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Posts Tagged ‘inspirational thought’

This morning as I walked down our country road—my favorite thinking and praying time­­—I thought about expectations. So often, our lives become dull or difficult because we haven’t taken the time to consider our expectations.

When we are honest with ourselves about what we expect of a situation, we are halfway to accepting it and dealing with it. But if we deny the possible/probable realities, life can become burdensome.

The key is that the Lord keeps giving us grace as we ask for it and are willing to accept it. Not in truckloads, but in teaspoonsful. Grace isn’t something we can stockpile. I think the reason is that God wants us to be dependent on Him. Every day. Every hour. While we can do nothing of ourselves, we can do everything God asks us to as we depend on Him.

What do we expect from life? From our writing? From God? If we truly wish to please God, we need to suit our expectations to God’s will and listen for the Spirit’s guidance. We need to be flexible (a difficult concept for me to put into practice).

I want to live in honest expectation of what God has for me each day, whether it’s in my writing or my family life, because that’s when life goes from humdrum to exciting.

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Theme is a topic, idea or motif that is central to a story. I believe theme is something that evolves organically in our fiction as characters move through their particular conflict and respond to it. As writers, we have to be careful not to manipulate a theme to convey our values. Our heart-theme will emerge if we write honestly.

Why do we write what we write, and how do we incorporate our values into our stories without being conspicuous? I would suggest it takes practice in releasing theme, and allowing the Lord to bring out truths in our stories that will positively influence our readers.

Theme is also an aspect of our lives that develops as we learn and grow and mature. It comes from who we are, what our values are, and how we live them out. Sometimes other people see our life-theme better than we do.

If a theme is organic, that means it stems from our responses to circumstances in our lives.

I’ll be honest. I have trouble maintaining a smoothly-flowing passion for life. When things go well—my relationships are healthy, finances are manageable, plans seem to be following through—then I love life and it spills over into my writing. But when things go less than lovely, which is to be expected in this life, I tend to question my reasons for doing what I do. Thankfully, I know I am forgiven when I fall or fail, and my God is all about redemption and renewal.

So I’m thinking that everything I believe and do must be based on something solid and sure. James 1:17 (NKJV) says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

God does not change, nor can He be manipulated. We can lean on Him, rely on Him, depend on Him because of those invariable truths. If we base our theme on God and consider the good gifts He gives us, we should be able, with His divine help, to live at peace with whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, whether in our writing life or in our personal life.

I pray that the theme of my life, my commitment to Jesus Christ, would be organic, influencing other lives toward Him.

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Today I’m thankful for fall. That’s an interesting statement considering the fact that I don’t especially like winter, and fall is the signal that the cold months are coming. But I’ve decided not to allow the threat of winter to rob me of the joy of autumn.
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It’s been a fine, albeit busy, summer with lots of heat, a fair amount of rain, and happy flowers, trees, crops and grass. We’re still mowing our lawn in the latter half of September, which is very unusual. Everything is still green except the elms, which are staring to turn, and the green ash trees, which are a gorgeous, deep yellow. Since we haven’t experienced a killing frost yet, most of the leaves are still clinging to their branches.

photoMy dear mother, who is an alert 92 ½ years of age (how very thankful I am for her), encourages me to embrace every phase of life, and I think that should be true for the seasons as well. I will let the delicious autumn colors, clean air, lack of bugs and mellow weather surround and bless me. Then I will welcome winter as a break from yard work, from the busyness of the summer, and embrace it’s cold from the confines of my warm home. A time of relative peace and rest.view to east

Which leads me to the fact that I am extremely thankful for my home,

 

 

for the warmth I experience there, both physically and emotionally,

for the security we are blessed with in our country (Let’s pray for our leaders, especially as we head toward the election.),

for family and friends that make my life so rich,

for my church family and pastors that continually bless, support and teach me the truth of the Word of God (Did I mention our small group? What a joy to be part of that collection of friends),

for work and inspiration and connections and situations that take me outside my comfortable existence from time to time.

But most of all, I’m thankful to God that He’s given me the opportunity to live and love through Him because of what Jesus Christ has done for me by willingly taking the burden of sin and replacing it with forgiveness and unimaginable freedom and peace.

A friend on Facebook recently quoted: “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” I’m thankful to say that the One who keeps my heart beating also oversees and guides my purpose in this life.

Happy Fall! Be thankful every day, not just on that long weekend in October.

pumpkingsleaves

Note: I’m also thankful for the terrific photo site called www.morguefile.com, where I find so many of these pictures. “You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner.”

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The other night I lay awake thinking of all the things I had to do before Christmas. The worrying didn’t help, but I did it anyway.
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You may be one of the many even-tempered, well-organized folks who complete their Christmas shopping in August, who decorate their homes with homemade ornaments in November, who bake and cook until every available space in freezer and cabinet is full of delectable goodies from Pinterest. Who never find themselves backed into a corner created by their own neglected duties. You may well be one of those.

On the other hand, you may be one of “the others,” people like me who never seem to get everything done, who forget to send birthday cards until the day before (why do people insist on having birthdays in December?), who make a hasty stop at the grocery store to buy mass-produced cookies, who mutter as they try to dress the house for Christmas. People like me who feel frustrated every December with all that waits to be done to comply with the status quo.file3341326331749

As I lay awake the other night, I thought of another individual who also must have lain awake those weeks before Christmas. She was very young, in the midst of an engagement grown difficult because of her unexplained pregnancy. Her family and friends, if there were any friends left, regarded her with accusatory glances. Her betrothed tried to understand, tried to walk in faith. And then, a final inconceivable obstacle: an unexpected journey. In those last weeks when she was tired and felt like a plodding camel, she and her fiancé had to travel a great distance to comply with the orders of the Department of Family Status to confirm their pedigrees. Add to this the fact that they were poor. No money for a wagon or even a cart. Just a bony donkey. No reservations to confirm a room at the end of the journey.file000450585184

 

Yet this young woman endured all this because she believed it to be God’s will. She still suffered swollen ankles, possibly dread of what lay ahead, a hard labor in the corner of a warm but smelly barn with only her fiancé as midwife, and unanswered questions about her future. But God was there. In the midst of the chaos, squalor, pain and fear, He entrusted His only Son to that young, very possibly worried young woman we know as Mary.

That first Christmas did not follow the expected script, but it was the perfect one. Which helps me to understand several things:

  1. We can’t expect our lives to follow our preconceived plans
  2. God often surprises but never forsakes
  3. Often the things we think are so important…are not

I pray that as we prepare for this Christmas season, we will concentrate on people and God’s gift to us. Let’s not let those niggling duties interfere with the greatest gift ever given to our world:  Jesus.

God bless, and have a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

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I discovered these beautiful yellow violas in the crack between the sidewalk and the siding of our house. I didn’t plant them, at least not there. They must have blown over from my flowerbed, where they don’t grow nearly as well.My Violas

Some flowers, it seems, thrive on neglect and drought. They simply bloom where they find themselves and cheer the hearts of those who see them.

These days we are bombarded by acquisition. Having the best. Seeking to promote ourselves. Keeping up with or surpassing the “Joneses.”

“You deserve a break today.”

“Don’t you deserve the best?”

“Treat yourself.”

“You’re worth it.”

But that’s not the message the Bible offers. Our worth is found in our Creator, in the Author of our lifestories. We deserve death, but in His mercy, He saves us. By His grace, He grants us life and purpose and joy.

Our response? Look to the violas. Be content where we find ourselves. Be thankful for what we have, not demanding or expecting more. Persevere against all odds because the One who called us is faithful. And smile into the lives of those we come across. This is our means of worship.

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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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