Monday, December 27, 2010

What’s a Girl to Do?

 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”
1 Peter 1:15 (NIV)

What to do?  What to do?   The thoughts stumbled around my head as I organized another day’s to-do list.  Item number 1 – feed kids.  Number 2 – change that smelly diaper.  Number 3 – get coffee.  No!  Scratch that.  Coffee first… the kids can wait.   That’s me.  I make lists and check them twice.  I do things well.   

Like the swirling steam of my brewing beans, the sweet voice of the Lord saturated my senses.  “Relationships” He whispered.  “Scratch your do-ing.  Today I want you to be.”

I prayed for just this; begged for it even.  A word; a single word from my God, and now that He delivered I wished He would take it back.  Throw away my to-do list?!  What’s a girl to do?

According to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, I am an introvert.  I love quiet time...alone.  I raved for weeks about having a full eight hours of peaceful bliss on a recent airline trip.   

Mr. Myers and Mr. Briggs would also call me a “thinker” (as opposed to a “feeler”).  If given the choice, I would pour over Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion before attending Hallmark’s Annual Greeting Card Convention.

Introverted thinkers can do a great many things.  We can will ourselves to run (and finish!) a 10 mile race after recovering from major knee surgery.  We can gather our perfectly dressed family for the perfect Christmas photo on Hawaii’s perfect beach to create a bazillion perfect Christmas cards.  We can even change diapers, feed the masses, and dig up a cup of coffee all before 7am!  But we can’t do relationships.  You must be in relationship.

“Be” as a prefix denotes nearness or closeness; to remain or be fixed.  In the Hebrew language, this prefix means to stand by.  There is nothing to do when you are be-ing, except to stay where you are.  To be in relationship blows that whole notion of quality time vs. quantity time right out of the water.  God’s relationships are defined by quantity: Stand by me and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10); submit to God and remain at peace with him (Job 22:21); just as he who called you is holy, stand near his holiness in all you do (1 Peter 1:15).

If my extensive to-do list boasts beautiful accomplishments, but neglects relationships - I accomplish nothing.  If I run the race arrogantly smirking every time I pass those less experienced than me - I am just another competitor.  If my perfect Christmas card fails to reflect the perfect beauty of the season but instead reflects my misplaced perfectionism – I gain nothing.  Love is not grumpy when my family’s early morning wake-up interferes with the day's to-do list.   Love changes diapers, feeds children, and delays coffee.  Love never fails. 

The funny thing is that God doesn’t ask me to stop do-ing at all, He just asks me to be holy while I’m do-ing it all. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15, NIV).   

What to do?  What to do?  The thoughts stumble around my head as I now contemplate how to be holy in all that I do.

What wisdom can you share with a Mom seeking to be holy in all she does?

Dear Lord, help us to be near, fixed to, and standing by our loved ones.  Help us to put aside our to-do lists in favor of being in relationship with the ones You gave us this day.  For this is the day that You have made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Love-Wise by Bill & Pam Farrel (

Honest believers that anyone can have great relationships!  Join them in discovering how to make all your relationships work better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Greatest man in history named Jesus. Had no servants, yet they called Him Master. Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. Had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our God is an Awesome God

Our and awesome God...He heaven above...with wisdom, power, and love...our God is an awesome God.

 These lyrics are playing around in my head as I type, for our God is an awesome God! 

A few moths ago I spied a writing course offered by the Christian Writer's Guild.  After drooling over the possibility of  being assigned my own personal mentor and writing coach, I almost choked over the price.  Nearly $700!  There died that dream.

But the hopes of someday being able to afford such a class never died.  And with the additional income of some recent photography business, I wondered if it may be a possibility after all...

Then the mail came the other day.  Apparently that day I enviously explored the Christian Writer's Guild website, I must have clicked on a box that expressed my interest in the class, for in the mail came a packet of materials advertising that very course.  Great, I thought.  Here's another chance to battle my jealousy.

Instead I found a pleasant surprise!  Either they drastically reduced their prices or I desperately need new glasses, but the advertised cost of the course was now almost $400 less than I remembered.  Jeff immediately turned to me and said, "So...when are you signing up?"

Our God is an awesome God.  You are now looking at (figuratively, of course) an official Guild student - writing coach and all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Hard Candy of the Bible

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3

I listen to Dr. Timothy Keller - the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.  He both confounds and enlightens me.  I can't get enough of the guy.  Here's why:

In a sermon entitled Your plans; God's plans, Dr. Keller introduces the book of Proverbs with these words:

"You've heard of the meat of the word, and the milk of the word.  Proverbs are the hard candy of the word.  You don't just swallow it.  You don't just bite into it.  You have to dissolve it very, very, very slowly on your tongue.  You have to meditate on it.  You have to think about it."

He goes on to expose a common misconception.  You think you know what Proverbs 16:3 suggests.  You think it states, "Commit your plans to the Lord and then He will bless your deeds."  As if you could pray something like, "Oh Lord, bless my plans" and then your deeds would surely succeed.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Believe. Help my Unbelief.

Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you are turning their hearts back again.  – 1 Kings 18:37

 "'Shout louder!’ Elijah said.  ‘Surely [Baal] is a god!  Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’  So [the Israelites] shouted louder…but there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.’”  1 Kings 18:27-29.  

How many times have you wondered if God was paying attention to you?  Have you ever (gasp!) doubted that God answers prayer?  Or more poignantly, that God answers your prayers?  Without announcing my suspicion on a highway billboard, I do occasionally succumb to the fear that God may just be deep in thought or busy taking care of other, more important matters.  If it is true that doubt, like faith, is a learned skill (Mark Lilla, NY Times Magazine), then I no doubt have learned an age old skill.

Then last week happened.  I was in a place emotionally where the only thing I could do was sit…and let my iPod worship for me…and sigh out in prayer, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.   Help me to trust in your faithfulness, and know you are God…to me.”

Remembrance by Matt Redman took its turn in my ears, and the words flowed through my thoughts.  “Oh, how could it be, that my God would welcome me, into this mystery?”  Yes, I thought.  How could it be? God welcomes me into His mystery.  But wait!  God welcomes me.  He knows me.  I didn’t doubt.  I believed!!  For the first time (ever in my life!) I heard words that spoke of belonging, of being known and loved, and not a shred of doubt, disbelief, or denial crossed my thoughts.  Just pure, unadulterated belief!  God had, for the moment, healed my chronic skepticism of all good things pertaining to me.  And it wasn’t arrogant.  It wasn’t prideful.  It was a sweet, humble confidence in the Lord’s love for my soul.  I believed!

After Elijah taunted the Baal-worshiping Israelite and watched as no one responded, no one answered, and no one paid attention, He then turned to his God in prayer.  “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you are turning their hearts back again.”  And God responded, abundantly.  Fire reigned!  The offering doused in water instantly dried up.  The entire altar: bull, kindling, stones, and water bath, all gone in an instant!  And to top it off – rain.  After seven years of surviving in dry-as-a-bone wasteland and barren cropland, God brought rain.  This was no little whisper of a promise to come.  This was an outright display of majesty and power.  This was abundance at its best.

God had heard my quiet murmur of a prayer.  I didn’t need to shout.  I didn’t need to shake God from his deep thoughts or pull a number on his waiting list.  He already welcomed me into His mystery.   He heard all the little whispers I managed to breathe out in the middle of a hectic day.   And as I prayed in His will, He answered abundantly. 

Monday:  Lord, help!  I haven’t planned for our art co-op this afternoon.  I need a dish for the party tonight.  And I still have to purchase a gift for the baby shower.

Lord: All your supplies are in your closet.  Use that Tastefully Simple box hidden up on the top shelf…and like the box says, “Just add water.”  Oh, and make sure to answer your front door.  I sent a friend over with your baby shower gift.

Tuesday:  Lord, please help me find ways to improve my writing.

Lord: How’s a 200-word writing contest for the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia movie release?  Or how about another longer submission for Xulon Press?  (I put them both in your Inbox).  If those don’t interest you, the Christian Writer’s Guild has an online Writing Essential class and an upcoming writing conference that I designed with you in mind.  But just in case you’re looking for something today, MOPS is looking for work we’ve already written to complete their upcoming newsletter.  Just send it in.  They’re waiting to publish it.

Wednesday: Lord, help my unbelief.
Lord: You already believe.  Just listen to this.

Last week happened.  I didn’t need to shout louder.  All I needed was to pray in His will, however soundless it may be, and to watch Him work…abundantly.  Maybe I could learn new tricks after all.

What prayer have you withheld from God under the suspicion that there would be no response?  Do you trust Him with everything, even your doubt?

May I pray for you?
Lord, we believe.  Help our unbelief.  May we look to you for every little thing, waiting in expectation for your abundant response.  For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. Psalms 145:13

The Power of a Praying [Woman, Parent, Wife, Husband, Teen, Kid, Church, or Life] by Stormie O’Martian reaches anyone eager to discover the power of prayer in their lives.

Mom’s in Touch Ministries A prayer ministry that impacts children and schools worldwide for Christ by gathering mothers together to pray.  The website provides a listing of MITI groups around the nation, downloadable prayer sheets, conferences, encouragement and more!

Christ Our Life a sermon by Tim Keller, best-selling author and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NY Free download!  Listen to pastor Keller convince you that doubt, like faith is learned…and much more!

The Only Hope by Bebo Norman.  You can find this joyful retelling of God’s amazing abundance on his self-titled album Bebo Norman.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Walking MY Wilderness Exposed

And Jesus said, "All right, receive your sight!  Your faith has healed you."  Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God.  And all who saw it praised God, too."
Luke 18:42-43

One lonely lamp burned warm and ruddy in the early morning hour.  My worn and ragged blanket beckoned me to curl up, sit, and be still.  Everyone was still asleep - or at least hiding upstairs quietly until, "the clock said 7."  It was my time alone with God in my quiet little corner of the world.
Only I wasn't alone and my mind wasn't still.  Anxiety befriended me and thoughts raced around my head.  What I failed to mention, was that before taking my seat this morning, I stole a quick (and eager) peek at my email.   I longed to find an inspirational letter from a writing mentor, full of answers to my myriad questions about publishing devotionals and pitching proposals to publishers...and it was there!  Only, without my friend's intention it was also filled with disappointment.  What I had hoped would merely sharpen my vision of the publishing process, turned out to be insight into the challenging anguish of authorship.  No one was publishing devotionals, at least not from an unknown author (like me!) with zero platform and zero prior publications.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seeing Visions

My world has been in a hurricane these past couple of months.  Not only have I traveled to the mainland visiting wonderful old friends (and I mean "old" in the lasting, never-giving-up-on-me kind of way), but I have attended a life-changing conference on Christian authorship, taken on the responsibility to co-head a 125-member Children's Ministry, and committed to teach our four children at home...all starting at approximately the EXACT SAME TIME!
Needless to say, I have felt burdened, overwhelmed, and plain worn out.  Every time I close my eyes, I see visions of long lines of parents waiting to sign up their child for a children's program, the plethora notebooks, binders and reminders of what the Lord has put on my heart to share in writing, and the vast empty spaces of my lesson plans that I had hoped to have filled to the brim with amazing resources and ideas for a new school year.  I see visions...

But what I haven't seen lately is the vision of my Lord, my Savior, and my God.  I close my eyes to pray and my mind wanders to the extensive 'to do' lists I've created for myself.  I sit to just listen to worship, and I envisions the ways I can look better in the eyes of other parents, my 'readers' and my children.  I see visions... 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Barna Reports

What percentage of young Americans (age 21-29) do you think meet the following criteria?

1. Know, love and serve God as their top priority in life
2. Faith in God has the highest importance
3. Possess a 'biblical worldview' as defined below:
  • Absolute moral truth exists
  • Such truth is defined in the Bible
  • God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator and ruler of the universe
  • Faith in Jesus Christ is the only means to salvation
  • Satan is a real being
  • Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth
  • All of the principles taught in the Bible are true and accurate
4. Believe that their main purpose in life is to love God with all their heart, mind and strength
5. Currently active in a vibrant community of faith, as demonstrated by a consistent engagement in worship, prayers, Bible study and spiritual accountability.

The answer:  Less than 10%!!!  And that was almost 3 years ago! (Barna Report, Sep 2007)

Rhetorical questions of the Day:  Now, what percentage of American Christian parents do you think desire these convictions to be evident their adult children?  Isn't it time to bridge the gap between our Christian parenting vision and our cultural reality?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Growing in New Directions

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live - Romans 8:13

The other day I went out in the back yard and literally hacked down our Hibiscus bush.  Really.  It no longer resembles anything alive and flourishing with beautiful red and yellow flowers, but instead looks like a skeleton of it's former self.  I chopped off all the smaller branches from their base and knocked down the height of this overgrown bush from a towering 8 feet to something under 5 feet.  (I should know.  I can now see over the top of it.  I am only 5 feet tall...on a good day :).  In short, it looks ruined.

Why did I do this, you ask?  Well, that beautiful Hibiscus bush was growing all right, but all in the wrong direction.  I was only growing up, and not out.  While the branches extended high up into the vast spaces above my head, I could see through all the spindly little branches from 0 - 5 feet.  It was tall, yet thin; growing up, yet not providing what it was created for - privacy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tell the Nations

Have you ever wondered if you were headed in the right direction?  If you had started on a path that really was not meant for you to go down? Or if you had taken a wrong turn on that "road less traveled?"  These were the kinds of questions that I was pondering last night regarding my writing 'career'.  And the following words were my God's response the following morning.  (His mercies are new every morning...)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Did You Know??

Recently I had the privilege of reading one of the latest reports from the Barna Group. (You can read more about the Barna Group here, and the work they are doing as the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.)  For the purpose of this research, the Mosiac generation refers to adults who are currently ages 18-25; Busters are those ages 26-44; Boomers are 45-63; and Elders are 64 plus.

Did you know...

  • While 90% of Boomer and Elders identify the Bible as sacred, only 81% of all Busters hold the same view, while an even less number (67%) of Mosiacs call the Bible a sacred text.
  • Just 30% of the Mosiacs strongly agrees that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.  This only increases to 39% for Buster.
  •  A majority of the Mosiacs believe that the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts - 65%!
But surprisingly enough...
  • 19% of Mosiacs - the highly skeptical generation - also had the highest level of interest among all Americans in gaining Biblical knowledge.
I found these statistics interesting as I was working on the ministry plan for Crossing Jordan.  Just who is the core audience? And what do they believe?  If Crossing Jordan is going to reach the next generation of young and growing families, just how are we going break through their cultural skepticism and penetrate their heart?  How are we going to turn their cultural quest to know of the things of the Lord into a burgeoning desire to know the Lord? These are the questions Crossing Jordan seeks to answer...

Monday, June 28, 2010

She Speaks!

I'm in! 

A little while ago, my friend Kate introduced me to Proverbs 31 Ministries, and their annual She Speaks conference.  It is a gathering of ministry-minded women who seek to proclaim the Lord's message either in the spoken word, the written word, or through women's ministry leadership and is based upon Proverbs 31:26...
"She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
Well, the short of the story is that I waited too long to register, found the conference 'sold out' and then woke up this weekend to an email telling me that I had received an invitation to fill one of the few remaining spots that 'opened up'.  Praise God!  I am excited just thinking about the possibilities waiting in Concord, NC.  But mostly, I am eagerly anticipating a weekend-long, uninterrupted meeting with my God. 

Thank you, Kate, for sharing the good news with me. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Prodigal's Journey Home

I sat in church yesterday excited about a new series that we were starting in our Sunday School class.  It's called Gospel in Life and is produced by the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, Tim Keller. In this study, Tim was expounding upon the story of the Prodigal Son.  (You know, the one about the son who boldly claims his inheritance from his father before his father even dies and then goes off and squanders it on wild living and prostitutes.)

Well, sitting there I was completely struck by a new understanding...of the other son!  We all know and love the son who runs off in rebellion and ultimately sees the error of his ways and slinks back home hoping to find forgiveness and reconciliation.  We can identify with that kind of rebellion, or at least with the temptation to rebel like he did.  We can breath a sigh of relief when his father runs out to meet him (while he was still a long way off!) and rejoice with him when he receives a new robe and is placed before a feast with his father's entire household.  We celebrate his forgiveness and restoration!

But what about that other son?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hey Everyone!

I figured it was about time to separate my 'writing life' from my daily life (as if they don't intertwine inseparably).  So welcome to Crossing Jordan - A Writer's Journal!

Here you will find my thoughts and ideas about the spiritual journey God has sent me on: Restoring the Joy of Salvation- One Post at a Time.

Please feel free to comment and question as you desire.  That's the whole point.

In Him,
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