Every novel writer dreams of making it big, landing a contract with a large publishing house and selling millions of copies. Unfortunately, very few writers realize that dream. Most of us will travel a more subtle path, one that likely includes less recognition. But that doesn't mean we've failed.
God has a mission and purpose for each of our lives. Sometimes that plan may look different than what we perceive it to be. Yet, He is the potter. We are the clay. We can kick and scream our way through life, trying to be a goblet when the Lord intends for us to be a bowl. God gives us the choice. We can spend our days striving to achieve our own goals and agenda, or we can yield to His promptings and fulfill the purposes He has in store for us.
Having aspirations as a writer is important. That drive to achieve can see us through many a discouragement and setback. But, more essential than the desire to succeed, is having the desire to fulfill God's purpose for our lives.
Keep the following thoughts in mind as you travel through your writing journey.
~Am I glorifying God through in what I write? ~Am I staying open to the Lord's leading? ~Is what I write consistent with God's calling on my life? ~Are there areas I need to adjust or draw to a close? ~What specifically is God wanting to accomplish through my writing? ~Is the Lord closing one door and opening another? ~What audience would benefit most through my writing ministry? ~Am I seeking my dream, or God's?
I hope you'll take time to pray about and ponder these questions. I know I need to. When we're faithful in the seemingly small things, the Lord will bless and multiply our efforts. Only when we submit to His will can we know true contentment and peace.
I'd love to hear how the Lord is speaking to you. If the Lord has redirected your writing journey, I'd love to hear your story. God bless you for your obedience.
No doubt about it. Our lives are BUSY! If we aren't careful, we can run ourselves ragged just trying to keep up. If you're like me, you can find yourself pulled in every direction, trying to balance family activities, work responsibilities, church and community functions, and household duties. And I have to wonder, WHEN CAN I WRITE?! To be serious about writing, one has to be intentional these days. So, if you're struggling to find time to let your creativity flow, here's some suggestions to better manage your time.
START YOUR DAY WITH PRAYER - Begin each day by asking for the Lord's blessing. Taking a few precious moments to pray can make all the difference. When you submit your day and your writing to God, you're placing it in His hands, and He's sure to honor your request. SET GOALS - As a writer, it's important to set goals. Small goals as well as larger ones. On the larger scale, you may have a goal to complete a novel in a year, six months, or even three months, depending on your capabilities or time allowance. But smaller goals are also important. Try setting a word count goal for a week, or a day. Make it one that will require you to work to reach it, but one that is within your grasp to complete. Each time you achieve a goal, give yourself a pat on the back, and set a new and higher one.
BE FLEXIBLE - While goals are important, writers need to be able to bend schedules as situations require it. While you may feel it necessary to protect your writing time from minor interruptions, some simply can't be avoided. In offering up prayers for my day, I often pray the Lord will allow me to accomplish all that He has in mind for me to accomplish. If I'm honest, that may sometimes differ from what I wish to accomplish. So when interruptions arise, take a deep breath, reassess, and adjust your plans accordingly. Perhaps the Lord has someone in mind for you to encourage through that change in plans. DEVELOP A ROUTINE - Like it or not, we're creatures of habit. Most of us do well to have a set schedule to work with. Setting up specific hours to write keeps us motivated and creates a standard of expectation to go by. When we're organized, we make better use of our time.
LEARN YOUR CREATIVE TIME OF DAY - When do your creative juices flow most freely? I find my biggest word counts come in the early afternoon. How about you? Are you a night owl? Do you do your best work in the wee hours of the night? Or are you an early riser who finds inspiration in the promise of a new day? Be attune to the time of day that best suits your creative flare and set that as your focal point.
What ignites your creative flow? I'd love to hear from you.
One of the hardest things I've ever done is leave my college-age son and travel the 3 hours home without him. Yet the first time he returned home, I glimpsed in him a new appreciation for his home and family, and us for him.
Often it isn't until we let something dear to us go, that we discover how precious it truly is. And it isn't until we relinquish control and leave a situation in God's hands that we fully learn to trust.
If you're a writer, you know first-hand the scores of difficult hours it takes to produce quality writing. Recently, I blogged about each of us having deep-seated goals and dreams. I'd like to take that topic a step further by siting the importance of giving those aspirations to God.
Through blood, sweat, and prayers, we writers chisel out words to formulate the stories or messages God has placed on our hearts to share. Then we query, submit, and seek out agents, editors, publishers, and readers to affirm and champion our efforts. In the sea of writers, we pray somehow our work will be noticed.
Yet, many times, when things don't happen as we wish, or don't move as quickly as we hope, discouragement sets in. We begin to doubt our abilities, our calling, and our purpose. As a yet unpublished novelist, I have to continually remind myself God is in control. I must condition myself to give up my own ambitions and entrust my writing to the Lord. He has placed it on my heart to write, therefore, I must trust that if I submit to Him and wait on His timing, He will bring about what's best for me, and for His kingdom. I want to encourage you to do the same.
Whether you're an inspirational writer or not, if you're a Christian, it's essential you dedicate whatever you're hoping for or working towards to the Lord. If you honor Him, He is certain to bless you. Those blessings may come in different ways than you ask or expect. But one thing is certain, if you've surrendered your will to the Lord, He'll work things for your good.
What do you struggle to surrender to the Lord? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
It's amazing how the Lord speaks into our hearts through Scripture. I must have read Psalm 77 dozens of times over the years, yet never did it strike me so vividly as it did this week.
When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, they became trapped between the Red Sea and the pursuing Egyptians. Seeing the onslaught of charioteers at their backs, they must have feared they were goners. Yet, God, in His glory, parted the water like a curtain and made a dry path for them to cross. They couldn't see Him, but He was there, guiding them safely through.
We've all experienced times in our lives when God seems silent or distant. When we find ourselves at an impasse, or going through an extremely difficult challenge and don't know what to do. We pray and pray, but don't get clear direction or help.
It's then we wonder, Does God even care what I'm going through? Has He left me to fend for myself? Why won't He answer?
Job once asked these questions, wondering why God seemed to abandon him when he needed Him most. In the end, God responded by declaring His wisdom and insight far outweigh our own. He sees the whole picture, not the one-dimensional view we have. Job saw only the pain he was undergoing; God knew the double portion of blessings that were soon to come his way. Times of testing are sure to come. Our part is to pray and trust God will bring us through.
In last week's blog, I referred to writers coming to a Surrender Stage, when we decide to submit our future, our ambitions, and everything we write into God's hands, allowing Him to direct and redirect our purpose and ministry. Yet, as Christians, this surrender stage should apply to every aspect of our lives. We have to strive to reach a point where we trust He is with us, working in our lives, no matter how far off He seems.
A clock in our home bares the poem, Footprints in the Sand, which speaks of how at some points in our lives, we can't see God's footprints alongside ours, when we feel alone and forgotten. But the poem goes on to say that it's during these especially troubled times He carries us. What a beautiful picture of His great love for us!
Are you facing some trial in your life where you can't see God's footprints? What gives you the strength to endure? I'd love to hear your story!
There's something invigorating about spring, about new life erupting from the dormant earth. I love the vibrant colors that come alive almost overnight. It's amazing how God can take a lifeless, gray limb and make it bud and blossom. Dead brown grass suddenly greens. Flowers shoot up out of the ground, adding substance and beauty to the previously barren terrain.
I love the sounds of spring. Peepers croaking in ditches and creeks. The early morning chorus of song birds as they pair off and build their nests. Flocks of geese returning from their winter hideaways, calling as they fly overhead.
I love all that spring entails. But the best part of spring is the image it portrays of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to erase our sins. Of His own free will, He gave up the glory of Heaven to die in our place. His lifeless body was buried in a borrowed tomb. Buried with Him the hopes expectations of all who believed.
Then on the third day, He rose to new life, bringing redemption and renewed hope to the nations.
Each time a flower blooms or a leaf forms, we have a vivid reminder of the new life we can have in Christ. Out of something barren and void, comes beauty and life. What a wonderful depiction of God's love!
11/6/15 You don't have to look farther than the 5 o' clock news to become depressed. Senseless shootings, political unrest, threats of war, natural disasters. The list goes on and on. Discouragement can hang over us like an ominous cloud. It touches each of our lives through financial strain, unexpected illness, job stress, or relational conflict.
Writers face times of discouragement when our careers don't take off like we hope, or we face writer's block or other obligations pull us away from our time to write.
So what can we do to counteract this onslaught of discouragements? Here are 5 ways I've found that help pull me out of the doldrums.
Seek Out Positive People - When we're discouraged, it's so tempting to just hibernate in our own little corner of the world and not want to interact. But doing so, breeds discontent. Instead, we need to saturate ourselves with positive people who'll do their utmost to encourage us. If you're looking to expel your negative outlook, find someone with an uplifting attitude to help send your negativity reeling!
Treat Yourself - Sometimes we just need a breather, something that refreshes us and can get us back on track. When you're at your wit's end, take time out to do an activity you enjoy. It can be something as simple as going out for ice cream with your family or friends, taking a trip back in time thumbing through old photo albums, or sprawling in a lawn chair in your back yard with a good book. A bit of relaxation can go a long way!
Give of Yourself to Others - Nothing takes our minds off our own troubles than doing something nice for someone else. Do you have an elderly neighbor who'd be blessed by a visit? Is there someone who could benefit from a RAK (Random Act of Kindness)? There are myriad of ways you can give of yourself to others. (see my blog: Making the World a Better Place One Kindness at a Time). Reach out and touch someone's life, and in the process, you'll find your own cares lifting.
Take a Prayer Walk - What's a prayer walk? It's a walk where you commune not only with nature, but with God. While exercising your body, you exercise your spirit as well. Find a place that inspires you and drink in its beauty. (Sorry, city-dwellers. You'll have to search out a park or lawn.) Begin by thanking God for the richness of His creation. Soon you'll find yourself pouring out your heart to Him. And as the prayers go up, the burdens rise with them.
Just Keep Going! - Some days we just want to call it quits. Nothing goes right, and we feel like a hamster spinning his wheel. That's when we most need to rely on the Lord's strength to carry us through. Faith is believing what we can't see. We don't know what the next day will bring, but we do have the promise, that if we're Christians, the Lord's Spirit is within us and will guide us where we need to be. When we can't see what's ahead, we can trust God to gently nudge us in the right direction.
9/5/15 We have a stray cat that has taken up residence at our house. He looks so similar to a cat we used to have, he's found a soft-spot in our hearts. Our other cat, Jasper, must recognize the resemblance as well, for he tolerates him in ways he never has other strays, though they scrap with each other from time to time.
This new cat, whom we've named Smokey, is very vocal and, quite honestly, annoying at times. But, now that he's better fed and getting more attention, he's settled down and appears more content. Still, he carries on at times until someone quiets him with a rub on the back.
What's interesting is that Jasper has begun to take on this more vocal trait, hamming it up when it's mealtime or he's wanting a pat. And Smokey has taken to following Jasper around when he prowls, like a kitten learning from a pro.
I used this example as a "teachable moment" for my two teenage boys, citing how we usually take on characteristics of those we hang out with. In other words, it was my way of telling them to choose their friends wisely.
Then it hit me. What's good for teens is a lesson for us all. We need to be careful who and what we spend our time with. I don't just mean people, but TVs, radios, computers, magazines, movies, etc. What our minds feed on will generally filter into our hearts. Whatever monopolizes our time will most definitely have an impact on our lives.
Then I had another thought. Wouldn't it be great if we spent so much time with the Lord that our lives began to reflect his qualities? As Christians, shouldn't that be our goal...to take on the image of Christ? We all fall short of this at times, but it's my prayer that Christ's name will be glorified in the lives of His people...starting with me!
MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE ~ONE KINDNESS AT A TIME~
7/31/15 RAK - Random Acts of Kindness. We've all heard of them. Once in a while they break through the myriad of bad news--the murders, kidnappings, jail breaks, natural disasters, political turmoil, civic unrest--and bring a bit of sunshine into our lives. Like the 19-year-old waiter who recently received a $1000 tip because he took time to visit with a customer.
In a world where wrong seems right and right seems wrong, we need these rays of hope to spur us on. Each of us has the choice to make this world a better place, or a more bitter one. Even small acts of kindness can make a world of difference in another person's life.
Want to help brighten up your corner of the universe? Here's my top 20 ways to make the world a better place!
20) Attend your child's activities
19) Be an informed voter
18) Send your spouse flowers
17) Visit a shut-in
16) Call your parents and thank them for raising you
15) Contact a Congressman to express your feelings on an important issue
14) Make someone laugh
13) Prepare a meal for a grieving family
12) Send a care-package to someone in the military
10) Comfort a hurting friend
9) Speak words of encouragement to a flustered store clerk
8) Invite a non-Christian neighbor over for a cook out
7) Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or homeless shelter
6) Hug a child
5) Open your home to a missionary or someone in need
4) Tell someone you love them
3) Sacrifice something you want for someone else's sake
2) Share your faith
Struggling to Find Life's Balance
6/5/15 "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3)
If you've ever had an inner ear infection, you know how difficult it can be to find your balance. Your head spins, and you're forced to seek out a stable place to lean or sit. Balance is something we often take for granted, until something throws it out of whack.
We often hear we need to eat a balanced diet (mainly that we need to ditch the snack foods and throw in more leafy greens, whole-grains, and fruits.) But what about a balanced life? How important is that? What does a balanced life look like?
In this crazy-busy lifestyle most of us lead nowadays, finding balance in our lives isn't top on our list of to-dos. Yet it's often when we lose our focus and let our agendas pile up that we find ourselves near the breaking point. Patience wears thin. Tempers flare. Relationships melt down. Families dissolve. Stress-related illnesses spike to unimaginable levels. Sound familiar?
So, how do we find balance in this face-paced, many-faceted world? How do we decide what stays and what goes? For me, it boils down to priorities--asking myself, what truly matters? What has staying power in my life?
Let me start by saying, I love to write! As a free-lance writer and aspiring Historical fiction author, I can easily get caught up in my writing and neglect other aspects of my life. Housework for one! When life is busy, and I can't carve out an acceptable time to write, I can grow frustrated. Did I say frustrated?? How about irritated, aggravated--at times obsessing about finishing a scene or a story on a certain day, even if it means rushing through my personal Bible study, or getting the evil eye from my husband for working too late!
That's when I have to take a step back and remind myself that even good things (like writing inspirational novels/stories) can become a negative if it interferes with my time with the Lord, my commitment to family, or serving others. There's a fine line, a delicate balance we must walk in order to keep in step with what God wants to accomplish in our lives. Each of us has to find the right balance for his/her own life. No one else can find it for us. God has a plan for each of us. Only by staying in continual contact with Him through prayer and Scripture can we learn what that may be.
Half-Full or Half-Empty?
5/1/15 Is your glass half-full or half-empty? When life hands you a lemon, do you turn it into lemonade? Do you see the silver lining in life's challenges, or when something doesn't go your way, are you ready to chuck it all?
If we're honest, we all have days we'd rather not face our disgruntled co-worker, traffic jams, or unexpected bills. We'd rather crawl back into bed and forget the rat race. But when life knocks us down, one truth can keep us going.
Christ told His disciples that life will always be filled with trouble and hardships, but to take heart because He is bigger than our struggles (John 16). Our faith in Him can carry us through the most challenging of days.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day for all of us. Our lives were forever changed as we viewed the large-scale death and destruction. Yet amid the building ruins, some survivors witnessed a symbol of hope--two twenty-foot steel beams that had fallen in the shape of a cross. The image was a vivid reminder of the hope Christ gives us in the brokenness of life.
Are you facing a hardship today? Have you felt the Lord's presence sustain you when the troubles of life come crashing down? How has God helped you view your life as half-full, rather than half-empty? I'd love to hear your story.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Facing Life's Uphill Battles
4/11/15 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)
My husband and I took to the bike trails yesterday in celebration of our 21st wedding anniversary. We coasted along, drinking in the beauty of the budding trees and undergrowth. The first couple of miles were a breeze, with the wind at our backs and nothing but nature and each other's company to enjoy.
Then came the hills. Each downhill slant met with a challenging uphill grind. An occasional break helped rejuvenate me and ease the tightness in my legs. But the farther we traveled, the more rubbery my legs became.
Then came the trip back. It was then I discovered just how lacking in physical ability I was as the twenty mph tailwind that had propelled us forward became a headwind that turned on us like an unwelcome tyrant. I grew to dread each downhill sign, knowing an uphill was soon to follow. At times, I wondered if I had the strength to make it, but little by little, I trudged along...while my good husband patiently waited for me to catch up!
Isn't that a picture of life? When life is good, we coast along thinking we've got things under control. We can do this...all on our own. But then come the challenges, those grueling uphill hardships--health problems, financial worries, relational problems--and we wonder how we're going to make it through.
But our Savior is ever there for us, waiting for us to call out to Him for help, reassurance and guidance. Without Him, we have no hope. Without Him we flounder and fail. He is with us every step of the way. All we need do is call out to Him.
What about you? What challenge do you need to entrust to the Savior? What gives you the courage to go on?
God Answers Prayer
3/2/15 Do you ever wonder if God is listening? Does the Creator of the universe really have time for our ample needs and requests?
My son's recent bout with the flu led to bronchitis and an entire week off of school. Now the average child might find this a real treat to miss so much school. Not my boy. As a high schooler, all he could think of was the loads of homework he'd have to catch up on. And after five days of 100+ fever and a congested cough, he felt drained and sick of being...sick!
When his fever spiked to 102 one evening (even with Ibuprofin), I called in my prayer warriors--family and friends who I knew would pray for his fever to break. Within hours after sending out my plea for prayers, my son's temperature dropped to below normal!!!
What a testimony to the healing power of prayer. And what a witness of God's faithfulness to His children.
Does the Lord heal all sickness and disease? No. But does He care about the details of our lives? Does He want us to take our cares and concerns to Him? Of course He does. And when He answers, He longs for us to respond with hearts full of praise and gratitude.
What has God been doing in your life these past few weeks that you need to thank Him for? Maybe you've had a rough go of it of late. Is there something positive you can praise Him for? Even in the midst of a storm, we can find refuge with the Savior. Find your rest in Him today.
A Valentine from God
2/2/15 Everyone enjoys a good love story. Whether it's a tender romance, a devoted friendship that overcomes insurmountable odds, or the undying love of a parent for their child, we crave that sense of joy that stems from happy endings.
Yet, no greater love story has ever been written than that of Christ's love for us. God sent us the greatest Valentine anyone could ever give...redemption through His Son. A magnet on our refrigerator bears the most valuable Valentine message ever sent...a Valentine from God. "For God so loVed the world, that he gAve his onLy son that whosoEver believeth iN him should noT perIsh, but have everlastiNg lifE." (John 3:16)
As you celebrate Valentine's Day, may you feel the joy of God's most precious gift...the unconditional redemptive love of Christ.
New Year's Resolution Cake
1/2/15 Each year is the same. Many of us make New Year's resolutions only to see them go by the wayside a month or two down the road. Aspirations for weight loss, healthier eating habits, more time spent in God's Word, fall prey to busyness and old patterns.
So how can this year be different from all the others? What ingredients are necessary to make our resolutions stick? Here's my own secret recipe for New Year's Resolution Cake. The great part is, you can have all you like and the only weight you gain is spiritual heft! Enjoy!
Combine: 2 cups of determination, 1/2 cup of prayer, 2 teaspoons of positive attitude, 1 Tablespoon of patience, and a dash of humility. Mix in the Holy Spirit until smooth . Bake in 350 degree oven of God's Word until golden brown. Enjoy the wholesome, fulfilling goodness within.
Happy New Year and may the Lord give you your heart's desires!
What is Christmas?
12/8/14 Christmas. The very word is saturated in the love of the Savior. Yet to so many, the word Christmas means simply shopping for gifts, baking sweet treats, snowfall, Santa, reindeer, and festive music. While these can bring fun memories with family and friends, is this really Christmas? If we stripped away all the glitter and fuss from modern day traditions, would we find a baby in a manger?
Each year thousands of children are asked to express what Christmas is all about. While Santa tops the list, very few see the connection with the Christ-child. Even the majority of adults have lost sight of the true origin of Christmas. How sad that the precious gift of our Savior has been covered over with tinsel and holly, and wishes for "Happy Holidays."
In a world where the name of Christ is no longer esteemed, it's time to be intentional about Christmas. When someone wishes you "Happy Holidays", fire back with a resounding "Merry Christmas!" As you gather with family, spend time reading through the Christmas story, sing songs that reflect the true meaning of Christmas, and stir the hearts of your children, not for the coming of Santa, but for the return of the Savior!
Make this the best Christmas ever by letting go of the hustle and bustle of commercialism, and instead concentrate on the One who made it special.
God's blessings on you as you celebrate the birth of Christ!
11/11/14 Where has the year gone? Another holiday season is upon us. Soon we'll be sharing turkey and all the trimmings with family and friends. What is it you're thankful for this year? Sometimes it's a challenge to find something to be thankful for when everything seems to be going wrong.
It has been quite a harvest for us this year. With 10 inches of rain the first two weeks in October, harvest came to a screeching halt. Then, just when the fields dried out enough to plow through, our combine suffered breakdown after breakdown! After about 5 delays, we're back in the field, but now an arctic blast has blanketed the area. Forecasters are saying the blustery cold will be the norm for the next two weeks..if not the rest of the month!
So what do you do when life continually knocks you off your feet? Do we complain and belly ache, or do we look for the silver lining? My poor husband has taken the setbacks better than most, but even the most patient of person can get discouraged when problems continue to mount.
John 16:33 warns that "In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." When life knocks us down, the best thing we can do is thank God our blessings. The Bible says the Lord inhabits the praise of His people. No matter what we face in life, there is always something to be thankful for--family, health, safety, the kindness of a friend. Whatever you're dealing with at this time, remember God has promised never to leave or forsake you. He is always near, ever ready to share what's on your heart.
This Thanksgiving, take time to thank God for all He is doing in your life--and remember to count your blessings one by one!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Never Too Old to Learn/Not too Young To Teach
10/13/14 Have you ever been taught a lesson by your kids? The other day, I received a phone call from what appeared to be a Windows' computer technician saying our computer was sending error messages that indicated it had been infected with malware. Now with all the scams out there, I became immediately suspicious. But the more we talked the more I was convinced this guy was for real. After all, he knew my name and my computer ID number and had somewhat patiently answered all of my concerns.
Yet behind me, my two teenage sons and husband were honing in on the conversation and motioning for me to hang up. I urged my computer savvy older son to get on the other line, just as I was about to take the plunge and follow the man's commands to hit certain keys. As I did, my younger son unplugged my phone, while my older son took over the conversation, telling the man in no uncertain terms we didn't want to hear from him again.
Worried our computer may have needed the man's expertise, my immediate reaction was to scold my sons for their bold takeover. Yet later that night, my older son discovered a warning from the BBB that cautioned residents of just such a phone scam. I had to apologize to my boys for my error in judgment and thank them for coming to my aid. Their gutsy action had spared us time, money, not to mention a huge headache and worry!
That night I learned we as parents/adults can learn valuable insights from our children, same as they can us. Yet do we take time to listen to their thoughts and ideas? While God gives parents wisdom through experience to share with our children, He also gives our children fresh insights and perspectives that can shed light on areas we older generations aren't as savvy in.
Paul told young Timothy not to let others look down upon his youth. Let's all take that lesson to heart and give the younger generation a listening ear.
P.S. Thanks, boys! I love you! Mom
ACFW Conference - God's Wondrous Ways!
How is it you can wait expectantly for something and it seems forever in coming, then "wham" it's upon you before you know it? That's how it has been for me with the upcoming ACFW Writer's Conference. After months of preparation, I'm down to a few final days. I'm excited beyond words--with high-hopes and plenty of jitters!
Yet it's so easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity~plans, preparations, e-mails, and well-wishing~ that we sometimes forget to relax, slow down and give praise to the One who made it all possible.
I feel so blessed to be a part of this year's conference--a first for me. I've seen God's hand at work in my life so much these past few months as He opened doors and paved my way when I thought it was unattainable. We can never out-do God. He loves us more than we can fathom. When we choose to trust and honor Him, so loves to lavish His children with good gifts.
What about you? Do you see God working in wondrous ways in your life? Are you taking time to praise Him for your blessings? The Lord inhabits the praise of His people. Take a few moments each day to thank Him for His goodness.
Time's Vanishing Act
Where has summer gone? Two more weeks and the kiddos will be back at school. For some parents, it will be a moment long awaited; others will be brought to tears as they watch their youngest toddle up the bus steps and pull away for the first time.
My husband and I are at the other end of the spectrum, with one son a senior, the other a sophomore. And I have to ask myself, Where has the time gone!? As I reminisce over the by-gone days of new-parenthood, toddlerhood, and the inquisitive elementary years, I'm stunned at just how quickly the nurturing years vanish. But now, with the empty nest years fast approaching, I find myself wondering if I've made good use of my time as a parent and as a Christian? Have I done all I can to instill godly qualities in my sons lives? The answer? Probably not. There have been missed opportunities and failed attempts. But I've tried, and I believe God will honor those attempts.
Only time will tell how deeply God's principles are engrained in our boys lives. They will face hard times and tough choices as they mature into men, but they have Christian roots from which to draw and that can make all the difference. All those bedtime Bible stories and heartfelt prayers, all those VBS programs and church events, all the small neighborly gestures I thought went unnoticed. Time well spent? You bet. Each day holds opportunities for blessing not only our children, but co-workers, friends, even strangers.
Remember: "Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."
What small act of kindness can you do today to point someone to Christ?
A Road Less Traveled
Have you ever ventured somewhere you wish you hadn't? On our 20th Anniversary trip this spring, my husband and I found ourselves on a secluded mud road in search of Inspiration Point--"a must see", according to our friend, who is an expert on Shawnee National Forest. Well, he hadn't reckoned on the 6+ inches of rain that fell just ahead of our visit.
So for three long, I emphasize LONG, miles, we crawled along the muddy back-trail, flinging clay mud on our poor car and caking it inches deep in our wheel wells. Convinced such an awful road couldn't possibly be right, I was ready to chuck it all and turn around. The question was how? The narrow, levee road had no inlets or place to pull in. We were stuck!
At last a 4x4 truck rounded a curve ahead of us. There was no need to flag him down. He knew at once we were out of our element. The bearded driver, straight out of Duck Dynasty, pulled up beside us, his puzzled expression telling what he dared not say--that we were crazy!
"Is the road ahead this bad?" I asked in desperation.
"Not as bad," came the drawled reply.
My husband nodded. "Can we get through?"
"There's a couple rough spots, but you'll make it. Just take her slow and easy."
Thanking him, we plunged ahead, grateful when the sign to Inspiration Point appeared. As we started up the bluff, I mumbled, "This better be worth it!" After a short hike from the car, we arrived at a scenic overlook, priceless in its untouched beauty.
Isn't that a grand picture of how God works in our lives? Often we have to endure a bunch of muck in our lives--heartache, pain, disappointment, strife. But in the midst of it all God is there, cheering us on, speaking silently to our spirits that it will be worth it all. And when we trust Him to carry us through, on the other side we see growth, beauty, and contentment.
Next time you find yourself floundering in life's sinkholes, remember God is with you and will see you through and bless you for your faithfulness.
"He lifted me out of the miry clay, and set my feet on solid ground, making my footsteps firm." (Psalm 40:2)
The Father-Heart of God 5/10/14 Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers! What a wonderful privilege it is to have the blessing of raising a child. Even if you aren't a mom, I'm sure you've known the love of a niece or nephew or a child you've influenced. There is no truer picture of God's love for us than the parent-child relationship. For in it, we get a glimpse of God's unconditional love for us.
It's easy to love that precious infant when he/she is sleeping peacefully or cooing in our arms. But what about the terrible twos or the defiant teens? What about when they make poor choices or tune us out of their lives? We may feel like pulling our hair out at times, but I would venture to say, that even in the worst of times, when it's a war of the wills, we would still do anything for our kids.
God created this impenetrable bond between parent and child because that's how He feels about us. He loved us so much that He willingly sent His one and only Son to die in our place. (John 3:16) Like a loving Father, He stands beside us, cheering us on. And when we mess up, He waits patiently for our return. So, as you're celebrating with your family this Mother's Day with hugs or memories, remember to express your gratitude to the Lord, as His precious child.
Separation Blues 4/9/14 My husband and I just returned home from our 20th Wedding Anniversary trip to Shawnee National Forest. We had a great time, despite rain, mud, and cool weather. But I've decided there's nothing better than a road trip to reveal our strengths and weaknesses--namely my husband's strengths and my weaknesses.
I found out how small my faith really is when we left our 17 and 14 yr old sons at home alone for three days for the first time. Oh, they had family nearby and people to check in with them, but somehow that wasn't reassuring enough for me. You see, the area where we were staying had no phone and no service to our cell phone. We would have to go the majority of the time without contact with our boys. In other words, we had to fully entrust them into God's hands, something very difficult for a worrisome mom.
While my husband took it all in stride, I worried and fretted the whole first day, fearing either something would happen to them or us. What if they needed to contact us and couldn't? What if something happened to us and they were left orphaned? It's amazing the worries Satan fills our minds with, how he gets us to trust in ourselves instead of God.
Finally, (knowing how I was greiving my hubby), I prayed for peace, and God delivered. I got a hold of myself, realizing the Lord of the Universe was much more highly qualified to care from my sons than I. From then on, I was able to relax, and our trip was salvaged. In fact, we can't wait to go back!
Funny how Satan can fill us with lies and fears to paralyze our witness and stagnate our faith. In those few short days, I learned what it means to let go and entrust my boys to God. Will I continue to worry over them at times? Probably. Yet thankfully we have a loving, forgiving Lord who sees beyond our weaknesses and loves us still. I've taken a step forward in trusting Him, and that's all He asks of His people.
Celebrating Life's Seasons 3/01/14 March is coming in like a lion, which means it should go out like a lamb, right? We're on the verge of yet another winter storm, with 6-10 inches expected on top of ice! After a winter that just won't quit, I am so ready for spring. Yet if you think about it, what would spring be without winter? How could we possibly appreciate the greening of grass, new growth on trees or the budding of flowers if we didn't experience the cold, brown of winter?
God had the awesome foresight to create the change in seasons. Each time of year possesses its own beauty. Whether its snowball fights and hot cocoa in winter, bird songs and flowers of spring, sunlit beaches and cool dips in the pool in summer, or crisp leaves and leisurely strolls in fall, there are special times to enjoy all year through. So remember, when you tire of the piles of snow or wintry roads, having them only makes the beauty of spring more sweet and the warmer days more special.
The Lord also designated seasons in life. From the joys of childhood, to the excitement of young adulthood, to the contentment of marriage/parenthood, to the wisdom of old age. Like the seasons of the year, the seasons of our lives each hold special moments to cherish. Whatever season of life you are in, it is my prayer that you will live it to the fullest, enjoying each new day God gives. Struggles come and go in life, but if we look for blessings amid the trials, we find a treasure that will not fade. God's blessings to you as you venture from one precious season to the next.
Happy New Year!
1/4/14 Welcome to 2014! Well, you've weathered the busyness of the holidays. Now it's time for New Year's resolutions. I'm not talking about the losing weigh, more exercise sort. I'm refering to renewing your heart. What can you do this year to become more Christ-like? Who can you bless?
Consider for a moment your weak spots. Come, now. We all have them. One of mine, for instance, is patience...or lack of, I should say. I find I lose patience when things don't go my way, when I don't have time to write or spend time doing what I want. Life just seems to get in the way. So, I get out of sorts and take my frustrations out on others.
This year it is my prayer that, instead of losing my cool, I'll take my frustrations to the Lord and allow Him to show me how to spend my time His way. It's all His time anyway, isn't it? It's all in our perspective.
When our plans get interrupted, we need to see it as an opportunity. How can I use this interruption as an opportunity to serve the Lord? Instead of fuming over interruptiong to your plans, look for ways to make a difference in someone's life. Pray for those who cross your path. Consider your time God's time. Be committed to making each day count for Christ...no matter what He sends your way.
Have a blessed New Year!
Thanksgiving comes in many forms. Last week our 17 year-old-son had an accident in Ag class which nearly cost him some fingers. When his right hand became caught in an old air compressor, he had to pull it out with his left hand with the machine still running. The accident resulted in 31 stitches spread over five fingers, all but five in his right hand.
What does this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, you see, our son wants to be an Ag mechanic. He could have easily lost a finger or two in the accident. He didn't. He could have done extensive damage to his tendons that required surgery. He suffered only minimal damage to three tendons. The surgeon expects a full recovery. PTL!
It would be easy to focus on the stress and inconvenience of the accident, but my family is choosing to dwell on the blessings. We give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and watch care over our son. Who knows but that this might prove a life lesson which will spare him a worse incident down the road?
His fellow students were amazed at his calm, clean-mouthed response. He returned to school the next day, gratefully accepting offers of help from his amazed classmates. I told our son that perhaps God will use his calm, Christian response as a quiet witness to his classmates.
We are proud of our boy, and give thanks for God's intricate plan for our lives. As you plan out this Thanksgiving week, don't forget to praise the Lord for all His goodness and grace. His presence in our lives means more than any earthly treasure we could ever possess.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
11/12/13 Sowing Seeds of Hope
As a farmer's wife, I know first hand the miracle of a seed. Covered over with rich soil, seeds swell and sprout roots. Then, with sun and rain, they blossom and multiply, to produce a hundred fold. How the Lord transforms a tiny seed into an abundant crop or brilliant flower defies imagination. His handiwork is all around us, waiting for us to discover and share. Like seeds, when our faith is planted in the fertile soil of people's lives, it grows and matures. Sharing words of encouragement and hope in Christ can make all the difference in someone's life. Perhaps you know a friend who needs a listening ear or word of compassion, or a struggling neighbor who needs Christ.
Will you take time to plant a seed in someone's life today? Will you speak words of encouragement, offer forgiveness to someone who has wronged you, or mentor a young person in the Lord? Sow a seed of Hope today. You never know whose life you will touch for God's Kingdom.
1 Corinthians 3:6 ~~ Let God bring about the growth
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