Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once-in-a-lifetime Day



12-12-12… By now you’ve probably read a zillion Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, news articles, and more about today’s date. 

The last repetitive date we’ll ever see. A once-in-a-lifetime day. 

I wonder how many weddings took place today? How many babies were born on this day, 12-12-12? What an exceptional date to mark a new beginning.

We celebrate another once-in-a-lifetime event this month as well. The miraculous day God himself traveled through time and space to become one of us, veiled in human flesh. 

Do you realize he gazed up at the same moon we see in our sky over 2,000 years later? 

He who spoke the stars into existence observed them as a boy, mesmerized by their beauty?

He felt the warmth of the sun on his face, swam in the salty sea, played tag with his friends and did everything that we once did as children. 

He cried the same tears that we do, he yelped in pain when he pounded his thumb with a hammer, and he savored a favorite meal made by his mother. 

Emmanuel. God with us. 

This is surely cause to rejoice this Christmas and every Christmas. Every day of the year, for that matter.

He knows us, deeply. Because he was – he is – one of us. 

He took on our skin so he would forever know what it felt like to be dust. 

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14

He remembers.

This Christmas, let’s find joy in this simple fact: He remembers. And he has compassion.



“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16



Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

Five Minute Friday

Time for another Five Minute Friday! Every Friday hundreds of writers join in this five minute writing exercise at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, Tales from a Gypsy Mama.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa-Jo posts on her blog. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

So here's my attempt at this week's Five Minute Friday. This week's word is...

Wonder...

You see it in the faces of little children as they gaze up at glimmering Christmas lights, reflecting like a sky full of stars in their eyes.


Wonder.

That same wonder led three wise men on a journey across treacherous desert terrain to a lowly stable where they gazed at another Light. A Light in the form of a tiny squirming bundle of new flesh, pink baby toes and perfectly formed baby fingers.

The Word became flesh.

Emmanuel. God with us.

I wonder how Mary felt the first time she looked into His face and knew in her heart He was the Savior of the world. How could she contain her awe? How could she keep the knowledge deep within her soul; how could she restrain herself from shouting to the world, “My son is God in the flesh! Do you hear me? He has come to save you!”

Instead she treasured everything in her heart, savoring the gems of truth delivered to her by the very angels of heaven. 

Jesus, give me eyes of wonder this Christmas. Help me to treasure You above everything, to gaze in awe at Your beauty and to remember Your sacrifice. You are THE gift of Christmas, and You deserve all my praise!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Quiz for You

Each year for as long as I can remember, I've read portions of Margaret B. Pumphrey's Stories of the Pilgrims to my children. And each year I learn something new about the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrim's story is an amazing one to say the least. Their story helps me to see that faith in God enables common people to triumph over persecution, hunger, and incredible hardships.

How much do you know about this tiny band of faithful Christians? For example, did you know the Pilgrims didn't go straight to the New World after leaving England? Their first stop was Holland.

While you're digesting your fabulous Thanksgiving feast this afternoon, see how many of these Pilgrim trivia questions you and your guests can get right. You'll find the answers if you scroll down further in the post. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. How long did the Pilgrims live in Holland before leaving for the New World?

2. Which of William Brewster's children stayed behind in Holland and hoped to join the family later?

3. What was the name of the leaky ship that had to return to England?

4. Name the two babies born aboard the Mayflower.

5. Who was the first governor of Plymouth?

6. Who was the first friendly Indian that the Pilgrims encountered?

7. In what year did the Pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving?

 (Scroll down for answers. Don't cheat!)

















1. 12 years 

2. Jonathan, Patience and Fear

3. the Speedwell

4. Oceanus Hopkins and Peregrine White

5. John Carver (not William Bradford as many would think)

6. Samoset (who then introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto)

7. 1621


Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Stay

Five Minute Friday

Every Friday hundreds of writers join in this five minute writing exercise at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, Tales from a Gypsy Mama.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa-Jo posts on her blog at 1 minute past midnight EST every Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

So here's my attempt at this week's Five Minute Friday. This week's word is...

Stay.

I was working late in the newsroom when the real news came. Staring at the words on the screen, trying to make sense of the words blistering my heart on the other end of the line.

My husband’s voice sounded strangely quiet, “It’s Erin… she was in a car accident… she’s…”

His voice trailed off, but I already knew the last word that hung ugly and unsaid.

So hard to imagine how your whole world can change forever in just one millisecond of a moment.

Several states away and a few days later at the funeral home, I looked into the face of my best friend.

Please don’t leave. Twenty-four years isn’t enough time. You need to stay; your life is just beginning.  A few days ago you celebrated your one-year wedding anniversary; your high school students adore you as a teacher. If anyone needs to stay—deserves to stay—it’s you.

But staying wasn’t an option.

The reality was impossible to understand… all these years later, it still is.

The scripture inscribed later on her tombstone expressed what we all wanted so desperately to comprehend: “As for God, His way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30)

Some people aren’t made to stay. God has His reasons. Our job is not to understand but simply to trust.

His plan is good.

His way is perfect.

Even when staying isn’t an option.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Artist Manifesto: Will You Create?

Do you write, draw, take photographs, craft, sing, play an instrument, sculpt, dance, paint, or do something else that requires creativity? Then, guess what? You're an artist.

You were made by the ultimate Artist. A creative genius in fact. And since you were made in His image, you were meant to create as well. So whatever your craft, "The time is now. To inspire wonder and awe. To speak up in a world fast asleep at the wheel."

Writer Jeff Goins recently encouraged his blog followers to re-post this manifesto, which he wrote several months ago. His friend, Mandy Thompson, put some visuals to his words. So here you have it: The Artist Manifesto. No turning back. Be an artist.

Find The Artist Manifesto at http://goinswriter.com/artist/

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Disturb Us, Lord


From www.sethbarnes.com
 
If you've ever attended a writers' conference, you can relate to the feeling you get when it's over. It's a mix between being overwhelmed, excited, pumped up, exhausted, challenged, and inspired... all rolled into one crazy, energetic little ball. Yep, that's me right now.

Processing all the information I took in this weekend at the Indy Christian Writers Conference may take days, weeks even, but I'll try to share bits and pieces here on my blog as I work through it. Tonight, though, I wanted to share one of the amazing prayers presented by Safiyah Fosua in her workshop titled, "Borrowed Words," which explored the importance of writing out our prayers.

The beauty and poignant message of this prayer, along with many others Safiyah presented, struck my heart. As present day Americans, we often talk about "getting out of our comfort zones." The author, British explorer and adventurer Sir Francis Drake, must have felt a similar way as he penned this prayer when he departed on an expedition in 1577:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our effort to build a new earth
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31 ~ A Test of Hope


My 31 Days of Hope Series officially comes to an end tonight.  

Today God reminded me of this: Writing about hope is one thing, but truly experiencing that hope is another thing all together.

As God would have it in His perfect timing, I had a test come my way today, and I had to remember what I'd been learning all month: True hope isn’t a just a dream or a wish. True hope is a confident expectancy that God is on your side, no matter what happens. It’s a desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it.

More tests and challenges will come my way in the future—I am sure of this. Will I believe and hope in God’s promise that all things work together for good to them who love Him?

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6

He is the source of my hope.

He is the reason I hope.

He is the God of hope—and He is my Father.

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Thanks so much for reading this series, friends! If you're new here and you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Grace and peace to you!

I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30 ~ A Mission of Hope

Photo by Ami Brainerd www.walkingbytheway.com

How many organizations can say they manufacture hope? Not automobiles, or couches, or staplers, or widgets, but HOPE, plain and simple.

The Kwagala Project is one such organization.

"Our mission is to provide vulnerable young people in untenable situations with options and give them hope for the future. We work in poverty-stricken areas in which young people are often driven by force or desperation into prostitution, and strive to help them discover their own self-worth and God-given potential so that they may thrive, dream, achieve their goals and eventually carry hope back to their communities."

I recently learned of The Kwagala Project through a friend who is selling jewelry made by Kwagala residents as a fundraiser for her adoption. The beautiful necklaces and bracelets (like the one pictured above) are handcrafted by young women and girls who were once enslaved in the worst way. Now through Kwagala, they have been given a safe haven and a way to support themselves. Hope for a better future. Hope for a life of love and freedom.

To learn more about Kwagala and how you can help, check out their website here.


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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!

I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29 ~ Confident Hope

It is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest. Hebrews 6:18-20

Have you ever needed an anchor?

Something to hold you securely in place, to keep you from drifting into despair?

If you have Christ, you already have an anchor.

Because of this anchor, because of this hope, you are qualified to enter God’s inner sanctuary.

You are qualified to bring your requests before Him—and to know with great confidence that He hears you.

This confidence in hope is the same confidence displayed by martyred missionaries John and Betty Stam, who were brutally murdered by Communist soldiers in China in 1934.

Their only crime?  Following Christ and sharing their faith with the Chinese people.

As 28-year-old John and his young wife, Betty, were being led down a road to be executed by the soldiers, a Chinese man who recognized them asked, “Where are you going?”

“We don’t know where they’re going,” John replied, “but we are going to heaven.”

You may not be a missionary or a future martyr, but know this: If you are a child of God, you possess the same hope as John and Betty Stam.

Live in this hope. Revel in this hope. Cling to this hope.

This hope is yours!
 
To learn more about the amazing story of John and Betty Stam, click here. Their story is one you will never forget.



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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!
I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28 ~ The Solid Rock of Hope

 
I grew up singing the traditional version of this hymn, "The Solid Rock." The lyrics still bring back a flood of memories from my childhood... seeing my little grandma singing in the back of the church, watching my mother playing the piano up front, and knowing in my heart that these words were as true for me as they were for my parents and grandparents.

This upbeat version by the group Avalon may be a bit different than the one I sang as a girl, but the words still resonate within my soul:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Is your hope in Christ, the "Solid Rock"? The world around you may be crumbling, but if your hope is in Him, you are secure!


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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!
 
I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26 ~ Five Minute Friday: Voice

Five Minute Friday

Time for 5 minute Friday! This is a great community writing exercise posted each week on Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, Tales from a Gypsy Mama.

Want to take on the challenge? Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the chosen word of the day – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link to Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

If you have a blog (or even if you don't), you should give it a try! There's no better way to get the creative juices flowing than with a timed exercise - no over thinking, no picking apart.

So here's my stab at today's 5 minute Friday (it also conveniently fits as an entry in my 31 Days of Hope series, so yay for me!):

Voice…

Sometimes you hear it, soft and small, a barely audible whisper in your ear.

Keep pressing on.

In that moment when you most want to throw up your hands, give up, and retreat into some world other than your own, you hear it.

Don’t give up. I am on your side.

It’s the voice of hope. It’s His voice – the voice of One who knew what it felt like to have everyone hate you, turn on you, spit in your face…

It’s Jesus, speaking to you.

With His voice, He spoke the world into existence. He calmed tumultuous seas. He healed the sick, the maimed, the diseased, in mind and body.

That voice is speaking to you now.

Listen to His call.

He says Come unto me—bring your heavy burdens and lay them at my feet. And I will give you rest. And peace. And life more abundant.

Do you hear His voice?

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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!
I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25 ~ Overflowing with Hope


Some days, it's easy to overflow with hope. Like today... I captured this photo on a leisurely walk with my family down our country road. The clouds appeared to be air brushed in the sky by the Master Artist of the Universe. So breathtakingly beautiful.

Thank you, Father, for days like today, when thanksgiving and hope collide in a majestic moment as I view your incredible creation. May my heart always overflow with hope as I remember your faithfulness and love for me.

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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!

I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24 ~ This IS Your Hope!


“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10

If you are a Christ-follower, this is your hope: You are complete in Christ.

But I’m not good enough.

Because of Christ, you are good enough.

But I’m a failure.

Because of Christ, you are more than a conqueror.

But I can’t…

Because of Christ, you can.

But everyone always leaves me.

Because of Christ, you will never be alone.

If we would truly “get” this one concept—that we are complete in Christ—our lives would change forever! I have to admit: There are times—short glimpses—when I think I can wrap my mind around this awesome truth.

But then there are the days, you know THOSE days, when I just can’t seem to do anything right. And the negative thoughts plague my mind and heart and soul.

Ever have one of those days? Maybe today is one of those days…

Say it with me… I am complete in Christ.

Because of Christ, I am not a failure. I am a child of the King.

Because of Christ, I am enough!

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If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!
 
I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.

 
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 ~ Hope for the Weary Mom

Just found out about a great FREE book available today and tomorrow (Oct. 23-24), and it just happens to go right along with my 31 Days of Hope series! How awesome is that?

Stacey Thacker of 29 Lincoln Avenue is offering her book, Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess, at no cost on Amazon. It's the Kindle version, but even if you don't have a Kindle, you can still download the free Kindle app onto your computer or smart phone and read the book there. I have an iPhone and download free Kindle books all the time to my phone!

I already downloaded my free copy today, and I'm looking forward to reading words of encouragement from Stacey and her co-author, Brooke McGlothlin. Hope you'll join me!

If you'd like to start at the beginning of this 31 Days of Hope series, click here. Thanks!

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I'm linking up all month at The Nesting Place for the 31 Days of Change blogging challenge. There are over 1,000 topics to choose from! Check it out by clicking the button below.