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Archive for the ‘God’s Love’ Category

Fresh rabbit tracks led in every direction around the camp, clearly visible in the clean snow. I snowshoed westward on the road leading to the lake, then veered off to follow one of the dozens of paw-pocked paths through the water poplar bluffs. The trail had to lead somewhere, and this day I chose “the road less travelled” and it indeed made a difference for me.file0001542848424 Morguefile/Rabbit Trails

I soon realized that rabbits could travel where people cannot, at least not without scraped face and torn clothing. I eventually happened upon a barbed wire fence a short distance below the horse corrals. I was not lost, but disoriented. I could see the sun peeking over the highest hill in the camp, and even I know the sun comes up in the east.

Instead of removing snowshoes and climbing over barbed wire, I decided to backtrack, winding along myriad tiny trails and pausing under hoarfrost-heavy branches. Not long after, I came upon a more established path where the trees and scrub brush had been cleared. According to the signs—paw prints and droppings—a coyote had passed that way. I followed and arrived again at the road that led back to camp.

Sometimes we can become as diverted in our spiritual lives as I was by the rabbit tracks on my morning trek. It may not be fatal, perhaps only a slight detour. It may not seriously affect us, but we stop moving forward for the moment. Other times we may come out with spiritual scars and bruises.

We need to get our bearings, perhaps retrace our steps until we see the way that has been established for us. Just as the rising sun gave me confidence and direction, so we need to keep Christ as the focus of our lives, allowing His Word to reveal Him to us daily.file0001150364158

We never know when a rabbit trail will draw us off course, but our Lord is a beacon in a confusing world. If we follow Him, we will find the right path.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls’ ” (Jeremiah 6:16).

 

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As our women’s Sunday School class broke into small groups and bowed our heads to pray, I studied our shoes. Oh, I know I should have closed my eyes, but at that pre-prayer moment, the shoes caught my attention:  one pair of solid, practical, well-used running shoes worn with white socks; one pair of comfy suede flats, neatly brushed to disguise signs of wear on the toes; a pair of fashionable, black, open-toe pumps on stockinged feet; and a set of lime green flip-flops with large, pink, plastic flowers on top.

photo credit: Michelle Gow via photopin cc

photo credit: Michelle Gow via photopin cc

I closed my eyes then, but even as we shared in prayer, my mind danced with the  differences in our shoes, our personalities, our roles.

SuAnn of the sturdy tennis shoes takes care of her elderly husband who is now confined to a wheel chair as the result of an accident. She must be practical, but she is also kind and compassionate.

The comfy suedes belong to me. I’m at the age where style and comfort wage war with every pair of shoes I purchase. The suedes fit both categories and they’re not expensive.

Danielle paints houses for a contractor. She’s as meticulous with her painting as she is with her appearance, and her pumps demonstrate the fact.

Callie is a teenager who seems to be able to wear whatever she wants and still look great. Her flip-flops reflect her youthful spirit, which in her case is connected firmly to her joyful commitment to the Lord.

Variety, diversity—the spice of life. God has created us as diverse as the shoes we choose. I’m convinced He delights in the potpourri of personalities He observes in His creatures.

Why then do we judge and criticize our brothers and sisters in the Lord? Why do we raise our eyebrows at SuAnn’s lack of style, or frown at Callie’s free spirit? When we judge others, are we not indirectly disapproving of God’s creativity?

Paul recognized our God-given diversity when he wrote, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (I Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV).

He continues in verse 11:  “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

God has, in His ultimate wisdom, created us unique from one another. Let us look at the differences as complementary, as parts of a whole, respecting and encouraging one another in our varied roles.

Prayer:  Lord, may I learn to walk comfortably in the shoes you have designed for me. May I also have the confidence, from you, to encourage my brothers and sisters on their respective journeys, no matter how different their shoes may be from mine. Amen.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/michie/4064495568/”>Michelle Gow</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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author photoWell, this has been an unexpected blast! When my new publisher at Helping Hands Press encouraged all his authors to get on the social media bandwagon, I almost despaired. I’ve been on Facebook for a while, thanks to my daughters’ urgings, but that’s it. It’s been an uphill climb, to be sure, and at times a frustrating and bumpy one, but I’ve now managed to make a nuisance of myself on Twitter, Tweetdeck, Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GooglePlus and a couple more, not to mention a blog blitz on my website.

The blog blitz surprised even me. I began by featuring one author, as suggested by Mr. G, and since it wasn’t too difficult, I tried it again the next day. Here is a list of my December features:

December 6:    My Fiction Writing 101—#3—Genre

December 8:    Patti Smith (Helping Hands Press – HHP – author)

December 9:    Sheila Lagrand (HHP)

December 9:    Book review of The Roman’s Quest by Anne Baxter Campbell

December 10:  Andy McKell (HHP)

December 11:  Joy Ross Davis (HHP)

December 12:  Amber Schamel (HHP)

December 13:  Life intervened—not superstitious; it was my dear hubby’s birthday.

December 14:  Jeanette Hanscome (HHP)

December 15:  Linda Wood Rondeau (HHP)

December 16:  Linda Wegner (a dear friend, author and technical writer)

December 17:  Marsha Hubler (HHP)

December 18:  Mishael Witty (HHP)

December 19:  David Stearman (HHP)

December 20:  My Christmas blog (previously featured on Ruth L. Snyder’s website)

December 21:  To The New Year

Now I plan to take a break for a bit until the new year arrives. My aim (dangerous to put it out there, I know) is to tweak my approach to about once a week and include more author sites and interviews, as well as continuing my Fiction Writing 101 posts (otherwise I won’t be able to continue my fiction writing).

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope each of you will consider the Reason for the Season—Jesus, our Saviour—and let Him lead you into 2014.

Now I’m off to bake a few more kinds of cookies and prepare myself and my house for the sweet chaos of our three kids, their spouses and ten lively grandchildren. And maybe a few more guests along the way.

God bless,

Janice

Note of interest:  The third volume of my e-book, Other Side of the River—Tempered Sorrows—is set to release around December 19, so please stay tuned.

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I recently received a phone call from one of my grandkids, four-year old Jordy. He schmoozed a bit first because that’s what he does, then said something garbled about Christmas, followed by, “This…and this…and this…and this…”

“Jordy,” I interrupted, “do you have a list there?”

“Yes.”

“Have you been looking at the catalogue?”

“Yes.”

“Are these all things you want for Christmas?”

“Yes,” followed by a cheery goodbye. Mission accomplished.

Is that how my prayers sound to God? Do I schmooze my way into His presence with the prescribed praise, confession, thanksgiving, then get to the good stuff: my list of wants? Some of them are legit, some are just plain selfish. Sometimes I’m ashamed of how childishly I approach the Holy God.

But wait. Jordy’s chitchat didn’t bug me; I was more than pleased to hear from him. Sure, he was thinking of himself, but he also thought about me and took time to call—I know how he is. I loved piecing together the puzzle of his thoughts and deciphering his words. I guessed at what “this” and “this” might be. He made me smile and my love for him grew, as it does every time I see or hear from him.

I have a heavenly Father who adores me. He calls me the apple of his eye. Every moment of every day His thoughts are with me. When I rattle off my list of wants, He stoops to listen, and I like to think He smiles when He hears my voice. He knows how I am, yet His love for me is greater than I can dream or imagine. He tells me to approach Him with confidence and I am safe in His love.

This Christmas season I sense that Jesus is taking time to teach me—through the words of a child—how to love Him better. I trust His love and acceptance of me as much as Jordy trusts that I’ll open my arms to him when he comes for Christmas. And yes, there will be presents.

 

 

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I have a dear friend who publishes a column every Monday. The contents are as varied as life circumstances, and these posts always bless me. Since this one follows a Christmas theme, I asked Linda’s permission to repost it on my blog. Photo - Press

First, let me tell you a little about Linda. She is a published author, columnist, motivational speaker and workshop presenter. She has earned her bread and butter for many years as a professional business writer and has gained much wisdom regarding business management and professional editing skills. I’m primarily a reader of fiction, but I offered to read and review her non-fiction book 3D Success – Changing Careers in Mid-Life, and was greatly inspired and motivated by this excellent book. Please check it out after you’ve read Linda’s column. Also, note her contact info at the bottom of the page.3D Success

BOY’S GENEROSITY ASTOUNDS THOUSANDS

by Linda Wegner

As reported in the first edition of Christ’s News [1] publication, Jesus, son of Mary and step-son of Nazareth-based carpenter Joseph, began receiving unusual gifts just weeks after He was born. At that time Eastern Magi brought symbolic offerings of frankincense, myrrh and gold to Bethlehem were He was born. Now approximately thirty years later, another outstanding example of the generosity of His followers has been reported.

According to reporters covering the story, an estimated five thousand people gathered on a local hillside to hear this One who called Himself the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. That’s when a young boy was seen handing his lunch bag to Christ’s followers.

In what proved to be an extraordinarily attentive audience, attendees sat and listened for hours; some reports said it was only the physical need for food that interrupted their concentration. Apparently as conscious of their bodily requirements as their spiritual longings, this One called Jesus instructed his key disciples to provide food for the crowd.

Upon informing Him that there were insufficient funds to carry out that task, they continued to protest. “Even if we worked for months we’d never be able to earn enough to feed this crowd!

That’s where the commendable generosity of that unidentified young boy comes in. Although members of the Teacher’s administrative assistants, commonly known as disciples, acknowledged the donation, they quickly pointed out that in the face of the circumstances not much could be done with five barley loaves and two fishes.

Even eye witness accounts defy explanation as to what happened next: after a simple prayer, those same disciples were seen distributing baskets of food. Following a feast of bread and fish, conservationists were pleased to report that twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered.

Our question: Is any gift too small to be used by this Master?

[1] Fictitious title of publication used in this article

Linda Wegner, Author and Speaker
Words of Worth
5549 Maple Avenue
Powell River, BC   V8A 4N4

 

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I am pleased to feature fellow author Sheila Seller Lagrand today. Thanks, Sheila, for this great “Merry Christmas” thought.

Making Peace with Christmas

by Sheila Seller Lagrand

bio-pic-Sheila-Seiler-LagrandIn my strident youth I was a Christmas militant. I railed against the displays of candy canes and chocolate snowmen lurking about the bags of Halloween candy. I fumed as tinsel mingled with the harvest cornucopia in some kind of mall marketing miscegenation. I averted my eyes when neighbors’ Christmas lights brightened the street before we had celebrated Thanksgiving.

Not this year. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe it’s because the grandchild count has risen to nine—which means more gifts, more wrapping, more time to dream up selections that say I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling across an ocean to spend Christmas with my daughter, her Navy-Chief husband, and their children on Guam. For all these reasons, I have overcome my Christmas-season-snobbery. Never again, Lord help me, will I judge the mom scooping up the latest Legos in October.

And never again will I jam all the gift-choosing, making, ordering, or buying into the precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a legalistic maneuver all along, I see now, not a decision born of grace and joy. And what is more important at Christmastime than grace and joy? As I consider it today, I can’t even remember why I thought it was such an achievement to exhaust myself by squeezing every bit of preparation into a few short weeks.

After all these hard-line years, it’s been deliciously daring to choose gifts in October, to be laying in stores of red-and-green tissue during the first crisp days of autumn.  Once I committed to changing my approach, and my attitude, about the Christmas schedule, I reaped an unexpected bonus: The rejoicing heart, the sense of blessedness as I reflect on the priceless gift of our Savior, the real key elements to the Christmas season, they kicked in early, too. Instead of three or four weeks of an overflowing heart, I’ve enjoyed the jubilation since late October.

I understand better now the friend who sings carols in March, the heart-sister who displays a Christmas tree all year long. I’ve been cheating myself out of a heap of exultation. So if we cross paths at the beach next summer, please don’t be surprised if I greet you with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”

Check out Sheila’s website at http://sheilalagrand.com

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Those of us who live on the Canadian prairies have lived through an extremely long winter, and even now with the arrival of May, spring is reluctant to commit. Someecards, via Facebook, quotes as follows: “If my calculations are correct, today is February 82nd…”

Some of us may also be experiencing a long winter in our writing lives. We have, in the past, succeeded in varying degrees in our writing/publishing careers, only to follow that success with an extensive wintry spell where the muse is disinclined to favor us with it’s presence and publishers remain cordial but distant.

We can handle this career freeze in several ways, the first being to wallow in it like a pig in a mud puddle, except the pig is usually happy. Or we can make excuses that sound reasonable but fall short of the truth.

The best remedy, in my experience, is to push aside the whining (Oh, I’m sorry; if you didn’t whine, just ignore that comment), face the facts and determine to do something about them. True, we can’t always change our personal situation, and we certainly can’t force publication, but we can be aware of and respond to opportunities that may open doors for our writing.

I try to take time in January to look ahead at my year and write down some goals, along with ideas on how to achieve them. They may not be lofty goals, but they do require forward movement, and that is key. In all honesty, I don’t always look back at those goals, but once written, they find a place in my subconscious, and subtly suggest direction.

So far this year, I entered a short story, written many years ago and never sold, into a contest and won publication in an anthology. No monetary reward, but better than nothing, and the proceeds go to a worthy cause. I also sought and received a tentative contract with an e-book publisher for a historical novel. After my long publishing winter, this smells of spring. Also, in helping a friend publicize her newly released book, I will have a book review published in a well-known Canadian Christian magazine in the near future.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I first prayed, asking the Lord Jesus to bless my ideas and plans, as well as my writing and publishing efforts. He faithfully nudges me along, bringing opportunities before me so I can respond to them. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him and I acknowledge that.

So no matter how long the winter of your discontent, take heart. Pray, think, plan, and move ahead in confidence that spring always follows winter.

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