We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Brand New Year, but the Same Old Me

Every year, it’s the same. When the magic of Christmas morphs into a craving for normalcy, we attack the house with determination! Like tin soldiers, we march the boxes of holiday decorations up to the attic to hibernate for the next eleven months. The furniture pieces finally stand at attention in their rightful places. The vacuum readies the floor for inspection. When my planner says December 31, I feel driven to launch the new year clean and organized — well, as much as possible with a loveable pack-rat husband in the house!

For me, when another year makes its debut, there’s something invigorating about the pursuit of unlittered spaces, tidy drawers and easy-to-find-it closets. I delight in the mystery of a fresh journal and the anticipation of an unexplored project or opportunity. Deep inside I find myself eager for change. Even the concept of new acknowledges the reality of old. I feel grateful for the prospects of starting over, for the relief of leaving the past behind. I’m more than ready to press the reset button.

So much potential waits unbirthed in the word new. So much promise. A new year and a new beginning . . . but there’s one problem. I’m the same old me. What difference does a new calendar make? I have the same weaknesses, the same blind spots, the same propensities for mistakes, for…sin. I’d like to wrestle out of this prison suit of flesh, but it marks me. Though positionally I’m free from sin and I’ve been named a new creation, my very nature still contains me like barbed wire. I can't seem to live up to my own ideals. Like the apostle of old, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18b, 19).

A brand new year, but the same old me. Yet, God is the same, too (Psalm 102:27). He is the great I AM (John 8:58), “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He offers the same love-motivated redemption (1 John 3:16). His forgiveness cleanses me (1 John 1:9). His promise to never leave me or forsake me gives security and stability (Hebrews 13:5). I, with my flesh-stamped heart, can enter the new year’s untold secrets with confidence. The God of the universe remains unchanged. I can count on Him.

As I step into 2013, I want to focus on the same gracious, consistent God instead of on the same old me. I want to reach beyond the temporal sense of time to the eternal. I long to hear His words when He will press the reset button for the last time: “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

Even me!

Even you!

* First published in Catapult Magazine, Vol. 9, Num. 24, 2010.12.31-2011.01.13.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Heavenly Peace

Rummaging through my memories this past week, I uncovered some peace and perspective, a remembrance tucked away the Christmas of 2004. Here's my story:

Stars peered down to watch us stand among a group of bundled up strangers in the crisp, cold darkness. As we waited, bits of conversation and clouds of white escaped our lips. The frantic pace of all that comes with Christmas suddenly seemed far away here at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm.* How many years did I determine to somehow simplify the holidays? Tradition’s strong tug and the fear of disappointing my family put miles on my Reeboks, piles of bowls and cookie sheets in the sink, and lists in my dreams. I physically felt the pressure, and even coming here for this “nice family event” became one more thing to do.

My husband squeezed my mittened hand, and our little daughter smiled up at me as a costumed guide led us to a blazing outdoor fire. We sat on rough log benches and listened to him recount bits of local German history. The fire snapped and leaped. I began to warm up to the idea of sharing this time together. The peacefulness of the place seeped into my heart, and the tension slipped out into the night.

Our tour took us inside log cabins to simpler celebrations in various time periods. We visited a one room school house where we sang carols with our stranger-friends. And yes, the pathway even led to the barn. Here, among the farm animals, musicians played the old Christmas hymns on a guitar, violin, and autoharp. Interspersed with the sweet melodies, the familiar Old and New Testament Scriptures whispered God’s beautiful story of hope for mankind. Tears blurred my eyes as my heart reached for each word. Somehow, standing in the clear winter chill enveloped only in the wonder of a miracle, the holiday season came back into proper focus. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior . . . Emmanuel . . . God with us” (Luke 2:11; Matthew 1:23). The lump in my throat could not stop the prayer from my soul - a prayer of confession, of thanksgiving, of praise for His lavish love and grace.
As we walked back along the path lit with white paper bag lanterns and gratefully sipped hot cider, I savored this heavenly peace. Back home the pile of packages still waited to be wrapped, the cookies still needed frosting, and events still filled up too many boxes on the calendar. Yet it all faded into the background. The image of redemption stood clearly in the forefront. God used the simplicity of the past to give perspective to the present. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

*Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm
Old Time Christmas 2012 
Saturday & Sunday, December 8th and 9th
Public tours - 3:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. with continuous tours every 15 minutes
Reservations not needed. The last tour starts at 7:15 p.m.

Group Tours (12 or more) by reservation only, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

All photos from Quiet Valley Website

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crazy Quilt

Gathered from an old trunk
Negligent in design
Few quilting stitches, tiny and even
 No fibers of cotton
No log cabins or geese flying
No stars pieced
Contrary angles
Puzzle pieces mixed up
No story told
A kaleidoscope of color
Silk, wool, velvet
Threads of gold
 A timeless treasure

Sarah Lynn Phillips

Victorian Crazy Quilt, 1890

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cross Country Musings

The whistle blows.  
Runners on the line hold their breath. 
Sidelines stop their chatter. 
Silence waits. 

The gun explodes.
 Runners bolt.  
A herd stampedes.
Parents cheer.
Another race begins!

Every Tuesday, we followed the Abington Heights Cross Country team from course to course. We witnessed the start, then criss-crossed the grounds to get a glimpse of our daughter and her teammates as they found their stride up hills and down, through the woods, and finally on to the finish line. Junior High ran 1.86 miles, Varsity 3.1. They ran hard. We cheered them all on, to the last runner in!

Records of competitive foot racing date back to 1829 BC with the Tailteann Games in Ireland. The first recorded Olympic Games took place in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC. There's something about the competition that's ageless. Who knows? Maybe Cain and Abel had their own races.

Life is a little like a cross country race. It's important to get a good start, to stay steady through the ups and downs, and then to finish well. We need people to coach us along the way, and there's comfort in a trusted teammate's encouragement now and then.

I find it interesting that the New Testament alludes to the Olympic games. Consider these words scrawled onto parchment in the first century:

Do you know that in a race all the runners run, 
but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize. 
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last; 
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

 Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . .
1 Corinthians 9:24, 25          Hebrews 12:1, 2

I'll never compete in a foot race again. But I'm going for the crown that will last forever. I want to run the race of life well. Even when the course gets muddy and slippery with uncertainty or I face multiple uphill challenges or I lose my way in the woods of difficulty. I'm grateful for coaches who give me tips on how to improve my race and others in my life who cheer me on.
May all of us run the race of life with endurance and grace.

Good season, Abington Heights. And special congratulations to you, Elisabeth. You worked hard and did a great job. Dad and I are Comet proud!! 

*Photos by Julie Mulligan

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"All People Like Me"

One of my daughters asked me to attend the Women of Faith Conference in Philadelphia last weekend. How nice, I thought. I could spend the weekend with my newly married second-born (who now lives three hours away) and break out of my usual I-love-to-be-home mentality.

And so, I began to plan. Motel locations, driving routes, traffic patterns, parking possibilities, train schedules, subway lines, phone conversations, and internet connections all tumbled and jumbled in my head as I tried to sort out the best plan of action to navigate the event. This sounded like such a good idea, but I found myself a little tentative with so many options and not enough know-how. One restless night, an old childhood nursery rhyme by Beatrice Curtis Brown (1901-1974) floated to the top of my thinking. Perhaps you know it, too.


Poor old Jonathan Bing
Went out in his carriage to visit the King,
But everyone pointed and said, "Look at that!
Jonathan Bing has forgotten his hat!"
(He'd forgotten his hat!)

Poor old Jonathan Bing
Went home and put on a new hat for the King,
But by the palace the soldier said, "Hi!
You can't see the King; you've forgotten your tie!"
(He'd forgotten his tie!)

Poor old Jonathan Bing,
He put on a beautiful tie for the King,
But when he arrived, and Archbishop said, "Ho!
You can't come to court in pajamas, you know!"

Poor old Jonathan Bing
Went home and addressed a short note to the King:
"If you please will excuse me, I won't come to tea;
For home's the best place for all people like me!"
I had to smile as I lay in the dark. As much as I hate to admit it and as much as I really don't want to get to the end of my life without "doing anything," maybe home is the best place for all people like me. All people like me and Jonathan Bing!

As it turned out, Sharon and I decided to forgo the Friday night portion of the conference due to logistics and limited time. Instead, we drove from our different directions to my oldest daughter's home in the Philadelphia suburbs. We all enjoyed the evening together (Thank you, Andy, Jana, and Ty). On Saturday morning Sharon and I hopped on a train, found our way to the Broad Street Line, and made it to our seats on the second last row of Section 204A at the Wells Fargo Center with fifteen minutes to spare. We found coming back a little trickier, but rumbled into the station right on time for Jana to pick us up before her baby went to bed. Just over three hours later, I pulled into my very own cozy driveway. Thank you, Lord!

I hope Sharon will ask me to do something with her again. We had a great time together, a memory I will always treasure. I want to spend time with my family whether it be near or far. I don't have a bucket list, but neither do I want my apprehensions to keep me glued to what's most comfortable. So, if you see me out and about or hear that I'm headed to Southeastern PA or as far away as Lake Michigan, toss a few gold stars my direction, for if truth be told, I'm a lot like Jonathan Bing. "Home's the best place for all people like me!"

A form of this article has been published in Catapult Magazine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Each dawn, as early sunbeams paint the sky with brushstrokes of vibrant mercies, I find myself snuggled in the worn corner of my futon. A journal, my Bible, and a little book the color of the sunrise pile in my lap. I sip my mug of lemon tea, watch the heavens brighten, and open Sarah Young's little volume, Jesus Calling. The readings for each day take but a minute or two to breathe in, yet I often read the words a second or third time and look up the Scripture references jotted at the bottom of each page. I set my never-ending list aside. My mind quiets. I listen.

This morning, I read, "Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care . . . . My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do" (August 23, page 246).

Today, our youngest has her first cross-country scrimmage. For her, this fall means a new school, a new sport, new friends, and new situations. As I drop her off to catch the bus, my morning meditation nudges its way past my concerns. Today, I remind myself, God will go with her to Elk Lake and back. He will help her navigate each day, each circumstance, one by one.

Her sisters, grown now and in different cities, face their own joys and challenges. One lovingly mothers an infant, a beautiful baby boy. No small feat in a kaleidoscope of too many choices and a world brimming with uncertainty. The other, newly married, adjusts to a new job, a new community, and a new church - her first time to live this far from her home town.

"My presence will go with them wherever they go." My mind ponders the promise. I release each one to God's protective care; I pray with specific needs in mind. A sense of peace settles over me as, once again, I make a conscience choice to entrust all three to our attentive, ever-present Father.

"Watch to see what I will do."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What a Wedding Means . . .

by Lillian Ewert*

To a Bride?                                  
Photo by Katie Fisher
  • a lovely dress
  • never saying "good-bye" again to her lover
  • being overwhelmed by the kindnesses of so many
  • sadness at leaving her home town
  • excitement about having her own home
  • thankfulness that God made the choice
  • cherished memories of a happy day

To her Father?
Photo by Rayan Anaster
  • walking down the aisle with the loveliest girl in town
  • being nervous about his lines (and dance steps)
  • a balance of 45 cents in the checking account
  • moving boxes and furniture to an apartment three hours away
  • glad to have a son and his friends to help with the moving
  • after everyone leaves, adjusting to "just the three of us" once again
To her Mother?
  • experiencing a strange mix of emotions 
  • the fear of crying in front of everyone
  • happiness at seeing relatives who live so far away
  • sharing the joy as each gift if lovingly handled and admired
  • gaining a wonderful son
  • using shared memories of places and events as reminders to pray

To her Sisters?
  • wanting to help make it a special day for her
  • fighting back tears
  • a brother!
  • memories of growing up and hanging out together 

To a Family?
  • becoming closer than ever: planning, praying, worrying, working, and laughing
  • thankfulness to God for His faithfulness 
  • added responsibility to pray for and support one another
  • adjustments to new locations and situations
  • greater faith in God, knowing He does all things well.
  • gratefulness for family and friends who have shared this joy with us and upheld us in prayer.

Photo by Jenn Dodd - Used with permission

*This was written 33 years ago by my mom after my wedding on July 14, 1979. I adapted it slightly to fit the occasion of Brad and Sharon's wedding July 14, 2012. My parents, David and Lillian Ewert, celebrated 55 years of marriage on May 11.

David and Lillian Ewert

Saturday, July 14, 2012

With Daddy

July 14, 2012

                                             With Daddy
 I watch them leave.
  Together, they hold the colorful golf umbrella,
           Stopping to check a few plants gracing the brick patio
     On the way to the car.

She portrays delicate features and long light hair
With the sides swept up
In the silver barrette we bought yesterday.

He stands tall and proud, assuming a silent protection.

Walking side by side,
Comfortable laughter harmonizes the with rain’s song.
Their eyes meet in friendly camaraderie.

Someday they will walk side by side once more.
Instead of shorts and T shirts
On the way to McDonald’s,

She will wear white
To match the angel spirit she carries inside.
He will lead her on his arm
As, together, they slowly stride to music and flowers.

My cheeks will feel the rain fall again.
But this time the sun will be shining, too.

Sarah Lynn Phillips
July 2001

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

Sometimes I read a paragraph over and over. It's a mystery to me how the author takes my very thoughts and feelings and captures them with expressions that reflect my soul, sing its depths, and leave me satisfied in a strange sort of way.

Ann Voskamp is one of those authors. She's written a book titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I reread the pages slow, savoring her warmth, her refreshing honesty, her quest to find a grateful heart.

On a melancholy day, I run across these words:
"Love's a deep wound and what is a mother without a child and why can't I hold on to now forever and her here and me here and why does time snatch away a heart I don't think mine can beat without? Why do we all have to grow old? Why do we have to keep saying good-bye?" (page 160). 
Tears drip salty. How can I feel this way and yet find myself proud on the sidelines cheering them all on? Run well, my girls! Fulfill your dreams . . .

On another day, I read:
"God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors.

"And I've an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance before we can look back and we see God's back in the rearview mirror.

"Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven - that kind of distance.

"Then to turn and see His face" (page 157).
I smile to discover some perspective in my story. Hope. Remembrance. And a quest for contentment: "I accept the gift of now as it is . . ." (page 181).

Ann Voskamp. One Thousand Gifts. A thoughtful read.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fly the Flag Proud!

May 24, 2012 will always be an important date in Andy’s life story. Born and raised in Germany, this is the day our son-in-law added United States citizenship to his German citizenship. To do so, he worked his way through the required paperwork, passed a test, and took the Oath of Allegiance.* Our family celebrated over lunch around the backyard picnic table last Sunday. His gift? An American flag – a symbol of “the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

The American flag has always intrigued me—its symbolism, its history, its unique design. The pride I feel on Memorial Day when the veterans march by carrying the Stars and Stripes shows itself when I get that familiar choked-up feeling and blink back patriotic tears. Maybe the reason I experience so much emotion is because my dad served in the United States Navy and we toured Washington, D.C. when I was a kid. Perhaps listening to concerts given by the U. S. Army Band on the steps of the Capitol and the fact that my ancestors passed through Ellis Island has something to do with it, too.

I loved to sing in the school chorus in elementary school in the 1960's. Our concert itinerary included “Let There be Peace on Earth,” along with “The New Colossus,” words engraved on the Statue of Liberty written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. I still remember the lyrics (along with the melody):

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Times have changed since these words were penned. America has been the land of golden opportunity for some but not for all. Yet, I’m grateful for this country—my country. I’ll always bring tissues to the parade. I’ll always enjoy the music that represents the Red, White, and Blue. And I’ll always (as I said to Andy) “fly the flag proud!”

*Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

I keep a stack of books propped up against the wall by my side of the bed. There's something "nice" about finally climbing in after a long day--and reaching for a book. I give a long contented sigh and snuggle in to read until I can't focus any more. Ah-h-h . . . such a sweet ending...

My latest book kept me turning the pages later than usual. A delightful read, Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, is light yet thought-provoking, fun yet relevant, taking the reader on a journey of real-life issues and dilemmas. The author, Joyce Magnin, weaves together a great story. I recommend it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On Gratitude: It Seems to Me . . .

 . . . that we don’t (or can’t) truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Said another way, we often realize how much we value people, abilities, and even things after we lose them. And sometimes the seeming littlest losses bring a grief that surprises us.

As a child, I could run—fast. I loved to hike in the woods. In my forties, I took early morning walks with my husband and jogged with our daughter, Sharon. I enjoyed those times, but now my hip complains when I walk—slow. I never thought about the blessing of being able to run and walk at a brisk pace until I couldn’t do it anymore.

I am more-than-proud of our children, their maturity, their work ethic, but I miss the “little girl” era. When I see their past photos, I remember the long busy days and interrupted nights. But sometimes I wish I could go back and pull them onto my lap for a story just one more time.

 After a car accident nine years ago, the significance of health, routine, and predictability increased. Why? We no longer had their security. We lost the normal hum-drum of traditional roles, family suppers, and even the ability to walk unaided, drive, and independently care for ourselves. When some of these things returned, I felt blessed beyond measure—and still do.

My sweet mom has cancer. Watching her go through the chemo treatments has made me appreciate the blessings of an appetite, a bad-hair day, feeling half-way decent, and the ability to do my work.
It seems to me . . . that we don’t truly appreciate what we have until it’s gone. We take running water and electricity for granted until a pipe leaks or the lights go out. We underestimate the efficiency of working with two hands until one is injured. We may not fully realize the comfort of a friend until circumstances take him or her away from us. When we find our lives altered, in big matters and small, we see everything from an entirely different perspective. Today I want to savor the blessings in my story just a little bit more.

How does it seem to you?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Great-Great Uncle and a Nutty Idea

My grandma called him "Uncle Mario." He was her father's brother, the same brother who made it possible for my great-grandparents to keep their home on Edison Street in Buffalo during the Great Depression. The same man who, along with Amedeo Obici, began Planters Nut and Chocolate Company in Wilkes-Barre in 1906. His full name? Mario Peruzzi.

For those who live in Scranton, PA, the Times-Tribune featured the story on Friday, March 30, 2012 with a headline that read "An Empire Built on Nutty Idea." The Luzerne County Historical Society Museum in Wilkes-Barre is currently featuring an exhibit on the "Wonderful Story of Planters Peanuts." I plan to go. After all, this story is part of my heritage.

The son of a Baptist minister, Mario Peruzzi was born in Trevisa, Italy in 1875. From age 12 to 18, he worked in a department store in Rome in various roles. The next year (1894) he and his mother sailed to the United States from Naples, Italy to join his father (my Great-Great Grandpa Angelo) who had sailed some 17 months prior. As Uncle Mario felt the waves roll under his feet on the deck of the Kronprinz Frederick Wilheim,did he dream and plan and hope? Did fear play around the edges of his mind? Would America show him kindness? Perhaps he felt his heart beat faster when they finally sailed past the recently dedicated Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

His working experience in the Old Country paid off. Uncle Mario worked as a janitor, a wholesale importer, and a department manager in Hazelton and Scranton. He met Mr. Obici in about 1898, and the two immigrants started Planters Peanuts in 1906. Uncle Mario married and had two children. His wife died, and he later married his partner's sister, Elizabeth. By 1946 Planters was selling $60 million worth of nuts per year, world-wide. When Mr. Obici died in 1947, Uncle Mario took over as president until his death in 1955.

My grandma used to tell us about her visits to Uncle Mario's home when she was young. She and her sister took the train from Buffalo to Wilkes-Barre. Later, my Aunt Anita repaid their uncle for his kindness to their parents during the Depression.

Mario Peruzzi's story intrigues me. There are so many unanswered questions. When I grew up in the Buffalo, New York area, I never dreamed I'd someday live so close to where my relatives began their lives in America, so close to where my great-great uncle teamed up with another Italian immigrant with a nutty idea.

There's a reason my grandma insisted on Planters Peanuts for an after dinner snack when the whole clan gathered. Uncle Mario!

(Information gathered from family conversations and "Pennsylvania Profiles" by Patrick M. Reynolds, Warren Times Observer, July 1990)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Between Chores

"Daddy" with his girls, 1987


by the outside
wall of the

living room where
warming sunbeams

turn bright pages,
little girls

hear voices reading 
to the rhythm

of Daddy's
rocking chair

Jana (4) with Grandma Phillips
Sharon (2) with Great Grandma Ewert

by Sarah Lynn Phillips
First published by Welcome Home, October 2004

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Generational Prize

Two little girls jumped up and down, their eyes pleading. "Please come with us to Sunday School. We'll get a prize if you come. Please?"

The next Sunday, two little girls and their parents walked hand-in-hand to Pinehill Church in Buffalo. The young couple came away with a greater prize than expected, one that would change their lives forever. For the first time, they understood and accepted God's offer of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.

The year was 1936 when Ed and Lillian Holtz's life-stories began a new chapter. They left their old lifestyles behind, prompting their friends and families to "read" the difference. From that point on, the Holtz's lived out their faith as a Christian family. A third daughter was born soon after who would later become my mother.

One choice in a Godward direction not only transformed my grandparents, but influenced the generations to follow:

4 daughters
14 grandchildren
38 great grandchildren
12 great great grandchildren

To date, that's a total of 68 people (plus spouses), each one acquainted with the gospel, each one aware of the truth of God's Word. God had a plan for our family, brought to fruition because of an invitation from two little girls and an unnamed prize.

I'm grateful for my heritage. When I remember my grandparents, 1 Samuel 12:24 comes to mind, the verse Grandpa always wrote near their signature in the cards they sent.

"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."

Holtz Family Reunion, Summer 2007

"One generation shall praise Your works to another,
 And shall declare Your mighty acts."
Psalm 145:4

Monday, February 13, 2012

Penned Without Ink

Welcome to Penned Without Ink, a blog about story. 

Everyone has a story. A unique one-of-a kind story. Penned without ink, your story and mine resemble a book in process. The people with whom we rub shoulders read our stories every day as they observe our behavior and interact with us.

This concept isn’t new. A converted Jewish leader by the name of Paul scrawled a letter to a small group of new Christians in the ancient city of Corinth. I wonder if they eagerly gathered around the courier (Titus) as he read: 
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3). 
The lives of these Corinthians spoke transformation from the inside out. Formerly worshipers of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, they embraced faith in Christ alone for salvation. Their penned-without-ink-stories caught the attention of their families, friends, and neighbors who could “read” the difference. No letter of commendation could top the credibility of the gospel when revolutionized lives were “known and read” in the marketplace, at home, and in their worship.

I want this same transformation to make a difference in my story. Every day. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what J. I. Packer wrote in his book Your Father Loves You. “God . . . guides our minds as we think things out in His presence.” It seems to me this is a vital link in the process of inviting God to author our life-stories.

Posts on Penned Without Ink will feature stories, books, poetry, and responses to what God impresses on the pages of my story. I hope you’ll join me as the plot progresses. Together, may we grow in our trust in the Master-Writer.

Special thanks to my daughter who spent hours patiently clicking away with me to set up Penned Without Ink. Love you, Jana.