Saturday, April 26, 2008

Odd or God?

"Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. (Another version says, "Be Astonished! Wonder!) For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)

I must admit, I really haven't spent a lot of time in the book of Habakkuk. And I can't even remember how God led me to this verse...most likely through a morning devotion or a Bible study that I've done recently (probably Priscilla Shirer's Discerning God's Voice). But God has "utterly amazed" me by doing "something in [my] days that [I] would not [have] believed, even if [I had been] told"!!

Please bear with me as I give a little background, so that you can see the intricate working of God's hand over the last months...even the last bring me to this place of astonishment. I just must testify to His goodness and praise His Name!

I can remember feeling a nudge from God to "write" for years. There were seasons where I would actively pursue writing and be obedient to God's prompting (even to the point of "quitting my day job" after the Beth Moore study Believing God), and seasons where I was "flat out" disobedient (hindered by a lack of discipline, bound by the wildernesses of life, or just too busy...with four daughters, a husband in ministry, and going back to my day job, another area of "calling" by God, as a teacher of Kindergarteners. I love my students!)

Since 2003, I have made efforts to "hone my craft" by attending various writers conferences (Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Proverbs 31 Ministries' She Speaks/She Writes Conference, Children's Authors' Bootcamp). The Christian writers' conferences have not only educated me on the "ins and outs" of writing and publishing, but have been amazing times of Spiritual renewal, as well as meeting treasured friends who are also pursuing a God-given dream.

Okay, enough's the astonishing, wondrous, unbelievable story of God's working! In February of this year, I was browsing the website of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I was lamenting...and honestly having a little pity party...because I couldn't go this year. (Now the reasons that I couldn't go are not cause for lament! The conference is May 18-22. Well, my precious daughter, Rachel, is getting married on May 17th!!! That is an occasion for great joy! And May 19-22 is the last week of final week with my precious Kindergarteners. I can't miss that!)

Now, back to the I was reading all the amazing workshops that I would be missing, I couldn't help but notice a link on their website...the Gideon Media Arts Conference. Now, the only reason that it even caught my eye was that I was going to be teaching about Gideon in my Bible lesson at school the next week. Odd or God? I think God!!! I clicked on the link, scrolled through the workshop listings, and initially thought there was really nothing there for me...until I happened upon the name of Cindy Kenney, an amazing well-known author and editor for companies such as Big Idea Productions and Exclaim Entertainment. She was offering a class called "Creating a Picture Book Layout" which was open to only 12 participants and required the submission of a completed children's picture book manuscript. Feeling, like Gideon...the weakest and the least...I "put out a fleece" and emailed my manuscript to Cindy, honestly having faith as small as a mustard seed. In just a few days, I received an invitation to join in the class. I emailed prayer warrior friends and family and said, "What do I do now?" I was heartily encouraged to Go!!

Lest you think that this is the climax of the story, may I just say that it was only the beginning! When I entered the classroom where I would be working with Cindy Kenney and Josiah Williams (a very talented illustrator), I feared that I was in the wrong place. No one was there. I was in the process of calling the front desk to ask if there had been any room changes, when Cindy and Josiah walked in. They came and sat beside me and said, "We've got a little something to tell you. It's going to be just the three of us." All I could think or say was, "Habakkuk 1:5!!" Yes, I was astonished! In Wonder! Utterly Amazed! I had come thinking I would be 1 of 12. I was 1 of 1!!! I had 5 unbelievable days with Cindy and Josiah.

And that's not all! I was 1 of 3 in a class called "How to Write for Brand Publishing," learning how to write for established brands...coming home with actual opportunities for assignments with VeggieTales, Precious Moments, and BOZ the Bear!

I spent a week amid well known authors, movie producers, screen writers, actors...all seeking "To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all types of media!" I sat under the teaching of Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales. I had the awesome opportunity to join in a class of 4 and actually interview with Matt Stockman at WMIT radio station, 106.9! (Thanks Ann Bruce!) I got to eat meals and just "hang out" with the most amazingly talented, God-honoring people!! I'm resisting the urge to name drop...okay, I can't resist...Ray Blackston, Ted Baehr, Michelle Cox, Vonda Skelton...I could go on and on!!

Odd or God? Only God could have orchestrated those days!! I can't wait to see what is to follow!

How does God want to "utterly amaze" you? In what area are you waiting for Him to do "something in your days that you would not believe if you were told"? Believe Him! Our God is able!!!

Lord, thank you for your promise in Matthew 17:20, that even if I "have faith as small as a mustard seed....Nothing will be impossible for you." Thank you for desiring to lavish your love on us and provoke us to "Be astonished! Wonder!...[and] believe...." Help us to trust, to seek you and follow you, to obey! You are amazing, God! Amen

(And by the way, did I mention that the amazing parents of my Kindergarteners donated a brand new laptop in January for my use in the classroom? I could not have successfully completed the workshop without it!! God provides!!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who's Watching You?

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children...." Ephesians 5:1a

We have a "dearly loved child" in our daughter Melea. She is 8 years old and in the second grade. We adopted her from China when she was just over a year old. She is the very embodiment of the blessing of obedience. God called us to go to China for her...and we have reaped a multitude of blessings because of our willingness to follow His plan.

Ever since Melea was just a toddler, she has been an imitator of my actions. I can remember in very early days, Melea watching as I did my daily exercises for my neck and back...studying every move carefully and then doing it herself. I can just picture those little eyes looking up at me, though her head was bent forward in a neck stretch, to make sure that she was doing it "just right."

Yesterday I was reminded again of how those precious eyes are watching and how her actions are reflecting those of my own. You see, she has started her own "blog." It isn't on a computer, but on a spiral bound her very best cursive handwriting. In it, she writes of the things she loves, the things that are important in her life...her favorite stuffed animal that she made at Build a Bear with her "best buddy" Rachel (our daughter) and her fiance, Brandon...and other things that communicate how much she loves her life and how she appreciates the many blessings that God has brought her way. Her blog is also an outlet for some fiction writing... again, an I spend a lot of my time writing fiction for children's books.

What an awesome responsibility it is to be watched and imitated! That surely increases my desire to be like be an imitator of God...and to "live a life of love" (more from Eph. 5:1) just as Christ did.

Who is watching you?

Our precious Heavenly Father, thank you that we are your "dearly loved child." Help us as we strive to imitate you...and you alone. Help us to walk in love as Jesus did. Help us to study your every move and walk in your footsteps. Draw us to your Word so that we may know you more each day and reflect your love to those who would seek to watch and imitate us.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Powerful...Possibly Powdery...Prayer Prompters

"The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord." Psalm 45:11 (NIV)

Let me just confess first thing that I do not know if that verse literally speaks of the King or the king, Him or him, He or he, Lord or lord. The capital letters are mine. No matter how it was intended by the Psalmist, it is true of our King! He is enthralled by your beauty and He is your Lord! And we should honor Him.

In my last post, I mentioned a little multitasking in regard to our morning prayer time. The next morning, I was applying it as I applied my makeup. I just jotted down a few thoughts that might serve as helpful Prayer Prompters! (I love alliteration!!)

Let's begin the makeover!

Begin with a clean face...obviously. We also need to begin with a clean heart. Pray Psalm 51:1-2,10. "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a pure heart, O God...." Confess your sin to Him and have your heart cleansed.

Moisturize!!! Fight being wrinkled and withered! In Luke 8:6 (The Parable of the Sower) it says, "the plants withered because they had no moisture." We are "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3b) Pray to be "like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden." (Job 8:16) To be well-watered, we need to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, with the One who pours into us His Living Water.

Time for foundation. First, you can thank Him for "covering your blemishes"...literally and figuratively through His mercy and grace, and Jesus' blood that was shed for you. Next, using Isaiah 33:6 which says, "He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure," thank Him for your salvation and pray for wisdom and knowledge in all that He has in store for your day...for your spouse's day, for your child's day, for your friend's day. And remember, as Scripture tells us in Matthew 7:25 and Luke 6:48, Jesus is our Rock, our firm foundation that will hold strong when the rains of life come down, when the streams of life rise to flood stage and threaten to drown us, when the winds of life blow and seem determined to beat us down. He is our "rock," our "fortress," our "deliverer," and the One in whom we can take refuge. (Psalm 18:2)

A little something around the eyes...shadow, liner, mascara. Pray for protection for your eyes...from "vile things"(Psalm 101:3) from "worthless things" (Psalm 119:37). Pray for God to help you to see the good around you, the good in other people.(I don't have a verse for that one.) Pray Ephesians 1:18, that "the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints." And pray to "fix [your] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."

Perhaps some blush. I don't really know where to go with this one. Just pray for God to keep you from things that would make you blush. Pray that for your spouse and your children too.

Some loose powder to blend and form a protective cover. Pray for God's protection and annointing for yourself and those you love. Isaiah 51:16 says, "I have put My words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand-I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say...,'You are my people.'" Mmmm, I love that! We are His! Oh, how He loves you and me.

Lastly, lipstick! First, pray to smile. Pray that you will "not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs...." (Ephesians 4:29) "Let your conversation be always full of grace...." (Colossians 4:6)

Check the mirror. (Make sure there's no lipstick on your teeth!) You're beautiful and ready to go!

Lord, thank You for being enthralled with my beauty. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14) Lord, live in me today. May I be a reflection of you to those I meet.

Monday, April 7, 2008


"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Whew! That is a challenging and powerful verse!! Just read it a couple of times. There are several things to consider as you look at that verse, but I just want to concentrate on the last phrase..."that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." The Amplified Bible says that "He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. The King James Version uses the word "diligently" in the phrase. The New Living Translation says "those who sincerely seek Him."

Are you seeking Him earnestly? Diligently? Sincerely? If not, why? Is it because of a lack of time? A lack of know how? A lack of desire? A lack of discipline? Don't worry! It's not to late! Girls, there is a reward...a prize for "running this race"...and it's eternal! Let's get geared up and ready to go!


1.Get your Spiritual sneakers on. Do you ever think, "I just don't have the desire to study God's Word...I don't 'hunger and thirst' for it like others do."? As I heard Beth Moore say years ago, "Pray to!" Pray to hunger and thirst for His Word. God created us to know Him and love Him and fellowship with Him. This is a prayer He will gladly answer!!

2.Grab your "power" drink. I don't want to begin any day without some word from the Lord. In the past, at times, it has been simply a devotion (or 2 or 3 different devotionals...I don't want to miss something He might want to say to me for that day!) There are lots to choose from that fit your stage of life, your interests, etc. I love Beth Moore's Praying God's Word Day by Day. Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest is also great. Go to the Christian Bookstore and choose one that suits your fancy. Girls, there's no excuse for letting this one slip by. It only takes a few minutes...and it's a must!

Also, spend time in prayer...while fixing breakfast, while in the shower (God has seen you naked!), while putting on your makeup, just spend some time praising Him, thanking Him for His goodness, praying for your family, and whatever needs are on your heart. If you need help with this, "Pray to" pray more!

3.Run with Him! Get into His Word. Do a Bible study. Again, there are many types, formats, different areas of interest. If this is new for you, I highly recommend a couple that are life changing, but require only about 20-30 minutes a day. (You can do that!! If you think you can't, 'Pray to!') My first recommendation is Living Free by Beth Moore. Sooooo good! I also love Pricilla Shirer's He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear From God and Discerning the Voice of God. Transforming!! (Please note, some of these have companion DVD's...way expensive! If you don't have access to them through a local church, you will still benefit from the study...hugely!) I am currently working through Jennifer Rothchild's Fingerprints of God. Very good. This is only a sampling. There are so many more...and great ones that go much deeper and require longer study time.

I must confess. I find this very easy to do in the summer. I am a teacher and those more relaxed mornings allow for leisurely Bible study. During the school year, it requires a little more discipline. But, you know what? God wants that time with us so much that He will do His part to meet with us. Yes, He will wake us up! I "prayed to" and He wakes me early! Then I have to do my part and obey Him and get up! I just love giving Him the firstfruits of my day and starting the day empowered!!! He even gave me a verse to encourage me. "He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught." Isaiah 50:4

4.Join a team! It is always more fun to run the race with a friend! Find an "accountability partner" to join you. Go through the study together. Make a weekly lunch date or Starbucks date to discuss what God is teaching you. You'll surely be blessed!! If you like larger groups, join a Bible Study in your church or in your community. Run, Girlfriend, Run!!!!!

Lord, your Word tells us that YOU are "our very great reward"!! (Genesis 15:1) Oh, how we want you! Help us to hunger and thirst for you. Equip us and empower us for this earthly race, that we may run it in a way that draws us closer to You and brings glory to Your Name!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Gimme That Good, Good Lovin'...More of God's Good Lovin'!

"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17

For the last couple of days, as I've pondered this post, the chorus to that song "Good Lovin'" by the Young Rascals, has played over and over in my mind. (I'm showing my age again, aren't I?...And may I just point out that in the old days that there just wasn't much choice of what you could listen to!) Although some of the lyrics may be a little quirky, the chorus is profoundly true...All [we] want...and need is good lovin'.

In my last post, I wrote about the "tangible-ness" of God's love. He is so faithful to show His great love for us. We just have to learn to look for it. Luke 11:9(NIV) says, "...Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find..."

You know, God knows us better than anyone else. He speaks our "love language." He knows our wants and needs. And one of the most wonderful ways that God loves on us tangibly is through our friends!! I am utterly astounded at the measure of love God has shown me through the friendships of women who love Him and love His Word. I know without a doubt that God has clearly orchestrated the details in bringing each one of them into my life. And oh, how I thank Him!

God provides friendships to help make us stronger in our walk with Him. There is not much that exhilarates me more than sharing truths God is showing in His Word or the work that He is doing in our lives as we enjoy a Frappacino or something delectably chocolate! "Pity the fool" (Did I just quote Mr. T?) that is sitting next to us! Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another." God surely uses our Christian friendships to grow us closer to the One who loves us the most!

God also sends friends to strengthen us in our walks through this earthly life. John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble...." It's inevitable. But, through God's sovereign grace and provision, He has prepared us for the journey by placing fellow warriors in our path. I am so grateful for the women who have walked with me, cried with me, interceded for me as I travelled difficult roads. In Ecclesiastes 4:10-12, we are reminded that "Two are better than one....If one falls down, his friend can help him up....Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." I'm thankful for the friends who've "been there" for me and for the privilege of opportunities to be the friend God uses to minister, to love, and to encourage. It's what friends do.

I pray that you are richly blessed with Godly friends. If you are not, make Luke 11:9 your prayer. Ask. Seek. He loves you! Just watch as He shows you!

Lord, thank you foremost for "what a friend we have in Jesus." And thank you that in addition to your great love that you have given us earthly friends to love, to "cheer on", to share this journey. Thank you for the "treasures" that you have given us that we may "know that [You are] the Lord, the God of Israel, the One who calls [us] by name! (Isaiah 45:3 NLT)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

God's Tangible Love...Can You Feel It?

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Are you satisfied with God's love? Do you find it unfailing?

I can distinctly remember a time when I doubted the satisfaction and the unfailingness of God's love. I felt alone and rejected. I remember crying out to God in my despair. I went to His Word and read over and over how He loves me. But then I said to Him, "You can't really hug me. I can't see your physical presence in the room. You're just not tangible." He reached down and used that opportunity to open the eyes of my heart and express the vastness of His love for me.

The next time I was outdoors, a cool breeze wrapped its arms around me. "That's a hug, did you feel it?" He seemed to say. The sunset that evening was sensational. "I'm in that sunset. Do you see me?" Birds were singing in the trees. "Do you hear that love song?" The scent of the rhododendron in my backyard filled the air. "Mmmm, isn't that a pleasing aroma? It's for you." As I said, the eyes of my heart were opened. I began to see the signs of His love all over the place!

I encourage you to look for His signs of love toward you. Accept it as personal. Listen for Him in that song that comes to mind...or just the right Bible verse that ministers to your heart. He speaks, my friend. Yes, He speaks.

Let's tune in to songs that allow Him to speak. Let's stay in His Word and hear what He has to say. Let's hide His precious words in our hearts so that they are readily available when we need them.

Lord, thank you for your tangible, unfailing love for me. Thank you for all the ways that you show the depth of your love. Thank you for your Word...your love letter, your guide to me. Thank you for the most tangible expression of your love, giving your own Son to die so that I might live forever. Thank you that He conquered death and rose again...and that He will return for me...His bride.