GOD’s Timing is Perfect

ScribcolumnAs I journey through the most intriguing quest of my life, I am keenly aware of GOD’s timing. No…no… it’s more than that.

I am in awe of how HE is orchestrating and arranging and fine-tuning the unfolding of this story.

Someone, probably several “someones”, many years ago, made a gut-wrenching decision—to leave a three-day-old baby on a door step. To walk away and never know what became of this life. I was that baby.    (see “The Making of a Family…)

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the door where I was found

And now, only two months after learning of my “foundling” beginnings, it appears I am on the cusp of discovering the WHO and the WHYS surrounding that decision. Through little effort on my part, GOD has opened doors and stirred memories and so divinely put the right people in the right place at the right time. Incredibly kind fellow Christians who are praying along with me for HIS will to be accomplished.

Because HE’s GOD.

memeMy curious, dig-for-the-details nature is, to put it mildly, restless. I’m trying very hard to be patient and continue to wait on GOD’s timing. HIS faithfulness soothes my anxious spirit. HIS hand print has been so evident, how can I choose to do anything but step back and allow HIM to work?

For three weeks, the message on the church’s sign has been, “GOD’s TIMING IS ALWAYS RIGHT”. So very true.

The pastor’s devotional at last night’s meeting was on how GOD opens doors.  Mm hmm…

And a new friend I’ve met on this journey shared yesterday— The details never escape an Omniscient God…every detail has His print upon it. Very well said.

GOD is all over this situation. Obviously.

This “slice” of my life comes as no surprise to HIM. HE already knows how the entire “pie” will fit together.

Just as HE’s held my life in his hands for these many years, GOD’s got this new leg of my journey as well. Updates on the quest to follow…

When has GOD’s timing been so evident in your life?

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

From a Word Processor to Paint Brushes

“And the winner of the 2013 American Christian Fiction Writer’s YA Category is… Loraine Kemp!”

I was dumbfounded! But over-the-top-excited!

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My writing goals seemed to be forging ahead with two contest wins and acquiring an amazing agent in the same year. There was little doubt in my mind about where God was leading me and what my future had in store.

How completely wrong I was. At least for the next few years.

After a year of working with the agent and sending my novel in various directions, lukewarm responses were the result. I felt deflated and confused. “But, but God, I thought…”

That’s when a completely new direction was literally dropped in my lap.

I’ve always been an artist (I’ve provided illustrations for 3 novels to date) but when my buddy Karen Autio asked her publisher to offer the job of illustrating her historical picture book Growing Up In Wild Horse Canyon to me, I couldn’t say no, and signed a contract soon after. With my writing goals not being realized, I had some time on my hands.

To say I was overwhelmed by this illustration project would have been a gigantic understatement. I hadn’t painted for years and the book is an advanced picture book with 28 full-colour pictures that needed to be designed and painted. Not only was there research involved with making this historical fiction come to life (Karen had already done a mammoth amount already), but I also had to take many pictures in Wild Horse Canyon, which was a two-hour hike from our city.

In 2003, a wildfire devoured most of the trees in the canyon, so I had to rely heavily on my imagination to construct the illustrations that took place in the canyon.

I was also deeply worried that I wouldn’t physically be able to illustrate that huge a project under a deadline. Just thinking of it, my back cringed, as sitting for hours on end sent my back into spasms.

I felt strongly that this was a test of faith and that I had to trust God was with me on this one. As grace would have it, I now own the ideal set-up for illustrating: a stand-up chair with many positions available and an adjustable-height table. So far so good.

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To start the process, a year and a half ago, Karen and I talked about each illustration. Normally illustrators and authors don’t work together, but Karen’s historical knowledge was invaluable. Tiny rough drawings of each scene (thumbnails) were finished first, and approved by the publisher. Then came the full-size drawings, again approved by the publisher. Then last fall I began the process of scouring through my thousands of photos (scenery, horses, other animals, and local students posing as historical characters) and painting the illustrations.

To show you all the different stages, I will take one illustration and walk you visually through the steps.

Here is the small thumbnail sketch of the ‘First Contact’ illustration where the fur traders are meeting the native first nation’s band, the Syilx. It is about 3″ by 5″.

first contact thumbnail

Then came the full size drawing. After some research I added a fish drier in the background. The below illustration is about 8″ X 10″

 

first contact full size

 

Now you will have to forgive my bad photography of the painting steps, as my camera wasn’t good at the time. But you will see that I start in one corner and progress.

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I found out that the pinto, (brown and white horse) needed to be changed to an appaloosa, a much coveted horse by the band. The coat my fur trader wore wasn’t going to work. So out came the white paint and the changes were made.

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In addition, the western saddle was not used. A lower, more close-to-the-horse-but-very-uncomfortable saddle had been used. After I spoke to a consultant, I decided that the clothing should have been more what you see below, plus I needed to have an elder overseeing this meeting. (Penciled in below) I had to move the woman and her kids next to the fish dryer to accommodate the elder.

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Almost done. However the rolled blanket on the horse’s saddle is one from the Hudson’s Bay company, not the Pacific Fur Company. Out came more white paint. Plus I completed the rest. I’d had many more tries to get it right than you see here. In all, probably four more changes were involved.

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And just for fun, here are a few more pictures from our book. You will see even more on my website, http://www.lorainekemp.com and look under my portfolio. Or go to my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/lorainekempartist. Our book will be out this fall and you will see much more on this site about it. It is for kids and adults alike.

The below is a young Syilx man on a vision quest, sort of a ‘coming of age’ occurrence for every young man. Here he is painting the rock faces.

finished vision quest

The below is all about the beginnings of the young in Wild Horse Canyon, a ponderosa pine,  and the wild foal jumping over it.

foal and seedling

Now don’t think for an instant that I am going to get rid of my word processor. I have some ideas for novels that I want to expand on that will need some illustrations as well. I feel that I have learned a great deal about myself and the strengths that I have through this complicated process that I would never have found out if God hadn’t pressed me in this direction. My plans were derailed for something else God had in mind for me, and I’m happy now with that, though admittedly I was not in the beginning. I’m still also a writer, and will always be. I just needed to be open for God’s new gifts for me.

One thing I’ll be eternally grateful for, is that during the contest mentioned above, I was taken on as a Scriblerian. They rock!

Have you ever been sure of your directions and then had the rug pulled out from under you to reveal a new direction?

 

The Best Pain

“No Mike.” I smiled at my older brother. “You don’t toss away your daily devotionals at the end of the year. You merely turn back to the first page again.”

Mike has had about 35 years of debilitating health issues, including deteriorating liver, liver transplant, stroke and more recently, constant seizures. Even though his faith has remained strong, Mike has become like a confused child again. But nonetheless, he is my spiritual inspiration and the reason I kick my own butt when I feel life gets tough.

I showed him my devotionals that had a few pencilled stars beside the text where I’d found some particularly appropriate points or scriptures. I explained that each year different things popped out at me depending on what I was going through.

“Oh… whoops!” He grinned at his own dog-eared leather-bound books that had parts completely highlighted and underlined, with notes written in pen in the margins.

“No worries, Mike. You can still use them. And here’s another I think you’ll enjoy! Merry Christmas!”

His devotion to his devotionals was inspiring. Every day he started out communing with God. No matter what he was doing or what day it was, he still made the time.

My devotionals had a conspicuously reduced number of pencilled stars from about November on to the beginning of January. Even though Christmas was the time I should be drawing closer to Jesus, I seemed to drift from my routine of pulling Him into my day.

But here I am once again, humbled, and seeking strength and guidance for upcoming projects and family issues for 2016. As much as I hate to admit, most of my growth doesn’t come from when I’m on the mountain tops where everything is going well, it’s in the valleys where I’m struggling.

My brother’s constant health issues have been the reason for his spiritual walk. He knows he can’t do it alone, and he knows God is between him and his problems.

Of course, this morning I put a star on my devotional that reminded me that my path will be of multiple failures and stresses along with some hopeful successes. But each failure is followed by a spiritual growth spurt and my increased reliance on Him.

So, the best pain? That’s easy, it’s when I am overwhelmed and at a loss of where to turn next. And I find Him there waiting for me as always. In addition, I seek out quiet places, turn on music, jump in my hot tub, go for a walk, and just rest in His grace.

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Can you tell me what you do when life dumps on you?

 

 

Mislabeled

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The word “Superstar” was stamped across her bum,
the “A” a multi-coloured, glittery star.

The little dictator yelled her list of demands to the other girls in her class,
her face firetruck red with fury.
She couldn’t have been older than eight.

I soon noticed she wasn’t the only one mislabeled.
A boy with “Awesome” stamped across his chest pushed another boy off the swing.
A girl with an angel hat had thrown herself on the ground in a full tantrum.

It got me thinking about Labels.

Not the ones that others give to us:
Jock, Stupid, Braniac…
But the ones we give ourselves:

Mother, Wife, Teacher, Employee.

Oh yes, they are all very functional labels.
And as humans we love to put things into boxes.
It makes us feel safe.

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But how often do we use labels,
to keep ourselves safe?

I can’t do that I’m a “Busy Mother.”
I’m “Not A Public Speaker.”
Me? I am “Not A Leader.”

Labeling is not a bad thing in and of itself.

But when it keeps us from moving outside of our box,
keeps us from trusting that God knows best.
Then it is a problem.

So be careful that your self-labels aren’t keeping you from being obedient to God.

After all, when it comes to labels God knows best.
Beloved.
Treasure.

Mine…

Do you have a label that keeps you from fulfilling the grand plan God has for your life? Share it in the comment box. I love to hear from you!

 

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

A Rainbow Kind of Day

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It’s been a rainbow kind of day.
Not the kind that have been splattered across social media of late.
No.

You know what I speak of:
a spring day when a fine mist falls from the sky,
the clouds are dark and menacing,
yet the sun is still out.
A perfect day for a stunning rainbow.

I am at home in bed due to a brutal cold,
sadly missing my friend from high school’s wedding. 😦

This day is filled with a deep sadness,
crammed into the nooks and crannies,
hiding in the shadows.
My church is packed to say goodbye to Walt Hartholt after a year and a half fight with cancer.
Thankfully the church is streaming the service so I can still partake.

Walt was active in the community,
father, husband, principal, teacher and mentor.
He touched so many peoples lives  there is now a hole where he used to be.
There is a deep sadness at his passing.
But as I hear his family and close friends speak about his faith.
About his conviction that “God is good” even through this season.
I am struck by God’s faithfulness.

Through the sorrow and rain of today,
God’s rainbow, His faithfulness, stretches across generations.

Lately,
I’ve felt like my life has been filled with bad news:
friends losing a child,
parents dying before they see their children grown,
families splitting.

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It is enough to make me only see the dark clouds,
to feel the weight of the world and all its sin on my shoulders.

When I heard how Walt, even through the pain,
remembered God’s goodness and faithfulness.
This reminder filled my heart with joy.

Thank you Walt for this final gift.
That even through the trials and pains of this world,
as Christians our joy through it all remains like bedrock.

Like a rainbow,
more beautiful for the dark clouds behind.

“God is good…
it is well with my soul.”

Please feel free to share your “dark clouds” in the comment section below or just ask for prayer. I’d love to pray for you!

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

Don’t Wanna

 

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“Don’t Wanna.”

The two words made everyone in the grocery line freeze in terror.
The three-year old stood,
feet planted apart,
hands clenched at her side,
head lifted in defiance.

This was a temper tantrum.

As a mother myself I knew the signs:
there was no stopping this train.
It had already left the station.

I was oh, so glad that it wasn’t my child.

But when I read my Bible the next morning a phrase hit me:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

My train of thought went something like this:

I am a child of God.
What a comforting thought.
Father/daughter images of post bathtub snuggles,
and bedtime story reading fill my head.

How wonderful…
*smiling all proud like*

But wait…
*furrowed brow of confusion*
the Bible refers to me as a child...

A defiant,
hand clenching,
anger filled child!

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Hadn’t my own children just interrupted me that morning,
after I’d gotten knee deep into my work?

I had a plan,
a carefully laid out plan.
It was what I wanted to do.

But God said no.

And what was my first reaction?

Don’t Wanna.

In fact, that was my default setting.

My child, this direction.
Defiance.
But this will make you smile.
Hands clenched.
This will hurt for now,
but it will bless you later.

Feet planted.
I know that path is well worn,
but it’s not the one I want you to take.
Full. Blown. Temper. Tantrum.

How many gifts have I missed?
How many blessings have I ignored?
Because I didn’t want His way,
I wanted my own.

No matter that his gifts are good and perfect.
I’d much rather sit playing with my broken crayons,
then see the jewelled miracles and blessings he offers in the everyday interruptions.

Tonight my youngest comes running.
Tears marring her cheeks.
No physical marks,
only a battered heart.

On the tip of my tongue are the words:

Not now.
Too busy.
You’re fine.

Instead, I close my laptop,
and take her into my lap.
Yes, Lord.

Her feet nearly touch the floor.
A head covered in soft ringlets rests on my shoulder,
instead of under my chin.
How long until…

My child, this is a moment to take ahold of,
too soon it will pass.

I hold her close to comfort her,
just as my Father does for me.
Yes.

It’s Good.

No.
Perfect.

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When has an annoying “Don’t Wanna” moment turned into a blessing? Try to find moments in your day to transform your “Don’t Wanna” into “Yes”. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

God is a Writer and a Disc Jockey?

Another rejection! But the editor seemed so genuinely interested at the conference. I was sure this would finally be a start to getting published. I tossed the letter on my growing pile and headed out for a walk.

Should I have taken more time with the proposal? Did I send it too early: maybe I should have taken more time to see what was selling? I really would have loved to go to another conference to meet more agents and editors, but with all our bills piling up, how could I justify it? Would it have helped anyway? But I’d spent so many years writing and learning my craft, I hated to simply cash in at that point.

Questions twirled around in my head. I added my rejection to the smorgasbord of stresses already on my mind. My face flushed from my blood pressure climbing through the roof.

I wandered down the road and zipped up my windbreaker against the wind. Leaves rolled across my path and a chill spread down my back. The dark grey lake about a couple of miles away and below me was spotted with whitecaps. Bluish grey clouds billowed above the mountains. The blustery day suited my mood.

But the words of my daily devotional that morning came to mind.

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There is a part of the sea known as “the cushion of the sea.” It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by the storms and churned by the wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remains of plant or animal life, it reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The peace of God is an eternal calm, like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it. And anyone who enters the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed calm.” –Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

I smiled. I was as if God wrote that just for me that day. Such a timely devotion on the day of my rejection, and stormy weather to remind me of my devotional’s words.

How many times had God already reminded this slow learner that he was and still is sovereign and holding the reins of my life? He’d been loyal and trustworthy in the past, so why did I always have to fuss and lose sleep over my problems?

So often I prayed, “Oh Lord what shall I do?” when I should have prayed, “Oh Lord, what are you going to do?” When that shift happened, it was much easier to settle back and wait expectantly. That didn’t mean I could merely stop and let him take over, it meant that I had to provide the ‘legs’ and he would steer.

That morning my devotional was just what I needed. Sometimes though, a friend can offer words of comfort, or a perfect flower can show me how ingenious He is.

Or, (this was really good) he can use the radio to get through to me!

One day when I was driving home, particularly blue and sulky, I called out to Him as I turned on the radio. Simon and Garfunkel’s song, Bridge Over Troubled Waters came on. I lay back in my seat, trying to assess whether that was just coincidence. I turned the radio off and stubbornly accused Him of not being there when I really needed Him at times. I sulked again for a bit, but turned back on the radio, curious whether He would attempt to get through to me again. It played Ann Murray’s song “You Won’t See Me, with words “Time and time again, you refuse to listen…”

“Okay! You win!” I declared laughing. So apparently God is a disc jockey too.

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God continually amazes me with his sense of humor and his ingenuity in getting through to us. So what ways has God used to get through to you?