Friday, September 30, 2011

Lessons Learned when, "He makes me lie down..."

I haven't posted to my blog this past month, largely due to being somewhat setback by health concerns. These began during an extremely busy time and have ended with me having to stop and rest completely (not by choice). This kind of thing has happened to me in the past, and it's made me recall a wonderful verse from an oft-quoted passage, Psalm 23.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul."

As in the past, the Lord uses such times to show me things in my life I need to see, or hear things I've been unable or unwilling to hear. The most recent trial began with a health crisis my wife experienced over the Labor Day weekend. It lingered for the next 10 days as they put her through a barrage of tests. I was worried sick about her the entire time, but kept an outward posture of calm and care. Thankfully, the tests all came back normal, and the crisis has passed. She does have a health issue we're more aware of now but thankfully, it is not life threatening.

But after the storm passed, my blood pressure began to spike dangerously high. I've been taking meds for blood pressure for years, which normally keep it under control. But I was having the hardest time getting my system to calm down, and had to take another medication to help get it under control. It was even happening during my recent trip to the ACFW conference in St. Louis, causing me to miss out on several workshops I planned to attend. It continued to happen once I got home, and I've finally had to go on several days of bed rest to help it stabilize (I'm actually still resting for a few more days).

During this trial, I've had lots of time to wait on the Lord, and He's been very kind to show me some things I now clearly see have contributed to my blood pressure problem. It's about the way I think. I've realized I'm not yet in the habit of daily "setting my mind on the Spirit" (Rom 8:6), or even blocking the unhealthy, destructive thoughts of the enemy (the "fiery darts" as Paul calls them in Eph 6:16).

I'm already in the habit of having a pretty decent quiet time each morning. But in idle moments of the day, my mind often drifts into thinking about negative "what if" questions about the future and, occasionally, equally negative "if only" reflections of the past. The one breeds worry and fear, the other sadness and regret. These are destructive, unhealthy emotions. They don't lead to the abundant life Jesus died to give me. The Lord has made me realize I must do a better job of putting the "full armor of God" on each day, and then keeping my mind "stayed on Him" throughout the day (Isa 26:3).

As I pondered these things in my quiet time this morning, I opened a devotional I often read (and heartily recommend), Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry for today was so timely, it felt almost as if the Lord was speaking it audibly to me. I won't repeat the entire thing here (not sure I can with copyright concerns), but I'll share one part that I found so helpful. Sarah writes as if the Lord were speaking first-person:

"I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do. Don't be distracted by future concerns. Leave them to Me. Each day is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today. Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the time line into tomorrow's worries or past regrets. Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not living it to the full."

And, I've discovered during this time when the Lord has "made me lie down," failing to grasp this kind offer to let the Lord be our Keeper and Good Shepherd can actually be hazardous to your health.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some Great Early Reviews for Remembering Christmas

My 4th novel, Remembering Christmas, is barely out of the gate, and I've already read four 5-star reviews on Amazon. Definitely off to a good start. Living in Florida, it's a little early for me to "get in a Christmas mood" in September (we're still hitting the mid-90's in the afternoon). But I'm so grateful to those willing to read this book this far out from Christmas. Especially touched by those who've said they think it's a book worth reading year-round.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

Remembering Christmas would make a good movie - "I would give this book more stars if I could. This is not just a Christmas book but a family love story.It is a beautiful told story of how a family can still come together after years of wrong assumptons, misunderstandings & secrets.It also shows the power of prayer & love...This is a book I will give as gifts & recommend to my family & friends."
-- Wilma Metcalf, Tennessee

A Heart Stir of a Christmas Story - "Another Walsh Christmas book. More historical drama, but this time in 1980. The same compelling need to read through to the end, which is always a satisfying finale with this author...It's a modern prodigal parable with those signature Dan Walsh twists...What begins as a typical cozy Christmas historical fiction romance suddenly takes the typical Walsh author twist surprising the reader. It caught me blindside (I like that!). This Christian author offers a literature ministry--but not preachy. His stories (including all 3 previous books) are a blessing. They are life-like; so believable."

-- Harold Wolf "Doc" - Wells, Indiana

Rich, Satisfying and Full of Hope - "This is a great read and not just for the holidays. Though it's a serious look at family relations and growing up long after we become adults, there are many light moments in this book. It's a story of a young man who comes home to help his mother when his stepfather becomes ill, and the pages are full of details from a time not so long ago. A fast pace with well-drawn characters, I was charmed. Walsh helps you to see your family, and even strangers, in a different light. Remembering Christmas is rich, satisfying, and full of hope."
-- Vannetta Chapman, Amish Fiction author

Stirring Story Year-Round - "Don't be fooled by the slow development of Dan Walsh's latest novel. The realistic individuals peopling this powerful book work their way into readers' hearts, and they'll soon be caught up in the unfolding drama. Remembering Christmas is a stirring story of love's transforming power, a touching tale for any time of year...Readers will be able to identify with these issues, which mirror modern life in our frenetic world. Remembering Christmas can help us slow down and savor the important things. Enjoy the story and its unexpected twist, but never forget its message."

--Mary Ann Hake - Author, Editor,
President of Oregon Christian Writers

I gotta doesn't hurt reading things like this. I know as the book gets out there, not all the reviews will read like this. But I'm grateful to God for encouragement like this coming so soon.