Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smile Grabbers

Some things never fail to elicit a smile from me:
  • A dog wearing a sweater.
  • My two male cats wrestling-- one is barely 3 pounds and thinks he's hot stuff; the other is a sumo dude weighing in at 21 pounds!
  • Male cardinals with snowy wallpaper
  • Dark chocolate anything
  • Babies
  • People who want the moon, for Wal-Mart prices (can you tell I work retail?)
  • Reading about Jesus' ways of doing things and relating to people

What are some things that cause your face to relax and break into a smile?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


No one could accuse Cicero of being a Christian. He died on 7 August 43 B.C., almost 40 years before Jesus was born. This is what he had to say about abortion.

“I remember a case that came up when I was in Asia. A woman of Miletus was condemned to death because, after accepting a bribe from her late husband’s secondary heirs, she had taken drugs to procure an abortion. Her condemnation was entirely justified, because she had deprived the father of his hopes for the future, prevented him from perpetuating his name, dashed away the support on which his family relied, cheated his house of it’s expected heirs, robbed the state of a citizen.”

Taken from: Cicero (translated by Michael Grant), Murder Trials, Penguin Books, 1975, page 139.

Too bad he wasn’t alive to advance such arguments before our Supreme court. I had never heard these put forward before reading them in this book last week. They just go to show that what is done in an abortion is NOT just about a woman’s body or her control over it.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Life Is-- Good or Bad?

Have you seen the t-shirts and bumper stickers declaring Life Is Good ? Although I agree with this general philosophy, I believe Jesus has more to say on the subject. Here is my take on life:

When your stomach is full, life is good. If the meal was tasty and you had dessert, life is tremendous.
When you are so sick you haven’t seen your appetite in weeks, life is hard
When you are holding all three grandchildren on your lap and singing, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” life is fun.
When you miss out on the grandkids’ ballgames and birthday parties because they live three states away, life is difficult.
When you know at least one of your family members love you unconditionally, life is sweet. If there is more than one, you are blessed beyond counting.
When you are forced to say goodbye to someone you loved sooner than you’d planned, life is horrible.
Well, which is it, then? Delightful or dreadful? Terrific or terrible? That depends.
Jesus told His followers, “I came to give you life abundantly, in all it’s fulness, 'til it overflows.” (John 10:10) He also said, “In this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) Jesus acknowledged that we’d have happy days and horrible days. He was not an idealist who refused to admit the presence of evil in the world, hoping it would go away if He ignored it.
Although what I know would fill a thimble, I believe I’ve discovered the secret to Jesus’ success in the rough times: He spent time with this Father, getting His perspective. Jesus often stole away from the crowds to spend hours, even entire nights in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and strength. This is how he maintained control and composure when a lynch mob tried to throw Him off a cliff, or religious leaders accused Him of doing miracles by the power of satan. Because He was full of His Father’s thoughts, Jesus always faced darkness head on, refusing to tremble or run from trouble.
While we may not be able to spend all night in prayer, we can follow Jesus’ example of turning to the Father when we need wisdom for rough days. We can sit quietly and simply listen to His still, calm voice in our hearts. We can open His word and mine jewels of direction and understanding.
Life is good. Life is also hard. Yet, we do not have to crumple in a heap of despair and fear when hard times confront us. We have the same solution Jesus had, because His father is our father, too. When life is hard, we can pray.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Law of the Toddler

A sample devotional from my HOPEFULLY soon-to-be-published book, God Is Bigger:

The Law of the Toddler

I’m sure you have either heard of “The Law of the Toddler” or seen it in action:
If I am playing with it and you glance at it, it’s MINE.
If I am not playing with it but you go anywhere near it, it’s MINE.
If I saw it first, it’s MINE.
If you have it and I want it, it’s MINE.
If it remotely resembles one that looks like mine, it’s MINE.
If I have 322 of them and you want to play with only one, ALL of them are MINE.
If it’s broken, it’s yours.
Our three-year-old granddaughter, Jenessa came up with a new twist on the Toddler Law recently. I bent down to kiss her sleeping brother, Daniel and she whispered, “That baby is mine. Not Mommy’s baby, but mine.”
I never thought of Jesus as being a possessive sort of person until I discovered this statement He made about Himself: “My own sheep know My voice: I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one shall snatch them from My care. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s care (John 10:27-30).”
Are you scared that you are going to accidentally do something to mess up your relationship with God, and Jesus will disown you? Don’t be. He says, “You are MINE!”
Are you worried that someone is going to come along and talk you out of your belief in Jesus as your savior and Lord? Don’t be. He reassures you: “You are MINE!”
Are you fretting that the problems and challenges you face will distract you from your walk with Him, causing you to lose your faith? Don’t be. He lovingly whispers, “You are MINE!”
When you meet God face to face, He is not going to ask you how many good deeds you did, or failed to do. He is not concerned with perfection, but position. All He will care about is Who you put your faith in. If it’s Jesus, He will turn to His angels and command, “Open the gates! This one is washed in the blood of My only Son. This one is MINE!”

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Be or Not to Be: Thankful

I recently purchased a cd by Joel Osteen about being thankful. Although most of the time I am pretty upbeat, even zany, I was convicted by this teaching. I need to be more thankful to the Lord for all we have, or don’t have! I need to wake up in the morning praising God for my health, my job, my family and my mind that works (most of the time!). I am especially thankful for a place in Heaven, and my sweet relationship with a loving Heavenly Father.
So we don’t own our own home, we live in a parsonage—but it’s a lovely home in the country surrounded by great neighbors and few noises, other than birdsong and cricket opera. We have no smog, we see crimson and lavender sunsets and watch bunnies prance across our lawn.
So our church is small—the people love and support us and tell us how grateful they are to have us pastor them. I have an awesome group of ladies in my Sunday School class, and Kevin gets to preach every week.
Let’s not allow the news media to manipulate us into thinking the world is on the verge of collapse just because the economy has taken a nosedive. God is still God, and this world will be here until He says not. There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
I’d like to challenge you, as Pastor Osteen challenged me this week: what are you thankful for? Please share with me, and other readers, what you are grateful for. Let’s see how long a list we can make. Let’s focus on the good in our lives, and make God smile. Love you, Jen

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Keep your Eyes on the Prize

I spent a large chunk of my afternoon formatting articles into a single document for my book. I barely accomplished a tenth of this process.
Writing for fun and writing for publication are as different as playing in the sprinkler in your front yard and training for the Olympic swim team. What I love to do is write. But that’s only about 25% of the process of getting published. The other 75% is revising, sending query letters to prospective publishers and agents, researching markets that will buy your writing, creating a book proposal, and reading about how to do those things. A lot of tedious stuff, but necessary. It can frustrate you if you forget your focus.
It’s kind of like making a recipe. What you love to do is the actual cooking or baking of the food. Your goal is to create something that will nourish but also entertain the taste buds. You relish the process of putting together ingredients and savoring the smell and taste of your culinary creation.
What you find is that you must spend a wagon load of time writing out the recipe, filing it in the proper spot in your recipe file, making a shopping list, purchasing the ingredients, then cleaning up the mess after the final satisfied hiccup. The creation is only a smidgen of the process. You do all the other tasks, however, because you are addicted—in a healthy way—called, if you like, to the art of cooking. And you are rewarded by the pleasure of those you cook for. So, although you may greatly dislike the tedium of the ‘other’ parts of cooking, you force yourself to do them, because the gratification of expressing your creativity and ministering to others is worth the trouble.
In my case, when I sell an article or a greeting card verse, or when someone tells me that one of my columns helped them, it makes all the monotony worth it. My goal is to change lives, to draw people closer to the Master, to hear someone say, “your writing revolutionized my walk with God.” So if I have to suffer along the way in order to get my writing out there, it’s a small price to pay. Especially if someone who didn’t believe, becomes a Believer from reading something I wrote.
I just need to keep reminding myself of the goal…
--- Jen