simplyliving

Simply living the simple life with God, Grace and Giggles

Writing, publishing, online magazines and life

Originally posted on Linda Mae Baldwin:

I am back in wet, gray, soggy, Washington state in America after a three-year stay in beautiful, sunny, warm, Queensland, Australia. Despite the dismal weather differences, I am blessed to be back exactly where God wants me and cuddling on the Grands, catching up with the kids, and setting up a new life-thing.

What new thing? A while ago I had my own website which turned to be a waste of space and time. So now I blog. Jury’s still out on the waste of this endeavor. On my website I wrote book reviews. I’ve been a reviewer for Romantic Times Magazine for the last seven years. If you know anything about me at all, you ‘ll know I love pink flamingos – those pink, elegant, misunderstand beauties and I are connected on a ‘I get you,’ level. I used my long-legged friends to rate the books I reviewed: 1…

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my last Aussieland post

my last Aussieland post

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Nothing is Impossible with God

I bought some paperback bibles in different translations and wanted to make them last longer so I followed an idea my daughter had done. I got some different styled duct tape and decided to wrap them. My ESV bible got a lovely muted flower print, but my Message translation is my favorite, and it is now sporting pink flying pigs on a teal blue back ground.

I have always found the saying, ‘when pigs fly,’ somewhat endearing. It is almost a challenge – ‘that’ll happen in your life, when pigs fly’. I know the connotation is that the thing that is going to happen will be a miracle because of course, short snouted, wide bellied, curly tailed pigs will never ever fly.

I had the bible with me one day and a friend noticed. It’s kind of difficult to miss if you’re paying even the least bit of attention. Her statement to me, caught me of guard. She held it, turned it over, looked it up and down and then said, ‘so the stuff that happens in this book is as likely to be real as pigs flying?’

Wow. No. Not at all. The exact opposite! The flying pigs are obviously indicative of the scripture; ‘Nothing is impossible with God,’ Luke 1:37. Every time I pick up that bible that verse is what I think. When things are going poorly, when life is grand, if I’m facing problems or questions, those little flying pigs immediately remind me that with God NOTHING is impossible. It’s an invitation to dig further into His truth.

I’m a little confused as to why a believer would first think that the images would symbolize that the Word was as impossible as flying pigs, but it was an eye opener: don’t assume anything. When speaking to anyone about the merciful love of our great Jesus and the treasures in God’s Holy Word, start easy, start with something like – God loved the world so much, He gave His one and only Son, so whoever believes on Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life. (John 3:16). A person’s words don’t necessarily convey the true status of their heart nor will they automatically merge with your thoughts. But, if you start with the wonderful truth that Christ died for you, the response of the listener will tell you where to go next.

My friend has different life experience than I and maybe has had experiences which make her thoughts go the opposite of mine, but I much prefer the thought I get, when I see the cover of my Bible, that with my God NOTHING is impossible, not even, flying pigs.

flyingpig

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Faith Walkin’

Faith Walkin'.

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Faith Walkin’

I’m not much of a walker. Well, according to my mom I wasn’t much of a ‘stander’ either. The story goes that I would simply stand and then the hugeness of my head or the weakness of my neck, or just my unique DNA, would make me fall backwards, like a felled tree. It was so frequent that I had to get fluid drained from my head when I was three years old. If standing was problematic it’s no wonder that walking proved to be a challenge.

 When I was 40 years old I bought a pair of Dr. Scholl exercise sandals which had been so popular when I was a teenager. They were making a comeback and I could finally afford a pair. I remember wearing them the day of my 40th birthday. Walking from the car park to the entrance of the mall I fell OFF the exercise sandals and broke my third toe on my left foot. Doctor referred to it as a spider web break, because the little bones were shattered in so many pieces it resembled a spider’s web. My most recent walking related incident took place just a few weeks ago in our drive way where I was singing, ironically enough, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles –“ then bam, I slipped off the edge of the drive and fell flat on my knees and my hand. The edge of the drive was one obstacle that got by me. It’s a great relief that when we discuss walking in faith, or walking by faith, it usually has nothing to do with any sort of physical movement.

 My favorite faith walking account is the blind man in the bible. Imagine you are blind from birth. In that culture this sort of ailment was often attributed to sin, either the person with the ailment or their parents. Men were the main providers for the families. So here you are, a blind man, possibly battling more than just your physical limitations; you can’t provide for yourself, let alone your family, and you know folks are wondering just what horrible thing you or your parents did to cause you to be blind. Maybe you even wonder that yourself. The only way to survive is to beg for money. Along comes this guy you’ve heard of. Jesus of Nazareth. Some say he’s a prophet from Yahweh, others say he’s from the devil. You hear him approach. He is with other men and they ask him, point blank, who sinned you or your folks, as if you are also deaf. But Jesus’ answer, that neither one sinned, this is something you are happy and relieved to hear. Jesus goes on to say that they must get all the things done because soon it will be dark. Since you’ve lived only in darkness your entire life this doesn’t affect you. Then you hear him spit. You lean forward. There is silence. Gritty damp cold mud is pressed on your eyes. You draw back but stay still. Jesus tells you to go wash in the Pool of Siloam and wash in the water. You’ve never been to the pool because it is a long walk. There are rumors that healing takes place there, but the journey is long and you have never been compelled to tackle it on your own. But this time you do. You rise up. Jesus doesn’t tell anyone to go with you and no one offers. But you go anyways, mud on your blind eyes, heading for a place you’ve only heard of. Jesus’ voice has carried with it an assurance you’ve never felt before.  When you finally arrive at the Pool of Siloam, you are exhausted but inwardly excited. You don’t even stop to shed your sandals or your tunic. You rush to the stairs. Somehow you navigate the steps into the pool. The tepid water washes over your hot feet. As you descend the water soaks the hem of your tunic, then, up to your waist plastering the fabric to your thighs. Now, you’re in the middle of the pool. You are surprisingly calm or your heart is pounding. You remember Jesus said to, ‘wash in the pool.’ So you do. You take a deep breath and plunge under the water. It makes no sense that when you stand you will suddenly see. What does that even mean? You rise up from the water and the warm breeze wafts across your wet skin. You open your eyes. You blink once, then twice. You close your eyes and carefully, with one finger, draw the silt off each eye. You open your eyes wide, but then slam them shut against the brightness.  Even with them closed, the darkness you’ve known your whole life is displaced by something you can’t even describe because you have no words for seeing except ‘dark’.  Slowly, you open your eyes and for the first time in your life you see.

Of course this account in John 9 has much more to this man’s story. When Jesus made him seeing, he also opened his heart and he became a believer. This man told everyone what Jesus had done for him. This man must have felt like his life was new, like he had been given a second chance, born a new. He even challenged the religious Pharisees when they said Jesus was a sinner and accused him of being his disciple when they were disciples of Moses. Finally he says, when they persist, ‘that is very strange! He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” So brave! So strong.

This man is thrown out of the synagogue because of the religiosity of those in charge. He wasn’t following their rules and he challenged their beliefs. Even still, his story gets better. When Jesus hears he’s been cast out he seeks him out and asks him if he truly believes in Him. ‘Yes, Lord! I believe!” The man can hardly contain his joy, his belief, his love.

 Jesus explains that he came to the world to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they can see, that they are blind. The Pharisees ask if Jesus is saying they are blind. And He answers “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty, but you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”

This man actually had to physically walk somewhere. Thank God he has not required that of me, but I hope that I would go. Even though I might fall off my shoes or break some toes.  Our challenge most times these days is to have faith in not our physical walk but our spiritual one. Look at the flip flop of this man’s life. All this from one faith walk. One journey that some would have refuse to take because it was too hard, too long, too complicated, too ___________.  How about you?

 

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WORDS. BULLYING, PINTEREST.GRACE AND US.

WORDS. BULLYING.PINTEREST.GRACE. AND US.

Linda Mae Baldwin

Mama used to say, and I tried to pass on to my children, ‘if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.’ Why?  Because, ‘Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit, you choose.’ Proverbs 18:21 (The Message.)

Words: God showed us how important words would be when he used them to speak the world into being, He said, ‘let there be light’, and there was light. He did the same with vegetation, animals and sky. All using words. Some of the most heart wrenching times in the Bible are expressed via spoken words, when God stopped Saul on the road to Damascus, talked to him and forever changed Paul’s life and thus our lives, Acts 9. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they do not understand what they do” Luke23, when he was being crucified, and then, “Father, why have you forsaken me.” Matthew 27.  Finally, “It is finished.” John 19.

The Bible states the stipulation for becoming a Christ follower: “Confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.” Romans 10:9. Important words. In the book of James, it talks about the power of the tongue and how the tongue is similar to the tiny rudder that will steer a large ship. (James 3:4).

To me, some words are more poisonous than others are. I find it very difficult to keep my own mouth shut when someone tells a person to shut-up. For me, ‘shut-up’ is a real violation to the person trying to express himself or herself. I realize that from time to time we have to request a person to hush, or be quiet, or stop talking, and that’s okay, just don’t tell them to shut-up. Those two words immediately bring to mind a verbal slap in the face. Folks have different trigger words, for me it is shut up, for one of my friends it is calling someone a pig, but whatever that/those words are for you, remember, they can bring fruit or poison, life or death to the person you are talking to.

Bullying: When I was young, a group of boys decided to nickname me Frankenstein. Which they abbreviated to Frankie, and mercilessly called it out at every opportunity. My parents thought they were ‘only words’ and I suppose letting me stand up for myself and not getting in the mix was the right thing to do. I did a good job of defending myself, but, emotionally damaged, I carried that with me for a long time. Maybe the ordeal of these sensitive formative younger years is why I strongly oppose any sort of bullying – physical or verbal. It is also why I cringe when people toss the word ‘bully’ around when really they are being nagged or teased. As a bullied person, I understand the differences and it’s frustrating when ‘bullying’ is used as catch all for bad behavior.

Pinterest: The accounts of bullying on social media is sadly, not a new thing. It seems to have started when Social Media began. However, I was very surprised to find this nasty behavior happening not just with young people, but also grownups. I was on Pinterest and someone had posted a very unflattering photo of a large sized woman whose clothes didn’t fit right. The comments about this stranger were appalling and so mean. I found myself writing in defense of this stranger and saying, “It must be nice to be perfect. Maybe our flaws aren’t visible like hers, but were’ all flawed. Let’s be kind.” To which I was told to ‘take it to church’, ‘get a sense of humor” (there was nothing funny about the picture), and that the people posting the cruel remarks were not flawed, they said, they just know how to dress. At this point, engaging with a bunch of strangers seemed lame, but I was upset and feeling a little defiant. I reminded these women that we all don’t have love in our lives that tells us what is right or wrong. What is the point of being so cruel and mocking to this stranger – unless it makes you feel better? Which is a speech I used to give to girls in my youth group.

Grace: After all, was said and done, I thought, why do I care? These women are strangers; the woman in the photo is a stranger, why do I care? I reckon it’s because Jesus cares. He loves the stranger, he loves the mean women. He even loved me so many years ago when the boys bullied. I didn’t realize it then, but I do now.

Us: The Bible encourages us to ‘be kind to one another, tender-hearted and forgiving one another just as God for Christ sake forgives us,’ Ephesians 4:32, also we should ‘speak with grace, using only words as is good for edification according to the need of the moment.’ Ephesians 4:29 NASB, and in Hebrews it says, “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”

These are things I have to practice every day. I have a loose tongue and I have to watch my words. Words, Fruit or poison. Which one are you serving? I hope it will help you, too.

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Look what the TIDE brought in..or how my life in Oz has come full circle

2010 – we’ve finally moved out of the hotel and into a rental house. Our shipment has yet to arrive from America so we are still on rented furniture. I’m very very sad because I miss home and my family so very much. I feel distant from Jesus and I have zero friends. Everyday Lance goes to work and I am home alone. Too far to walk anywhere and no car or bike. It’s the saddest I have ever been. and, on top of that I am disappointed in myself because I’m not loving life in Australia. We go to the grocery store and I head to the Manchester aisle (not exactly sure what that is), but I’m searching for laundry detergent. I see numerous boxes of washing powder. I see a variety of dish soap and a display of mops and brooms. I recognize NOTHING. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed and almost frantic in my search for Tide laundry soap. TIDE. Where is the familiar bright orange and yellow bottle with the big blue letters TIDE? Just want to recognize ONE thing. JUST ONE!… then, inexplicably the tears fall. And I stand in the middle of the aisle, alone, crying over something as simple as laundry soap. Or rather the absence of.

 

2013- we’ve been in Oz for almost three years now. And I can’t begin to tell of the wonderful things my Lord Jesus has accomplished. We have fRamily here that goes beyond anything I could ask or imagine. He has provided just like the bible said he would in the book of Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do FAR MORE abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us”. Where once I had no friends and spent days alone, not able to write, not able or willing to pray because I could not feel or see my Jesus, now I have plenty. One of the reasons for this, I think, is because long ago my husband preached a sermon about trains.

That’s weird, right? How could a sermon on trains help me? How could a train bring me close again to Jesus? Take my sadness down a few octaves, make me smile again? How could a train pull me or push me or drag me out of the dark hole of depression I was slipping into? For a simple little statement: Have FAITH in the FACTS and the FEELINGS will FOLLOW.

faithinfactsfeelingswillfollow with apologies to my husband for this amateurish graphic…but this is totally how I reasoned out my lack of seeing Jesus. It’s not always a soaring, happy, dancing with kangaroos on the rainbow of life feeling, this Christian life. And I surely found that out in the pit. But, when I remembered that even in the pit He is there. Oh, it might be dark, and my light may be hidden under a lead lined bushel…but none the less He is there and His love never fails. So, I put my faith in the facts, and sure enough, those dismal feelings were swept away when His light exposed my shadowed heart. Put faith in the facts and the feelings followed! Now back to Tide.
So, there are a lot of different things about Australia, as it should be, because it is Australia and not America. And, I’m thankful for most of the differences. And, slowly, Jesus drew me to people, and people to me, and life became somewhat easier. We began hosting parties and our friend dubbed our house ‘the party house’, for which we are more than happy to be! And, I went along in my daily life, thinking all was well, until the day someone in an ex-pat Facebook forum said she was doing her laundry with Tide and hoped it would turn out like her mother’s had back home. TIDE? Immediately I was on that page commenting, “how does this happen here in Australia?” and the answer, “Coles has TIDE. Tide with Downey and Tide.” Needless to say I was pretty excited. I called my local Coles to see if they carried but in my excitement my request must’ve come across garbled because the clerk came back and said, no, they didn’t have any ‘Coles Tide in an orange container’, I reckon not. Humph. But not one to give up easily I convinced by long-suffering and brilliant husband to take me down to the store. And, then, I convinced him to take this picture, promising that if he would, there would be no shouting or dancing in the aisle. At least not on the outside. 1236564_10151915332252932_1127083531_n_edited
And there you have it, my life in Australia has come full circle! From crying in the aisle to celebrating in the same aisle three years later. And through it all, Jesus was there, all the time. I just needed a little nudge from a train, and a few receptive friends and of course, my sweet husband.

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God can supply all my needs except…?

My God will supply all my needs

My God will supply all my needs

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 ESV or “I can do all things through him (Christ)who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13

These two Bible verses are my lifelines…I repeat them often and regularly through the day. The truth in these two verses are applicable in any situation. Life going good? Praise Him! I can do everything because Christ in me, gives me strength. Stormy gales blocking my view? Finances tough? Can’t really put my finger on the uneasiness in my heart? Not to worry; God will supply every need according to his riches in Christ Jesus. Feeling lonely or alone? Re-visit – God will supply every need…even my loneliness. Yes, these two promises from God fulfill every aspect of my life. Yet, I struggle.

In my heart and head I believe. But in my thoughts, I doubt. I doubt that God really can help me with my weight loss, or my health. Sure I claim these verses and I pray every day…a few times a day, that my will power will be strong enough to do what I have resolved to do, lose weight and keep it off, and yet, I fail. I know I am supposed to write. Write for him, spread his word in fiction and non-fiction, yet, my actions; soliciting the advice and counsel of writer friends, show that I seemingly have more faith in other authors than I do in God. I know this is not how my heart feels, but it is how my life acts.

I don’t purposefully draw the curtain over certain areas of my life trying to shield them from Him, but when I don’t act on the promises he’s made, or the promises I’ve made to him, I am indeed blocking him from certain areas of my life. Not saying He can’t work in those areas still, just saying it’s a smoother, less angst filled journey then stumbling over the rocks and tripping on the uneven path of doing it on my own.

I guess all this to say, I’m determined to remember to APPLY those lifelines to my every day journey and not just think ‘em in my head :)
Got areas of your life you’re not completely trusting Him in or maybe just giving Him extra help? Join me and try a hands off approach for one week. Just trust Him. When you feel like helping out, pull back and give it to Him…let me know how you go!!!

In His Grace, Mercy and Love LM

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Faith

Faith

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The Empty Seat Beside Me

Lance is in America and I am here. I went to church by myself. Greeted fRamily members and new friends. Sat down to the beginnings of a praise song. It was so odd not to hear his booming voice sing along. So strange to not lean over onto his shoulder, or to hold his hand when the Pastor prayed as was our usual thing. I ended up holding onto my own hand and fiddling a lot with my bible. It was unsettling to see the empty chair beside me, I picked up my purse from the floor and plopped it on the chair in an attempt to fill the void. And then, taking my own advice from my last blog: How to Run to Jesus with Arthritic Knees. And I found, “Yet, I am not alone, for the Father is with me!” John 16:32b! What followed were thoughts about the single people in my life, those who face the empty seat every week, and not just at church, but everywhere, even at home.

It wasn’t too long ago I rode the so wrong high horse of judgementalism towards divorces. It was my contention that IF ANYONE got divorced it was completely selfish and if you got divorced it’s because you weren’t trying hard enough. Oh, and, that God hates divorce. And then someone very close to me got divorced and it was very clear that in order to protect her family she did the best thing for them. A mother protecting her children. How can that be wrong? And, turns out, from her ex’s actions and lack of actions, it was the absolute right thing to do. Her church did not help in any way, there was no compassion, support, encouragement, certainly none of Jesus’ grace, mercy or love anywhere. The fall of the high horse was short but painful.

Since then, God has lead me to more beautiful women whose husbands were chameleon Christians at best and abusive at the least. These men seem to hate their blessings…their wives and children. They only want something to show off, or display….is a wife compelled to spend her life these ungodly conditions? Is this what God would intend for the lives of His children?

In the ESV version of the Holy Bible, the oft quoted verse of ‘God hates divorce’, is translated, thusly, “for the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:16. The reason it is not the typically translated “God hates divorces” is because the compliers/researchers/preachers/teachers who put the ESV version together believe that even in the latter translation the emphasis is not that God hates the DIVORCED, but DIVORCES. The ESV Bible has a huge section on how they came to conclude the scripture thusly, which I would encourage you to check out if you are interested. Our problem is we very often hate the divorced, the people. We don’t show any of Jesus’ grace, mercy or love and instead condemn and ride off on our high horse without having done anything except pour verbal vinegar into the existing wounds of the divorced person. In the person who is close to me divorce, no one should have trouble, because her husband was unfaithful numerous times, emotionally abandoned her family, and he was emotionally divorced her when he sent her away. And I’ve met many women since who have experienced the same thing. How sad God must be that when one of His children hurts the most His other children do nothing but righteously judge and kick them when they need HIs grace, mercy and love the most.

The empty chair beside me is a reminder that single people, moms, dads who once had a marriage relationship and participated in church together, must be painfully lonely at first, coming to a place where they once were two and now, alone. My friend, Mel, tells me that even when she was single, never having had the experience of the marriage relationship in church yet, she felt outside, not included. I don’ t think that it’s intentional, it’s just that people are focused on themselves or on those who are obviously doing something wrong – like, in their opinion, getting divorced.

I am glad that God fractured my judgemental attitude towards divorced people. I hope that He will continue to remind me that Jesus’ actions were always full of grace, mercy and love, and strive to have those be my first reactions.

I pray I don’t have to experience the empty seat too often. But, mostly, I pray that His children will love His other children and be listeners, encouragers, supporters. I’m not saying, however, that we should just ignore blatant disregard for His word, but instead, we should be totally absorbed and soaked in HIs word, it should be in our hearts and on our lips. It should be like our language. And, in this attitude, I am sure that those who have to sit with an empty seat beside them, will, hopefully, not be sitting alone for long.

I leave this post with a peaceful picture for you. One I took in Tahiti. Tahiti Sunset. Blessings to you.

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