writing for children

Out of the Bubble…

old timeyI can finally sit in the chairs on our porch again —
there’s room!

I’m sure our neighbors are glad because it was a mess.
A giant mess, indeed. It was obvious to anyone who passed by that things had piled up on the porch and needed to be addressed.

I’d avoided cleaning it for months. But it was time. So…

I got things in order.
I swept and threw away trash.
And in the process, I even found some broken glass hidden under a box. (Thankfully, I wasn’t barefooted this time!)

It felt good to step out from behind the computer and get outside in the fresh (but cold!) air and sunshine. And it really felt good to have a more peaceful porch.

The process reminded me that there is more to my life than the warm, comfy bubble that you can find me snuggled in most days.

There is far more to this life that God has created for me.
But sometimes it feels like I don’t have room for it all.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. 

Bubbles are nice for keeping out the “bad” stuff. But they can also trap us in, forcing us to breathe stagnate air that is not good for our soul. Stepping out offers fresh air and sunshine… a new perspective on things. BUT…

stepping out of our bubbles is not for the faint of heart.

If we choose to do so, we might end up on the messy “porch” that we’ve been avoiding. We might find hidden, broken things that need to be cleaned up. Things that have piled up and need to be addressed.

Maybe the brokenness is a strained friendship.
Maybe the mess is a spiritual battle we’ve been avoiding.
Or maybe it’s a combination of things we can’t even name. Things that yell at us with belittling inner dialogue — dialogue that we have allowed to replace the beautiful life-giving Word that God has been singing to our hearts.

The truth is, we can choose to run back into the warm and cozy bubbles and keep avoiding the mess and brokenness.
But the mess won’t go away on its own. No…
it will keep piling up.

I’m gonna be real.
There is still plenty on my porch (literal and spiritual) that needs to be addressed.
But I can’t do it all at once.
And I can’t do it by myself.
God is working on my blessed mess — bit by bit.
And I know that in Him – there is no judgment — no fear. Only love.

So if you’ve got a “messy porch” in your life, you’re not alone. Come on over and pull up a chair. There’s always room for one more…

#loved
#thankful
#Godisgoodallthetime
#allthetimeGodisgood

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writing for children

Happy Resurrection Day

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb… — Luke 24:1

 

The women arrived with the expectation that the giant stone in front of the tomb would still be in place. When they arrived, it had rolled out of the way.

But if it had not been moved, how did they plan to move it?

I asked my daughters what they thought. They said, “There were guards there. They would have asked them to help.”

I considered that – but I don’t think it is a plausible answer. These were Roman guards — guards who owed nothing to the Jewish women. Even if the women had dared to speak to them, (which I don’t think would have happened), would the Roman guards have agreed to help the women? I don’t think so. They were under no obligation to do so.

The women were under the assumption that Jesus was still DEAD. They weren’t coming expecting the stone to be moved OR for Jesus to have risen. They arrived with anointing oil for his body.

So why did they come without backup help? How did they expect to move the stone? I’ve been praying and asking God to make it clear. I’m sure there are many reasons. But here’s what I’m leaning toward right now, the answer that I hear in my heart…

Even though they knew Jesus was dead — I believe that the women came with EXPECTATIONS.

The truth is, Jesus was dead and they had no way to move the stone.

BUT — they came anyway. 

There was NO plausible way they would be able to anoint Jesus’ body without divine intervention — no way to move the stone on their own and no help to do so —

and they came anyway. They came expecting God to DO SOMETHING to make that happen.

THEY CAME EXPECTING. 

 

Remember when Lazarus died? Mary and Martha were furious and hurt and full of all other sorts of emotions b/c Jesus hadn’t arrived in time like they’d expected Him to do. They had expected Him to come back and heal their brother before he died from the sickness. And when Jesus didn’t, they were distraught. They wept and Jesus wept with them. BUT THEN… when it seemed that all hope was lost, they watched as Jesus raised their brother from the dead.

But this time, it was Jesus in the tomb! Who was going to raise Him from the dead?

They didn’t know —

And they came anyway. They came…

EXPECTING!  

         Provers 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. *

So what about us? What “stones” in our lives need to be moved to allow us to see the miracle of Jesus’ death-defeating power? His resurrection power? His grace, mercy, and truth? When we ask God to do something, is our faith in line with our requests?

Like the women at the tomb — do we come to Jesus EXPECTING Him to do something?

That’s what faith is. It is the HOPE in things not seen… and EXPECTATION that God will do what God does… He saves. He revives. He makes all things new. He makes a WAY when there is not way. He responds to our pain and hurt in compassion and with truth. HE LOVES.

The empty tomb means that we ALWAYS have help in time of need. The one who raised Lazarus from the dead holds the power over sin and death — and moves whatever needs to be moved.

When we shift our expectations and put our focus on Jesus– God’s plan is revealed and no stone can stand in His way. NONE.

What stones are in your way today? God can and will shake what needs to be moved and shaken…

Come expecting! 

 

 

 

 

writing for children

Are Online Arguments Fruitful?

I am a person full of opinions. Talk to me privately and I’m sure you’ll hear them. Ask any of my friends…. they will confirm this fact.  You can probably scroll through this blog and see many, many examples, too. 

cropped-whateverwednesday11.jpgAnd up until a year or so ago, I tended to display my political opinions on Facebook regularly. I did not hesitate to engage in online discussions. I vented and shared my very strong thoughts on almost everything. It felt like high noon at the “FB Corral” every week.

 

But I soon realized that my exuberant emotions tended to hinder my ability to have a civil discussion. I could feel my blood pressure rising every time I saw certain posts and engaged in arguments with those I disagreed with. The “discussions” that I’d hoped might change someone’s mind became heated in a such a way that it only ushered in more dissension.

 

The Lord, in His compassion, mercy, and grace, showed me that I was not speaking in love to the folks I disagreed with… quite the opposite. Instead of desiring to bridge a gap, I wanted to thump some folks upside the head.

 

And NO… I don’t remember a single time that Jesus thumped someone upside the head. Granted, he DID turn over the money-changers tables in the temple, but he still loved them and laid down his life for them… and me. His whole ministry was soaked in the leading of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Father toward His children. But my conversations were more about proving someone wrong than loving them.

 

I am called to stand up for those who are being shoved down and unable to stand for themselves. And I will continue to do that as long as the Lord allows me to do so.  The hard part? I am also called to love those who are doing the “shoving”.  It is much easier to show my love to those who are being hurt and at a disadvantage. It is harder to show love to the ones who are doing the harming. The most recent headlines are a perfect example of that. If you don’t know which one I’m talking about, it’s okay. You can pick just about any headline… it will do.

 

So if you don’t see me posting something on FB about the latest news headlines, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I have chosen to intentionally refrain from those online discussions and instead discuss them in-person. Those conversations can get heated, too. But having a real live person in front of me makes it harder to spew whatever I want to say. It reminds me that I am called to love others as I have been loved. I am called to show compassion… even if another person is not.

As a follower of Christ, I am called to follow His example. I fail miserably many days. But staying out of (most) online arguments has helped keep me from forging more gaps in relationships. I still struggle with saying the right things while talking to folks “in person”… but at least they can see and hear the inflection in my voice and hopefully know my heart — even when I mess up.

How about you? Do you engage online? Is it fruitful for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  –Colossians 4:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

 

writing for children

FEAR

Yesterday, there was a common theme discussed in almost every conversation I had:

FEAR.

FEAR IS A THIEF. (from MorgueFile.com)

It steals our joy, our hope, and our confidence.
It is a relationship killer and a destroyer of dreams.

Fear invades our life and distorts the truth. Fear does not discriminate. It is an equal opportunity terrorist.

Fear is the enemy’s tool that stops us in our tracks, gluing us, like quicksand, to the same scary spot and taunting us. Fear keeps us from walking in the fullness of God and down the roads HE has already prepared and walked for us.

I asked my 14yo how she would describe fear. She stopped and thought for a moment, then said, “The devil’s playground.”

How often do we allow the enemy’s tactics to “play” with our heads? Our emotions? Our lives?

We see it in other people but don’t recognize it in our own lives.

Is there something you have been called to do but are too afraid of failure? Or maybe you’re too afraid of success? What will happen if you try… and succeed? You will then have the opportunity to sow HOPE into the lives of others who also might be experiencing the “devil’s playground” in their life.

Fear destroys… God creates.
Fear is a thief – but God restores.
Fear kills… But God brings new life to dead places!

Is there fear in your life today? Fear for you? for your family? Fear for things that have not yet occurred or fear of the consequences that can come from other fear-based decisions you’ve made?

I encourage you today to share the fears you’ve been experiencing with someone you trust. Allow yourself the opportunity to admit the fact that fear has been calling the shots… and decide to speak life into those places and change the story!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:13-14

 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-5)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

writing for children

Write2ignite

It’s almost here. Tomorrow, in fact! I’ll be heading to Greenville, SC, to participate in a fabulous writing confererence, Write2Ignite! And this year, we’ll have a precious guest artist as part of our worship team, Lisa Albinus. She has graciously offered to donate her finished painting to write2ignite to be auctioned off, and for the monies to go back into funding future Write2ignite conferences!

Please check out this post to learn more —> http://write2ignite.com/2015/03/26/special-opportunity-at-write2ignite-praise-art/

writing for children

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

No, I don’t speak Français.

I don’t even think that I Écriture it correctly.

But I can translate, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” thanks to google. Here you go:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So the more evil there is in the world, the more of God’s power and Grace we need to stand against it.

This is true. It has always been true.

And no matter how much things change, this statement will always be true.

We must be a voice for the voiceless.

http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview