Jul 18

OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE

Ontario Author Day 2016 2

 

Saturday was Author Day at the Ontario Saturday Market. I joined in the fun along with a couple of Idahope Christian writers I knew and a few other writers I didn’t know. There were about 12 of us authors in all.

I’d never tried to sell my books in a festival environment before. It seemed like so much work. And it was. Plus, standing in front of actual people instead of sitting at my desk alone is definitely outside of my comfort zone. So I was surprised and pleased at just how much fun it was to hang out with other writers and chat with folks coming and going in the summer sunshine.

Although I also took my teacher resource books (published through Libraries Unlimited), I was mostly focused on getting my Christian books into the hands of people and becoming more known in that field. Jim and I therefore also brought along 20 copies of the New Testament, intending to hand them out to folks who didn’t know Jesus and needed to.

What was cool on Saturday was that everyone we talked with already knew and loved Jesus. Ultimately we gave a New Testament to a couple who knew someone who might need it. So at least lugging the 20 copies wasn’t a wasted effort.

Were we disappointed not to be able to hand out more Bibles to people? Nope. How can we be disappointed that everyone we met already knew Jesus?

Even though the event took place in Oregon, about half the folks were Idahoans like us. So, I’m officially counting this experience as one more thing I love about Idaho.

Oh, and we also sold some of my books, a few jars of Esther’s Spa body scrub that match the women of my Bible studies and one of Jim’s awesome hardwood cutting boards.

I even signed up to do another event next month in Boise—extending that comfortable comfort zone a bit further.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and found things were comfortable, after all?

Jul 11

THE GREAT DIVIDE

Image from National Parks Service

Image from National Parks Service

Last week, hubs and I spent a few days in Yellowstone with our son, the geologist. It’s awesome to visit glorious national parks with a geologist. Things take on a whole new perspective when you have a scientific background of what you’re looking at.

One thing we kept seeing signs for in the park was that we were criss-crossing the Continental Divide. I *thought* I knew what that was. But I was wrong. Are you up on geology? Here’s a quick quiz:

The Continental Divide indicates:

  • The location where two continental plates come together

  • The location where water runs eastward or westward from that point

  • The midpoint of the continent

The correct answer is #2 and every continent except Antarctica has a continental divide. For us, the Continental Divide indicates that precipitation falling on the east side of the Divide, runs toward and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Precipitation falling on the west side of the Divide, runs toward and eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean—even if the water that falls on the west side of the Divide has fallen on the east side of a mountain range.

It’s sort of like the science-y thing about the circular direction of cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere (the Coriolis Force), which sadly does not really and truly extend to flushing toilets—popular science fiction movies, to the contrary..

Our Continental Divide extends over both continents of North America and South America. It is an example of us humans putting a scientific name on something God figured out back on day 3 of creation

One very cool thing about the Continental Divide is that it also reminds me of Jesus.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and He sent them out of the Garden of Eden, they were no longer able to walk and talk with Him each day. The result was both a spiritual and a physical divide.

Then Jesus was born into humanity and died to provide a way to cross that Great Divide, spiritually. He did so by becoming the living water.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38).

Basically, wherever you are on this planet, Jesus is waiting for you to thirst after Him. And then, He will satisfy that thirst, as Jesus told us.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

Next time you’re crossing the Continental Divide, stop and think about water. And divides. And most especially, think about Jesus.

(Here are a few more verses about Jesus as living water, see: John 4:13-15, Revelation 7:16-17, 21:6, Isaiah 44:3, Isaiah 58:11,  Ezekiel 47:1-12, Zechariah 14:8.)

Jul 05

Q2 GOAL REVIEW

Goals

I recently purchased a block of ten ISBNs directly from the ISBN agency. What’s cool about that is the motivation: I have to write at least ten more books for publication through Honor Bound Books.

That takes us to a goal review. Early in 2016 I set out to work on eight books—not necessarily to complete and publish but to work on.

Three of those books were well into the process already and have been released into the world:

I am Elizabeth

The Praying Writer

Flowers, Gemstones & Jesus

No sooner did those three books release but Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and added two more. So my works in progress for 2016 still include seven books. Hey! That’s 7 of the 10 ISBNs already spoken for.

Those seven books are mostly ahead of my self-imposed schedule although only one is expected in print for 2016.

I began the year feeling slightly overwhelmed with so many projects. But I’ve seen the Holy Spirit’s strength working in and through me tremendously this year. I’m looking forward to the second six months of the year and allowing the Spirit to show off a bit more.

I don’t do these quarterly goal reviews in order to pat myself on the back. I do them to keep myself accountable and more importantly, to encourage you to stay motivated and encouraged.

So—how are you doing tackling your 2016 goals? How can I encourage you?

Jun 27

SPIRITUAL REVISION

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The purpose of first drafts is to get both the good stuff as well as the irrelevant gibberish down onto paper where the words can be sculpted. Then it’s time to revise. God is the ultimate wordsmith, having spoken the universe into existence. Just as we see our stories grow stronger through the revision process, so does God grow us stronger as He perfects the story of our lives. Look at the similarities.

Just as we cut out characters, scenes and sections from our stories during revision, God cuts something bad out of every page of our lives as we grow in our faith. He changes how we think, feel and act in this world and how we think, feel and act in our relationship with Him.

Just as we look for passive verbs and weak writing, God looks for passivity and weakness in our lives and trains us to replace them with a desire to actively seek Him and develop strength in our reliance on Him.

Just as we tighten our writing, deleting flowery adjectives and relying on action verbs, God seeks to rid us of the unnecessary clutter in our lives and urges us to action for His kingdom.

Then, at some point in our writing, we stop revising and declare it “good enough.” Similarly, God keeps revising us until we are called home to spend eternity with Him. Through Jesus, we are “made acceptable” and He announces, “it is good.”

Our Heavenly Father is the Senior Editor in our lives. We can learn a lot about writing from Him.

God began a good work in you (His rough draft) and will carry it on to completion (God’s revisions) until the day of Christ Jesus” (God’s final manuscript) (Philippians 1:6, explanation added).

 

(This post first appeared over at Inspire Christian Writers. I’m presently out of state visiting my precious daughter and her husband, pre-celebrating their first child/my first grandbaby. I will be back, live and in person next Monday.)

Jun 20

LEGACY: Heritage

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When the New Year began, I parked myself in my chair, eager to find one word that would help me maintain a focus on my journey of faith. God sent the word legacy for my 2016 word. Off I scampered to write about leaving a legacy of faith behind through the books and articles God inspired me to write.

Less than three months later, my daughter and her husband announced they were bringing a brand new baby into the world later this year. Obviously, when God gave me the word legacy for 2016, He had something more in mind than just what I would write. He usually does.

I discovered that the legacy handed down to me through my mother and her mother before her is continuing through my precious grandchild to come.

I wonder who he will become. Whose lives will he touch? How will this world be better because he is part of it?

I continue to be watchful for where God has placed me; who He has placed in my life and what challenges He wants me to pursue. That is part of my personal legacy. But with the coming event of a grandbaby, God has reminded me of the truth that we are all part of each other’s legacy. We are part of the human legacy. We are part of God’s legacy.

And it is very good.

 

Jun 13

LEGACY: Becoming God’s Child

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As we end the first half of 2016 and head off to begin the second half, it’s time to ponder the year. What have we accomplished? What do we still want to do with this year and our lives? Whose life will we touch for the better? Who in our life should we help to enrich and how might we do so on purpose?

My one-word focus for 2016 is “legacy.” I am still becoming the woman God intends me to be. I wonder what that woman will look like—spiritually and as a social animal.

God has placed several people on my heart this past month. He is hinting that I help them with their writing in very specific ways. They may or may not need or want my help. Maybe the only helpfulness that will come from my approach will be that they are encouraged, knowing someone cares enough to offer. Or maybe I’ll join them on a new adventure in the making.

God has also challenged my faith. Ten years ago, He took me to writing short inspirational posts and led me to places for their publication. Then He guided me through the writing of character studies, teaching me spiritual truths and helping me explain and share those with others through the books I write. More recently, He is nudging me toward evangelism—having first gifted me with words and then trained me with truth. And so I wonder at the vision of the me God sees. And how far into the future that vision extends.

The experiences with other people become part of our legacy—our lives lived for the better of the world, even if that betterment is just one person at a time. Even if that one person is just ourselves. We are part of the whole. We are part of God’s plan. We are part of God’s legacy of humanity.

And yes—God’s leading will include a book that I’m writing about evangelism. It’s not about standing on the street corner yelling at people. It’s not about heading off to Africa or Guatemala. But it is about our duty to introduce other people to Jesus. It’s working title is, Jesus Wants Me to Do WHAT?

The teaching I’m receiving in the writing of that book has been humbling and uplifting and exciting and hard. And awesome! The best part? I’ve only started writing it!

 

 

Jun 06

FOR FAITH: My Heart

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the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people           (1 Samuel 13:14).

King David. Now there was a man after God’s own heart. That’s what we hear.

Then we think about all the sinful things David did and wonder, “huh?”

Many people first assume that the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” means that David’s heart was like God’s. We conclude that, despite everything wrong David did in life, his heart was like God’s—sensitive, loving, courageous.

I believe that, too.

But the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” means something else, too. Two things—at least.

A man after God’s heart means David was seeking God. We have expressions in life about “chasing after our dream” or “going after what we want.” Those expressions are about seeking. King David was a man who sought after God. He wanted to know God personally—God’s character and plan. David’s seeking to know God’s heart pleased God.

A man after God’s heart also means David was trying to live in a way that pleased God. If we “go after” someone’s heart, we are trying to capture their love. David knew God already loved him. Still David had a desire to live in a way that pleased God. David didn’t always succeed.

David wrote the lovely Psalm 51 that shows his heart filled with despair over his sin, saying,

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight                                  (Psalm 51:4)

Psalm 51 expresses David’s realization and sorrow that his sins were not just wrong or mistakes. David realized he had sinned against God. Sinning against God caused David sorrow because he had failed to live in a way that pleased God.

So how do we apply these understandings? We can focus on three things by asking:

  1. In what way do we have characteristics of God’s heart? Are we sensitive to the needs of others? Do we then try to do something about those needs? Are we loving towards others even if we don’t personally “like” them? Are we courageous when God asks us to obey Him or embark upon a ministry directed by Him? What other characteristics of God should we be pursuing in our life?

  2. Are we seeking God? Do we long to know Him more? Do we engage with God through prayer and meditation on Scripture on a daily basis? Do we understand that Jesus wants a deep, personal relationship with us? Do we understand that Jesus wants to be known by us?

  3. Are we trying to live a life that is pleasing to God? Not to earn brownie points? But to please Him out of our love for Him and our understanding that He wants us to live in the best way possible so that our lives will be rich and fruitful?

I want to be known as a woman after God’s heart. I want to have a heart like God’s. I want to seek to know Him. I want to live a life that pleases Him.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a heart after God’s? What does that mean to you?

May 30

PRAYING NAMES: Ava; Aiden

Ava Aiden

I love to pray for people by praying that they will live the meaning of their name. Here are two more.

If you would like to pray in this way for someone you know, please leave me a comment and I will create a prayer for them in a future month. Be blessed!

Ava: like a bird; Hebrew form of Eve: life; living

Dear Jesus, I pray Ava will live the meaning of her name. I pray she will feel as if she can soar like a bird, knowing she has freedom from sin and from death through you. I pray she will also learn lessons from your daughter Eve, seeking to recognize evil and walking with you daily. Amen.

Aiden: fiery one

Dear Jesus, I pray Aiden will live the meaning of his name. I pray he will live a life that is on fire for you. I pray that his enthusiasm and love for you will be contagious and encourage others to live lives of fire for you. Amen.

 

May 23

CLAIMING JESUS’ LOVE

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image from Pixabay.com

 

The Gospel of John is definitely my favorite of the four Gospels—filled with evidence and explanation of the deity of Jesus along with a history of Jesus’ ministry. One thing that has always made pause though is that John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” None of the other three Gospels refer to John that way.

During a sleepless night last week, I had a revelation. Whether it’s what John meant or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is how I can apply the revelation to my own life.

John refers to himself five times in his Gospel as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

John 13:23

John 19:26

John 20:2

John 21:7

John 21:20

We know that Jesus, Peter, James and John had a close relationship, because Scripture records that those 4 were together at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28; Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2). Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him where they were privileged to witness God the Father declare Jesus to be His son.

But maybe  something else was going on that led John to refer to himself as the disciple Jesus loved. I believe it was a title John claimed.

Many Christian women (as do I) say “I am the daughter of the King.” It is a title we claim. It is a recognition that I am part of God’s family. I am the daughter of the King of the universe, now that God has adopted me (Ephesians 1:5). So is Juanita. So is Trudy.

Other Christians say: “I am a child of God.” That’s also a recognition of belonging to God. It’s a recognition of that person’s identity in his relationship with Christ. I am a child of God. So is Harold. So is Nancy. So are you, if you belong to Jesus.

Those titles are a recognition of our relationship with our Savior. They are a recognition of our identity to God. They are deeply personal but they are not exclusionary.

Clearly Jesus loved all 12 of His disciples—even Judas who betrayed Him.  Prior to Jesus’ ascension, he told the other eleven

As I have loved you, so you must love one another”  (John 13:34).

Jesus loved all of His disciples, just as He loves you and I. John surely knew that. But John took his relational love from Jesus personally. John gave himself a title and claimed it. John claimed he was the disciple that Jesus loved.

We who follow Jesus today are Jesus’ modern-day disciples. And Jesus loves us personally. We—like John—can claim that relational title for ourselves.

I am the disciple Jesus loved.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? In what ways do you see that you are the disciple Jesus loved?  In what way do you still need to claim the title John gave himself?

 

 

May 16

LEGACY: Mentoring

 

 

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In our small group Bible study, we  came up with a short list of the characteristics of mentor-ship:

  • Being an example

  • Trust

  • Confidentiality

  • Being non-judgmental

  • Accountability

  • Love

  • Guidance

  • Being compassionate/caring

We also came up with some ways to mentor others:

  • Study together

  • Teach or explain theology or biblical principles

  • Remind others of God’s plan or promises

  • Pray for and with others

  • Be accountable to each other for doing what we say or how we should live

  • Help set goals or daily practices for devotion, meditation, prayer

  • Model life

  • Create a testimony and share it: what life was like before Jesus, how we came to Jesus, how life is different now

  • Let others see Jesus’ light through us

  • Look first to mentor our children and family close to us

Then our assignment was to return the following week having picked one way we could mentor others—and do it. I pondered the list for a while and then focused on teaching/explaining theological principles with others. That felt like a natural for me, since I write Bible study books. Homework done. Next project?

But as  I was reading my daily devotional, Hope,  Billy Graham cautioned against people whose motive is  “to impress you with how wise and perfect they are” (March 8). That got me wondering about my own motives. Do I want to write Bible studies and mentor others in order to impress people?

That got me praying. Fortunately, what God ultimately led me to understand that morning was that I don’t write Bible studies to impress people with how much I know. I write to engage in the process of learning myself.

I begin the studies not knowing what God has in mind for me to learn but  with a heart that wants to learn. I write the studies with an excitement as God opens the pages of Scripture and pours them into my heart. I share the studies with an enthusiasm to explore God’s character with other people and what God is (still, in an ongoing way) teaching me.

For me, the aspect of teaching others about God’s character and plan is a matter of sharing and learning something together. Haven’t you ever been in the process of teaching and saw something new you’d never seen before? Or that the teaching enlightened it, made it clearer, or that you suddenly found it easier to do?

We mentor each other. We can also mentor ourselves. And that mentoring of ourselves and others can be part of our legacy of faith.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is mentoring part of your legacy? How might it become a bigger part of what people remember about you?

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