger. I’m not going into details; there’s no real point in that. Suffice it to say that she wasn’t very high on my favorite persons list. And even previous to the event that triggered all this, we weren’t close. She never really expressed interest in my life, and even though I called her Grandma, she wasn’t really ever my grandma. She was a nice little old lady who married my grandfather–(who never really felt like my grandpa, for the record).

In the last couple of weeks, though, I started getting my head on straight. Please don’t misunderstand me. I never hated her. Never. I just didn’t want to be around her. I didn’t want to go see her. I didn’t want to visit her. But something changed in me during the Bless U series at church and it really got me thinking about true forgiveness again. So–I forgave her and started doing my best to think kindly of her. I even went over for lunch one day.

Well, we got the news yesterday that she has a massive case of abdominal cancer. It’s so bad it’s not worth treating, apparently. She’s 97 and still goes bowling twice a week, so while on one hand I didn’t expect her to live much longer, this still came as a surprise. And no matter how distant our relationship always was, it still makes me sad.

Maybe these things are completely unrelated, but this whole situation kind of came to mind when I read my verse of the day, Isaiah 1:16-17.

 16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
      Get your sins out of my sight.
      Give up your evil ways.
 17 Learn to do good.
      Seek justice.
   Help the oppressed.
      Defend the cause of orphans.
      Fight for the rights of widows.

I’m not a scholar, but reading the rest of the chapter will tell you exactly what’s going on here. The people of Israel were screwing up again and God again sent another prophet (Isaiah) to tell them what’s what. But these two verses come out of a section of text that is God telling Israel that he hates their religion because it’s meaningless. All of their rituals didn’t have any substance to them because no one did them for the right reasons.

I feel like I’ve been right there in my relationship with my step-grandmother for the last couple of years. I referred to her as my grandmother and I recognized her as a family member, but I didn’t really act like it because I didn’t feel like she deserved it. But that’s wrong. What good does it do to call someone family when you don’t truly accept them as family? How can you love someone if it’s forced? If you lack sincerity in your words and actions, then what is the point of saying or doing them? Besides, who among us actually deserves anything good in our lives? And what right do I have to judge the hearts of other people? None.

I’m glad I figured this out during Bless U, even though I don’t think I realized I figured it out. I’m hoping that maybe in whatever time she has left I can communicate to her that I have forgiven her. If you all think about it, please say a prayer for my family and especially for my Grandma Bea.

Inadequacy

What do you struggle with? What is your weakness? I’ve mentioned before that Satan is a student of us, knows us inside and out, sees our weaknesses and exploits them like any capable enemy would. So I’ve always thought it was a good idea to recognize my weaknesses so that I can better respond to his attacks.  It makes it easier to see when he’s coming after you (easier . . . not easy). It gives you a foundation to start defending yourself using truth from God’s Word to point out to Satan that he’s a liar.

I have to say from experience that it’s a lot easier said than done. Because some “weaknesses” can become so ingrained in a person that they become an extension of your personality–or at least, you can perceive them yourself as part of who you are. We are so good at lying to ourselves. And once we lie to ourselves enough, we start to believe it–and that opens the door for Satan to attack full force with his own lies.

I have always struggled with feeling inadequate. I don’t know why. I’m sure there are a lot of theories as to why, but none of them explain my stubborn inability to recognize it as a lie other than my obvious acceptance of it. I think I’ve told myself for so long that I am totally inadequate that I have begun to believe it. So it’s no great accomplishment for Satan to get through to me, telling me that I’m worthless and useless and insufficient when I believe him already.

I’m inadequate at work. I’m inadequate in ministry. I’m inadequate as a friend. I’m inadequate as a daughter and a sister. I’m inadequate as a mentor. I’m inadequate. I’m insufficient. I’m not enough and I never will be enough because I don’t know what else I can do to make up for everything I lack. Maybe that’s being human. And maybe it’s okay for other people to be human but it’s not okay–and has never been okay–for me to be anything less than perfect. . . . . . because what reason would anyone have to care about me otherwise?

Yes. That’s a lie. I know it. I recognize it. But I still feel it. And I don’t want sympathy, though prayers would be nice, because I know it’s untrue. And I know it’s one of Satan’s manipulations. And I know–I know–I know all that. I do. But it’s hard to draw the line between what you know and what you feel. And I’m really tempted to not even post this because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea . . . . but what God gave me last night has so changed my entire perspective I may just let people think what they want to.

I was hanging out at home, getting ready for today and trying to think of ways to be obediant. At church, we’ve been learning about blessings. The whole message series has been so awesome . . . . I haven’t gotten this much out of a message series since Life Ink. I didn’t think it was possible to top that one, but Bless U has . . . completely.

The Bible says that God will bless you in the area you surrender to Him. I get that. So I had already decided to release those parts of my life that I’ve been holding onto.

What we learned this past weekend that God will bless you in the areas where you are obediant to Him. I totally get that too. Financially speaking? Holy cow. I can’t even tell you how true that is. Working for the State, I barely scraped by. There were weeks I didn’t know where my groceries were going to come from. There were some days the only thing I could do was just pray over my bank account because I didn’t know how I was going to survive. But the one thing I never faltered on was my tithe. It never even occurred to me to stop tithing. I fully believed (and still do) that the only reason I made it was because I never stopped giving my ten percent back to God. And now? Without going into details, let’s just say that finances aren’t an issue anymore. God was faithful to bless me in the areas where I was obediant to Him.

Now, there are still a few areas in my life where I would like to be blessed. So I was thinking last night how to be obediant in those areas. I’m a generally obediant person, I think. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I usually don’t have a problem obeying. I give what God tells me to give. I go where He tells me to go. I do what He tells me to do. Period. No arguing. No challenging. No whining. I’ve seen Him work in so many ways in my life and in others’ lives that I know better than to second guess Him. It’s always better to do what He asks and be patient waiting for what He has in store.

But what came to me last night really, honestly took my breath away. And it’s going to sound so ridiculous because it’s something I already knew–but there is such a massive difference between believing something and truly, deeply, honestly knowing it.

All my life I have known that God is sufficient for me. Of course, He is. He’s God. He can do anything, be anything I need, be anywhere I need Him to be. He is enough for me. More than enough for me.  But what I realized last night is that I am sufficient for Him.

Isn’t that obvious, though? What can I do that will make Him love me more or love me less? What can I do to be perfect? Nothing. I mean, I can please Him with faith. But even if I don’t, He still loves me. Even when I fail, He’ll still accept me. Even when I screw up and forget everything He’s ever taught me, He’ll still welcome me home with open arms and tell me that He loves me unconditionally–which means no matter what. No matter what.

And then the only thing I could think about was that David Crowder Band song, “How He Loves.” There’s a line in there:

“He is our portion and we are His prize.”

He is sufficient for us. We are sufficient for Him.

We don’t don’t have to change. Or be perfect. Or achieve great and incredible things. Or do things for Him. Or be someone we’re not for Him. We can just be who we are and He loves us just the way we are. Granted, we’ll receive more blessings if we do seek to accomplish awesome things for Him . . . . but it doesn’t mean He loves us less if (when) we fail.

See why this is a ridiculous revelation? It’s something I’ve known all my life. Something I’ve sung about–written about–talked about all my life. But it’s so much easier to tell other people than it is to believe about yourself. I know all my flaws and failures and shortcomings . . . but so does He. And He loves me anyway. Beyond that, there’s nothing I can do (or fail to do) that will make Him love me less.

And that made me wonder if I’m not being obediant in the way I view myself. I’m not saying that’s it. I’m just saying I’m wondering. If God really does love me unconditionally–and if He really loves me because He wants to–and if there’s nothing I can do to change His mind about seeing me that way, why do I insist on viewing myself as inadequate? Why do I see failure every time I look at myself? Why do I believe the obvious lies Satan tells me?

Yes, we’re supposed to be humble. Yes, we’re not supposed to think more of ourselves than we ought to. Yes, we’re supposed to prefer our brothers and sisters above ourselves. But there has to be a balance between humility and understanding that God gave what was most precious to Him to save me.

So. This is Amy’s new leaf. Whenever I feel inadequate (which is just about every hour of every day on a good day), I’m going to tell Satan to go butt a stump and I’m going to remember that God loves me and that I am the person He made me and that He really honestly does have a plan for me that’s His plan and not mine.

And isn’t it so much better to have His plan instead of your own? Because as long as it’s His plan, nobody can screw it up–especially me.

Encouragement for a Monday morning

Ephesians 1:18 – I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he has called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

This was my verse for today and it really encouraged me.

With the end of Judgement House this year, I’m expecting a bit of gloom to settle over everything. It always does. So I was super excited to pick up my e-mail this morning and see this verse smiling at me.

What a difference a single little modifier makes! The word confident shouted out from the page at me this morning. Paul didn’t pray just for us to remember the hope we have in Christ . . . but that we would remember the confident hope we have. Confidence makes all the difference in the world.

You can hope for something without really believing it will come true. I do it all the time, I hate to admit. I’m an unpublished writer. =) Hope is my bread and butter. But confident hope? That’s something different.

We can hope confidently in the promises God has made to us because He is trustworthy. We can trust Him–and be confident in Him–because He is who He is.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes make the world go ’round

I love pumpkin.

I love pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins and pumpkin coffee.

I think I have blogged about pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cream cheese muffins from Starbucks for my birthday for the last three years . . . but they’re such a treat, it’s the only time I get them. Of course, my blood sugar is doing funny things today as a result of it.

It has been so long since I posted anything. So much for trying to keep everybody updated.

Well, hope springs eternal. And I am going to try yet again to get a consistant line of thought going on here. At least once a week . . . because I know there are SO many people out there who really care about what’s going on in my life . . . . =)

But for now, as I celebrate my 28th year on Earth, I’m going to drink my pumpkin coffee and probably go have Indian food for lunch because I need something spicy to help with the congestion from the massive allergy attack I’m suffering at present.

Ah, fall! The season of change has returned to Kansas with a fury . . . . In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this much change before . . . .

But that is for another post. Hopefully. Eventually. Possibly. =)