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The plan has been to publish the next book in this series every six months…then Corona happened and the bottom fell out of everything…especially book sales. So we’ve decided to wait ’til the market settles before releasing this next book.

But I couldn’t wait to give you a glimpse of the cover…let me know what you think. Hope this one perks your interest in this series.

Sales for the other two books are also slow…but during the lull, I’m still working on the next three THE MASTER’S PLAN REVEALED THROUGH JUDGES, PROPHETS, AND KINGS and THE MASTER’S PLAN REVEALED THROUGH THE MASTER and finally THE MASTER’S PLAN REVEALED THROUGH YOU.

It certainly looks as if we are rushing toward the end of this age and scripture tells us “…The fields are white, ready to harvest.” The books from this series make marvelous gifts to families with young children.

DiAne

TheMaster'sPlan Book Two

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In my younger years I refused to make lists. Thought they were a waste of time, troublesome, definitely not my thing. Then I grew DSCF7591older and I’d forget things.

Trips to the grocery store became jumbled journeys, having to return multiple times for items forgotten. So I succumbed to jotting a few DSCF7575things on the back of an envelope as I headed for the aisles and found what I neglected to write on the list I forgot.

Books are written about lists. There are lists for everything. Grocery lists, ingredient lists, menu lists, to-do lists, password lists, Christmas card lists, address lists…blah, blah, blah. Our lives are consumed with lists. Lists to remember to make lists.

Why?

Because we forget.

Unmentioned things fall through the cracks as the clutter of our lives buries the important, allowing whatever screams the loudest to take control. And that’s the way he likes it! Clamor and chaos. Satan steps back, surveys the damage, brushes his hands and walks away. Satisfied with a job well done—according to his schemes.

Look around. What do you see?

And where is this enemy of your soul busiest creating this age old dynamic? Yep, in the church and in the home. Because of folks, just like me, don’t like lists nor margins. Folks who live life in the fast lane. Folks whose to-do list is always the longest.

Did you know God gave us lists?

One of the first God lists appears in the Book of Exodus. Uh-huh, the Ten Commandments. A list of ten things meant to be a yardstick to show Israel the error of their ways. Oh, that doesn’t apply to us, you say, we’re under the New Covenant. Grace.

Really?

We’ve been studying Ephesians (New Covenant grace related scripture) and you know what, I found—another God list. Yep, but expanded. Twenty-five life-changing instructions, commandments, statements where God said walk this way.

And if we obeyed (Oh, there’s that word again. Same word ancient Israel struggled with) …if we obeyed God’s lists, Satan would flee and America would be restored. And all twenty-five commands are about relationships.

I’ve simplified them and listed them in order and hope you’ll take the time to read my list, then go to Ephesians, verify, and question how many of these instructions you struggle to obey. Remember this was written to the Church at Ephesus—to a body of believers. And preserved for the Church today.

• Lay aside lying. Speak truth, each one with his neighbor. We are members of one another.
DSCF7593• Be angry, but don’t sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, because you give the devil and opportunity.
• Don’t steal. Work. Performing with your own hands what is good so you have something to share with those in need.
• Don’t speak rotten words, but speak words that edify and give grace to those who hear.
• Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who sealed you for the day of redemption.
• Put all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice away from you.
• Be kind to each other. Tender-hearted. Forgiving each other—just like Christ has forgiven you.
• There must be no immorality, impurity, or greed among God’s people.
• There must be no filthiness, silly talk, or coarse jesting among God’s people, but rather giving of thanks.
• Don’t be deceived with empty words.
• Don’t be partakers with the sons of disobedience. Walk as children of Light.
• Don’t participate in unfruitful deeds of darkness. Expose them.
• Walk as wise men, not as unwise men. Because the days are evil.
• Do not be foolish. Understand what the will of the Lord is.
• Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.
• Speak to each other with psalms. Let your spirit make a thanksgiving melody in your heart to the Lord.
• Always give thanks for all things in the name of Jesus.
• Be subject to one another in the fear (respect) of Christ.
• Wives, be subject to your own husbands—as to the Lord.
• Husbands, love your wife. Nourish and cherish her just like Christ does the Church.
• Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.DSCF7594
• Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
• Slaves (we could compare this to employee-employer relationships) be obedient to those who are your masters (according to the flesh) with a sincere heart.
• Masters, be good to slaves and give up threatening, knowing both their Master and yours is in heaven. There is no partiality with God.
• Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God so you can stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Are these easier to obey than the Ten Commandments? No. Are they impossible to obey? Not if you know them. So what’s the problem? We don’t know what God requires of us because our copy of the Word sits on the shelf, collecting dust.

If your husband, wife or boyfriend/girlfriend wrote you love letters and you refused to open and read them, how would you maintain that relationship? A relationship with God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit—requires time. Time to read, listen, understand, and know the Word of God.

There are no magic wands, no hocus-pocus, just relationships with God and with each other. Children growing to maturity in Jesus, in the Spirit, in the Church. Because—

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NAS).

Yes, those bought and brought by the blood are family. So Church, let’s “try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” by reading and remembering and practicing what Satan wants us to forget—nourishing and cherishing each other just as Christ loves the Church.

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Have you ever had your big toe poke a hole clear through your sock? A sore toe and maybe a blister is the reward for rubbing shoe leather all day, and it hurts.
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Auntie Marian sat on the front porch, in the cool of early evening, darning socks and rocking. And we were grateful for her diligence.

But whether you’re darning a sock, fixin’ and stitchin’ a hem, a family, or a life, it’s easier to restore when less stitches are required to patch the gap. These days we don’t stop to repair DSCF5450anything that breaks, just toss ‘em in the trash and shop for new stuff.

We’ve become the throw-away-generation.

Tired of a dress? Pitch it. Don’t like the sofa? Purchase a new one. Want a larger home? Get rid of the old one. And judging from the size of the malls, stores, and warehouses, we are indeed a nation of shoppers on steroids.

Newer, faster, sleaker everything—from cars to toothbrushes. Trouble is, our penchant for trashing objects has slithered into trashing people and relationships: Troubled kids, troublesome relatives, whoever and whatever flickers your feelings. Commitments? Disposable. Don’t even like the word. Gotta be free. Free to do my thing. My way. And in my time.

Like the three-year-old in the blog last week demanding a candy bar. Did I forget to mention the shopping cart was strewn with an empty cracker box, a half-eaten cookie, and a sucker wrapper? Bribes—given in place of loving enough to take the time and energy to properly discipline the child.

I’m so thankful God doesn’t toss me on the garbage heap when I wear out or offend Him. No, He takes the time to refresh me, to teach me to walk in accord with His Word. And I’m thankful His mercies are new every morning for those who love Him. God’s Word tells me He loves me so much He gave His only Son to die in my place. To die instead of me.

At the point we come to the end of our pride and arrogance and recognize we are hopeless without Him, He offers His amazing gift of grace and mercy to each person who repents, confesses, and truly believes in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to give them new life—now and forever.

What bribes have you allowed to creep in and litter the landscape of your home? What deceptive lies have caused you to refuse God’s repairing discipline?

And the rest of the world looks at God’s people. A world saturated in evil, poverty, and death. A world desperate for love, hope, and a Savior. Yet they look at Christians and wonder, “Those church folks act just like me. Why should I want to be like them?”

DSCF5451Could it be, church folks, we are full of rips and holes that need God’s darning needle? It sure is less painful to allow God to snip renegade threads from our hearts and take a few stitches in our character each day, rather than wait ‘til the distance between our hearts and His is an empty, dark cavern.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives…All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:5-6 and 11 NAS).

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Sandcastles are whimsical, magical sculptures. From the time I was a little girl growing up along the southern Atlantic shores, I sat at the edge of the waves on Jacksonville Beach or Little Talbot Island dumping bucketfuls of wet beach sand on top of each other, constructing my own castle in the sand.

These days when I find myself visiting ocean-anywhere I still drop to my knees to build yet another marvelous sandy structure.

DSCF3249I love to wade in the surf watching the delight of children feeling sand between their toes, enjoying their squeals of excitement racing into the waves. Some plunging in, others turning and attempting to outrun the foaming crests.DSCF3543

Oh, and there’s the joy of seeing the adult facade melt from a parent’s or a grandparent’s face as childhood memories wash over them and they join their children in a frivolous romp along the DSCF3256shore.

Salty air, puffy clouds, dancing waves, and a bucket and shovel—a sure ‘nough recipe for fun. Family vacations drawing us together, refreshing relationships, and cementing bonds and memories we will carry for a lifetime.DSCF3213

The brevity of these fanciful structures always lead me to question the stability and building code of my own home. Because many of us have employed sandcastle theology to construct the places we live and the relationships we invest in.

God tells us:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127 NAS).
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Is your home built on the solid Rock foundation of the Jesus? Or are you building a cheap, knock-off, mish-mash of pride that is likely to be swept away in the first high tide of selfishness, riptide of anger, or tsunami of indebtedness or infidelity?

The Lord Jesus is the only Rock. Our stronghold. Our Savior. And the Bible is our instruction manual. The answer to every problem we face individually, as a family, and as a nation can be found in our Lord Jesus Christ and the blueprint for reconstruction lies in the pages of His Word.

If your home and family need remodeling just ask Him.

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness…The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:22-25 NAS).
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And He is able to rescue, repair, and rebuild what we believe should be demolished. The home He rebuilds is able to withstand life’s ocean of howling storms because He is our Shield and our Protector. All you have to do is ask and place your faith and trust in the Master Builder.

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Ever throw a party and no one showed up? I have. It’s humiliating. But have you ever heard of not having a party and everyone came? It happened at our house one Christmas Eve many years ago.

My earliest memories of Christmas Eve were Mama and Daddy’s annual Christmas Open House. Invitations went out the first of December, addressed, with times staggered, so folks would arrive in small groups because of the size of our modest home. But every year they came, fifty, sixty, seventy-five of them, all arriving early and staying ‘til…

Laughter, singing, and joyful conversation filled all the rooms of our house and Christmas Eve became a Rockefeller-Center-event for my brother, Andy and me.

Mama’s food would have made Paula Deen proud. The house sparkled, the tree shimmered, and the table—always a picture out of Southern Living. My brother and I were as excited about the party as we were the gifts under the tree. And we were allowed to stay up late while other kids had to go to bed. Daddy said Santa made an exception for us and placed our house on his last-stop-list before returning to the North Pole.

But one Christmas Eve in the mid ‘50’s, my parents decided not to have their annual Christmas Eve party. No polishing silver, no party preparations, no delicious smells from Mama’s kitchen. It didn’t even seem like Christmas to my brother and me.

Andy and I moped over Christmas Eve dinner and prepared for a gloomy evening with the folks and the sentence of an early bedtime.

Until headlights shined in the driveway, followed by a second set of headlights, and then another and another. The doorbell rang and a crowd of expectant-party-goers shouted “Merry Christmas”.

Daddy opened the door and after an awkward moment of silence between the guests and would-be-hosts, Mama and Daddy’s smiles lit up as bright as our Christmas lights and they ushered the confused guests into our living room.

There would be a party after all.

Mama’s Christmas cookies were rushed to the table, and the fresh coconut cake ready for tomorrow’s dinner would soon be gobbled. She was the poster model for magic chef. Within minutes the table miraculously filled with delicious tidbits from Mama’s fridge and pantry.

I heard ladies tell her over and over, “I thought my invitation was lost in the mail.” And, “it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without gathering at your house.”

Next day we ate left-over’s for Christmas dinner and laughed and agreed it had been the best party ever. Mama and Daddy pledged never to cancel their party again. They couldn’t—the people would come even without an invitation.

How times and relationships have changed. I marvel at these precious memories. A night so many years ago filled with good news. The good news of friendships—love and delight in just being together. The good news of  Mama and Daddy who gave us a home where grace and love and friendships trumped all else. The good news of confidence that all who came to our table would be blessed and welcomed by my folks.

How appropriate is this loving memory of my parents tonight, at the beginning of the 2012 Christmas celebration.

Yet, over two thousand years ago, another invitation was issued by an angelic choir in the skies over Bethlehem. An invitation first given to shepherds who received the Good News of Jesus.

God’s invitation, brought by His Son, who guarantees a place at God’s table. A table in an eternal home, with a forever family where mercy and grace and a loving relationship wait to be lavished on any and all who will come to Jesus.

Have you accepted your invitation? It’s not lost in the mail, it’s in the Word and in your heart. He promised, there’s a seat at His table—just for you. Your name is engraved on the place card and the smiling face and loving arms of Jesus are stretched open to welcome you.

The date’s been set. The preparations are in order. Will you be there?

Award winning article in North Texas Christian Writers 2012 “Write Before Christmas” contest.

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Oh dear, Mother’s Day—again. One of the most difficult days of the year for me.

February 17, 2001, forever changed my life. Our twenty-eight year old daughter suddenly died from a hemorrhagic stroke in her brain stem.

Gone in an instant.

She left behind a four-and-a-half-year old daughter, a seven month old baby boy, a grieving husband and family.

For you who have experienced tragic loss, you understand. You know the tsunami of grief and the secondary losses that bring chaos to your life and to the family. I’m sure you’ve asked the same why questions I asked—with one exception.

Thirteen months earlier our Michelle was three months pregnant with this now motherless seven-month son, Noah. She and her husband had gone for a routine sonogram one Friday. After reviewing the images the doctor learned the baby was horribly deformed with organs outside the body.

The doctor recommended an abortion.

He gave them ‘til Monday to make a decision—abortion or life with a special needs child.

After the tearful phone call I received from our daughter I caught a plane so I could be there for the follow-up visit Monday. Before I left, we called our church family and asked them to pray.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane was the set of my daughter’s jaw. They had made the decision. After a shower of hugs and kisses, Michelle announced. “We are keeping this baby. Whatever God gives we will receive and love. This little one…” she patted her tummy, “…is a gift from Him. There will be no abortion.”

The appointment time arrived Monday morning. Clint and Michelle left for the doctor while I treasured time with our first grandchild, then two-and-a-half year old Ashton. The minutes turned to hours. I prayed, laughed and played games with this precious, blonde-haired child of my child.

Until Michelle and Clint burst through the door. Their faces bathed in joy, both talking, laughing, and crying.

God had answered our prayers!

Michelle told us how the doctor repeated the sonogram, then slumped onto his stool, and signaled other nurses and doctors to come and see. Monday’s picture showed a perfect baby—all organs in place—like a three-month-old baby in the womb should be. He placed the image from Friday beside the image from Monday. They appeared to be two very different babies. He had no explanation. But Michelle and Clint did. God healed Noah—in the womb. Just like we had asked Him to do.

But now I stood by her grave site and cried “Why God? Why would  you heal this baby and then thirteen months later take his mother?” There was silence. The heavens were brass—for months.

Then one morning I sat with the Word of God opened in my lap and read “The secret things belong to the Lord God, but the things revealed  belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

The quiet voice in my soul asked, “Do you trust Me, DiAne?”

With trembling heart and lips I replied, “Yes, Lord. I trust You.”

“Even with this secret thing?”

“Yes Lord, even with this secret thing.”

And then there was peace, the beginning of acceptance and a giant step of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

This scripture has been a life-ring for me. Have I asked why since that time? Oh yes. But I answer—quickly, “Yes Lord, I know. It’s one of those secret things that belongs to You. I don’t need to know, because You know.”

Other moms are surrounded by their children on Mother’s Day. My child is with the Lord and I feel alone, very alone.

However, I have learned to remember there are millions of moms, just like me. Moms whose children no longer celebrate this special occasion with them. A few years back I was prompted to send a Mother’s Day card to those mothers who have lost a child. A card to let them know someone loves them and remembers.

My daughter’s best friend remembers me each Mother’s Day with a card that carries a bitter sweetness that fertilizes blossoms of joy in my heart that grow and bloom out of the soil of pain.

If  you know a mom who has lost a child, why don’t you send a card to them this Mother’s Day. God will bless the sender and receiver. I know because He has blessed me.

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