Friday, March 20, 2015

Window of Opportunity

The world beyond her glass prison held more allure.

They say the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Molly was certain that no one would ever say her grass was greener. Her pastures were narrow and surrounded with an electric fence. They were sparse and dry. They were her prison.

Molly would give anything to climb out this window and slide down the trellis. To experience freedom. Her friends always used to talk about all the doors her wealthy family could open. They thought she had the world at her fingertips.

She saw one door to her future, and she was being pushed through it. Her Dad said that one day she would understand, but Molly had yet to understand why she had to live her life this way. This reserved lifestyle while everyone else did what they wanted?

Once she was on the other side of that door, there would be no turning back. Not ever. The only way out was to fail. Fall on her face. Destroy her life.

Or run now.

The window of opportunity sat in front of her. It beaconed a siren song to her soul. It gleamed like a portal to freedom. It tempted everything within her. Goodness, she could almost smell the new world waiting for her.

Molly had stared out this window ever since she was a child, noting the quick run to the wood's edge. To her new life.

Even as a child, this window of opportunity had always held more allure.

Have you ever felt like the girl in this story? She felt trapped. Suffocating. Confined to her prison. There are so many movies and books that depict a princess bound by duty, and thus unable to follow her heart's desire.

I think prime time for this is when we go through our teen years. The time of terror. :) Too old to ignore the coming future and responsibilities ahead. Too young to actually do all the stuff you are looking forward to doing. Mix that together, and you get the "trapped" feeling we all know and despise. Add in your family's plans and expectations, and you have got yourself a Disney princess movie in the making. ;)

I call it the Princess Complex.

Then that window of opportunity presents itself. A temptation that looks so fine. A time to let down your hair, stop living by the rules, and run with the wind.

Do you take it? Let it go by? What is the right answer? And how much coffee does one need to consume before figuring this out?

Well, I like to look at a certain section of Scripture when faced with that "window of opportunity." Somebody just like us who faced temptation, and triumphed over it.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11

You know, I can't get over how Jesus handled this time of testing. It's like I always forget and then remember this one key piece of information.

Jesus was just like us.

That feels wrong to say. He was the Son of God. The Son of Man. The Savior. Prince of Pease. Chosen. Bridegroom. Beloved Son. Christ. Bread of Life. Messiah. Deliver. The list goes on and on! There is over TWO HUNDRED names for Jesus!

Saying He was just like us seems like a slap in the face to all that He is, was, and did.

But it's not.

If Jesus wasn't born into a sinful world, and if He didn't face all the same kinds of temptations as us, then how could he have been the perfect Lamb of God? It would have been perfectly easy for a "God" to walk this earth and say no to the devil. Jesus, He had a choice to make. The same choices we make every day.

Follow God? Follow the world?

I always read about this time of testing for Jesus, and I forget just how difficult it was for Him. These forty days and nights in the wilderness were no vacation before for He started His traveling ministry. He wasn't relaxing with a frozen lemonade (How great are frozen lemonades, by the way?!) while working on His summer tan. This was so difficult for Him! He was like us. He could have rebelled against God's plan. He could have looked to the sky, shook his fist, and declared, "I want to be a painter! Find somebody else for your twisted plan!" He could have given in to the devils tricks of earthly power. He had the window of opportunity right there in front of Him.

But my Lord held His own. He didn't back down. He fought the devil tooth and nail with the Word of God.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the most poignant examples of Jesus that we have in the Bible. A flesh and blood man, with thoughts and dreams of His own, totally focused on God. This example was for you and me. People who screw up. Who decided they would rather sleep then read their Bible. People who decided that compromising a little doesn't mean anything. People who claim it's impossible to be like Jesus.

I'm not going to lie to you guys. We are going to screw up. A lot. Goodness, since writing this post I've probably screwed up a hundred times over. These verses in Matthew 4 remind me that it is possible to take the high road. If my Lord, who previously had an existence of privilege, could do it without failing, then I most assuredly can!

You guys have an awesome end of March! Throw a little a party and I will see you on April 1st.

April Fool's Day. I will have to come up with a prank for you guys! ;)

God bless!

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Speaking Apprehension

Oh, she was going to throw up, right here, right now. Possibly in that plant over there. Perhaps it would function as a type of fertilizer.

Or not.

Her hazel eyes, for which she was named, darted back and forth in the huge, curtained off-area of the stage. Why did it appear like everyone else was fine? They weren't nervous, terrified, or queasy. No one else was experiencing this strange twitching in their right eye. No one else was bent at a slightly odd angle to hold their churning stomach. No one else was shifty back and forth, clearly contemplating how much more embarrassing it might be to hop from the stage and run away.

Assuming one didn't break their ankle doing this.

"Oh, God, I can't do this."

The chair where Hazel was supposed to sit on stage sat empty. A single, golden spotlight shone on it. It was her turn.

People were looking at her, and someone pushed on her back. Her feet remained firmly rooted in place. She looked down at the verse she was supposed to read from Isaiah forty-one, verse ten.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

She found the words oddly comforting. Yes, they were soothing to her soul. More then just words, but more like a motto by which to live.

But did she dare read them to an auditorium full of people?

Hello everyone! I hope you've had a good month of March thus far.  :)

So, do you have a worst fear? Is it heights? Is it public speaking? Is it spiders, snakes, or the number thirteen? Perhaps your worst fear is that one day, all the coffee bean plants will die, and that the world will run out of coffee.

That would be truly tragic... *Shudder*  I think I've just added a new fear to my list.

Well, one of my fears is speaking in public. It's certainly under snakes, spiders, and the evil tramway, but well above things like the boogieman or being peed on by my future children.

I still remember the first time I spoke in public. While I had been singing on the worship team at church for years, I came to find out that speaking was an entirely different story.

I had to give my first speech for my required   trust me, I tried to get out of it   speech class.

I got up there, all prepared to talk. I had my lines memorized. The words were on the tip of my tongue, I knew to look around the room, make eye contact, and move around a little. I knew all this stuff.

But I would place my hand on Abraham's thigh and swear to you that all those things flew out of my mind when I stood at the front of the room with ALL EYES ON ME.

I shifted back and forth like I was bouncing to a rap song, and to make matters worse, my right eye started to malfunction. It would not stop twitching!

That dreadful day still haunts me. While I've certainly gotten better, and I can speak before a group of youth group kids pretty effortlessly now, speaking in a room of adults is still a little difficult for me.

Ever since then, I've avoided any unnecessary public speaking. God apparently decided that was a silly plan, because I've never been able to escape it.

Speaking of God...  ;)

"I open my mouth and pant, because I long for you commandments." Psalm 119:131

My church started a new Bible study a few months ago. As a youth leader and the daughter-in-law to the pastors', I figured it was kind of important I be there. While it's not always easy fitting in that time every week that I was spending on writing, blogging, connecting with the youth group kids, or being insanely lazy with my husband, I knew it was important that I be there.

Anyways, at this Bible study it's common for us to read the verses that go along with the lesson. Out loud. To the group.

Something I detest.

Seriously. I can't even believe I'm saying that, but it's true. While I like to fool myself into thinking it's because I know this stuff already, I know it's really because I hate looking like a fool. Every time I open my mouth I have flashbacks to the first time I spoke in public in high school and my right eye started twitching like I was having some kind of spaz attack.

I came across this verse in my personal Bible reading last week.

"I open my mouth and pant, because I long for you commandments." Psalm 119:131

I remember thinking, "That's a cool verse." I underlined it, but didn't give it much more thought.

Little did I know God was placing a wedge, and unfortunately, it was not a pair of cute shoes.

One night we were doing our normal thing. I had to suffer through reading a verse. People were talking and asking questions about the lesson. My pastor shared with the group about how much he loved to read his Bible.

While I certainly love God and love reading the Word, it's easy to fall into the habit of reading your Bible because you "have to read your Bible." God shows me new stuff in His Word all the time, and I love finding new spiritual trinkets to treasure and hold in my heart, but sometimes the duty to read my Bible takes precedence over the love.

There was a gentle tap of a hammer on the wedge, preparing for the forthcoming hard hit.

Suddenly, the hand of a young man from the youth group shot up. He said, "It's my turn to read a verse!"

And then the hammer smacked into the wedge, shedding light on my erring ways.

This kid wanted to read the Bible out loud.


What was wrong with him?

What was wrong with me?

Oh, dear.

I know this seems like a silly thing, but it struck me. All I could think about was that verse I had found. Why wasn't I longing to read like him?

"I open my mouth and pant, because I long for you commandments." Psalm 119:131

I will tell you the truth: I still don't like reading out loud, but I did learn a lesson. It caused me to stop and revaluate how I read my Bible. It reminded me to slow down, and make sure I'm reading my Bible for the right reasons. It's not about meeting my Christian "deadline." It's not about reading the verse really fast so I can just be done. It's not about my public speaking phobia. It's about God. It's about what He shows me. It's because I genuinely love reading His word. I love finding new things in my Bible, and that's what I need to hold onto every time I read my Bible.

My Bible is a love letter from the Lover of my Soul. There's no chance I'm ever letting that go.

Blessings to you guys this coming week! I will see you again on March 20th!  :)

V. Joy Palmer

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Cliff

Her white dress whipped back and forth as the wind used her skirt to play it's haunting melody. She sidestepped a rather pointy rock as she walk closer and closer.


She could see it coming. The jagged line where rocky earth met gray blue.


The salty sea air tickled her nose. A new gust of wind assaulted her, pushing her back like it didn't want her to see what was ahead.

The edge.

Closer still.

Two tantalizing steps more. Finally. Here she was.

The edge.

Murky waves crashed against the side of the rocky wall. Closing her eyes, she spread her arms wide. She felt like a bird. She felt like she could fly. She was almost certain in fact. All it would take is a little trust, and one...



Heather gasped. She looked around her room. She was in her bed. In her coffee cup pajamas. Safe. Sound. No where near the edge of a cliff.

Except for the one in her heart.

The one where God whispered, "Trust me."

One of my absolute, all time favorite books is...

Wings of the Morning by Lori Wick.

This is such an amazing book. I have read it so many times, that I have lost count, but it's well over twenty. Probably approaching thirty times, and the reason why the pages are yellow, the corners are rubbed circular, and why it's being held together by tape. This is such a beautiful story of trusting God. Jumping where you see no answers. My love for my favorite Psalm came from this book.

"Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:7-10

If you hang around me a lot, you will see that I quote these verses a lot. All the time. This is why.  ;)

Lately I've been thinking about some stuff that I'm trusting God for personally. Man, is that tough! I always describe it to the youth group kids as jumping off the edge of a huge, rocky cliff.

And I'm afraid of heights.

Spiritually, it's like I'm wearing an inflatable ducky inner tube. There's a rope tied around it, securing it safely to a tree on land. I have rock climbing gear and a parachute strapped to my back.

Why do I look like such an idiot?

Because I won't let go and trust God.

The problem is that I kept struggling with trusting God for this. Somewhere in my spirit I keep thinking I'll have my "Damascus moment" and get it sooner or later.

You guys know about Saul/Paul, right? (Acts 9) He seriously persecuted the early church after Jesus was resurrected. Saul/Paul had permission from the religious leaders to kill anyone who claimed to be a Christian. So one day Saul/Paul was on his way to Damascus to do just that when a bright, Heavenly light stopped him in his tracks, and a voice said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"

From that moment on, Saul was changed. He was Paul.

I've been expecting this grand, insane, perfect moment to fall on me, and from that moment on be changed.

Not doubting anymore.

Not afraid of what's next.

Not worried about the future.

Not lacking in faith.

But changed.

A Damascus moment.


That has not been the case.

I've come to figure something out. Something I thought I had figured out. Something I've literally learned, like, a billion times. (Excuse the cringe worthy cliché.)

It's step by step. Day by day. Moment by moment.

Second by second.

I guess I use to think that the reason you had to take this trusting God stuff step by step was because something new, bigger, and even worse had come along. However, sometimes it's the same hard, difficult, heart-wrenching thing as before, and you just have to trust God all over again. Sometimes you have to give it over to God again just that fast. I've learned that trusting God with my life doesn't always mean there is a big, moment where I suddenly just get it. A lot of times, it's about the little moments where I jump off that proverbial cliff a billion times a day.

Into God's arms.

I love this picture. Instead of being afraid and frantically clinging to the edge screaming, "No, I won't let go!", the girl is open. She is ready and waiting for God to do her thing. She embraces the cliff of faith. She's not afraid.

"Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:7-10

God bless you guys! I will see you on March 10th!  :)

V. Joy Palmer