Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Guarding Spirit

I dropped my mom off at the front door of the doctor's building. I was then off in search of an empty spot in the crowded parking lot. After driving in circles I finally found a spot. I put the gear shift in park but stopped short of opening my door. I was dreading the walk in the pouring rain to the doctor's building. What a day to forget my umbrella. 

I would just wait until it let up. Christian music played over the radio. It's always amazing how music can set our soul into a rhythm of thanksgiving. Our Lord always seems to give us the quiet time we need. One way or the other. It's our choice if we see it and capture those moments in prayer. This time I seen the opportunity and let my prayers escape like the rains falling around me.

I seen the sky giving way to a little sunshine. It was now my chance to make my way inside and escape being soaked through. I stepped around my vehicle and started making my way through the parking lot when a truck stopped in front of me. 

I see the tires stop as I hear the words, "Could you help us?" I look up with a smile. I start to step, but my feet won't move. I hear a voice within me say, "Don't step toward that truck." What in the world? It's an older couple who is asking for my help. They want to hand me a piece of paper. They are asking me where the cancer center is. Strangely it's right in front of us. Big letters on the sign not far from us and the words Cancer Center are highlighted on the building next to us. There are only two buildings. Something is just not right. 

Now, all of this is taking place in just a few short minutes. My heart is churning inside. Here I am standing in front of this truck and my heart is wanting to reach out and take this paper, but again my feet will not budge. I hear the voice again as I try to step closer. "Do not step toward this truck." Three times this happened. Each time more pronounced and guarded. 

During these few moments I was arguing with this voice. "What? It's only an older couple. I have to help them. What could possibly happen?" I was going back and forth in my thoughts, but my feet never took a step. It wasn't because I was being obedient. I was listening, but I too was arguing in the stillness of my steps. 

I never took a step forward. I guided the couple to where they needed to be. Strangely, they still seemed confused about where to go. I now take a step back. I am feeling this presence around me, protection, guiding, and now I heed His voice. No more arguing. Something is just off here. You know, that unsettling feeling in your gut? But again, it's an older couple. 

I know, three times, right? As I now ponder this my heart goes back to Peter. Why did it take me three times to seriously heed God's voice? Praise to Him for knowing His stubborn daughter so well!

I make my way inside to see my mom has safely made her way to where she needed to be for her appointment. She's called into the doctor's office and I break out my book and prepare to enjoy a few quiet moments of reading. I can't focus on my book because my mind is churning over what just happened. How strange. That had never happened to me before. To have my feet planted firmly and as I try to step a powerful strength holds me back. 

I can tell you as sure as I can be this was the Lord's protection. I felt His hand upon me. Now, I have no idea what He was protecting me from. It could have been danger in the way of being robbed or abducted. What I can't possible understand, He made a way. God foreseen this moment and He was there in full force to protect me. Maybe it was a dangerous virus that could have made me very ill. After all, He has to know I'm the daughter who easily catches everything. 

All I know is that in those few moments He kept me from danger. I could have kept arguing with Him, thinking all was okay and that it was craziness to think something could happen right there in the parking lot. Whatever it was, He knew my steps and He was there before me. Just in that alone I know I am loved and I am known!! My God goes before me, His presence surrounds me, and His protection covers me. 

I learned that morning to walk aware, to listen to His voice, and to heed my God. How many times have we told our children to be aware, to listen to that gut feeling inside of us? We teach our grandchildren that danger doesn't always look bad. There are people around us that look just like us, but they have bad intentions. I always teach my grandchildren it is perfectly okay to offend another person. If something scares them RUN!! But here I was arguing with my own heart. I couldn't see the danger. I still have no idea what it could have been, but my God knows!

He is my force field of protection! My Jesus was there in those moments protecting me. Why me? Why not me? What if this couple was up to no good and they stopped someone totally unaware? I didn't see them as a threat, but something was not right or my God would not have guarded me so powerfully. 

I'm uncertain of what could have taken place if I had not heeded God's voice. Friends, we need to walk aware. Every moment of our lives we need to be aware of His voice. There are so many lessons here for me to absorb. Lessons of listening to my Lord, lessons of how Satan is always placing traps around us, to not being afraid to offend another person by guarding myself. 

Today I am walking differently. I'm walking more aware and I too am walking with a grateful heart for a God who goes before my steps. He goes far beyond just knowing. He reaches down and places His hand before me. I have to ponder how many times I have ignored His voice and pushed away His hand. That thought breaks my heart. I want to be an obedient daughter, aware of His every voice, never again ignoring Him and thinking I know best. 

Here in this parking lot He wasn't having any of my stubbornness. He stepped before me and placed a hedge of protection around me. He was making sure I heard Him. Another reminder for me to keep my eyes upon Him and seek Him before my every step.

"You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Bring together socialites on what is to be known as the tragic party of 1815 and you are sure to have a story. The Duchess of Richmond's ball was the place to be, that is if you are of importance. When unexpected guests arrive it's a meeting of the upper class and middle class. That mixture is sure to make a mess of things for those who are living to be known by who surround them. 

The Trenchard family have an invitation in hand. Mr. Trenchard is just as excited as his daughter to attend this grand ball. Mr. Trenchard has high hopes. He is hard working and is striving for the best of the best. He thinks highly of himself and sees nothing wrong with mingling with the people he serves. Mrs. Trenchard sees things much differently. She thinks there has been a mistake and this invitation just has to be a misunderstanding. She has a fear they will be the fools at the ball. So much drama right here in the mix of this family.

Two families of different social class, different, but yet so alike, two young people in love separated by society's class, and a secret that comes alive, bring this novel to life. A ball that brings people together in celebration and a war that will separate in sorrow bring us to know these characters of a different time and place.

First of all, if you are searching for Downton Abbey, this is not it. Downton Abbey is in a league all its own. If you're expecting a Sunday evening love affair with Downton Abbey this just isn't to be. I think this is where many will fall short of enjoying this novel. We see the author's name and have an expectation that this novel will carry us to another Downton Abbey. This stand alone novel has its own style and will bring its own joy to the reader. 

Sometimes we search for a novel to just allow us to escape, relax, and dream of another place and time. The writing is easy. The characters are not complex. The story line is one we have come to know. In this case we don't necessarily have the upstairs and the downstairs coming together, but the very rich and the not so rich. Drama, drama and more drama. We have people wanting what they want when they want it and for some how they get it doesn't really matter. Some are noble and walk with integrity while others are greedy and careless in thought. 

There comes a time when romance will cross family alliance. Families will lose those they love. Inheritance has it's power that creates manipulation that far reaches the heart in love. We have villains who scheme and defy all that is right. But we too have those who stand with integrity and nobility. These are characters who actually grow on you. At least they did me. 

It's this secret that keeps this novel moving. The characters don't necessarily jump off the pages. Fellowes gives us just enough to allow room for our imagination to take over. We see just enough heart to draw us in to see that life here isn't so different than that of today. Amazing what family will do to preserve a secret or for some to get that secret out. Either way, either choice, change is coming that will explode what once was protected. 

This is a light and easy read. One that a cup of tea in the cool of an evening will give the perfect amount of escape. I enjoyed going back in time and meeting characters that aren't so far off from reality today. Good prevails over evil and love conquers all. Standing with honor always wins out over trying to be something you aren't. 

This novel was a gift from Hatchette Book Group for sharing my review with you. 

Julian Fellowes is a multi-award winning actor, writer, director, and producer. As creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series Downton Abbey, Fellowes has won three Emmy Awards. He has written two internationally bestselling novels, Snobs and Past Imperfect, and the screenplay for Gosford Park, for which he won an Oscar. He has writing credits for many other films, including Vanity Fair, Young Victoria, and Romeo & Juliet. He became a life peer in 2011, and lives in Dorset and London with his wife, Emma.


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