Those two words don’t generally go together. But in October, they do.
October is traditionally Pastor Appreciation Month—the month of the year us church folks delight in telling our pastors how awesome they are, how much their leadership means to us and how much we appreciate everything they do.
Thank you, pastors!
In addition, the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared October “Zombie Preparedness Month.” The image up top came from the CDC official website. Here’s a link to their zombie page.
But when you think about things a bit deeper, it’s not so odd that an observance of Pastors and zombies should be put together in one month. Because they both remind us of Jesus.
Jesus died to overcome death. He died to give us eternal life in heaven with Him. Basically, if we believe in Jesus, we have overcome a future afterlife as zombies (Revelation 1:18).
Without Jesus we are the walking dead. When we surrender to Jesus, we are reborn into true life with Him. (1 Corinthians 14:55-57; John 3:1-21).
Zombies are eternally hungry—which is why they are always trying to eat us live folks. Sounds a bit like Satan, who prowls around seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus tells us, however, that when we turn to Him, He alone will satisfy our hunger for righteousness and we will be blessed (Matthew 5:6).
One more point. After October, the church enters the Advent Season of the liturgical calendar, starting this year on Sunday, November 27. Advent/Christmas is the very busiest time of the year for pastors and church staff.
It’s therefore our duty as church members to encourage them now as they prepare for the end of the year festivities. Otherwise, we may find our pastors walking around moaning, red eyes blank and arms outstretched. Nope. We don’t want any zombie pastors this year.
Thank you pastors (and their families), ministry leaders and support staff for all you do for the church body!
This writing year has been uber productive for me. I began with January goals of releasing two books and working on one more throughout the year. Then I allowed God to revise my writing goals and they suddenly morphed to 8 and then ten books to work on throughout the year. Some of those books I have been plugging away at for years but needed momentum to spur me forward. Other books were brand new titles that needed developing.
Now we are heading into the final quarter of 2016. It is time for the big push to complete my remaining goals. (And for you to complete yours.) Here’s what is left for me:
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Atop the Mountain: The basis of the book is Scripture where Jesus was on mountains. The theme is taking our “mountain top” experiences with Jesus back down with us into the Valley of Death (aka life).
Q4 goal: to begin writing a book proposal and sample chapters for submission to agents/editors 2017.
For the Love of Shoes: applying what Scripture has to say about our feet (and shoes). I intend to pursue traditional publishing but am also considering indie publishing. So I am drafting up the whole book to get a better feel for it. My goal was to complete the “horrible first draft” by end of 2016. The horrible first draft is done and it is indeed horrible, but is in condition now to be able to write a book proposal from it.
This goal is complete for 2016. The project will be on my 2017 goals to complete a book proposal and begin submitting to agents/editors mid 2017 or deciding definitely to indie publish in 2017 or 2018.
From “What if” to “Whatever”: applying one of Philippians “whatevers” (whatever is true, whatever is noble, etc.) to our most pressing worries. I am working on fleshing out the lessons.
Q4 goal: to begin writing a book proposal by end of 2016 and start submitting to agents/editors 2017.
Jesus Wants Me to Do WHAT? The book about baby-step evangelism is fleshed out and most of the book proposal is done.
Q4 goal: to complete three sample chapters by end of 2016 and start submitting to publishers/agents in 2017.
I am Rahab: This is the sixth character study in the With Faith Like Hers Bible study series. The book is in its second revision.
This goal is complete for 2016. My 2017 goal will be to complete final revisions and release the book mid or late 2017.
Clover’s Pot of Gold: This is presently a picture book manuscript but it might actually be a magazine story in disguise with a bit of fixing.
Q4 goal: to definitely decide whether to submit to book publishers or Christian children’s magazines in 2017.
The end of 2016 for me will include a month away from home when my first grandbaby arrives. That and Christmas will leave very little time for actual bottom-in-chair writing. Since I have worked to complete as many goals ahead of time as I can, I am left with only two book proposals and several sample chapters to address this year. Having a clear vision of what needs to be done is big-time motivating.
How about you? Have you made forward progress on your 2016 goals? How might you push forward during these last 3 months?
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To help you set, review and revise your own goals, I regularly share my personal process. Here’s how I went about working on my goals in 2016. Consider how you might do the same for 2017.
This year, the one word God gave me to help me focus on faith was legacy. Early in 2016, the word legacy became more personal when our daughter and son-in-law announced the coming birth of their first child and our first grandchild. Was the first thing I did to go out and ooh and ahh over itty bitty baby clothes? Well, yes, it was.
But not surprisingly, the second thing I did was write a book.
This book is not for publication. If you want to buy a copy, you can’t. This book is a personal collection of memories of when I was mommy to my baby girl—passed on to my baby girl who is now becoming a mommy herself. It was my gift to her.
But writing the book was also a gift to me. It was an opportunity to look back on those first days as the mother of a precious daughter; to remember what it was like for me and for her and for us together. To take those memories out from where they were being treasured in my heart and cherish them openly with gratitude for the gift from God that my daughter has been.
Since I began writing the book, friends and colleagues have asked me create a book that other women could personalize in a similar way as a gift to their own daughters or loved young women becoming mothers for the first time. Maybe I’ll find a way to do so in the future. Or maybe not.
But whatever happens with or without a book to personalize, my encouragement today to moms (and dads) is to share your joys and trials and observances of the delights and struggles of parenthood with the people you love who are now going through it for the first time ever.
It will be a gift to them. It will also be a gift to yourself.
Names are important; they mean something. They’re so important that Jesus has written them in His Book of Life. And only those people whose names are in that book will enter the Holy City with Him (Revelation 20 and 21).
I love to pray that people will live the meaning of their names. Here are two more prayers that Constance and Benjamin will live the meaning of their names.
Is there someone in your life you might like to pray for in this way? Leave a comment with the name. I’ll create a prayer and post it here next month.
Constance, Connie: constant
Jesus, I pray that Connie will live the meaning of her name. I pray that her faith and trust in you will be constant and ever increasing throughout her life. I pray also that you will be her constant guide, counselor and friend and that her example of faith will be a constant encouragement to others. Amen.
Benjamin: son of my right hand
Heavenly Father, we pray that Benjamin will live the meaning of his name. We pray that he will live a life, knowing that he is your son and that, as your child, he is loved, as you love your son, Jesus. Amen.
I’ve settled in to focusing on the Psalms as my daily reading for the remainder of the year. Most Psalms are short; some just a few verses. The point is not to read volumes, but to let the words speak volumes.
Psalm 30 is one of my favorite Psalms and this portion is one of my favorite verses of all Scripture.
Scripture says a lot about clothing. Jesus tells us not to worry about what we wear. Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. We are to be clothed in righteousness and cover ourselves with light as with a garment. I especially love the psalmist’s thought that God can clothe us with joy.
We usually think of joy as an internal thing. But Jesus also wants us to display that joy and share it with the world. So go ahead, Jesus, completely cover me. Clothe me from head to foot with the joy that only you can provide.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? What is your favorite verse about clothing? Or about joy?
Last month, hubby and I climbed into our Polaris Ranger and hit the trails, looking for elk. We saw deer, wild turkeys, dozens of quail with babies in tow, a coyote and a wee chipmunk on a rock. We also saw elk tracks and elk poo, but no actual real live elk.
As with many things, we were reminded that joy happens not just in the finding, but in the seeking. Look at what we found along the way.
Basically, while we were seeking elk, we found God’s glory. Which, of course, reminds me of Jesus.
Jesus wants to be sought. He also wants to be found. But it is in the seeking, that often our faith blooms and grows strong.
We seek God’s character by studying Scripture. We seek His will through prayer and meditation. We seek His love when we love others in Jesus’ name.
And He seeks us, too. Remember in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit? They hid from God. But He called out to them, “Where are you?” He knew exactly where they were, but still He sought them in order to deepen his relationship with them, even though they had sinned.
When I actively seek Jesus, it turns out He is right there, where He always has been, waiting to be found and seeking my heart in return.
Last week, hubby and I took our very first Idaho camping trip. The campgrounds along the Snake River were run by Idaho Power Company and were lush little oases amid the dusty brown hills. Amenities of electricity, water and lawn for each campsite, an evening music concert on the river and lovely hot showers included in the $16/nightly fee. “Civilized camping,” as hubby said.
But one of the best parts of the camping experience was when two young neighborhood 4-H Club girls appeared, taking their sheep out for a morning walk.
The girls are cropped since I didn’t get parental approval to post their faces online, but the point of this post is the sheep…
…because they remind me of Jesus.
Jesus referred to Himself many times in Scripture as “the Good Shepherd.” As His people, we are part of a flock, but Jesus also knows His people individually. In fact,
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3-4 NIV).
These two sheep are named Dodger (left) and Pudding (right) and they definitely know their names. And, although it appears the sheep in this photo are doing the leading, it is the girls who control the leashes and thus control where those sheep go, when they stop and when they lie down (in those green pastures of the girls’ home).
So, too does Jesus know each of us by name. In the beginning of our walk of faith, sometimes it would be nice to have Jesus lead us around with a leash. It might save us from taking the wrong path and winding up back in the valley of the shadow of death. But as we learn to recognize Jesus’ voice, the need for a leash becomes less attractive. We can follow His voice more easily because we have become attuned to it and thus it is easier to hear.
Then again, perhaps we can think in terms of our connection to Jesus and the Father through the Holy Spirit as a spiritual leash. The Spirit does not constrict or restrict us but gently guides and directs from the inside out.
The only trouble is that now I’m trying to figure out if I could get away with changing my name to Pudding.
I love to pray that people will live the meaning of their names. Names are important; they mean something.
Here are two prayers that Phyllis and Cody will live the meaning of their names.
Phyllis: green leaf; foliage
Jesus, we pray that Phyllis will live the meaning of her name. We pray she will rest in the cooling shade of your love, remembering how you provided leafy shade to Jonah to ease his discomfort. We pray that she will be a source of similar comfort to others by sharing your love with them. Amen.
Heavenly Father, we pray that Cody will live the meaning of his name. We pray he will adopt your attitude Jesus as that of a servant. We pray he will be known as one who is helpful to others in your name and to honor you. Amen.
Yes, I’m definitely a left-brained person. I love being inside of boxes. I love outlining books—and notes—and lists. I feel most comfortable if I have a plan—written out in detail and outlined (of course).
And you know that I’m a huge believer in setting goals at the beginning of each year and then reviewing and revising them (if necessary) each quarter—and doing so publicly to both keep myself accountable and motivated and to encourage others to reach and achieve their own goals.
Earlier this month, I posted a review of Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy.
But if you notice when reading that post, I never actually said I was following the advice given in the book. Sure I planned to do it; but hadn’t taken out my pencil and ream of paper to do the actual work involved.
I’m happy to announce that over the past week I have gone through the assignments in Living Forward and now have a 17-page life plan. More importantly, I’ve begun implementing it.
I’ve focused my life plan on spiritual matters, my relationship with my husband, health, my relationship with other family members, writing, relationships with people outside my family and developing hobbies. The plan feels well rounded and well prioritized for my current status and the direction I’d like to move.
Of course, the plan has already gone through a few revisions—mostly me adding more short term goals and ideas to implement them.
The hardest part of the plan? Reading the 17-page, single spaced, 3000 word document every day. Out loud.
That’s probably one of the parts of the plan that will help me the most though. Sure, I could skim over the document silently or do the out loud thing weekly or monthly. But there’s something about reading my commitments and plans out loud every day that has increased my commitment to it even more in the short time since I created the plan.
The effectiveness of reading my life plan out loud has to do with announcing the plan to myself, to anyone in hearing distance (usually my dog who lovingly comes over to me and shakes my hand), the world in general and God in specific. It’s that accountability thing again.
So, yes, I love having a plan. Like the John Hannibal Smith from the A-Team, I especially love it “when a plan comes together.” Looking forward to watching how that happens
WHAT ABOUT YOU? How is your plan? Do you have one? Do you need one? How can I help you get started, keep going or move toward the finish?