"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

4/30/09

Monday Manna for May 4 (and other stuff!)

I'm at Exemplify this morning with my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. I'm writing from Numbers (and even a bit of Joshua) today - come see what we have to learn from Five Bold Women. (taking next week off from that, by the way, as I'll be gone. Hope this one lasts you a couple weeks! ;) )


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

For those of you unfamiliar, on the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse. The verse is posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Mr. Linky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

I'm currently working through both 1 Samuel and Luke in my daily Bible reading. I've got royalty on the brain, and this verse really grabbed me. Figured it would be a good, practical, thought-provoking one for this coming Monday's verse. As always, take it and run with it!

Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him. Mark 12:17

Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts. See you back her on Monday!

4/29/09

Kettle Club: April (my favorite character for the month)

The Kettle Club is meeting today at Exemplify Online's blog. It's an opportunity for us to share the fruits of our goal of spending time in God's Word before blogging in April. Been looking forward to this! Be sure to pop over yourself and check out the other contributors at Exemplify's blog.



I'm still working my way through the Old and New Testaments chronologically. I've spent this month in the book of Luke, while my Old Testament reading has been primarily in the early history books: Joshua through the first half of 1 Samuel.

I'd wager these Old Testament books are some of the least read, and studied, portions of scripture. Yet, I have found so much richness in here.

This time through (I read the Bible from start to finish each year), I was struck anew by an amazing, yet frequently brushed aside (if not ignored) character: Caleb. Though he really only pops up a few times in Scripture, he was quite an amazing guy.

You see, he was one of the original twelve spies to check out the Promised Land (see Numbers 13 for the details). Caleb was the other one, besides Joshua, who have the good report of the land and tried to convince his brethren to go take this wonderful land that God had given them, despite the other ten's discouragement and lack of faith.
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." Numbers 13:30-33
And, as you know, the Israelites ignored Caleb's call to conquer, and were required to wander the desert for 40 years. Caleb, however, was blessed for his decision to trust the Lord.
The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times- not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Numbers 14:20-24
So Caleb would not only be in the exclusive "enter the Promised Land club," But the very land he scouted would belong to his own descendants.

But he had to wait for his inheritance--for more than half of his life!

And during that time, his actions are rarely mentioned in scripture - his name comes up in lists, and notes of his faithfulness - but no other "action" for him - until Joshua chapter 14. And this is what amazes me. I'm just going to let the scripture speak for itself here, I think.


Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.' Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said." Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. Joshua 14:6-14
Talk about an enduring faith! Eighty-five years old and ready to battle giants. And we complain about the trials God puts us through, and worry about making it through our own difficulties. And all he had to do is follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Oh, Lord, give me Caleb's faith, endurance, and love for You.

I'm really looking forward to May. I'll be doing some serious reading about Michal (daughter of Saul and wife of David), who will be the subject of my next work in progress. Plus, I'll be getting into the Psalms some, as well as my favorite gospel account - that of John. I LOVE reading my Bible first in the morning. It does AMAZING things for the rest of my day.

Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to reading what other folks learned this month. Stop by this month's Kettle Club post to join me!


Word-Filled Wednesday: The Skies

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her blog.

The weather here has been pretty varied - from bright and sunny to stormy. But regardless, the Lord is in all of it.

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1


Be sure to stop by for more

4/28/09

It's MEEE!

Yup - I have an article in the JUST RELEASED edition of Exemplify Magazine (page 15), AND my blog is featured (page 23)!

Cool, huh?? Check it out (and I can GUARANTEE the other articles are wonderful. No doubt about it!).

4/24/09

Friday Fiction: "Flee?"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Yvonne at My Back Door. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is an old writing challenge entry. The topic was "fearful." I must say that I enjoyed reading the responses to it at FaithWriters ALMOST as much as I enjoyed writing it. Looking forward to your impressions!

FLEE?

Nicholas Siphonaptera gestured for his younger siblings to come in closer. The five of them - two more boys and three sisters - sat body to body in a semicircle on the ground, their eyes fixed on their elder brother.

He tried to calm his heart and look at ease. If Nicholas was certain of anything, it was the need to instill confidence in his siblings. The worst scenario would be for fear to dominate their hearts and paralyze them, leading to their destruction. Their own parents had lost their lives when panic overtook them. Nicholas himself had barely escaped with his life.

I don't have much time, either. He knew neither he nor his siblings would survive very long without their food source. They had a trek to make, and they needed to get going much sooner than he'd like. He had to prepare them, and do so quickly.

"Okay, guys, I think we should review what our parents taught us. Who can tell me one of The Three Rules?"

All of his siblings raised their limbs, and Nicholas couldn't help but smile. His mother had taught them the rules before she died. She'd used a little trick to help them remember - each rule began with one of the letters from a word that was central to their lives.

Nick gestured toward Oliver, the middle brother. He lifted his head and spoke calmly and clearly, like a student reciting a lesson.

"'O' is for 'out of sight, out of danger.'" Oliver glanced toward Nick. Seeing the approval on his older brother's face, he cleared his throat and continued. "That means we need to stay hidden. Right, Nick?"

"That's right, Oliver. Staying out of sight is a big way to keep ourselves protected." Nick winked at his brother. "You picked the 'O' rule because your name starts with 'O,' didn't you."

Oliver smiled sheepishly and nodded.

"Okay, that's one. Who can tell me another?" Nick scanned the limbs waving wildly, finally deciding on Ginger, the middle sister.

"'G' is for 'gravitate toward others.'" She smiled confidently.

"What does that mean?"

Ginger blushed crimson. "Um, I don't remember."

"It's okay, sis. I'll bet Margaret knows." The oldest sister nodded.

"It means we need avoid being alone." Margaret's tone was serious. "That way we can look after each other, and help one another."

Nick nodded. "Just one more, guys. David, do you remember the first one?"

The youngest boy smiled. "'D' is for 'distance yourself from the mist.'" As soon as he said it, his smile changed into a grimace.

"I know what it means, too." The whole group nodded.

"I'm scared, Nick." Sarah, the youngest, bowed her head slightly. Nick came closer and rubbed her back.

"I know, sis. We all are. But we can die from starvation here, or take a chance and head in. If we stay, we'll die for sure. But if we go in, we could have all the food we need and a wonderful life. Sure, we may die there too, but think of what we will gain if we survive. And besides, we have The Three Rules, and each other."

Nick opened his front limbs wide. His brothers and sisters gathered in his embrace. Kissing each on the head in turn, he brought a smile and a touch of confidence to every one of them.

Stepping back, he smiled. "So, are we ready?"

The entire brood nodded and fell in line behind him.

"Okay then. Here we go."

The Siphonapteras marched watchfully up the hairy leg of Fido, looking for the perfect spot to sink their teeth into.
**

hehe (hope I don't need to duck!)

Be sure to stop by Vonnie's blog for more great fiction.

4/23/09

Don't DO Something

Sometimes, acting is absolutely, positively the wrong thing to do. Despite our natural desire to fix, plan, or complain, what we really need to do is nothing. Check out my latest post in the Pentateuch Series at Exemplify to hear about one such incident in the book of Exodus. See what can happen If You Will Only Be Still.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the other bloggers at Exemplify too - they are some wonderful writers with excellent messages for all of us.

4/22/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Child

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her blog.

In the midst of difficulties, it's hard to turn to Jesus with pure, innocent faith. But it is only if we leave all our "grown-up inhibitions" behind that we can truly be blessed in abundance by our Heavenly Father.

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(my beautiful daughter Annika, "the hula fairy princess," <-her words! bearing gifts)

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15


Be sure to stop by for more


4/20/09

Monday Manna - Witness To

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. The first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just post to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post in the Mr. Linky gadget.

This Monday's scripture, originally directed toward the Apostle Paul, is truly meant for all believers.
You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:15
Looking forward to what you all come up with. My thoughts are below.

**

God is at work. He causes the sun to rise and set, moves His children to prayer and service, brings about defeats of the enemy, and countless other works.

We have all seen and heard our Heavenly Father act. And, perhaps, we have all thanked Him for His amazing acts. And maybe, in doing this, we have figured that we have fulfilled our duty, so to speak.

Well, if that's what we thought, we were wrong. We must do more than see, hear, and praise. We must share. You must be a witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

A witness is someone who sees or hears something firsthand. But what good is such a witness if he keeps that information to himself? Yes, he is still a witness. He saw God's work. But he is not told to just be a witness. He is told to be a witness to.

There is a receiver of our witness. That is what Paul was told to be - one who passes his witness to others. We don't go through our lives seeing God's work in our lives to keep it hidden. It is not just the story of salvation we are to share with others. We must share God's workings in our lives, in large and small ways. We must share what He has told us with others--for that is why we were told. We must be a witness of what we have seen and heard. We are to share His words and actions with the world, so they can learn more and more about Him, and love Him more and more.

For how else will the world know of His power, love, and compassion if we keep His deeds to ourselves?

**

Thanks for reading my thoughts here! Be sure to check out the other participants in the gadget below - and link up yourself if you have some thoughts on this verse.



4/17/09

Monday Manna for APRIL 20 (a bit late!)

(Friday Fiction is RIGHT below this post!)

I know this generally posts on Thursday, but I FORGOT until this morning!


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

For those of you unfamiliar, on the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse. The verse is posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Mr. Linky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

This week's verse was part of my kids' quiet time this morning, and it definitely grabbed me.
You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:15
Though these words were spoken to Paul, they are for all of us. Looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say on Monday!

Friday Fiction: "Ol' Hairy Ears 'n Me"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Ms. Friday Fiction herself, the lovely Patty at Patterings. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is a Faithwriters challenge entry from just under a year ago. My dear friend Jan Ackerson was teaching a little message boards class on dialect around this time, and I realized I'd never tried it in a challenge entry before. That changed. :) Hope you enjoy it!

Ol' Hairy Ears 'N Me

It's blasted hot. Hope my hair don't fry off, or my eyeballs. Need 'em to look where she's pointin'.

"Just go over there with everybody and mingle; get something to eat. I'll be back soon."

That's my ma. She's gotta pick up some 'tater salad or somethin'. She'll be back soon, she tol' me. And those folks over there? That's the Abernathy famly reunion.

Lookit all them people. Must be a zillion of 'em. Don't think I seen that many folks in one place my whole life.

Ain't never been ta a reunion before-least not that I can remember. Ma said I went ta one last year, and the year before that. Don't think she ever lied ta me, so I guess I been ta one. Don't really count, tho', if you don't 'member it.

Anyhow, I guess I better head over there and get me somethin' t' eat, like Ma said.

**

Man alive, I ain't never seen this much food. I'm headin' for the plates when I feel somethin' on my back.

This ol' man with more hair in his ears than I got on my whole head got his arm around me and is talkin' ta me like he knows me good. Ain't got any idea who he is.

"Oh, I'd know you anywhere, Son. You're the spitting image of your father, and his father before him. So glad you could make it, Jimmy Jr."

I just smile at him, all polite-like, like Ma taught me.

"Where's your folks, Jimmy Jr.?"

Ain't suppose ta talk with my mouth full, so I jus' point ta where Ma went. Ol' Hairy Ears ain't lookin anyway.

"You fill up that plate, Jimmy Jr., and come sit by me. Got lots of cousins just your age I want you to meet."

Ma always says ta respect your elders, so I do just what Ol' Hairy Ears tol' me to. I pile my plate up with chips 'n cookies 'n fried chicken 'n some a that wiggly square stuff with lumps in it (you know, the stuff ya see through). Anyways, I follow him over ta this five million mile long table and sit next ta him, and start stuffin' all that food inta my belly.

Anyways, he's callin' over all these kids and tellin' em I'm Jimmy Jr. I just smile 'n nod 'n wave, cuz my ma always says ta clean yer plate, and I just ain't got time ta stop eatin' if I wanna git home b'fore dark.

I'm finishin' off a chicken leg when I hear Ol' Hairy Ears talkin' ta some guy, and my hair stands up on my neck.

"That's quite a son you got there, Jimmy."

I try ta slide outta sight, but there ain't nowhere ta go. I'm too big 'round ta slip under the table, and there ain't no room ta git out any other way. I just close my eyes and ask the good Lord ta make me disappear.

I feel someone grab m'collar. I'm in for it this time.

"Young man, didn't I tell you to wait for me? You have no right barging into this party with people you don't know."

It's my Ma again. I just act 'barrassed, like she told me, 'n slide out 'n follow her. She done 'pologized fifty times 'fore we make it ta the car.

"How'd you do, Mark?"

I pull cookies 'n fried chicken 'n pretzels 'n stuff outta my pocket 'n spread 'em out on th' seat. I kin tell Ma's proud of me.

"You kin have alla it, Ma. Can't fit another bite in my belly."

Ma musses up my hair and smiles. I know I dun her good, and heck, it was jus' as fun as she tol' me it would be.

And the best part? Ma said the Wilsons are havin' a reunion next Sundy.

*

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Patterings for more great fiction!

4/16/09

More Fascinating Passover/Easter Stuff

As promised, I've got another post on what I learned at the Passover meal I attended on Good Friday. Just pop over to Exemplify and check out the latest in my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. I'm fairly certain you'll be as amazed as I am at the Christ images in even the MODERN Passover seder service. God can use anything to witness--including the traditions of people who don't accept His Son.

Oh - and for the interested, as of earlier this week, Ailing Body Nourished Soul is divided into chapters (thirty-three of them, to be exact - not including the introduction and conclusion) and in order! I've just started working on solidifying the chapters a bit (each chapter needs a verse to start with, plus questions to ponder and a prayer - and a lot of my dividing gave me several I still need to work on!), and I'm sure I'll still be working on that when it's time for my monthly progress. PLUS, my online writing class "Going From Good To Sold" just started today, so I'm sure the lovely Shirley Jump will keep me...well...jumping ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

4/15/09

WFW: until he comes

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her blog.


I'm still in a Passover/Easter mood, so I couldn't resist this one!
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Check out my post TOMORROW at Exemplify for a bit more detail. God is TRULY amazing.


Be sure to stop by
for more

4/13/09

Passover Dinner - A Visit with Christ

Last Friday evening was a wonderful experience for me. Not only was it Good Friday, which, of course, is an excellent time of reflection on Christ's sacrifice for us, but I had an opportunity to attend a 1st Century Passover dinner (If you're interested in some of the ways Passover and Easter are linked, check out my Ponderings on the Pentateuch post from last Thursday at Exemplify's Online Blog.) at our church.

I've been to several Passover dinners--most before I came to Christ. This is, however, only my second which focused on showing Christ in the many traditions of this Jewish holiday. And, for both my husband and me, it was very enlightening.

We sat at tables lit by olive oil lamps as used in the first century. The foods we ate--from dates to hummus to meat stew--were reminiscent of Mideastern meals of that time. And, as Jesus and his disciples did at the Last Supper, we ate unleavened bread and drank of the fruit of the vine (though, as good Baptists, ours wasn't exactly fermented.).

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Other traditional fare of Passover included bitter herbs (symbolic of the bitterness of slavery the Israelites underwent) and charoseth (a mixture of honey, nuts, and spices meant to symbolize the mortar the Israelites used to build the structures from during their slavery). Eggs, as a symbol of new life, were also a part of the Passover table. (So maybe Easter eggs aren't so bad after all, eh?)

Knowing that Jesus' last meal was a Passover supper, likely very similar to what we experienced Friday evening, made the dinner very unique. The symbolism of the holiday He was celebrating as His last was no accident. This weeklong celebration of redemption from physical slavery was actually still going on when He rose from the grave to redeem us from the slavery of sin.

Most everything Christ did at the Passover meal we know of as the Last Supper was symbolic. One of the most fascinating, to me, was related to the cup he drank "after dinner."

You see, there were four glasses of wine drunk at every Passover dinner meal, and each was symbolic of a different redemption God provided according to Exodus 6:6-7--I am the LORD, and 1)I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 2)I will free you from being slaves to them, and 3)I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 4)I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

The first two cups are drunk even before the meal begins. The third, however, is drunk right after the meal. And, according to Mark's gospel, the "communion" wine was taken right after supper, and was, therefore, the third cup - the redemption cup. And do you remember what else Christ said?
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:24-25
So, Jesus skipped the fourth cup of wine--the promise to take the Israelites as His own people. And He will NOT drink it until He is in the kingdom of God.

Blows me away, you know?

I may post more on this dinner in future days. Be sure to check out my post this coming Thursday at Exemplify (there will be a reminder here that day too!), which will be on another fascinating aspect of this service.

Thanks for reading - and feel free to ask questions, as I may address them in further posts!
Blessings, and may your own understanding of redemption be enriched.


4/12/09

He is not here

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"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. Mark 16:6

4/10/09

Friday Fiction: "Akiva's Assignment"

FIRST, my dear friend LauraLee at Selah is posting salvation testimonies this week, and I'm over there today. Check it, and the others there, out. I assure you that you'll be blessed!

And I am DOUBLY BLESSED today, as the lovely Patty of Patterings has asked me to host Friday Fiction. Be sure to read some of the other wonderful fiction at the bottom of my post. Are you a writer too? Just post your own story at your blog, then link up in the Mr. Linky gadget at the bottom of my post. All are welcome!

As soon as I realized this week's Friday Fiction would be on Good Friday, I knew exactly what story I needed to post. I wrote this one just over a year ago for the Writing Challenge, when I was in the middle of my own personal "write a Biblical fiction for every topic" challenge. I hope you are blessed by this, and that it lets you see a familiar Bible event from a different perspective. And don't forget to check out the other fiction linked up at the bottom of this post!

Akiva's Assignment

It is a dry, dreary spring day as I watch the scene from my perch above the crowd. My focus is not on the people who have congregated, however, but on a pair of men who are, for lack of a better phrase, part of the show.

I can see all three of them quite clearly from my vantage point. I am certain that I am invisible to the two of them; whether the third can see me, I am unsure. Besides, their ability to recognize me is not the issue.

While my heart and soul are with the One in the center, it is the men on either side of Him that are my reason for being here. They are my assignment, if you will. Enemies of the Master, and He has sent me as their one last chance to reconcile with Him before their destinies are forever sealed.

"Akiva," the Lord said to me just this morning, "I need you to attend at Golgotha's cross today."

"It is my pleasure, my Lord," I had said to the Most High. "I am honored to have been chosen to minister to Your Son in his most distressing hours."

"No, dear Akiva. It is to the others, my children Raphael and Peder, that you are to minister. They must hear of My love once more before they are doomed to an eternity separated from Me."

So here I am, planning out a strategy, if you will, to turn the hearts of these two evil men toward the center--toward the heavens.

"Look at Him there," I whisper to Raphael. "He is your Messiah, giving up His sinless life so you can be with God, if you will just believe."

Suddenly I wonder if he can in fact see me. Raphael looks my way, pain in his eyes. His glance quickly shifts to the Christ. "If you are God's chosen, get down of your own accord. Why should we believe you if you cannot even help yourself?"

I lower my head. Not even a crack in his sinful armor. To make it worse, he defamed the Son in the process. I am ready to head back home to heaven.

You are not done yet, Akiva.

I sigh. "Yes, Lord."

This time, I glide over to Peder. "He is the Christ, the Son of God, Peder. If you believe, He can save you," I whisper.

Peder' eyes gleam with a look of anger I recognize too well.

"Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"* Peder practically spit out the words.

Tears stream down my face. Why, Lord? Why did I have to come on this thankless assignment, and in the presence of Your suffering Son? Must I watch His agony, while not bringing another to Your Kingdom as well?

The Lord speaks to my heart. My word that comes out of my mouth: it will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.* Watch and listen, dear Akiva.

I lift my head to see Raphael glaring across the scene to Peder. "Don't you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."*

I smile. Perhaps Raphael was listening after all. Some of them are a bit slower to grasp than others.

"Jesus, remember me when you come to your kingdom."* Raphael's words make me gasp. I look to the Man to whom he is speaking. The Lord briefly cracked a smile in my direction (It appears I am visible to Him), then looks into Raphael' eyes.

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."*

And, somehow, I know the Son of God is speaking to me as well. In His perfect timing--not a moment too early or a second too late--Raphael, Jesus, and I will all be together with the Father.

References, from NIV, in order:
Luke 23:39
Isaiah 55:11
Luke 23:41
Luke 23:42
Luke 23:43

**

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to link up and/or read the other great fiction below.



4/9/09

The Passover/Easter Connection

You may (or may not!) know this, but today is the first day of Passover. It doesn't always fall during Easter week, but when it does, it makes Easter a bit more meaningful to me, and, of course vice versa. There are likely more parallels between the two holidays than you may realize. Be sure to stop my my Ponderings on the Pentateuch post at the (newly redesigned!) Exemplify this morning. Find out how this holiday "double up" is Deliverance Two Ways.

Speaking of the overlapping of these two holidays, on Good Friday, my church is hosting a first century Passover dinner, put on by the Biblical Learning Center of Grand Rapids. My husband and I are very anxious to go. As we were raised in the Jewish faith, we are quite familiar with the rituals and such of a Passover Seder, but to see it from Christ's perspective I am sure will be amazing. We have been to one "Messianic" Seder in the past, but having this one set in Jesus' time will, I'm sure, add to the authenticity and poignancy of the evening.

Look forward to sharing about my experiences in a few days, both here and at Exemplify!

4/8/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: For You

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her blog.

I'm guessing this will not be the only Word-Filled Wednesday post with this theme today, but this is a message we, truly, can never hear too often.

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19 NIV

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4/6/09

Monday Manna

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. The first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just post to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post in the Mr. Linky gadget.

This Monday's scripture is pretty jam-packed with possibilities (I think).
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Looking forward to reading what you've come up with. My thoughts are below.

**

Maybe you're different, but in my case, when the going gets tough, the first thing I want to do is ask for, or take steps toward, deliverance. I have no desire to stay in my troubles any longer than I absolutely have to. It's human nature to strive for "easy"--to avoid tough times at all costs.

BUT God does not want us to follow our "human nature." He doesn't want us to avoid our struggles, or to find ways to circumvent them. No--he wants us to be "patient in affliction." Affliction, actually, is much of what makes us grow in grace and peace, and what makes us more and more like Christ.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV
As we live through these difficulties, we become stronger in Him. But how, you may ask, do we handle this? Being patient in difficulties is by no means a natural, or even sensible, reaction to trials.

The key, it seems, is in the "bread" of this verse from Romans. By doing the "outsides," the "inside" becomes more sensible.

We must be joyful in hope. No matter the difficulties we are going through, we know where our hope lies: in God's sovereignty, in our hope of heaven, in knowing that God is using our circumstances to further His kingdom. And that is certainly worthy of our joy.

We must be faithful in prayer. As we seek Him, He will not only comfort us in our afflictions, but will draw us closer to Him, so we can possibly see a glimpse of exactly why we are in this affliction. A Godly perspective can help us endure, and even rejoice in, our difficulties.

This power-packed little verse, it appears to me, is a key to living a life for God. If we are joyful, patient, and faithful, what a testimony we can be!

**

Thanks for reading my thoughts here! Be sure to check out the other participants in the gadget below - and link up yourself if you have some thoughts on this verse.

Happy Monday Manna!



4/3/09

Friday Fiction: Goose Bumps

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Ms. Friday Fiction herself, the lovely Patty at Patterings. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is an old (about a year old, in fact) Faithwriters challenge entry during the "relatives" quarter. The topic was uncles/aunts. This was tons of fun to write. Hope you enjoy it!


Goose Bumps

Kids' feet give me goose bumps. Eyeballing the soft skin on those tiny wiggling toes, smooth arches, and adorable ankles will make me smile for a week. And if I can actually tickle them? Paradise. If, God willing, I ever have my own children, they will only wear socks, much less shoes, when absolutely necessary. Well, at least until they're in school.

That won't be an issue any time soon, though. Despite my youth (really, 40 is NOT old), I'm considered the old maid of the family. I'm sure it's partly because I AM the eldest sibling of the five of us, and the only one without kids of her own. Steve and I tried for years, of course. But then he got sick and went on up to heaven without me a year or so ago (actually, 1 year, 1 month, and 15 days, but who's counting?). So now I'm alone.

Actually, that's not exactly correct. While I am the only human who lives in my home, it is rarely empty. In addition to Slinky the cat (and the half-dozen mice she refuses to catch in the attic - oh, and don't forget the dust bunnies), there is hardly a day when I don't have a little one speeding about my living room, jumping on my bed, or generally pilfering through my things.

With nine nieces and nephews, most preschool aged or younger, I almost always have a sibling with an emergency, crisis, or scheduling conflict that can easily be remedied by Auntie Jen.

Monday afternoons are filled with curls and somersaults (and homemade chocolate chip cookies, of course) when Penny and TJ take over the house while Mom's at her Bible study. We play leapfrog in the living room and tag in the back yard, and then catch our breaths at the kitchen table with a sweet treat and a side of milk. My baby sister Sarah gets her "Bible feeding time," as she calls it, and I get my weekly workout.

Wednesday afternoon is grocery shopping, and Joshua, Cindy and Makayla wouldn't miss it (Their mother, my little brother Kevin's wife, is grateful for that. With her crazy work schedule, plus watching the kids, it's her only time to be by herself). We skip down the grocery aisles, play catch with the boxed items, and pick up plenty of snacks along with the necessities. Makayla lives for putting the goods on the conveyor belt, and Joshua is an expert bagger: for a seven-year-old, anyway.

And then there's Thursday morning, when Lizzie and I have our time together while Elise is at Pilates. We build castles with blocks, play dress-up, read books, and chat (as much as you can with a three-year-old). She's been talking about the new addition to her family a lot lately. Makes me remember I'll have a new one to dote on in a month or so. She seems a bit leery of sharing her parents. Anyway, all I have to do is remind her she'll be staying with me while Mom's in the hospital and her worrying vanishes into a fit of giggles.

Fridays are another matter. I give each of my siblings a date night once a month, so every Friday evening there's a slumber party at Aunt Jen's for one set of kids or another. We watch movies or play games or tell stories, then snuggle up together in sleeping bags in the master bedroom and snore away. The parents generally join us for breakfast the next morning (I've noticed that my brothers and sisters are always smiling wider when they pick them up than they were when they dropped the kids off).

Of course, there are always the emergencies when I watch a handful of nieces for a doctor's appointment or pick some up from preschool (I am probably the only childless adult with an 8-passenger van). When there's a crisis at home or an ER visit is immanent, I'm your man.

People sometimes ask me if I miss having my own children. Sometimes, but I'm not sure I'd necessarily be any happier or fulfilled. No, I may not have my own little ones, but if I did, how would I make time to be Auntie Jen? I have twenty little feet pattering through my house during the average week, and I get to see them all.

Of course, they can't come in unless they leave their shoes - and socks - on the porch. Gives me goose bumps every time.

**
Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Patterings for more great fiction!

4/2/09

Monday Manna for April 6

My Ponderings on the Pentateuch series continues today at Exemplify's Blog. Stop by and see what we can all learn from Lot's Choice.

And back to the issue at hand. :)


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

For those of you unfamiliar, on the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse. The verse is posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Mr. Linky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

The verse I've chosen for this week has been a favorite of mine for at least a few years. I remember sitting in my in-laws' house, doing my regular daily reading, and finding it. It seems to cover so much. Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

So much in these ten words, isn't there? So many angles to take. Looking forward to all your insights. See you on Monday!

4/1/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Help

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her blog.

I seem to have a lot of friends, and friends of friends, who are going through some serious difficulties. My heart has been somewhat heavy because of the burden of it.

Yet, God is sovereign. God is in the midst of it. And God can deliver. No matter how cracked and dry your life may be, having the Lord in the middle of it always brings a spark of color and life. And the Lord IS in the middle of it--no matter what is going on.

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

Heavenly Father, no matter how grey, desolate, and hopeless our lives may feel, no matter how out of control things may seem, help us to remember that YOU are always there, helping us in our troubles. When we can't feel You, Lord, help us to trust anyway. Thank You for being our refuge and strength, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen

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