Sunday, April 30, 2017

HOLY SMOKES!

Who never departs from us, Who never ceases to surprise us, Who is everywhere we are, Who gives us courage, Who is always available 24/7, Who is always for us never against us, Who consistently issues us mercy and grace, Who is extravagantly patient with us, Who intercedes in prayer for us, Who squeezes are broken hearts with tenderness, Who is trustworthy no matter who else may deceive us, Who is absolutely reliable to give us wisdom and guidance, Who knows all our secrets and loves us unconditionally, Who replenishes our strength, Who is our constant supplier of all good things, Who knows our needs before we ask, Who fills our emptiness with everlasting love, Who teaches with authority Who God is, Who is pure, praiseworthy and exceptionally excellent in all ways, all the time, Who can you be certain is listening always, Who forgives and forgets completely all our offenses, Who is the Person who knows you more intimately than any human being?????????? He was delivered into you supernaturally when you believed that Jesus is Lord, the King of kings. 
After you surrendered your heart and life to Jesus Christ, this One holy and divine being immediately took up residence in you. He resides and abides in you!  Our most holy and loving Father, our all knowing Jesus masterfully made it possible by delivering the promised Holy Spirit into us.  We have invited Him in to counsel, to guide and to change us.  He enables us to personally embrace the real Truth of Who Jesus Christ is.  The Holy Spirit is NOT a dissipating puff of smoke or a passing feeling...but He is our omnipresent Counselor Who enables us to experience God Himself, Who is always at work "in" us and for us!  A blessing prayer for YOU! I bless your spirit to rise above circumstances and allow the transformation that only Jesus can bring.  Our greatest weapon against the Liar is the Almighty Word of God.  I bless you with a confident and playful life that engages your family and others.  I bless your spirit with a hunger for God's living Word and a supernatural relationship with the Holy Spirit.  I bless your spirit with the freedom to believe and trust God over all the restrictions and beliefs circulating in this world.  I bless your spirit to fly high above what is seen,  with illumined eyes that perceive the unseen and majestic holy presence of God in all situations.  I bless you in the the transforming power of Jesus Chist, the King of kings, in Whom there is absolute liberty from fear and JOY unspeakable.  AMEN

Friday, April 28, 2017

Imagine Your Last Breath

Imagine entering into the holy Presence of God.  Imagine that you were very sick for a long while and you closed your eyes and woke up in heaven!  Or, just imagine that you were enjoying the day like you had not in a long while, and suddenly you lose your breath. A deep sharp pain in your chest causes you to drop cold to the floor and then your spirit rises with several surprises "look down there, that is my body on the ground...and I am floating up into a brilliant Light and I feel calm, warmly embraced, deeply comforted, genuinely treasured, softly nurtured, absolutely understood, dearly cherished, completely forgiven, totally honored, happily welcomed, instantly perfected, and unconditionally loved ALL at once! God told us in His living word "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" Now, just imagine, that without hesitation or any regret your sense of self dissolves
as your soul is enveloped by the Light of the world, and you are aware of Jesus more than ever before. Imagine standing submerged in His Presence while knowing Jesus and experiencing God so powerfully that you fall to your knees in a state of genuine worship.  Imagine all thoughts and feelings as a human melting into the brilliance of His glory.  Imagine having all your questions answered without asking. Imagine experiencing God's promises fulfilled as your soul is filled with unprecedented peace.  Imagine feeling "at home" for the first time in your life while feeling "safe" and "free" to live eternally in the unequaled beauty and unmatched Love of God. How compassionate of my Father to lead me to the words to write about my son Jason's experience as he took his last breath.  Our heavenly Father loves us, He knows us and He provides all that we need to be comforted in this world. A song we sang at church today: “There’s a Peace I've come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail, there is an anchor for my soul
and I can say “it is well”.  Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed, the victory is won.  He is risen from the dead.  And I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrows, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings, before my God, fall on my knees, and rise, I will rise.  There is a day that is drawing near, when this darkness breaks to light, and the shadows disappear…and my faith shall be my eyes, and I hear the voice of many angels sing, “worthy is the Lamb” And I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings, before my God, fall on my knees.  And rise, I will rise.”  Chris Tomlin lyrics “I will Rise” -- In the book 'Jesus is Calling' on April 20, 2016 the day of Jason's last breath it is written:"Do NOT be afraid, for I am with you.  Hear Me saying Peace, be still to your inquiring and restless heart.  No matter what happens, I will never leave you or forsake you.  Let this assurance soak into your mind and heart, until you overflow with Joy. The media relentlessly proclaims bad news, but the Good News is that I came to give you eternal Life in Me. Let Scripture saturate your mind and heart, and you will walk steadily into your ultimate destination. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 3:16

Thursday, April 27, 2017

DENIAL DEFINED

Once upon a time, in the midst of a self-made-mid-life crisis, when my frustrations and delusions overwhelmed me, I had a slight glimpse of truth, a heart exposing revelation. That in my campaign to change people, I trampled over boundaries as I pridefully criticized world leaders, my family, friends and the church! Denial kept me blind to my foolish attempts to control people and my environment.  My world of contempt ended when I realized that I was not God and my only option was to surrender my will to His will. "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall." 1 Corin 10:12 -  In 1997, as I sat in a church in Santa Cruz, I began comparing the joy and peace I witnessed in others, with the sad truth that I was not happy.  I could not stop the tears!  Who was this woman named Grace that Pastor Chip Ingram was talking about?  I so wanted what they all seemed to have, but at that time, I was unable to be healed, because of my stiff necked DENIAL.  Wishing I could be anybody else, my heart silently grieved, and my happy-all-is-well-in-my-soul mask finally cracked.
My fake smile began to pucker under the pressure to APPEAR perfect. "Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor." Jesus went on to say "Happy are the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart, and those who mourn." His sermon on the mount certainly shed much needed light on the foolishness of my ways. The prison of DENIAL had me locked behind the bars of obsessive thinking!  Whose thoughts had I been churning?  Furious thoughts tossed back and forth in my head like a heated tennis match.  "The world should, my mate should, my kid should, the church should, that government should, that politicians should, and that God should change His silent, patient ways and just fix it! "  These demanding thoughts were NOT from God!  God is forgiving and He issues grace daily, whether I recognize and receive it or not. His mercy is new every morning, and His grace was sufficient to save a wretch like me!  What a NUISANCE I was to myself and everyone around me!  Because I "shoulded" all over God, and all over everyone else, I had to admit that
I was the creator of strife in each relationship, including the chasm I caused between the One true and Holy God. In retrospect, my deepest despair was in the trouble I had in accepting and loving others as they are...and the world as it is... as Jesus does..... and NOT as I demand. People who are in DENIAL, want what they want, and they deceive themselves in thinking that they have the ability to change others, and the world, according to their will, ways and perfect preferences. As an overly critical person, for way too long I DEPENDED on myself, NOT GOD,  to initiate all the needed changes so that I could be happy.  I was DEPENDENT on the perfect behaviors of my loved ones for peace to rule in my heart...this was a huge burden for everyone in my life.  When my futile manipulations, subtle suggestions, my blatant blaming, my fits of rage, my all consuming judgements of others became unmanageable--- I collapsed and admitted, I need help.   Today I celebrate my recovery from the stinking thinking of a co-dependent. A co-dependent person depends on people to make them happy. They demand external changes, or insist that others change in order for them to FEEL peace.  The co-dependent me that I was --- HAD TO GIVE; my opinion, my advice, and my help.  My idolatrous devotion to obtaining perfection was nauseating. After honest self-examination, I had to admit that I was pitifully self-sufficient, self-serving, not humble, not kind and not loving and merciful like Jesus. I was certainly NOT reflecting the Light of the world. My aggressive ways to satisfy my NEED to be VALUED and RESPECTED as a person,
eventfully brought me to my knees before the mercy seat of Jesus Christ.  By working the 12 steps and applying the Beatitudes, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, I was enabled to overcome my hurts, habit of stinking thinking, and hang up or hope that the world would change so I could be happy. The saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, established and restored His peace in me.   My part was to surrender my ways, my heart, my desperate needs over to the capable care of Christ.  "Christ in me, His hope for glory"  HALLELUJAH! Admitting that I was powerless to change myself, others or the world was to step out of DENIAL and into RECOVERY.  TRUSTING God with my messy life, REQUIRED that I surrender my hopes, dreams, and desires to His perfect refining purpose in my suffering. God NEVER wastes a single tear or torment. By His conviction to confess, obediently to one another, we are healed.  "Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed." James 5:16 --- The amazing Grace of God pursued me and He transformed me from an incessantly hungry, unqualified caterpillar, into a butterfly set
FREE from a cocoon of shame. My story: Barbara Sue Alley's ability to trust my father was fractured at the age of 7 when dad molested me and DENIED it. My shocked mother sent me direct to the priest to confess my sin. Shame replaced my innocence as I bowed my head and hoped to be forgiven. My dad rejected me and said "I will never touch you again. You are dead to me."  The consequence of telling the truth to my mother, resulted in my dad's lifelong avoidance of me.  Looking for love in wrong places, at the age of 16 a baby girl was born, removed from my body and adopted away from me. We left the hospital and my mother instructed "We will never speak of this again." My voice or my presence unwanted by my parents,  I chose a life of DENIAL and SECRETS.  Acting as if I was happy became the character I played as the youngest of three kids. My silenced reality was shoved down so deep that I became a natural liar to God, myself and others.  A mighty fortress was erected unconsciously around my heart of stone.  Compassion, mercy or grace were impossible for me to give as I was not open to receive.  My heart grew cold in my secret chamber of fear.  Married or divorced, I regularly and silently sat in Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Lutheran, Methodist and Unity church pews feeling like an impostor. No matter the denomination, when an alter call was given,  I went forward and got baptized again, and again even after accepting Jesus in 1985 at a Pentecostal church.  "It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe." Proverbs 29:25 - Fear of what church folks would think of me,  IF I confessed my shameful past,
kept me silent. A voice, not of God persisted "You will never be acceptable to God" I was unable to trust God with my whole heart, and I held onto my secret shame tightly. For 13 years of church bench warming, endless retreats, seminars, and perfect note taking (all which God used to soften my rocky soil), it was not until 1998, when I was 47 years old, did HOPE begin to rise.  After hearing other broken-hearted, imperfect, hurting women....in Celebrate Recovery, confess their raw hurts, honest fears and feelings of hopelessness... I was moved by the Holy Spirit, to voice my nightmare. God mercifully guided me into Santa Cruz Bible Church, and into a 12 step study for sexually abused women.  After ten months of weekly meetings, and hours with my accountability sponsor, much prayer, and the Holy Spirit showing me truth in scriptures....I came to the END of myself, my pride, my ways. My life long, self-sufficient, leading lady role was over! Gladly I surrendered completely into the capable hands of Christ.  Accepting the Truth that the King of Kings, had not only chosen me, but that He had legally adopted me, as His daughter....that FACT gripped and crushed my stubborn hardened heart.  Loving and forgiving others as I had been by God...with no regrets, no bitterness, completely forgotten, and forever erased...was how God set me on fire for His ability to restore all who FEEL unworthy of His love. I was FREED from shame and the enemy's vicious trap of lies --- for Almighty God's purpose: that I can now courageously share my story, without shame, for what Christ has done in me. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10
"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." Lamentations 3:40 - Obediently, I tested my ways and was convinced that my way of concealing my pain for over 40 years was foolish. Our Father wants to take our burdens and heal us, but we must submit, we must obey, we must trust Him, with the entire contents of our heart. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Colossians 3:16 - Today I thank God for every struggle, for all things that drew me to Him, and for the tremendous compassion muscles I gained in my suffering. It took the hearing of the word, and the honest confessions of other believers to loosen my tight grip on my shame, and to TRUST GOD. When I chose to truly LET GO and LET GOD, my heavenly Father, have His Holy way "in me", only then was I able to FEEL real JOY for the first time.  Living fully forgiven, and fully restored, I wear His robe of righteousness, and I am enabled to receive His ongoing stream of GRACE and experience His Holy Presence.  His abiding Peace TRULY surpasses all human understanding. Celebrate Recovery is a biblically based 12 Step Program to RESTORE your relationship with GOD and the church, or anyone who may have rejected, hurt or abandoned you.  IF you fear rejection, or IF you are ashamed of your doubts about God's mercy, IF you are addicted to sadness, TV, food, shopping, drama,
or being in control, to stinking thinking, or to convincing others that you are worthy of respect because of all your good deeds....When your inability to love and forgive yourself as God does ..hurts enough, when your DENIAL gets too heavy, and your broken, ineffective life crumbles, I encourage you to hold on to HOPE in Christ. Find a SAFE PLACE with a small group of honest struggling people. All Celebrate Recovery meetings are anonymous. Celebrate Recovery Groups in your area. STEP ONE is to step out of DENIAL and into RECOVERY. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction to: controlling circumstances, people, and the world. We admit that our compulsive behaviors have injured relationships, and that our lives have become unmanageable. We came to the conclusion that without God, we were doomed to live an empty life, without purpose or meaning. "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."  Philippians 2:13 --- and we humbly submit to the Truth of this holy scripture:  "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:18 and with the help of the Holy Spirit we grab onto God's undeniable TRUTH which will destroy all DENIAL...because the truth is:  only the TRUTH will set you FREE...
"Brothers (and sisters) loved by God, we know that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you NOT simply with words, but also with POWER, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:4 --- We TRUST God's living Word to enter our brokenness and restore us to wholeness "We have NOT received the (critical) spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us......For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?....but we have the mind of Christ."  1 Corin 2:12-16 We are chosen and given every spiritual blessing "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For HE CHOSE us ' in Him' before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His PLEASURE and will - to the praise of HIS glorious GRACE, which He has freely given us in the One He loves." Ephesians 1:3-6

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Are Ye Content Being Still?

In March 2017 I enjoyed a cruise on the Caribbean with 800 Christians who love Sandi Patty. With morning and evening worship daily for seven days, I disembarked feeling inadequate, and maybe off God's plan for my life.  Was it simply that the first year anniversary of my son's shocking death kept me uber sensitive, weepy and feeling hurt?  I allowed my soul just one day to collapse into silence then rebounded by solo kayaking in the Bahamas.  I questioned my life purpose and thought "Why do I feel such discontent?  Why am I here?" A dear friend gifted me a great book by Natalie Grant entitled "Finding Your Voice". Natalie penned a wonderful insight about the question God posed to Elijah. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" to which he replied "I have been zealous for the Lord God Almighty...I am the only one left, and now they are trying to
kill me too." Okay, nobody that I am aware of is seeking to hurt me, but my pirates of the Caribbean, my thoughts of being unwilling, unable,and undone robbed me of my peace, my calm. "After the earthquake came a fire, and the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."  (1 Kings 19:9 -12) - Perhaps because my birthday is the 19th of the ninth month, that this word from the King of Kings struck me STILL enough to hear a gentle whisper too. God knew that His faithful, fervent prophet was shaken and weary....and in the midst of a rock shattering storm, an earth splitting quake and a blazing fire, God quietly asks Elijah "What are you doing here?" Imagine what your response to God would be? God knows when our hearts are trembling and He knew that his son Elijah needed to hear His gentle, calming voice. Facing murder and mayhem, Elijah chose to be calm in the storm and trust God. He acted with a wisdom that whispers "walk this way".  Believing that my potential is monumental, and that what I have to speak, or write will bring God glory, sometimes I am overwhelmed by the commission to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" Matthew 28:19-20  Behind my poised exterior is a quaking irritation about how much I could be doing. Moses doubted his ability to successfully free the slaves of Egypt.  Esther was afraid to approach her husband, but she did and was used by God in a huge way. Rahab must have found divine courage to defy her people and lower that scarlet rope to the spies. God has uniquely equipped me and He is faithful to give me strength in my weakness.  But what IF I want to live a quiet, calm life? I read and a part of me resonated with a blogpost: What If all I want is a mediocre life?  "What if I never build an orphanage in Africa but send bags of groceries to
people here and there and support a couple of kids through sponsorship. What if I just offer the small gifts I have to the world and let that be enough." Krista O'Reilly-Davi-Digui author of A Life in Progress.  Then I read a book that caught me in the midst of my denial " From Faking it to Finding Grace  " by Connie Cavanaugh. God works in fascinating ways.  My reluctance to pick up the bible, attend church or meet with friends is a certain SIGN that I am in conflict with the gifts I have and what to do with them.  "Peace, be still" is a scripture that came to mind, a pause for me to recover, slowly, "In His timing, In His grace".  Reflecting honestly on my hesitations to "be great" for His glory... I am now moved to thank my Holy Father Jesus, for the storm of emotions that I felt aboard the "Eurodam" and for His word that "this too shall pass".  Realizing that Jesus is in the boat with me during this storm, I am in the very BEST company.  I believe that God will finish what He has begun in me. Following His lead, I pick up a book entitled "Good to Great in God's Eyes" by my first spiritual mentor Pastor Chip Ingram.  Chip a mature man of God wondered "Is it really wrong to want to be great?  Is it self-centered to want your life to really make an impact?  Does ambition indicate a spiritual problem? What does "greatness" in God's 
 kingdom look like?  Is it prideful to want to honor God with lives of great faith and excellent work?  Is it arrogant to imagine achieving greatness in the church?"  In Luke 22 the disciples argued which one of them was the greatest? Jesus did not rebuke them for their longing to be great.  Additionally, Jesus did not condemn them, nor did He warn them against being prideful because of their passionate desire and ambition to be great.  Jesus Himself was not prone to mediocrity.  In a long prayer the night before his crucifixion, he prayed "I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do." John 17:4  That is a bold statement of greatness, and His desires were Godly.  To desire to be great in God's eyes, in His kingdom is not self-centered, but it is a noble thought, a worthy ambition.  Our greatness, as God defines it - is His desire.   When God created us He proclaimed us not just good, but "very good" Genesis 1:31 - So if you are wondering like Elijah "what possible kind of impact you could make for His glory?" Consider living the prayer embedded in the tapestry hanging near my computer  "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit." John 15:8   The go with the flow approach will almost guarantee an auto-pilot spiritual life for me, but the niggling whisper in me that 'there has got to be more' will not be silenced until I accept His call for me to seek to 'bear more fruit'.  In order for God to accomplish a great measure of His highest purposes in my life, I have decided to give myself permission to live out my passion for writing and speaking with intentional impact. Doing more for the kingdom is NOT required for salvation and you cannot earn more love or brownie points with God.  There is no 7 steps to success with God, there is no obligation "to do more" for God.  But if you have a "calling" or a quaking desire, a God given dream, a recurring internal motivation to have an eternal impact for the kingdom of God then "GO FOR IT!" In the course of a week I was went from hurting to healed!  Hallelujah!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

A CHANGED HEART

May ye be edified by how God continues to confound the wise and change even the most hardened hearts.  This original tale of A Changed Heart puts Jane Austen and Lord Byron in Bath, England during a period that both were known by facts of history to have visited.  Jane visits for her health, and Byron for his renewal. In 1812 Bath was the place to be, and in this year Jane was 36 years old ~ and recently diagnosed with Addison’s disease. With her opaque, failing health Jane returns to Bath. History accounts Jane's demise at the age of 41, but not without this fictional chance encounter with Lord Byron the rebel! My intent of heart is to feather the foam of a squawking society that cannot be satiated with the mere facts of Jane’s quiet existence.  This 5,000 word short story includes historical places that remain in existence today.   A CHANGED HEART ~ It was the twenty second day of 1812 and sisters Jane and Cassandra were set upon celebrating a fresh year of promise.
Together these exuberant siblings enjoyed a carriage ride through the woods from Chawton House, across the Avon gorge on a bridge that would fail all mathematical principals yet supported the weight of thundering horses. In a great measure their merriment was increased by their grand expectancy to reunite with sister Lydia. The sun piercing the crisp cold of January simply added to their delight in this long awaited return to Bath. With deliberate pursuit of what news, good or bad they would gather, the horses clopped down Lilliput Alley to arrive at their chosen destination. After departing Bath in 1805 when their father George, the retired Rector of Stevenson passed, the surviving family of mother and two spinster daughters moved into Brother Edward’s country estate near Canterbury. Both sisters were absolutely ravenous for any sort of interesting conversation. It had been ten elongated
years since Jane refused to accept the unbearable and unsuitable affections of her rejected neighbor Harris Bigg-Wither. Sense and Sensibility was recently published and with that an extra portion of income. Gossip bloomed regarding her unknown pen. Her chosen anonymity produced a scandal among growing fans and a bit of notoriety in the Austen manor. It was a welcomed temporary lift to the entire family spirit as Jane's all consuming passion of the written word had turned into such sweet fruit for all. However reclusive and miserable Jane had become, she rebounded this day from being vertically flattened by her comfortable, yet stifling country existence. She was abnormally happy to greet this day with hope for the years
spawning ahead. Today was not going to be another stupid party with a limit of six people. “No indeed”, Jane declared “we shall not need to utter a single word of nonsense, and for this I am motivated beyond the acute disorder of boredom.” The famous Spring Gardens drew a fashionable throng across the river. The Bath Chronicle had advertised hot buttered buns and public readings at Sally Lunn’s House, the very place of great attraction to which they had reserved to be. With explicit purpose these Austen sisters had planned and twittered about what to wear ever since Christmas Eve. They arrived just before noon and were quickly engulfed in Lydia’s embrace! The reception of the three sisters by the proprietor was exuberant and Jane dreaded any recognition that may result from his great felicity. They were seated among the visiting aristocrats at a requested back table. The atmosphere chosen for this reunion was done
without a thought for economy as Jane delighted in the opportunity of being generous towards her sisters. In December Jane had written a note to the proprietor and asked him to pay particular attention to the elegance of the table in which she and her sisters would sit. This would provoke an apt expression of exceeding joy for Lydia especially. Even in her maturity, Lydia was yet unabashedly Lydia and prone to notice all accouterments's added in honor of her visit. A moistened cluster of Pansies and Camellias tied together with

purple ribbon was the centerpiece atop a white embroidered table cloth. The decor accentuated the rare joy of benefiting from Lydia's way of abounding in vigor. For this particular New Year outing, the rich use of color, the aroma and warmth from the baking ovens wasted nothing on the elevated hopes for this memory making occasion. Jane was recently released from her doctors restrictions, and so delighted to be out and wearing Cassandra’s Christmas gift. A hand stitched white lace scarf that brightened the grey long sleeved satin dress that fitted Jane's thin shoulders. Lydia had received a letter from Cass that gave voice to her dire concern for Jane’s frail health. Lydia’s discovery of such news gave priority to her certain attendance. The provocation that led to this celebratory moment was unbeknownst to Jane. With such extreme happiness
over this New Year reunion, Cass was pleased that Jane’s countenance had notably improved. From the hand painted menu, Jane ordered a selection of sweets for the reunion; tea, three hot buns, lemon curd, Devon-shire cream and strawberries. After the customary etiquette of time, the tea was poured by attending staff into the beautifully ornate tea cups. With spoons quietly swirling, Jane’s eyes widened with a shock. Her confounded expression led Lydia and Cassandra to join in Jane’s directed gaze. A pin drop would have sliced the silence that enraptured all three sisters. Suddenly the group focus was on whose voice they were hearing. Could they trust their ears? What was being publicly read was from Sense and Sensibility. A portion had been reproduced and circulated in the Bath Chronicle. But it was not just that Jane was the author of this enlightened novel, but rather who was reading it! To Jane it was indeed a rather disturbing misfortune to be so honored by such an
undesirable reader. Simultaneously the Austen sisters recognized the one reading as England's very own Lord Byron! Jane would have hoped to find a noted scholar giving voice to her articulated large truths, but as it is, she was completely vexed by the audacity of the infamously impetuous Lord Byron! He read while brandishing his arms and with a chuckle he read what Edward Ferrars spoke to the impressionable young Marianne. Jane was instantly filled with illegitimate thoughts as her words slithered through the lips of this most offensive person. Her eyes froze upon Byron’s smiling mouth as he read. With growing consternation brewing she thought "Fate has been unkind that this man, of all men should read my heartfelt works with such a grinning smirk!" Lydia was lit up with such pride that she was ready to applaud had Jane not constrained her. Byron’s eyes glanced over at their table. Jane shifted in her chair and lowered her eyes to dissuade any polite conversation. Byron ended his animated reading and sat down with a crowded table of mostly female admirers. Cassandra and Lydia both acknowledged verbally how lovely of Lord Byron to choose to not read any of the many verses he had written, but to select Jane's. The two chortled on with hilarity mixed in their volume and soon resumed in reminiscent conversation. Jane bowed out of their silly theories of
why Lord Byron had chosen Sense and Sensibility out of all the books ever published. Jane was understood by family to resist any extroverted nonsense and was left undisturbed by her company to sit silently musing about the
 history of Bath. The name came about from the legend of Prince Bladud. The tale is that the Prince caught leprosy and was banned from the court and forced to look after pigs. Like the pigs, Prince Bladud was instructed to wallow in hot mud and was then found to be cured of his decaying skin. After being crowned King, he founded the city and named it Bath. Jane’s mind was steeped in poor opinion, she judged Lord Byron entirely on what others had said. Her mortification's erupted with a selfish wish that
Lord Byron's skin would suddenly crawl as if diseased and cause him to cease reading. That he might wallow in remorse for his degrading illicit affairs. Cassandra was attentive to Jane and acutely aware of her sister’s anguished look as Lord Byron gave animated voice to her writing. With resignation and a lowered tone, Jane turned and bitterly complained in a whisper "He may pen verses that cause women to faint at his feet, but his good looks cannot recover his unrepentant reputation. It grieves me to think of how his opinion of my work clashes against the blemish of his undone moral character!" Cassandra quietly pleaded "Oh Jane, I agree he is not the 'Byronic hero' that his accusers claim. I perceive him to be a melancholy man who broods about perhaps a misery of some unknown unforgivable event in his past. His heart shows pure in his poetry, and his music. His delight in your wit brings him a measure of joy, and for this we must see that your pen has fulfilled its purpose in him." Jane could barely be attentive to her sister's supposition when Lord Byron approached their table. It was Jane’s forthright intention to remain unapproachable. She began to fidget uncontrollably whispering to Lydia's ear
 "Oh what shall I do, I
simply cannot speak to this man whose reputation is ruined by his confirmed promiscuity!” Byron was a hero to many women, but not Jane! His romantic poetry was in a style that she could not fully comprehend as such passion for another had not been her friend. The fame of his scandalous private life was described by one contemporary as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. Lydia retorted "Oh Jane, calm yourself and take pleasure in the moment." Byron had recently published the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Jane was not one of his adoring socialites! She gave him due credit for speaking effectively in the House of Lords on important liberal themes, however, his hectic love-affair with his half sister Augusta was disgusting! Jane’s brother Henry did not lead Jane away from the truth, but with great affection and respect for her intellect, he wisely chose to simply empower her with the facts of what was noteworthy in
England. Jane had the privilege to read about the romantic style now in demand, however, a plunder of gushing words to describe gothic architecture and nature's perfect landscape was a bore to Jane. She refused to write to please the latest fashionable obsession to read paragraphs filled with adverbs to depict a simple fallen leaf. The fascination of England over Byron's life and style of pen was indeed not shared by Jane. With his worthless character so widely in print, how is it that her text would be so tarnished by his tongue! Jane had procured a quiver of dark facts about a man named Lord Byron from a Lady Beckham, wife of the local magistrate. No mercy was seen through the eyes of the law, but Byron was seen by His Creator with through the eyes of grace. From a house filled with the discussion of law, Lady Beckham felt obliged to share love less words that drifted in from England. Jane held this one opinion of man above Gods and in so doing she could not conceive that any good could be held in the person of Lord Byron. Having ascertained steadfast knowledge of his affairs, Jane was absolutely incensed that this tragedy should land on her happiest day! Lord
Byron unaware of Jane's personal rebellion against him, stood at their table, bowed, clicked his heels and with a wave of a gentleman’s arm said "Miss Austen, your appearance is far lovelier than a flower in bloom. It is indeed my genuine honor to meet the woman that shall most certainly cause any man of intelligence to open the contents of his heart." Altogether astonished at his grace and manner, Jane felt a flush of conviction spreading to her cheeks. The spirit of repulsion had been suddenly banished. Humbled by his sincerity, she questioned "What brings one as notable as you to Bath when London brims with praise for your work?" Byron then spoke "It would have been bold of me to suppose that on my birthday I should be gifted with the
presence of such an accomplished woman. Therefore I must advance to request your forgiveness for my lack of social reserve in my cavalier approach. As destiny happens to surprise us with occasional sweetness, I am compelled to reveal this genuine truth. Having just refreshed myself with the wit and content of your heart, and having hoped that I would someday meet the humble writer who wishes to remain anonymous, without presumption of course, that you are indeed that very artist ~ I am compelled to agree with the whispers in England that a woman, indeed a brilliant poetess penned Sensibly the Sense found in the verses I just read. If you are indeed the author, your secret is safe with me and I am further bold to ask that if we are contemporaries, might we enjoy a literary conversation over tea whilst I am in town?" Jane hesitated as Lydia inserted “Yes, yes Jane wrote what you have read and she has been writing many wondrous works since before she attended the Abbey School in reading.” With that horrifying thrust of truth, Jane could not offer any ignorance to who wrote what Byron just read and her eyes blazed across the table at Lydia!
Silence hovered like a thick blanket of fog and Lord Byron was correct in his perception that Lydia’s innocent enthusiasm had caused Jane to fluster with a visible chagrin. The kismet of their meeting had quickly dissolved and with the fastidious aplomb of a gentleman, Byron said “I stutter in the presence of such humility for it is a lesson that I am hard learning. Might you be assured that your anonymity shall be reverently respected Miss Austen. My time in Bath will be short as I have been invited to Lake Geneva with Percy Shelley. So if I should be so fortunate to cross your path again, it would be considered my full portion to speak more completely of your inspirations. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time on my birthday. Miss Austen and ladies I bid you good day.” Byron left their table yet his stunning words swarmed through each lady in attendance. Lydia burst into tears at the thought of having vexed Jane when the afternoon had been so full of promise. “Dearest Jane, I am miserably sorry for having ruined our day with
my impetuous behavior. I humbly acknowledge that I disrespected your desire to remain anonymous, and I admit that my pride for your accomplishment simply erased any ability to control my tongue. I beg for your pardon my sweet Jane.” Jane remained quiet in a state of violent shock by what had just occurred. She usually was quick to recover with a bit of wicked wit, but somehow she sat unready to speak a word. Lydia became excessively more distraught in Jane's hushed state. Compassionately Cassandra quietly offered her sister a look of encouragement. It was a nod of approval for her surprising maturity in the admission of her uncontrolled tottering. Jane seemed to suddenly come back to a dimension of consciousness from the distant place her mind had wondered. With a warmth in her tone, the elder sister Jane looked at Lydia and proclaimed "The afternoon is yet young and it need not be cut short on a sour note. I shall seek no excuse for your bold assertion of truth, and it is I that must seek your merciful forgiveness. Let us return to joy and dismiss any further conjectures
regarding Lord Byron knowing that I wrote Sense and Sensibility. " Ahhh, whom is leading who? Jane possessed a winsome nature which allowed her to devote her observations and responses to any witnessed social guffaws as merely a source of inspiration to be noted with fanciful embellishment and either etched or scratched from a page. With a renewed light filled heart Jane continued "Let us delight in the fact that we have met Lord Byron and rest assured Lydia that your exuberant personality is something that I have always and will continue to admire. We shall all gain valuable insights from what has transpired this day. My spirit was forthrightly admonished most accurately for the rage I held towards Lord Byron without a single idea of how much my judgment must have grieved God as my witness. Are we not all called to forgive and we have been forgiven? Come then let us amuse ourselves with what else is worthy of our attention and accept that not one of us is above needing a bit of coaching away from any gloating or thought of superiority. My personal lesson this day is to offer more grace instead of disdain. Oh my dear ever radiant Lydia, may the ever present
joy you carry ~ be instantly contagious as we are obliged to enjoy this glorious day! We came together to spoil ourselves with the fruits of our lessons in labor. I am the proud sister of two amazing women of such grace that it doth far surpass my capacity to grasp the love God has lavished upon one so unworthy! " A more noble recitation of the value contained in a self reproof could not have been better stated. Cass gushed with glee for the end of the tension at the table and each one served themselves a heaping spoon of berries and cream. An unequaled magnitude of happiness was the joint lullaby that rocked all to sleep. As they did when they were young, all three slept together tucked between luxurious silk sheets in their shared garden suite at the Apsley House Hotel. Awakened by Lydia's giggling, it was a shared bliss to explore Bath's exquisite gardens. Cass, Lydia and Jane engaged in a joyful frolic of ring around the Posey, just as they once did as little girls. Jane began to sing
as she brushed her hair and Cass played the piano while the fire crackled. Before getting dressed and assuming proper composure for breakfast, the three spent time delighting in the coincidence of Lord Byron's personal introduction and earnest praise of Jane's pen. Such providence was a sure sign that 1812 would continue to be a year of tremendous surprise. Raised in the country the ladies insisted on a brisk morning walk before tea. Bundled up in jackets and bonnets they took a jaunt across the green to the camellia garden. Jane let loose with a fanciful bird call

and indulged her imagination that this pleasure would have wings that would take her through the entire winter. The ever demure Cass also afforded herself a skip in her walk and a tune in her hum while Lydia shrieked over the finery of each new blossom that seized her gaze. As Jane turned the corner around a carved hedge she came face to face with none other than Lord Byron. Her nose red and running from the bitter cold was quickly wiped with an embroidered hanky tucked in her sleeve. "Good morning Miss Austen" His greeting was chipper and again she felt that her tongue had been swallowed. Jane was absolutely exasperated by her inability to hide her annoyance of being rendered utterly speechless in this man’s presence. As if she were a school girl, her eyes darted away from his as they sought another focus that would not give the one on looking a chance to
peer into her soul. Time seemed to have been suspended as her troubled mind tumbled over what words would become sensible in response to his obvious delight in having encountered her again. Peering round the hedge to see if her sisters were coming, her gaze then settled on his face as she greeted "Good morning Lord Byron, and what a surprise to happen upon you so early in the morning. My sisters and I found our chambers at Apsley House most agreeable and I so hope that your stay has been equally congenial." Just then Cassandra and Lydia approached from behind the immense hedge and were equally startled to look upon the ever captivating Lord Byron. Lydia never pinched for clever words quickly exerted "My Lord what a lovely jolt of good fortune to chance
upon seeing you twice within so short of hours.
 Is not this morning a bounty of benefit to have the favor of your presence while strolling in the garden! Come Cassandra, since we have all been formally introduced, it is certainly socially acceptable to allow these contemporaries to engage in a conversation that would literally be above our heads. Jane we will not be far ahead, and do not worry Lord Byron, we shall also keep this accidental meeting treasured as a family secret." Jane stood confounded by her sisters offering that she would be available for such a extemporaneous meeting. Lord Byron noted Jane's surprise and accepted the option with grace as he offered "Jane if you find it within your schedule, and if it is not too objectionable, might we sit briefly and enjoy a fortuitous exchange?" With consideration for her recent lesson on

grace, with the utmost elegance she extended her gloved hand to accept the arm he most handsomely extended. They walked together in silence at a dignified pace towards the garden bench. Feeling ever so slightly pained by the obligation thrust upon her repentant heart, she was hesitant to admit that Byron's charm was having its impact and she simply chose to acquiesce. Byron placed his woolen scarf to soak the dew from the bench. He then assisted Jane as she descended to sit. Sitting aside her he gave careful respect for a ladies requirement for a decent distance. After a lush moment of silence they both began to speak at the same time. Giggling softly Jane composed "You have delivered me unsolicited
appreciation for what has been anonymously published of my writing. Coming from a man of such magnified influence on society, it took me a bit of time to receive the full measure of your most genuine manner. I therefore must acknowledge your professional recognition with a rather delayed and reflected honor. Your evaluation was extremely favorable and with that said I must confess that though your style differs, in your poetic verses, I am fairly charged to accept perceptions that would not be mine." Byron's gaze upon her while she spoke was fixed upon her particularly honest and refreshing pure candor. In his fame he has known many a person who would struggle to flank him with praise for works that he himself believed to be unworthy. His earnest fascination for her plain speaking encouraged him to be likewise. "May I consider you a friend Miss Jane?" She looked at him quizzically "I would be
honored to name you among my small orchestra of friends. I shall consider you the sweet violin that accompanies the delicate keys of my sister's piano" Byron was smiling wide when he professed " Then Jane it is with unsurpassed respect that I feel compelled to now speak apt words that would encourage you to continue to write as a mirror of great value for the generations to come. My poetry is to be figured out, to be interpreted by some as folly, and others as romance, but your insights within relationships has been a grand lesson for me. Your brightness and humor holds in it great promise as a writer of important substance." Jane sat blushing as she had not been so encouraged by anyone quite so eloquently. She was accustomed to her beloved Cassandra's partial praise, but this was from a person who had no association or occasion to gain. Lord Byron halted his desire to further persuade Jane of the tremendous clout with which her words had impaled upon him. He leveraged the moment by
adding "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now seem to bear." It was wise to hold his words to a few as he was certain by her expressions that she grappled with the minimum of what he so ardently desired to confess. "Until the spirit of revelation is fully surrendered to, none of us can comprehend how deeply the written word can minister to the hidden brokenness of a human heart." Jane was struck with the duplicity of his public persona and the words he was now speaking to her. It was as if God Himself had introduced him to her for such a time as this. In her fragile state of health, the family excursions to the seaside of Sidmouth, Dawlish and Lyme Regis were intentional to refresh Jane's weakened condition. She concluded that God had a ripping sense of humor that He would use Lord Byron to teach and uplift her to a height that was precisely heavenly. His gallantry with her erased all previous inclinations regarding his character. She was reminded in their silent walk through the garden of a conversation she had enjoyed with her father, a member of the clergy, charged to pray for all people, the saved and especially
the lost. Her sister Cassandra had readily perceived that Lord Byron’s lack of parenting and disconnect from the faith caused him to write from his darkness. It was curious to Jane that the wit of her pen had been so meaningful that he would pour out such praise of something she did not write with the intention of converting a soul. Feeling a freedom to speak with honesty she confessed "Among my few friends and shrinking family it would be considered an indecent crush between us if it were known that we are sitting alone sharing such transparent words. Ashamed as I should be to admit that my first impression of you was rather severe and unjust, I now perceive you with a worthy extraordinary esteem. Not entirely based on your kindness shown towards me, but having more to do with my own conviction for having judged you at all" Byron was tested to also recite his compulsory penchant to discover who wrote the stirring words that he had chosen to read publicly in several places before Bath. “Miss Austen it was my choice to unmercifully badger my publisher to research and reveal just who was the lady genius behind what my heart believes to be a legacy, a gift to all who at some point
find themselves questioning the meaning of life. The content of Sense and Sensibility is profound as it does not ridicule, but it was written to enlighten. My initial shock was to learn that it was written by a woman, and the most astonishing revelation was that she is a woman who is the daughter of a clergyman. I read about love, emptiness and pain that is laced with forbearance. My depraved self-indulgence has never been delayed or as controlled as your words. My attempts to fill the emptiness of my souls cry for love, fame or money has not met with contentment or sensibility. My questions to why was I born, or why I was chosen to live out the title as Lord Byron have yet to be answered. Having met many statesmen, and after many debates with esteemed writers, I was moved to take steps to meet and speak to Jane Austen before I depart this plane. Escaping my past is impossible; however, I do have hope in a future that includes people of your dignity and character. My confession to you
Miss Austen is that I came to Bath in hopes that we would somehow come to this very open and honest communication." Jane was surprised by the clarity he gleaned from something she wrote to simply entertain, but she was not surprised at how God could use anything to draw the lost back to Himself. After soothing him with a look of sincere compassion Jane smiled and shared “My dear brother Byron it has been remarkable to witness my own transformation during our brief yet divine interface. My lessons have been great last night and again today. What I am not is a saint. I therefore must encourage you to trust that God has a plan for you just as He planned that you would read something and seek comfort from something new. Indeed our lifestyles may differ, however my lifelong lesson is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Without my Father talking to me about God, left to myself, my life would be full of what the world would perceive as unforgivable. When I heard you reading my words last evening I was filled with pride and prejudice.
We each seek to know that somehow our work, our life, our being alive has in some measure benefited someone, somewhere in some small way. Sitting here now with the man known to the world as the bad, mad and dangerous boy ~ because of grace issued unto me, I see you in the light of truth. I was blinded and deceived, but I now perceive thee correctly. I shall treasure our friendship forever, and NOT because you protest that my words have inspired you, but because you Lord Byron have inspired me to write more truly about poor judgment.  To write as transparently as you have spoken.  My pride had a desperate need to be broken and thoroughly undone, so I thank God for our chance encounter. For all the friends that I have had while alive, for all the silly parties that I have attended, this conversation we are now engaged in has been the most
fulfilling of my lifetime. Might I call you simply brother Byron?” His response was immediate “Yes, sister Jane, I would like that very much.” Lydia came into view and waved them towards the lake where Cassandra was engaged in teasing the geese. Jane then was prompted to inquire “Brother Byron, please accept this most wonderful invitation to join the Austen sisters for some frivolity this afternoon! Also, I was wondering if you would be so kind as to grace us with your fame for a surprise birthday lunch for our beloved brother? If delighting your poor sister is something that brings you joy, then might I also request that you would read to your adoring family some of your prose?” Byron beamed “It is indeed a dreadful sin to have such an indecent crush on your sister!” They both laughed and soon stood beside the lake skipping rocks across the still water. Lydia’s childlike laughter and Cassandra’s sweet humming added the distinct sense that 1812 was bound to be a great year filled with a joy that will surpass every understanding. After a time they raced back to the hotel where Jane would tell eager ears that the conclusion of her titillating odyssey this afternoon was that the Austen family had acquired a rather dashing new brother in Lord Byron! (END OF STORY but not the fascination of Jane Austen) This story was submitted to the Austen Fan 2011 Contest hosted on the Republic of Pemberly website and published on Valentine’s Day 2011. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

CLAIMING TRUTH

Today I take the time I need to be who I am, and to rest.
Today I choose to BE STILL and listen to what the Spirit is saying.  
Today  I hear that I am loved by God and His plan for me is marvelous.
Today I feel resilient and fortified by the ever present Holy Spirit.
Today I am adequately equipped by God to do what He sets before me.
Today I am filled with thankfulness for all things. 
Today I seek the hidden gift within any unexpected experience.
Today I choose to trust God and know with certainty that all will be well.
Today I accept that God never rejects me, but at times people do, and that is ok.
Today I believe that God alone determines my worth.  Today I am worthy.
Today I tell myself the Truth, that God has set me free and there in NO condemnation.
Today I expect to be the recipient of grace, mercy and love from Jesus, my Lord.
Today I embrace the truth that I am not in control of how others perceive me.