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What is your “Egypt”?

Studying the Old Testament is not always the easiest thing to do. The Lord knows my heart and that I don’t always “get” what He’s trying to tell me. I have to read, read, and read again. Even then, it’s not always clear.

And from what I can tell, I’m not the only one. When God spoke through His prophets, he repeated himself again, and again, and again so His people would get the message. The passage that illustrates this point today is Jeremiah 42.

The Isrealites ask a prophet to pray for them and ask for God’s direction. They say they’ll do whatever He tells them.

God’s answer (paraphrased) — “Stay put in the land I’ve put you. I’m on your side and you have nothing to be afraid of, even though you are living smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s territory. It’s not where you wanted to be, but I put you there and I’ll protect you. I’ve heard your prayer and I’ll deliver you to where you want to go — in my time. But don’t say you want to go back to Egypt. You’ll die there. I’ll bring calamity on you. Again, do as I say and you’ll be blessed. Stick it out and do what I’ve said. You’ve romanticized where you used to be. But I’ve made it clear — DO NOT GO BACK TO EGYPT.”

(I repeat the above is my paraphrase… Read Jeremiah 42 for the actual wordage!)

So, after reading that passage several times, I asked God what He wanted ME to get out of it. I know what he was telling the Israelites. He repeats it more than 3 times in those verses.

God told the Israelites to NOT go back to Egypt — a physical place of perceived and romanticized comfort and ease. The truth is, they’d been slaves in Egypt, but all they remembered was what they wanted to remember — and were tempted to go back to the place God had saved them from. But what did it mean for me?

What in the world could he be telling me?

The exact same thing He was telling them…

Don’t go back to Egypt. 

If I run to places that God has not told me to go – whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual- they are my “Egypt”.

What is yours?

Do you return to old habits that God has freed you from?

Do you run to old relationships that brought “comfort” for a while… but didn’t bring life?

They are your “Egypt”.

When I’m upset, who do I run to? What do I run to? Where does my mind wander when things aren’t going my way? How about you? If it is anywhere other than God — That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m frustrated and angry, do I air my grievances to others before taking them to the throne? Do I try to find comfort in the world’s view of me and get its approval? How about you? That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m in a place of peace and abundance, do I forget where that peace came from and attribute it to some other source? Friends? Money? Status? Good things happening?  Do I forget to praise God in the good times? Or when I have what I need, but not what I want, do I long for something that is not in God’s plan for me? Do you? If so — we’re running away from God and running toward our “Egypt”.

Do you lay awake at night and worry about things, instead of taking them to God – and leaving those cares with Him? Yup… Egypt.

Do you try to manipulate situations so you get what you want, instead of allowing God to work things out in HIS time? That’s an Egypt, too.

I truly believe that true peace, God’s Shalom, can only be found in Him, regardless of my status in life. But does that mean that I am 100% faithful and never turn my eyes to my “Egypt” instead of Him? Nope. Too many times I’ve run back to old ways of thinking/old habits. But running backwards is not way to win the race. Paul slaps down some truth about this very thing in Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message version):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

That means there’s no time to be running back to Egypt… and no reason to. So why do we keep doing it? Too often we turn back to the things that we used to find comfort in, conveniently forgetting that it is a “right now” comfort, not the “right” comfort.

There is an old Hymn that’s called. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I  had only heard the chorus, but there is more to it. Take note of the second verse and third verse.  If we believe those words to be true, we can rest assured that we don’t need to run back to our “Egypts”.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

 

But Jesus is THE comforter. He is THE Healer. He is THE Provider. He is THE Author and Finisher of our faith.

So what are your Egypts? What do you need to leave behind so you can run forward in your faith?

 

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Children's writers conference · Christian writers · Christian Writers Conference · thinking · writing for children

December 9 — WUWW2I?

Today is the day I share what’s up with Write2Ignite. I hope you’re ready! 🙂

1. Check out our blog, Fire It Up!, for a great guest post by award winning YA author, Jonathan Friesen.

2. If you are looking for a Christmas present for a teen in your life who loves to write, how about giving them them gift of a prepaid registration to Write2Ignite? Jonathan Friesen, (aformentioned award winning YA author!), is teaching the Teen Track workshop.

3. Through the generosity of Cecil Murphey and the Cecil Murphey Foundation, ten scholarships are being offered to cover the cost of the W2I conference.  Click HERE for more information and application instructions.

4. Next week, I’m planning to post the list and description of the conference workshop sessions. You’ll want to get plenty of rest the Friday night of the conference…b/c Saturday is going to be a busy day!

5. I posted a new bio on our presenters page. Scroll down to the last name and pic on the list. If you’ve ever wanted to submit to Clubhouse, jr. magazine, then you’ll definitely want to find out who it is!

That’s all for now. If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask. I’ll try to have an answer for you soon!

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Writing conference and the flu

The conference and the flu have absolutely NOTHING to do with one another. One thing at a time…

image0015Writing Conference:

I have the blessing of being on the Write2Ignite conference team this year. I’m the website/blog admin and it has been a fun experience for me as well as a learning one! If you are interested in attending our conference in February, please check out our website Write2Ignite and our blog Fire It Up!

On our website you’ll find registration, scholarship and conference presenter information (and much more!).  I hope you’ll check out our site and leave us a note on the blog (Fire It Up).

 

AND now for the FLU portion:

 

Donna's phone 032
appropriate expression for how they feel right now!

I mentioned yesterday that my two of my kiddos have both had fevers for the last few days. They’ve also had sore throats, congestion, fatigue and are feeling rotten.

The Nurse Practicioner checked the younger for strep and noted that the middle one has a sinus infection, but did NOT check either for the flu even though they had flu-like symptoms (especially the younger). I appreciated her reasoning. She said if it IS the flu, there is nothing to do but wait it out and treat the symptoms, keeping them comfortable.

As of right now, my youngest is snuggled up in bed watching cartoons and the oldest is working on her schoolwork (we homeschool) while coughing and developing a sore throat. The middle one is still coughing, stuffy and sickly — but no fever as of this moment.

Can I just say, that as much as I love Autumn and Winter, I despise the sickness that sometimes accompanies it?

*sigh* And now I must go to the store for more Motrin. I actually ran out.

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Confessions and “do-overs”

FAKER. My husband and I use that word to describe my youngest when she is shedding crocodile tears. Then, through the tears, she displays her Cheshire Cat grin – and proves us right.

Her “faker” moments are deliberate and (and sometimes calculated) – but mostly  ineffective. We see through her facade and she quickly strips it away.

My two other girls have “faker” moments, too. “I know…I know…I know…” is their battlecry.  They fight for their right to be right — though it is clear (to anyone within shouting distance) – that both are wrong.

Thus, after reading the newest post on the Fire It Up! blog (this week’s blogger is Jill Roman Lord), I was compelled to confess:

There are days when I feel like a faker, too.

That’s right – a faker.

F-A-K-E-R.

Unlike my youngest daughter, my moments of “fakerdom” are not calculated NOR are they rehearsed, deliberate or otherwise billed as a deceptive act to manipulate, conjole or trick any other invested party.

And I can honestly say they they don’t fall into the same category as the “faker” moments my other two daughters tend to share. (Though I have been known to say, “I KNOW”, even when it is clear (to everyone else) that I do NOT know! )

No…I usually recognize my “faker” tendencies AFTER the actual event or in the midst of said event. For instance:

I recently wrote an article and sent it to a P31 Woman magazine. The editor liked it. She wants to print it! But first…she wants a revision!

I’m VERY glad to write the revision. Matter of fact, I welcome revisions. They are some of the few times in life we get “do-overs”. So what’s my problem?

Well, as I’ve started the process of rewriting the article, of course, I’ve reread it. As soon as the words flashed before my eyes- the neon sign of “FAKER” flashed over my head.

The topic of the article is about managing my time so I can spend MORE time with the Lord doing what I’m called to do. It’s a good article – it’s a true article. That really IS my heart’s desire. But am I living it?

DO I live out what I SAY I believe? Do I talk a good talk… but trip over backwards, flipping, rolling and landing my backside during my walk?

     I’m back in a good “groove” of housekeeping (shocker, I know!).

     My homeschool is coming along at the right pace (though some days are more trying than others).

     And my writing schedule is heading in the right direction (thought it still needs tweaking).

But what about my walk? What about those times I’m supposed to be spending with Jesus? Am I simply filling them up with other things?

Writing this post even reeks of the FAKER stench. What right do I have to write this column when I haven’t spent a ONE moment in the Word in the week?

Well… as I said in the beginning…this is a confession. Confessing our sins one to another is a good thing, yes? Seeing this in print is not easy. To be quite honest, it’s painful.  It’s MUCH easier to continue saying how much I want to be close to Jesus and going on with my every day duties -and yet not addressing the thing that is missing. THE TIME WITH JESUS!

BUT just as the kind editor is willing to give a “do-over” – Jesus has, in his infinite grace and mercy, afforded me the same thing.

I get a type of “do-over” every day when I wake up. This verse says it all:

Lamentations 3:21-23 (New International Version) 

 21 Yet this I call to mind
       and therefore I have hope:

 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.

 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.

ALL IS NOT LOST! Regardless of how I “fake” I feel…HE is real. And it’s because of HIM that my “fakedom” is replaced by the hope of my salvation. He sees through the facade and strips it all away.

It’s because of HIS mercy that my day is NOT a loss…but a chance for renewal. It’s because of HIM that I can say, “I don’t know all the answers…but YOU do”…and KNOW it’s the truth. I can swallow my pride, get on my knees and get to back to my walk.

To quote DC TALK…

“Honesty becomes me
[theres nothing left to lose]
The secrets that did run me
[in your presence are defused]
Pride has no position
[and riches have no worth]
The fame that once did cover me
[has been sentenced to this earth]
Has been sentenced to this earth

Tell me, whats going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a savior…”

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I’m home from church today with my youngest girl. We didn’t want to share the germs she seems to be carrying around. So, we’re here.

I worked on my NaNo stuff last night. I only got a couple of paragraphs. ON facebook, I said I got about 50 words. I’m sure it’s more than that. However, it’s no where NEAR the 2000 I was shooting for. I sure didn’t start out with a bang, did I?

Today is a new day. Perhaps I can make up for it throughout the day today and before I go to bed tonight. We’ll see!

I’m also gearing up for the upcoming writer’s conference in Indian Trail, November 7 and 8. If you want more info, let me know!