When God’s In The Wrong Seat

January 22nd, 2015

driver photoBetween the birth of Lil Bit last October and our enforced exile from our bedrooms last September, life has been chaotic, to say the least.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry…

My original intent was to have a set of Bible studies posted during December for the season of Advent and at least one message uploaded for each week in Advent. As you may have noticed, that didn’t happen. I revised that schedule and decided to go back to my regular monthly Bible study and monthly message starting the first of January. As yet, I’ve only been able to write most of the message. Recording it, however, is turning out to be wishful thinking on my part. As for the Bible study, I might still be able to post it by next Wednesday — maybe.

The same challenges have cropped up in regards to the next book in the Malkin series. I normally write the bulk of those during NaNoWriMo in November and finish drafting it in December, then start planning the novella in January. I just started the next novel in the series this month and I’m struggling to get the scenes drafted. The novella? I haven’t even begun to think about it.

Those are just my writing challenges. On top of those we’ve had to remove all the drywall from all the bedrooms and the bathroom downstairs within a few days because there was significant mold growth on the backing. And of course, one can’t ignore the piles of dishes in the sink or Mt. Washmore by the laundry room. Nor can one turn a deaf ear to the rumbling of stomachs, unless, of course, one enjoys a good mutiny. Oh! And let’s not forget the bills accumulating in the “to pay” file.

That’s where I was last Monday when at 5 a.m. God reached down and reminded me that I can’t do it all.

You can’t do it all…

I woke up to feed Lil Bit, as usual, but scooting to the end of the air mattress to get to her was painful. I noticed I was feeling a bit stiff and sore earlier in the night, but hadn’t thought much about it other than to make a note that I’d need a good, hot shower to work the kinks out in the morning. Despite the pain, I levered myself up from the floor (did I mention the air mattress has a leak I’m still trying to fix?) and took a step toward her bassinet…

and promptly collapsed back on the mattress. The pain shot through my body like lightening, making me light-headed and nauseated. I managed to gasp out to my sleeping husband that I needed his help and, thankfully, he was able to take control from there to take care of both me and our youngest baby.

When morning finally arrived, I took stock of what didn’t hurt. It wasn’t much. Everything from my neck to my knees screamed at even the thought of movement. The joints in my hands ached as if I had arthritis. My muscles protested like rusted cables.

“What am I going to do?” I wondered.

My husband needed to get to work. My mother wasn’t due to arrive for our girls’ day out until later that morning. I was going to have to disappoint my oldest daughter, Blur, and tell her Mommy couldn’t take her to get her hair cut today. And what about all the other things I had planned to do that day?

As my husband fed Lil Bit, I broke the news to Blur. She seemed remarkably calm, offering to take care of me until I felt better. She fixed me a bowl full of saltines and a cup of hot 7up, brought me my phone to call Grandma and proceeded to check on me every few minutes. I couldn’t have asked for a better little caretaker.

A few hours later, my husband had gone to work and my Mom had arrived to take over caring for the girls. I was feeling a little better, thanks to the Tylenol I’d taken earlier, and went ahead with my plans for a shower. As the water pounded out the rest of the stiffness, I pondered what could be behind the sudden onset. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done that would have elicited such a strong reaction by my body. One thought, though, kept running through my mind.

This was my body’s way of telling me I needed to take a break.

And on the heels of that, “You’ve prayed for God to take control of all these challenges. Maybe you need to hand the wheel over to Him.”

Moving into the passenger seat…

I decided then to just take the day one moment at a time and let God take care of the details. Since then I’ve done that each day, reminding myself when I start getting anxious that I’ve let God have the driver’s seat in my life. I won’t say my pain went away miraculously or that every day since then has been a breeze, but it’s getting better. The pain is finally gone and the anxieties are under control.

As for the work? I’ve decided to adopt the saying “progress, not perfection.” I will continue to post Bible studies, but they may not be on a specific day every month. My monthly messages will be uploaded as .pdfs, but the podcast may be added at a later date. As long as I’m getting scenes drafted I won’t worry about when I’ll have the book finished and ready to be published.

Progress, not perfection. Its about putting God in the right seat. So long as He’s driving, you’ll always end up exactly where you need to be.

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Knowing When To Slow Down

August 21st, 2014

Sometimes life slams you across the head with a 2×4 to get your attention.

20140816_030902That’s what’s happened recently in my household. As if being 7 months pregnant wasn’t enough to remind me that I need to slow down and take care of myself and my family, last Friday’s torrential rain storm certainly was.

Our finished basement was flooded with about 6 inches of backed up sewer water that night. Might not have been a big deal, except that’s where our bedrooms are. Imagine the horror of waking up at 1 a.m. and setting your feet into ankle deep, ice cold water that wasn’t there when you went to sleep. Hubby, God bless him, not only stayed up until 6 a.m. trying to suck up as much water as possible in our borrowed shop vac, he also had the brilliant idea to call our insurance company. (My 5-year-old daughter says he saved her life, too, by carrying her upstairs so I could drive her out to my folks warm, dry house to spend the rest of the night.)

Since then it’s been a matter of focusing on the next step for the insurance claim and “where do we go from here?”

That brings me back to my original thought: knowing when to slow down.

God always takes care of us. Sometimes, though, we neglect to listen to God’s guidance and just barrel on through, which often ends in our being forced to reconsider what we thought was important. That’s what’s happened to me.

During the summer, my daughter was on vacation, so my writing schedule was extra tight. I had, at most, one hour to do everything writer related–business, monthly messages and studies, and drafting my newest Bible study, Trust God. I pushed on, believing that if other mother’s could do it, so could I, pregnant or not.

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Not a big deal. I had it with my first daughter, so I knew what to expect. Still, there are times when low blood sugar causes some irritating side effects, like feeling like I’m slogging through half-set Jell-O. And yet, I did not head the message to slow down.

Then last Friday’s flood was the last straw. I’m now faced with trying to live in 800 square feet of space with my husband and daughter and our mountains of stuff. All our 20140816_104632clean clothes are piled in the kitchen. Everything that could be moved from downstairs is now residing either in our shed or our dining room. The living room is now our dining room and bedroom. Our poor neurotic cat is stuck in my parents’ basement garage, hiding somewhere. And we have less than 2 months before the new baby arrives.

I think it’s time to re-think my schedule.

I am certainly not complaining. It could be much worse. We could have had a house fire. The multi-outlet surge protectors we usually have on the floor of our bedrooms could have been in the water and we all could have been electrocuted. Any number of other scenarios could have played out, but they didn’t. All in all, I think we’ve been blessed.

Perhaps the biggest blessing is my realization that I need to slow down and focus on the most important things right now. I need to focus on my family and our welfare at the moment.

Here’s what you can expect from me for the next few months.

Journeyman-Cat15percentI may be rather scarce on social media and my regular monthly posts may become much more irregular, as might my monthly newsletter. I’ll be diligently working on releasing Master Cat in October, as promised, and finally releasing the audiobook for Journeyman Cat later this fall (fingers crossed).

Beyond that, I’m working on the first of the Master Cat Novel series, which takes place after Master Cat and continues the story of Toby and his partner Lorn. I’ll also be drafting the third in the Malkin novella series, featuring Nadine and her continuing struggle to understand what it means to be specially chosen by the One.

I also have plans for another inspirational book on how to pray and see the blessings around us while in the midst of crises.

My normal schedule for new releases is a Malkin novella in the spring, a Bible study or inspirational book in the summer, and a Master Cat novel in the fall. However, things being what they are, release dates may need to be pushed back a month or two (or three or four. You get the picture). It’s frustrating to me, but I put my faith in God’s timing and I hope you’ll join me on this new, if slower, adventure called the writer’s life.

***

GFront-Cover-25-percentod promises to be with us through everything,
encouraging us to trust him through every situation we encounter.

Individuals and groups alike will find themselves
discovering that every day is a new opportunity to see God’s touch on their lives as they journey through scripture to uncover that:

  • No Matter Who You Are…
  • No Matter How You Feel…
  • No Matter What People Do…
  • No Matter What Happens..
  • No Matter Where You Are…
  • No Matter How Little You Have…
  • No Matter What You’ve Done…
  • No Matter How Old You Are…

Trust God!
Paperback edition also available on Amazon.

Ebook version available for Kindle, InkteraNookKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

Vol1Cover25percent

Get six Bible based, inspirational messages by Virginia Ripple from the blog One Servant’s Heart all in one .zip file.

Messages include:

  • Called to Forgive Called to Serve
  • New Beginnings
  • No Fear In Love
  • The Boneyard
  • The Dirty Little Penny
  • The Hardest Commandment

Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Simply Prayer ebook

When we find ourselves stymied by what we think prayer should look like, it’s time to step back and think like a child. God loves each of us and wants to hear from us.

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In this book you’ll discover the basics of:

  • What prayer is
  • Why we pray
  • How to pray
  • How to know your prayers are answered

From repetitions to labyrinths to dancing to journals, it is all Simply Prayer.

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Fear NotWhen life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”

Anyone can use Fear Not to meet God in new and unexpected ways.  Each of the eight sessions begins with an introduction, then moves on to a scripture reading (included), questions to ponder, a meditation picture and lastly a list of possible hands-on projects you can do.

The eight sessions are:

  • Session 1 … God is always with us
  • Session 2 … God is in control
  • Session 3 … God keeps his promises
  • Session 4 … God keeps us safe
  • Session 5 … God provides for us
  • Session 6 … God reveals himself to us
  • Session 7 … God gives us new life
  • Session 8 … God sends a Helper to us

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or …

 buy the .pdf version here

Paperback edition also available on Amazon.com or in my Lulu.com store front at: Virginia’s Store Front.

Simply Prayer CD Sets Available

April 16th, 2014

Simply Prayer

Simply Prayer

When we find ourselves stymied by what we think prayer should look like, it’s time to step back and think like a child. God loves each of us and wants to hear from us.

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In this book you’ll discover the basics of:

  • Why we pray
  • How to pray
  • How to know your prayers are answered

From repetitions to labyrinths to dancing to journals, it is all Simply Prayer.

I am making this valuable tool available to you now as a Pay What You Want mp3 downloadable .zip file here on my web site for a limited time (April 16-April 21, 2014).

 

You can also purchase the 2-disc CD set by clicking on the Buy Now button. (Supplies limited) (domestic shipping only)

 

Ebook version available for NookKindle, and Kobo or …

 buy your .pdf copy today

You can also purchase a paperback version of this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front

 Or purchase one here (domestic shipping only).

God Hears Even When We Don’t Pray

February 22nd, 2012

I’m getting ready to re-vision my blog. By that I mean I’m going to take a short break to brainstorm some great ideas for future posts. I want to make this a place you can stop by to pick up handy tips and inspirational messages to help you in your day-to-day life, as well as catch a weekly laugh.

That being said, I don’t want to just leave you high and dry while I work up a new plan, so I’ll be re-posting some of the best from the last year. Enjoy!

God Hears Even When We Don’t Pray

One of my tweeps recently shared that she hadn’t been able to pray like she would like and that she was in a bad place. My first reaction was to want to help her somehow, so I prayed. My second was to share what I knew about God and prayer — God hears us even when we don’t have the words to pray. My third was a to wonder how many others, like my friend, held onto the idea that prayer is something we must ritualize in order for it to be effective.

There is a misconception that prayer is something we must make a lot of time for in a quiet place with a certain ritual. Not so. Prayer can happen in an instant and doesn’t need quiet or ritual. In fact it doesn’t even need words.

In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. –Romans 8:26 (The World English Bible)

God hears us even when all we can do is nothing. Our hearts and souls shout to the Heavens when our minds and lips remain mute. If you’re in the midst of crisis, don’t wait until you have a quiet moment to pray. Simply focus your feelings and “shout” them to God. Spirit will do the rest.

When have you found yourself praying without words?

Simply Prayer Advent eBook Giveaway

November 27th, 2011

I believe prayer is an important part of our spiritual life. During this season of preparation, which we call Advent, prayer can become a central part of our celebrations. Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In Simply Prayer you’ll discover the basics of: what prayer is, why we pray, how to pray, and how to know your prayers are answered.

The following are two excerpts from the chapter on why we pray. To receive your free copy of the Simply Prayer eBook, follow the instructions at the end of this post.

Why do we pray?

It’s Relational

In scripture we are told that God already knows our needs1, so, then, why pray? That’s a very good question. If prayer is only about giving God a “grocery list” of wants, there is no reason to pray. But, if prayer is much more than that, then prayer becomes a very important part of our life. Imagine for a moment that you love the person you’re living with. (I know you may, at times, have to imagine very hard, but stay with me.)

Imagine that person means the world to you. How would you talk to that person? Would you only tell that person what you wanted or complain about not having a perfect situation? I hope not. If you really love someone you tell that person – often.2

Now, turn the tables and imagine the one you love does nothing but complain about what they don’t have and only speaks to you when they want to give you a list of “to-do’s.” This person doesn’t say thank you and treats you, more or less, as his or her own personal genie in a bottle. How would you feel? I imagine you would be very hurt. Perhaps you would even leave that person to search for someone who would appreciate your love.

In a good relationship, your love is expressed back to you. In a bad one it often feels like all give and no take. Prayer is part of having a relationship with God. No matter how much you complain or beg for things, no matter if you remember to say “thank you” or not, God will never leave you. However, God does want a better relationship than the “genie in a bottle” one we tend toward.

Ask, Seek, Knock

That is not to say we can’t ask for what we want. In fact, Jesus tells his listeners to “ask, seek, knock.”3 God wants to hear from us. He wants us to ask for what we want, what we need. He wants us to engage him in conversation about how we would like our life to go because in the asking we seek to know God better. Of course, we need to be aware of how we ask so we don’t fall back into the “grocery list” way of praying.

When we ask for our needs and wants in a way that doesn’t make God into our personal genie, prayer becomes more about building a good relationship than getting exactly what we want all the time.

Footnotes

All Bible texts are from World English Bible

1 Matthew 6:31 “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

2 If you’re unsure how to express your love in a way your signifi cant other will understand, I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. (see appendix of Simply Prayer)

3 There are two texts for this: Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks fi nds. To him who knocks it will be opened. 7:9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fi sh, who will give him a serpent? 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father

Want a free copy of the eBook?

Here’s how to get it:

Leave a brief comment on this post before Dec. 27 telling what prayer means to you and I’ll email you a free copy of Simply Prayer. Please specify your format preference (epub, kindle or .pdf). It’s that easy.

Prefer hard copy or audio book format?

I’ll be giving away one hard copy and one audio book this season. To enter the drawing, just tweet this link (http://virginiaripple.com/?p=640) with the hashtag #SimplyPrayer for the hard copy or #SimplyPrayerAudio. You can also link to this post on your blog. (If you link back, please be sure to let me know either in a comment or with a tweet to @virginiaripple, which drawing you would like to be entered into.)

Your name will be added as many times as you tweet/link back.

Prayer Journals and Letters to God Another Way to Pray

June 15th, 2011

prayer photoSometimes, especially if we’re worried about a situation or are trying to come up with a solution to a problem, praying in our head isn’t enough. During those times I found it helps to write my thoughts and prayers down.

Like other types of prayer, there really isn’t a specific way to journal. There are no rules you have to worry about breaking. The sole intent is to communicate with your loving Creator and, maybe, find Spirit answering your burning questions.

While I prefer handwriting in a spiral notebook just a free flow of whatever pops into my head, I know others who would cringe at the mere suggestion of putting pen to paper. For some it’s a matter of privacy, for others the simple dislike of writing.

That doesn’t mean you can’t journal. It just means you may need to get a bit more creative. Perhaps making a collage would be better suited to your needs. Maybe you’d prefer using a digital recorder or speech recognition software. The possibilities are limited only by your own willingness to go beyond your idea of what a journal must look like.

A popular type of prayer journaling are letters to God. I remember one year at camp we were asked to write a letter to God. We were to write like we were writing to a friend. It didn’t matter what we wrote about. The idea was to write a letter, nothing more. After we wrote our letter to God, we were to turn the page over and write a letter to ourselves as if God had written it to us.

Writing from God to ourselves can present a number of challenges. The answer we write could be just our desire to get what we want, turning God into a personal genie. It could also be just the opposite because we don’t believe we deserve what we’re asking for. Or, of course, it can be a highly emotional event, especially if we allow Spirit to show us a glimpse of our loving Parent’s deep love for us.

Whether you choose to write a letter to yourself or not is up to you. Using a journal for prayer is all about communing and developing a deeper relationship with the One who loves you most of all.

Photo by Lel4nd

***

There are a lot more ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer. Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Lord, Teach Us To Pray

May 18th, 2011

Last Sunday I was asked, “Can you teach someone to pray?” (An interesting question, considering we were studying the first chapter of my book Simply Prayer.)

The short answer is:

Yes, I believe you can teach someone to pray.

The long answer is:

Yes, you can teach someone a variety of prayer methods, but the praying is up to the individual.

What that means is, I can give you any number of ways to approach prayer, and I do in my book, but whether you are able to meet God depends on where you are. For instance, if you only choose to give God a list of wants or choose to speak to God only when you need something, then you won’t achieve a very deep spiritual connection with our Creator and your prayer life is going to be less than satisfactory.

Prayer is about communication.

God is always there, always listening. God gives us what we need, though not always what we want. Prayer, however, is not just about God meeting our physical — or even our emotional — needs.

Prayer is about nurturing an ever deepening relationship with the One who knows us better than we could ever imagine. It is about opening our hearts, minds and spirits to the One who can show us what life is about, who can help us grow into what we are meant to be.

So, yes, I can teach you to pray, but it is up to you to let God into your life. Are you ready?

God Hears Even When We Don’t Pray

April 20th, 2011

One of my tweeps recently shared that she hadn’t been able to pray like she would like and that she was in a bad place. My first reaction was to want to help her somehow, so I prayed. My second was to share what I knew about God and prayer — God hears us even when we don’t have the words to pray. My third was a to wonder how many others, like my friend, held onto the idea that prayer is something we must ritualize in order for it to be effective.

There is a misconception that prayer is something we must make a lot of time for in a quiet place with a certain ritual. Not so. Prayer can happen in an instant and doesn’t need quiet or ritual. In fact it doesn’t even need words.

In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. –Romans 8:26 (The World English Bible)

God hears us even when all we can do is nothing. Our hearts and souls shout to the Heavens when our minds and lips remain mute. If you’re in the midst of crisis, don’t wait until you have a quiet moment to pray. Simply focus your feelings and “shout” them to God. Spirit will do the rest.