"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

10/30/09

Friday Fiction: "The Cupboard Conundrum

Fiction Friday,button,karlene

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Stina Rose at With Pen In Hand. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Stina's blog and check out the links there.
This bit of fiction/devotional-type piece was written for the Faithwriters' Writing Challenge (this weeks' topic is white!) a bit over two years ago. I don't write in this style very often, but I like this piece. Hope it blesses you as well. The topic was "bold (emotionally)."


The Cupboard Conundrum

Jacob stretched his arm as high he could. He even got on his tiptoes, but he couldn't quite reach the handle on the upper cabinet.

"Hey, Dad?"

"What's up, Jacob?" Mr. Danes rose from the living room chair where he'd been reading the paper and looked around the corner into the kitchen.

Jacob looked up at the cupboard and then into his dad's eyes. "Could you get the potato chips?"

"Sure." His dad reached up, opened the cabinet, and grabbed the bag, handing it to Jacob.

"Thanks, Dad." Jacob sat down at the kitchen table and tore open the bag. He started munching as he read a magazine and drank from a tall glass of milk.

As he finished the last article, Jacob remembered that he had homework to do. He put the magazine in the recycle pile and his empty glass in the sink. After looking back at the table, he glanced into the living room, where his dad was reading the paper.

Jacob grabbed the chips off the table and stood by the cupboard. He tried again to reach the handle - he even jumped up, but still couldn't get it open. Stepping back, he tried a running leap, but banged his head on the lower cabinet door, spilling the chips on the floor.

"Ouch!"

His dad got up from his chair and entered the kitchen.

"Are you okay?"

The boy rubbed his head. "I think so."

"What happened?"

Jacob lowered his eyes. "I was trying to put the chips away and I bumped my head and dropped them instead."

Mr. Danes tousled Jacob's hair.

"It's okay. Let's just clean it up."

As Jacob picked up the chips and put them in the trash, Mr. Danes tapped him on the shoulder.

"Why didn't you just ask me for help? I would have been happy to put them away for you."

Jacob shrugged. "I didn't want to bother you - you looked busy."

His father smiled. "I'm never too busy to help you out, Jacob. Don't be afraid to ask me to help, especially when it's something you know you can't do."

Mr. Danes swept up the last of the crumbs while Jacob held the dustpan.

"You know, Son, it's the same with God." Mr. Danes held the trash can open. "Sometimes we feel like we're bothering Him when we pray, that He has more important things to do than to listen to our requests."

Jacob nodded. He remembered skinning his knee the other day. It had hurt, but he didn't ask God to make it feel better because he figured it wasn't that important.

"But, do you know what, Jacob? God doesn't want us to be shy about talking to Him. He wants us to pray to him boldly, to ask for whatever we feel we need. He may not answer exactly how we'd like, but He always loves to listen to us pray to Him."

He smiled. "So, just like I should have asked you to help me put the chips away, I should ask God to help me too, even if I've been asking and asking and asking?"

His dad nodded. "That's right. Besides, God loves you even more than I do. Do you think He would really ever get tired of listening to you?"

Jacob smiled. "I guess not."

"So, the next time you want to ask for something from God, just do it boldly." Mr. Danes patted Jacob on the back. "Don't be afraid of bothering or interrupting Him. Just ask."

"Okay, Dad."

"Oh, and the next time you want the potato chips down, do the same with me. Okay?"

Jacob giggled. "Okay."

**
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18


Thanks for reading. Be sure to stop by With Pen In Hand for more great fiction!

10/29/09

Monday Manna for November 2 - What To Think About

Monday Manna

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

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--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 long -- 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 MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

If you read my blog much, you probably know that the book of Philippians is one of my favorites in the Bible. And of the chapters, the fourth tops the rest (though they're ALL good!). As we go through "Halloween weekend," I thought a reminder of where our minds should be would be a good idea. I know that Bible believing Christians have honest disagreements about the appropriateness of celebrating this particular holiday, but I think all will admit that, at least for some, it can turn folks' thoughts to the less-than-holy.

So without further ado, a WHOPPER of a verse to ponder for this weekend.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
I look forward to seeing what wonderful insights you all get from these incredible words of Paul's. See you back here on Monday!

10/26/09

Listening for His Voice

I love the music at our church. We sing the old hyms, some contemporary choruses, and even a bit of contemporary Christian music. But every once in a while, a song totally grabs me and truly ministers to my soul. Yesterday, it happened to me.

Our worship choir sang a song by Christian artist Mandisa. I know a bit about her, but not too much. What I do know, however, is that I love the two songs of hers I have heard--both in church. I think I may need to pick up a CD.

Lately, I have been trying to listen for God's voice in so many different areas of my life. This song has helped me remember that I've probably been hearing it all the time - I just haven't necessarily recognized it as such.

Listen to the video, if you'd like, and read the words. I pray it will bless you as it did me.



God Speaking
By Mandisa

Have you ever heard a love song
That set your spirit free?
Have you ever watched a sunrise
And felt you could not breathe?

What if it's Him?
What if it's God speaking?

Have you ever cried a tear that
You could not explain?
Have you ever met a stranger
That already knew your name?

What if it's Him?
What if it's God speaking?

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us
Get our attention to prove He is enough
He'll do and He'll use
Whatever He wants to
To tell us I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one
Who you thought should still be here?
Do you know what it feels like
To be tangled up in fear?
What if He's somehow involved?
What if He's speaking through it all?

His ways are higher
His ways are better
Though sometimes strange.
What could be stranger
Than God in a manger?

God is speaking
I love you


10/23/09

Friday Fiction: "Misplaced Musician"

Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by Lynn Squire at Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Lynn's blog and check out the links there.

This is, I believe, one of my first Biblical fiction entries for the Writing Challenge. A few verses from the Psalms just grabbed me, and I had no choice but to flesh them out and share the story. Wrote this one over two and a half years ago - and it was also printed in a Mennonite Sunday School paper.


MISPLACED MUSICIAN

"What are we doing here? Why have we been abandoned like this?"

The middle-aged man sighed and lowered his body until he was sitting against a poplar tree, staring out into the Kebar River of Babylon, the land of his captivity.

It had been at least a dozen years since Ollam had felt like singing God's praises. Yet, he hadn't stopped completely. Partly out of habit, and partly due to demand from his captors, he'd played his songs on occasion, the wonderful songs of praise his ancestors had composed. He could hardly help it. He was a temple musician, and though the temple was out of his reach, the songs still haunted him.

How he loved those songs, those psalms of praise of the homeland he hadn't seen in years, and of the God who had sent them to this terrible place. The wonderful songs written by great men of his faith: Moses, David, Asaph, the sons of Korah. But whenever he sang them, his heart ached. Each year, he would sing them less and less.

Singing songs of the temple, of Zion, of his Lord, was like being dragged from Judah all over again. The pain, twelve years old, returned fresh, and any wounds that may have been partially healed opened once again.

Just the other day, a Babylonian official had ordered him to play his harp and sing one of the songs of ascents. He knew the official was mocking him, but he also knew the punishment for disobeying. The words, and the melody, were still burned in his memory.

May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
and may you live to see your children's children.

It had taken all of Ollam's willpower to keep his composure during the performance. When the official started harassing him, however, he could handle it no longer. Turning his head, he'd cried like a baby. The official had laughed and dismissed him.

Ollam looked out at the Kebar. The river was at flood stage and was rushing by violently, hitting the rocks along it with fervor. Such a contrast to the waters of his favorite psalm, as much as Babylon was to Judah. He opened the knapsack beside him and pulled out his harp. His voice and fingers joined in harmony.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.

Throwing down his harp, he buried his head in his hands and wept.

"Where are they, Lord? Where are the still waters, the green pastures? Where is my restored soul?"

Leaning against the tree, Ollam slowly rose. He reached down for his harp and examined it.

"I just can't do it anymore, Lord."

Raising the harp over his head, he felt it hit a branch of the tree he'd been leaning on. He gently maneuvered the branch through the harp's strings until it was a good half-cubit down. Letting go, he looked out on the river and wept.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

**

References in order, from NIV:
Psalm 128:5-6
Psalm 23:1-2
Psalm 137:1-4


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Lynn's blog for more great fiction.

10/21/09

The Right Path (Word-Filled Wednesday)

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by the lovely Christy at Critty Joy. Be sure to stop by her blog for more visual inspiration from Scripture.

Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

People today are always looking for what is new and different. They want to find their own way. The old ways are outdated and boring. They want to blaze a new trail.

But that isn't always the best way. In fact, it often isn't. When it comes to following the Lord, the only route that will "work" is the one he laid out for us since the beginning of time.

So, if you want to continue to walk in fellowship with God, find the path, well-worn by the saints ahead of you. Then take it.

Be sure to stop by Christy's blog for more visual inspiration from scripture.

10/19/09

Monday Manna - What Man Is

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On 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 put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in the MckLinky gadget below, and check out others' thoughts.

This Monday's verse is a well-known one, and, at least in my opinion, very thought-provoking.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts--link up below, and read others' ponderings. Mine are below.

**

sky

I am often captivated and awed by the beauty of God's creation. There is nothing man-made that is as beautiful as what the Lord has made. No artist can create a canvas as beautiful as a sunrise or a sunset.

Photobucket


The lovely colors and design of a forest or jungle, a field of wildflowers, or the cloud formations against the blue sky can take my breath away. And don't even mention the beauty of a cloudless night, staring into scores of stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies.

God is an incredible artist and creator. Yet, no matter how gorgeous and awe-inspiring these aspects of nature are, to the Lord, they are second to another of his creations.
Man Photobucket
Does that blow you away as much as it does me? To the Lord, we are the most lovely and beautiful of His creations. We are the only of His creations that is "fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14) We are his crowning achievement. It is us the Lord has put in charge of all of His creation (Psalm 8:6-8)--all these same amazing things we are looking at with awe.

Yes, we are all sinners. Without Christ, we can never be worthy of God's attention. Yet, His love for us is infinite, and to Him, we are His most precious creation.

**

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to link up below, and read other folks' thoughts on these verses.




10/16/09

Friday Fiction: "My Garden"

Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by the lovely Sara "Sawa" Harricharan at Fiction Fusion. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.
This is actually one of my "latest" Writing Challenge entries (the fact that I submitted it over six months ago may hint you in to how infrequently I've been entering lately!). I remember being SO excited when I came up with the angle to tell this story from. Got several comments at Faithwriters on my POV. What do YOU think?

MY GARDEN

Looking at the wispy white clouds against the sky, I am reminded of my garden of long ago. As I glance out over the horizon, I smile, recalling the lush, colorful foliage, the beautiful and diverse animals, and, yes, the deep blue of the firmament. Clouds were scarce, but the peppering of them in assorted places made the blue seem that much brighter, that much deeper. The loveliness and peace of that place was nearly unrivaled.

It was perfect.

I sigh, focusing on what is before me here rather than my recollections. The ground beneath my feet is a reddish-brown and feels rough, a complete contrast to the lush green carpet of the floor of my garden. The plants here are sparse, and many have thorns.

I approach a small patch of poppies. I inhale the scent (it is quite lovely), but it is the petals that grab my attention. Though their edges are generally smooth, I notice irregularly-shaped holes in each one, made, no doubt, by a hungry insect or two. They are still beautiful, but not perfect.

I run my tongue over my front teeth and look up again. In the distance, I see another cloud, larger and darker than the others. Clearly a rain cloud. It appears to be heading this way. Soon, the sky will darken, the red-brown dirt beneath my feet will turn to mud, and these beautiful, but imperfect, flowers will be weighed down by the falling rain.

Yet, I remind myself, the rain will also bring refreshment to the people, a touch color to some of this drab land, and continued life to all who need it.

I grin and look, not toward the sky, but down the path I am walking on: the road to the temple, just within my sight.

Yes, it will get worse before it gets better. Much worse, in fact. But, it will get better. Better, even, than My garden.

Of this I am certain. For that is why I have come. That is why My Father sent me.

**

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21 NIV

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Sawa's blog for more great fiction

10/15/09

Monday Manna for October 19 - What is man?

Monday Manna

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

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--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 long -- 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 MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

I'll admit that I didn't have a verse "jump out at me" to pick for this week. So, I thought I'd read a bit of Word-Filled Wednesday, hoping to find a verse that screamed "pick me." Well, I did - and it was at the blog of my dear friend Teresa Rainey. So, without further ado, here are our verses for Monday.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4
Humbling AND wonderful, isn't it? Looking forward to your thoughts (and my own! LOL). Be sure to come back on Monday and add your entry to my post. See you then!

10/14/09

WFW: To Be Praised

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by Lori at All You Have To Give. Be sure to check out her blog, and the links below it, for more visual inspiration from Scripture. (Glad to be back after a couple weeks off!)

I've been thinking a lot about my "motherly" and "wifely" duties lately - as the homemaker, chauffer (LOL if you only knew how much), maid, cook, homework police, cleaner, lover, etc. At times it feels overwhelming. I REALLY want to be the Proverbs 31 woman. When I read through the passage, I get overwhelmed just about every time. I'm just SO thrilled it ends the way it does!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Thanks for stopping by! be sure to stop by Lori's blog for more visual inspiration from scripture.

10/12/09

The Self-Opening Gate (a repost)

I haven't been terribly good about blogging lately - with the whole trying to sell the house, work on my book, write for Exemplify, shuttle kids back and forth three times a day and such, the new thoughts haven't been coming (and when they do, I haven't had time to put them down on paper). My goal - for now, anyway, is to have a post a minimum of three times a week - Word-Filled Wednesday (which I've missed the past two weeks), Fiction Friday, and a post on Monday. Anything above that is bonus.

Every other Monday that will be my bi-monthly "Monday Manna" meme (see my tab above for more info), and I'll try to get something up the other Mondays.

This week, it's gonna be a repost - I know I have LOTS of new followers since I started, so for many of you, this is a never-seen reflection. It's one of my favorites. I originally posted it in July of LAST year. Hope you enjoy it (and hope I don't have to resort to reposts too much more in the future!).


The Self-Opening Gate

I was doing my devotions and Bible reading this morning (and it was quiet, unlike most days - but that's totally unrelated to my thoughts) and I came across an amazingly wonderful and wonderfully amazing insight that I had to share with you all. I believe it will help me, at least, in moving forward with this book, and anything else God is leading me to do.

In my July 2 devotional from "Streams in the Desert," (why the date on the online one is January 6 is anyone's guess)I found the author's analogy to a self-opening gate especially apt.

Photobucket


There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.

The writer (Henry Clay Turnbull) goes on to explain that our walk with God is just like this. If we find an obstacle in our path, we are not to stop and wait for it to move. We must continue moving forward, and God will move the obstacle for us. Just like the Israelites crossing the Jordan in Joshua 3, we may have to step into the water before the obstacle will go away. Yet, if it is God's will, we will step through on dry ground.

It is much easier, often, to give up, or try to figure out the problem in our own power. Yet, stepping forward in faith, if you are in His will, is clearly the right thing to do. So, in the words of Turnbull:

Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won't be there.

So, I need to step forward in faith: work on my book despite the distractions, raise my children in God's way even if it's not easy, exercise my spiritual gifts no matter the difficulties. Once I do, God will move the mountain.

10/9/09

Friday Fiction: Non-fiction WIP Excerpt

Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by the new "head" of Friday Fiction, Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.

Most of you know I am working on polishing up my non-fiction work in progress "Ailing Body Nourished Soul," the story of God's workings in our lives through my husband's serious health issues. So, even though it's not fiction, I'm posting an excerpt today. I've only posted my intro and third chapter so far - and now, I'm sharing the concluding chapter(just hoping I can get the rest of the book as compelling as I've gotten these parts. Hope it blesses you - and I'd LOVE any feedback you can give me!


Ailing Body Nourished Soul- Concluding Chapter

On Monday, August 7, 2003, my life was pretty normal: I dare say average. Sure, I was pregnant and had a toddler and a husband, but that's not so unusual, is it? At the time, I probably would have told you my faith was strong and my life was good.

Even the next day, when Marc started experiencing his migraines, I never could have imagined what was in store for us over the next few days, not to mention years. Who would ever imagine that a bad headache would lead to the surgeries, treatments, and other circumstances that we would experience in the days, months, and years to follow?

For me, my family, and our friends and acquaintances, my 36-year-old husband having a brain tumor was a total shock. It completely changed our lives.

But it didn't shock our Heavenly Father. And though we, and our lives, changed, He, and His plan, did not. God knew from eternity past what, when, and how this would happen. And, as I hope you have seen in the preceding pages, He equipped us, and those around us, for what we were to face: for what we continue to face daily. And, of course, He provided Himself, the Holy Spirit, and His incredible Son to lean on, cry with, rejoice with, trust in, and love.

And it all worked out, and is working out, for good. God promises in His word: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Yet, Christians often throw this verse around but don't know what it truly means. Many who look at our lives now and compare it to before life got tough might ask how what we have now can possibly be called "good." We're living off disability payments. My husband is still going through many of the health issues he's had. Neither of us is working. A lot of "normal" things are tough for us.

But the good spoken of in this verse is not what you might think. Though a lot of Christians know verse 28, not many know what follows it.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29 (emphasis mine)

So the "good" God promises is the ultimate good - being conformed to the likeness of Christ. All things work out to make His people more like Christ. And that, no doubt, was certainly accomplished in Marc and me, and continues to happen. And, God willing, perhaps reading about His work in our lives will help to do the same for you.

I hope that our struggles, joys, sorrows, celebrations, and disappointments have encouraged you and helped you see, perhaps, that you are not alone in your own difficulties.

I pray that my questions have helped you see our story, and the lessons I've shared, as not just interesting tidbits, but as real-life instruction you can use to help you in the struggles you go through.

And, I hope that at least some of my prayers have become your prayers, and that, through seeing how the Lord has drawn us closer to Him through our difficulties, you too are drawing close to him, and allowing Him to nourish your soul, no matter how much your body may be failing. For that is what Our Father does best.

For all of our bodies are ailing. Whether we have a diagnosed disease or not, because we are human we are getting older every minute, and the amazing machine of the human body is breaking down, cell by cell. The bodies we have now are not perfect. They harbor sin, disease and the selfishness of our own natures. Until we get our glorified bodies in heaven, this will always be the case.

But our souls are a different matter. With God's power, they can be nourished and made more and more like Him. When we allow God, in His triune form, to work within us, we can have that supernatural peace that comes with a "healthy" soul, no matter the state of our earthy frame.

And that is the kind of peace that can change lives. It did for us, and God can do it for you too.

The End
**

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Karlene's blog for more great fiction(and maybe some other non-fiction LOL who knows?)


10/6/09

Finally - the winners!!

Yes - this contest was tougher than I thought! I put up a picture I found in a store circular, and asked for the best caption for it. I was gonna pick my favorite - but I COULDN'T - so I let YOU guys choose among my four favorites (out of 19 entries).



And now, without further ado...the winner of the "interesting prize" is...GARY L. MINIX, with his incredibly funny caption: Honey!!!!! The kids have been playing with their Chia Pets too close to my Rogaine again!!!!!! Gary - send me your snail mail address and I'll get your Camo Compact (not this exact one - but I don't think you much care ROFL) out to you soon!

And for those who remember, I also promised a book with one of my stories in it to a random entrant. Using the randomizer, the winner of "Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God" is HOOMI/Rick Higginson (oh - it's a GUY - if you want something else, Rick, lemme know LOL). You send me your snail mail, too, and I'll send you your book.

Thanks, EVERYONE, for participating - whether it was entering, voting, or just reading the post. Blessings to you!

10/5/09

Monday Manna - Finding the Clean

Hop over to my sidebar real quick (if you haven't already) and help me pick the winner for my caption contest. Voting will close this evening.

And now to the REAL issue at hand!

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On 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 put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in the MckLinky gadget below, and check out others' thoughts.

This week's verse is below.
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deuteronomy 30:6
Looking forward to reading your thoughts. My reflections are below.

**
As I work to make my home "shine" (my realtor's word) so it will be more likely to sell, I am sometimes surprised by what I find. And it has given me a different perspective.

For the most part, I tend to clean only when I absolutely have to, and only as much as is necessary. But now that we're trying to sell, my cleaning is much more frequent and more extensive.
Instead of just trying to get rid of the mess, I'm trying to "find the clean" beneath it.
An example? What I cleaned--really cleaned--the laundry room floor, I discovered that some of the pattern on the linoleum floor actually wasn't a pattern--it was dirt. And once I gave it a good scrubbing, the "real clean" shined through. Of course, once I found that one spot of clean under the dirt, I was especially motivated to find all the rest of it. And I wanted it OFF.

In a way, this is like our hearts. When the Lord saves us, he gives us a new, soft heart to replace our heart of stone. (Ezekiel 36:26) When we are new Christians, our soft, supple heart is especially sensitive to sin.

But as we spend a bit less time in His Word, and a bit more time focusing on our own wills, wants, and desires, sin starts to slip in and begins to create a kind of hard "coating" on our hearts--much like the dirt that got into the nooks and crannies of my floor. Sure, I might do a general "dusting" or light cleaning of the floor, but I never get back to that original clean unless I am serious about it.

And that, I believe, is what circumcision of the heart is about.
We cannot truly love, or feel the conviction of our and others' sins as strongly as God desires, if we have the hard, crusty remnants of sin surrounding our soft, supple hearts.
And like the physical ritual undergone by Jewish males, the fleshly covering of our hearts must be removed so we can be all God wants us to be.

Heavenly Father, circumcise our hearts. Cut away the fleshy covering of sin so we can feel and use the pure, supple heart that you have given us as Your children. May we recognize the sin that is building up and confess it, allowing you to scrub the gunk off it so we can love You with all our hearts and souls. In the Name of Your Precious Son I pray. Amen.

**
Thanks for reading. Be sure to link up below, and/or read other folks' posts on this subject.


10/3/09

Chug, chug, chug - An Ailing Body Nourished Soul progress/goal report

Firstly - don't forget to vote in my poll on my sidebar. You've got until Monday evening -->

And now for my book progress update and goals.

Photobucket


Yeah - I know I'm a few days late, but it's been CRAZY in my house (LOL like that's new!!). And besides, there really isn't anything monumental to say. I've been chugging along slowly for the past month making some decent progress. I'm still on my second read-through - but I'm awfully close to being finished with it (I just started chapter 30 out of 33). I'm figuring I have at least a couple more to go before I send it to Deb (which I'm planning to do before the end of NEXT month). Slow and steady wins the race!

Now, as far meeting my goals for September, I'll be honest and say I didn't do so hot. Here they are, fresh from my last progress/update post.

During the month of September, I'm planning to:
Work every day on my flow/repetition/names read-through of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul - at least 20 minutes each day.
I can think of at least two days - maybe more - when I didn't touch ABNS. And I'd say that 90% of the time I didn't spend 20 minutes on it. Something about that extra five minutes wasn't hitting me right. Fifteen minutes seems to be my comfort zone (though I certainly went over that amount a few times).

Sooo, in order to get me OUT of my comfort zone (but a bit more slowly) this is my goal for October.

  • Finish my flow/repetition/names read-through of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul.
  • Start a third read-through.
  • Work on my read-through daily a minimum of 15 minutes a day, with a weekly minimum of 2 hours.

If I'm gonna meet that goal, I'll need to do an extra fifteen minutes of reading each week - which I'll try to translate into at least three 20-minute days. We'll see!

Thanks for reading - and for all your encouragement. You have helped me more than you can know!

Can't decide on winner - HELP!!

Well, my contest to put a caption on this picture was supposed to close last night, and I was supposed to announce my winner this morning. I have a problem, though.

I CAN'T MAKE UP MY MIND!

I've got the selections narrowed down to JUST A FEW (even though I laughed at just about every one!) - and now YOU get to help me decide. I've got a poll in the upper right corner of my sidebar. Vote for the one YOU think fits best. You have until Monday evening (for those of you who stay off the 'net on weekends).

Thanks!

10/2/09

Fiction Fridays: "Preparation"

You've only got until midnight tonight to enter my Give This Picture a Caption contest. I've got some funny ones, but there's certainly room for one more. Scroll down a bit to Tuesday's blog for all the details and to enter!

Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by the new "head" of Friday Fiction, Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.


I was looking through my previous submissions for Friday Fiction and was completely surprised that I had never posted this particular old challenge entry. This was the piece that first convinced me I had enough "ideas" in me to write a novel-length fiction manuscript. Once I get "Ailing Body, Nourished Soul" off my desk, I plan to get started on an expansion of this one as my next project (I've also written a few other challenge entries on this topic. Those of you who know me probably already know what this is about).

Enjoy!

PREPARATION

Rivka carried the basin of water through the door of her mistress' chamber. She found her staring out a window, apparently lost in her own musings. Rivka waited a good two minutes before clearing her throat. Michal turned toward her servant and raised her eyebrows.

"I've been told the king will return soon." Rivka knelt beside her mistress. "May I help you wash and dress for him?"

Michal nodded silently and sat in a nearby chair. Rivka removed Michal's sandals and gently placed her left foot in the water. Using a cloth, she gently rubbed the dirt and dust from the top of her feet and between her toes.

"When do they say he will return?" Michal stared off into the distance.

Rivka rubbed Michal's heel with the cloth. "Messengers say he and the ark are on their way back to the city now. Within the hour, they said."

"I suppose I should look like a proper queen, then, if he is bringing back the ark." The corners of Michal's mouth turned up slightly.

The mistress' countenance was impossible to read. Michal was often a mystery to her, despite many years in her service. It was certainly not Rivka's place to ask this king's wife, this daughter of a king, to share her heart, however. They had chatted some when they were younger, but since her marriage to David, Michal had become too absorbed in her own life to chat with a servant.

Rivka dried Michal's left foot and reached for the right, easing it into the water.

Michal grinned, staring toward her chamber's entrance. "Perhaps he will be in good spirits when he arrives. Perhaps there will be a banquet." She glanced toward Rivka. "My purple gown: is it presentable?"

"Miss?" Rivka eased Michal's heel onto the bottom of the basin and looked up.

"My purple gown. I will wear it for his arrival. Is it ready? I must look dignified - royal - for him."

Rivka nodded. "Of course, miss. I will help you with it as soon as I am done washing, if it so pleases you."

Michal tossed her head. "It pleases me."

"Right away." Rivka rubbed her mistress' heel, then placed her foot on a towel and caressed it dry. She then took the basin toward the window, looked down to check for passers-by, and emptied it.

She set the basin down, then walked to Michal's wardrobe and opened it, revealing a closet full of clothing.

Rivka flipped through them slowly, glancing at each one in turn.

She was wearing this blue one when the king came to marry her. I still remember how much she glowed. I don't think I have seen her eyes as filled with love as they were that day.

Rivka fingered a light green gown, with a swooping neckline. Paltiel loved this one. I remember her often wearing it when she had angered him. He never could stay upset at her for long. Rivka giggled at the thought.

Michal cleared her throat. "My gown, Rivka."

"So sorry, miss." Rivka removed the purple gown, flowing and regal, from the wardrobe and dressed her mistress quickly.

"I hear the trumpets, miss. The king must be close." Rivka stepped out of Michal's way, as she went to the window. Rivka stood behind her.

Michal gasped. "He's disrobed! The king is practically naked, dancing like a fool with those slave girls. What a disgrace!"

"He's dancing for the Lord, miss. God wishes us to praise Him with dancing and song."

Michal looked at Rivka with daggered eyes. "Get out. You will NEVER speak to me like that again."

Rivka, head bowed low, exited the chamber, waiting to the side of the entryway, seething. She was so overcome she did not notice the king entering her mistress' chamber. Rivka put her ear to the wall.

"How the King of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would."*

Rivka sighed. If my mistress knew what a blessing the ark returning was, she would be dancing as well.

"It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people Israel - I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by those slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in high honor."*

***
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:16

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Karlene's blog for more great fiction!

10/1/09

Monday Manna for October 5 - plus giveaway reminder!

Just a reminder - I've still got my giveaway going on. All you need to do is write a creative caption for my very scary picture. There will be two winners - pop over to Tuesday's blog for all the details! You guys have definitely got me laughing so far! Deadline is Friday at midnight, with a winner announced Saturday.

And now to the REAL reason for this post!

Monday Manna

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

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--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 long -- 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 MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.


This particular word picture from scripture has captured me ever since I became a believer, likely because of my background. There is so much depth to it, and I feel the need to ponder and meditate on it even more lately. Hope you feel the same way.
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deuteronomy 30:6
I truly hope you will participate. See you back here on Monday!

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