Fairy Tales?

onceuponatime

Someone once told me that they did not read fiction. Ever. They prefer true stories, biographies, and factual books rather than wasting their time reading fairy tales. This person even went so far as to imply that fiction is a form of lying, so they wanted no part of such nonsense. These comments bothered me a little.

Okay, a lot.

It took me a while to come to terms with the condemnation I felt was being directed toward me not only because I love to read fiction, but because I love to write fiction as well. And to my knowledge, the person who gave me their rather strong opinion has never read a single thing I’ve ever written. They have never asked me about my writing, never encouraged me in that area, never shown any interest whatsoever. I figure it’s their loss, right?

Here’s my take.

We are here on this earth because of God, the ultimate Creator. Look around and you will see His magnificent imagination in operation everywhere. He made it all out of nothing – nothing except the words He spoke from the thoughts and images He had in His mind. He planned everything out. The setting, the plot, the characters, all of it. He created a Story of love and redemption.

We fiction writers do the very same thing.

We take that incredible imagination, given to us by God, and we create from the thoughts and images that form in our minds. We have the ability to write stories that make a difference and to be the difference in a world so full of hurt and hate and hardship. We can write stories that actually have the potential to change someone’s life.

I pray that the stories I create will find the people who need them, and that in some small way, their own life stories will be changed because of what they’ve read.

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NaNo, NaNo

Writing

This blog post will deviate a little from the train of thought I’ve been following over the past few months. Because it is November. And as writers all over the world are aware, November is National Novel Writing Month! That’s when we get to challenge each other to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Sounds crazy?

It’s insane. And such fun!

I have been a member of the NaNo community for thirteen years. I haven’t always managed to reach the writing goal, but every time I participate in this annual event, I feel that my writing gets a major jump start. And we all need that once in a while.

I wasn’t going to do it this year. Then, a week or so ago, my seventeen-year-old granddaughter – who is an extraordinary writer, by the way – asked me if I’d started my NaNo novel for this year. I don’t think she intended it to be a challenge, but I took it as such. After all, who wants to be bested by a high school senior? (Wink)

So, the race is on.

Emily, I’m doing this for you because writing is something we love to do together.

Legend King, hero of my story, I’m doing this for you, too, because your tale must be told and you won’t leave me alone until I do. Besides, you’re kinda cute.

Writers everywhere, I am doing this because we are all in, right?

Write!

 

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Let it Go

Let it Go

We’ve all seen the movie, heard the song, bought the stuff, right? While I don’t necessarily endorse all the lyrics to this catchy tune, there is something about the title that rings true, especially in the context of 1 Corinthians 13.

Oh yes, you read that correctly.

Let’s take a look.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

Note the phrase I emphasized: “it (love) keeps no record of being wronged”. Does that not mean to let it go when someone offends you? To let it go when you feel you’ve been wronged? And I mean really let it go so that the offense doesn’t even appear in the little tally book we all have a tendency to keep with a rather disturbing measure of detail.

Oh-oh. I think I’ve stepped on some toes because I can hear a whole lot of “but you don’t know what they did to me” voices.

You’re right, I don’t know your story. But I’ve had a good number of my own experiences to know that it is possible for love to keep no record of wrong. Even when it seems that the pain is too great to let go.

Especially then.

The last sentence in the passage above says, “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance”. I want people in my life who love me like that. And I want to be the person who loves others like that. So how can I even consider holding a grievance against someone else and have that be the very thing that prevents me – and the other person – from living in true freedom in Christ?

I’m not telling you that I have it all figured out. No-sir-ee. But I think I’m listening more closely to what God is saying to me and becoming a little bit more obedient every day. Sometimes that means having to deal with uncomfortable situations and difficult conversations.

There is such joy, though, when I come away from those experiences with peace in my heart knowing that with the Lord’s help, I really have let it go.

Try it.

You can even hum the song, if you want.

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Uncomfortable

Uncomfortable

I once had a coworker tell me that she was a creature of comfort. She functioned best, she said, in an environment where there was a place for everything and everything was is its place. That’s true for most of us.

But this woman carried her comfortable philosophy into her personal life as well. As one might expect, her home was perfectly organized and her schedule strictly adhered to, allowing little room for deviation in any area of her existence. She had it all under control. A perfect, comfortable life.

She was miserable.

Afraid to stray out of the world she had created for herself.

After working with this woman for more than ten years, I did not see any change in her behaviour. She was exactly the same person she’d been when I first met her, doing exactly the same job in exactly the same office space. Same hairstyle, same clothes, same routine. The saddest part was that my coworker had not really grown as a person in all that time. She was missing out on life.

Hang on, there is a point to this story.

Take a look at yourself.

Are you so caught up in achieving and maintaining your environment of comfort that you’re missing out on the life God has called you to live? Are you afraid to say yes to His invitation, His urging, because it might cause you to be a little bit uncomfortable?

Believe me, I know how you feel.

But it is in those uncomfortable times that God works in and through us. He stretches our faith when we trust His leading into places, circumstances, and relationships that we wouldn’t ordinarily venture into on our own. We experience uncertainty and hesitation and those stomach butterflies that refuse to fly in formation, yet God is there holding our hands and encouraging us.

We come out the other side having learned, grown, conquered.

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Listen to the voice of the Father. Let Him take your hand and guide you.

He’s got a lot to show you!

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with GodThey’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers.  Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)

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The Bridge

wooden_bridge

Recently, my husband and I have been discussing a matter concerning our future and so far we haven’t come to a firm decision as to what we should do. When I commented to him about the uncertainty, that man of mine said, “It’s like we have come to a bridge, but we don’t know if it’s safe to cross.” He is exactly right.

We don’t want to put ourselves in a potentially dangerous position by moving forward, nor do we want to hang back and by doing so, find ourselves in an even more precarious state.

So we pray.

A lot.

Do we cross the bridge, or do we follow the road that goes in the other direction? Both are unknowns.

The thing is, they are not unknown to the Father.

James 1: 5-6 says this: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. (NLT)

We just need to trust Him and take the first step. In faith. We don’t have to see the whole picture, because Jesus is right there in front of us, beckoning us to walk with Him. Any distractions thrown our way by circumstances, other people, or the enemy’s ploys will fall away if we keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith.

So, are we going to cross the bridge?

We don’t know yet. But the one thing we do know is that the only safe place is in Christ and He in us.

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Blurred Vision

Blurred Vision

Do you ever feel as though you are seeing life through an out-of-focus lens? You stumble, even fall sometimes, and it seems that no matter what you do, you can’t get a clear picture of where you’re going and what you’re supposed to do when you get there.

“That’s the story of my life,” you might say.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You can be different. It’s possible. Regardless of your circumstances, age, social standing, or spiritual maturity, you can be different.

In order to be different, however, you’re going to have to refocus that lens and make some changes. Hard changes, in some cases. You’ll have to change how you see things. Change how you think about things. Change how you talk about things. Change how you live things.

These changes are not going to be handed to you in a pretty box that all you have to do is open and ta-da, life is wonderful. Nope. YOU have to do something with the things in that box because nobody else can do it for you.

I know, I know, this is contrary to the I-don’t-want-to-so-I-don’t-have-to mentality that seems to have infiltrated our society with alarming popularity. I am going to be so bold as to say that this way of thinking is a tactic of the enemy who is succeeding in blurring the vision of the masses. The focus has become so distorted that truth can be anything you want these days.

Don’t get sucked in to believing those lies!

Believe God. He will never lie to you or lead you down a path of destruction. Ever.

Here’s a hint on how to start those changes to be different. Philippians 4:8 in the Message Bible says: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Whatever has the capacity to keep your attention, good or bad, has power and influence over you.

Keep your focus on Jesus, the Word. See yourself as He sees you – perfect and complete in Him. You are always on His mind and He thinks only good things about you.

There is something so much better ahead of you than what you’ve left behind.

 

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Thinking Things Through

Thinking_Face_Emoji

I’m a thinker. Maybe even an over-thinker. And this can cause a seemingly endless train of disjointed thoughts that require a good deal of stitching to make coherent.

I remember being a young child lying awake at night, long after my parents had gone to bed. My brain would continue generating pictures, ideas, and conversations until I was finally exhausted enough to fall asleep. It got worse when I learned to read, because books opened up a whole new world for my already very active imagination.

This still happens. Every. Single. Night.

The advantage is that it gives me uninterrupted time to think things through in great detail. The disadvantage is that it gives me uninterrupted time to think things through in great detail. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

This is also prime time for the enemy – aka Satan, the devil, the father of lies, the deceiver, etc – to do his thing. He uses his opportunities wisely and likes to get his dirty work done when I am at my most vulnerable. He’s particularly fond of reminding me about things I’ve done or said in the past, things I’ve already left at the Cross and received God’s forgiveness for.

Here’s where I get to make a choice.

Do I listen to the sleeze-ball and allow him to circle the wagons around my head; wagons that are filled with garbage from years gone by? Or, do I tell him to take a hike and leave me alone?

Seems like a pretty logical decision, right?

But there is the thinking things through business. Old Lucifer wants to make sure I really understand the gravity of my sin, so he continues the torment. And this is after he’s made an unsuccessful attempt to talk me into doing/saying/thinking something that will throw me right back into his lap. By this time, the digital clock says it’s 1:32 am. I’m tired. Tired of the junk. Tired of fighting. Tired of resisting.

Then Jesus speaks.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten! Jesus will take care of it for me and I can go to sleep, knowing He has already done the thinking things through on my behalf.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.  
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

How awesome is that!

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The Popular Jesus

Popular Jesus

Over the past few years, I’ve heard an assortment of people say, “Let’s make Jesus popular again!” Hearing this has always rankled me somewhat, particularly when the words came from someone speaking them from a church pulpit. I mean, how could Jesus be unpopular in a church?

The phrase came up again today and I thought it time to delve a little deeper into what is really happening when we say this.

Take a look at words and terms associated with the definition of popular: approval, affection, well-known, common, attractive, trendy, crowd-pleasing, familiar, ordinary.

Are you cringing yet?

I sure did, and was almost in tears as I made this little discovery.

Is this what we want, fellow Christians? To reduce Jesus to the common, the ordinary, the trendy? Of course not. Yet we have done that very thing, in ignorance, perhaps, but it’s happened just the same. In our attempts to make church – and Jesus – relevant, we have disrespected Him as the Saviour, the Almighty God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. We have succumbed to the world view which has long ago stopped seeing God for who and what He is.

How irreverent. How arrogant.

God didn’t send his Son to win a popularity contest. His motive wasn’t to present eternal salvation in a crowd-pleasing way to gain our approval. God doesn’t need brownie points.

He gave us his Son, Jesus Christ, because He loved us that much. Despite our sin and our stubbornness and our selfishness, the Father opened His heart and shared Jesus with us so that we could be with Him for all eternity. He’s not concerned about being popular. He just wants a relationship with His sons and daughters – us. And He wants us to bring other people into His family so they can have that same kind of relationship.

Oh, I love that!

My conclusion is that there is no such thing as the popular Jesus.

There is only ONE Jesus.

He is the One who loves me unconditionally. He is the One who sticks by me through my lowest lows and highest highs. He is the One who never lets me down, never forgets about me, and never throws me under the bus when I mess up.

There is no need to make Him popular, because there is no one higher!

 

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Overwhelm Me

Awe

I’m an avid dictionary/thesaurus user because I love words – I mean, REALLY love words. So when I want to expound on a particular word (which happens often), I go straight to these reference materials in order to look for a deeper meaning. Geeky, right? But then you already knew that about me.

Today, the word overwhelm required some fleshing out so that I could write this post. There were no surprises, but here is some of what I found: astonished, overcome, engulfed, visibly moved, blown-away, swept off one’s feet, speechless, conquered, defeated.

I think we’ve all experienced that overwhelming feeling of defeat, of feeling conquered by life. We often have too much on our plates, or yet another crisis raises its ugly head, or we become the dumping ground for every friend and family member’s problem. Then there are financial worries, health concerns, and that flat tire on the car. Every one of us has been there in some way.

But what about the flip side of being overwhelmed?

Like being overwhelmed by the presence of God.

To be so in awe of Him that we are overcome by His Holy Spirit.

To be so aware of how deeply He dwells in us that we can do nothing else but pour out to others His love and grace and peace.

To give Him control of every area of ourselves and be continually in the process of renewal and perfecting.

To seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

To forget Him less and less each day.

To be so overwhelmed by His presence that we laugh and cry and raise our hands in worship and then fall on our knees because standing is no longer possible.

To acknowledge His sovereignty, His majesty, His power.

Overwhelm me, Lord. Astonish me, engulf me, blow me away, sweep me off my feet.

Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  (Psalm 61:1-3 NKJV)

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Holy Ground

Holy Ground

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.  Exodus 3:5-6 (NKJV)

God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, telling him not to come near and to remove his sandals – not because the actual ground was holy, but because it was His presence  that made it holy. Moses responded, not only removing his sandals, but also by hiding his face. He understood that he was in the presence of the glory of the Almighty God, very conscious of his own sin and unworthiness. Moses was so aware of God’s holiness that he was afraid to look at Him.

We need to see something here.

When we come into His presence, whether that be individually or corporately, we should be entering that place as set apart for divine worship with reverence in our hearts, for wherever the Lord is constitutes holy ground.

Gathering together with the Church – the body of Christ – should lead us to holy ground. A place where we get to come and worship the Father. A place where we get to pour out our love to Him by serving those around us and putting their needs before our own. It’s not about us. It never was.

It’s about being a part of something sacred.

Something far greater than you or me.

Let’s not settle for something as small as what we humans define as God’s presence. He is so much bigger, so much greater, more powerful, more majestic, more awesome, more holy than our brains can even begin to comprehend. When we worship Him with complete abandonment and love, acknowledging His absolute sovereignty, we do indeed stand in His presence on holy ground.

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