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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Trusting God to Write Your Story

A very special group of ladies converged on the campus of Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA this weekend. The occasion? The annual Ladies' LYFE (acronym for Living Your Faith Everyday) Conference, complete with four main sessions, twelve different workshops (choose four), a concert, a banquet and program, and some free time to relax and make some new friends. Oh! And a book table. There's always room for one more book in your bag

I had the privilege of leading a workshop titled "Trusting God to Write Your Story." Everyone has a life story, after all, a unique, one-of-a-kind story. During our time together, we laid our life stories alongside those of David, the apostle Paul, and Thomas. We studied Psalm 18:30-32 and 138:8 along with Philippians 1:6 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. I shared some of my story. Traci Thompson artfully performed an allegory based on my "conversations" with a loving Heavenly Father who writes our stories with purpose. We learned that God listens to our questions and often gives us glimpses of His much larger story from His Word. 

I have a few more book recommendations by authors who have helped me on my journey:

The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life by Ken Gire
The North Face of God: Hope for the Times When God Seems Indifferent by Ken Gire
When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes
Hinds' Feet on High Places (Delightfully Illustrated and Arranged for Children) by Hannah Hurnard

I thought perhaps it would be helpful to include a list of the verses quoted in the allegory. I pray they will help you as you trust God to write your story.

Psalm 91:11
Jeremiah 31:3
Job 23:10
1 Peter 1:7
Isaiah 41:10
Philippians 4:7
Hebrews 12:2
Lamentations 3:22, 23
Romans 8:28
Isaiah 55:8, 9
Psalm 46:1
Deuteronomy 33:27
Philippians 4:19
2 Corinthians 9:8
Hebrews 13:16
Ephesians 3:20
Isaiah 43:1
Matthew 20:15
Romans 9:21
Isaiah 45:9
Isaiah 43:2

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Epic: The Story God is Telling by John Eldredge

"Here's something that's perfect for you." My friend, Leslee, slid a little book across the table. I picked it up, glanced at the title, and smiled. Epic: The Story God is Telling. "You have to read it. It reminds me of your book."

My book . . . On Story. On trusting God to write your story. I just finished rewriting all ten chapters. My writing group, Leslee among them, has hung with me as we've read chapter after chapter, all gathered around my dining room table. Multiple viewpoints and opinions have wonderfully converged and spilled over onto my pages. We critique each other's manuscripts line by line. We've grown in our writing--and in our friendship.

So, I tucked John Eldredge's 104 page volume into my reading pile. Because of Leslee's markings throughout its pages, I felt like I read right along with her. I like this part, too, Les. Hmmm. Great thought. I found myself thinking about what I read. Some of the ideas paralleled the focus in my writings while other themes brought a familiar yet different twist. I found plenty of  premises fresh and new.

Here's a brief summary from the back of the book:
Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven't a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart.
We need to know the rest of the story.
For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you've ever loved--there's a reason they stirred your heart. They've been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.
There is a Larger Story. And you have a crucial role to play.
I couldn't read Epic and then just pass it back to my friend. A few cliques on the Amazon website brought this story-book right to my front door. And now, I'm sliding the same little book across the table to you. Let me know how you enjoy it!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life is a Journey

This morning, I had the privilege of speaking at a Mother/Daughter Brunch at Faith Baptist Church in Peckville, PA. What a wonderful group of ladies and girls. The theme for the morning? Life is a journey. It is, isn't it? Whenever I think of a journey, I think of a road trip. We pack our map or GPS. We make sure we have snacks, water, sunglasses, phone, a credit card, some cash. We fill the tank with gas, and off we go . . .

Sometimes we enjoy our trips. This time of year we see trees and flowers in full bloom. The grass boasts its greenest green. We pass through quaint villages full of history and stories. Majestic mountains rise up in the distance. The sun warms our souls as we go along.

On our life journeys, we can also find ourselves traveling through God's blessings on every side. We find our relationships blooming. Our jobs adequately meet our needs. We're on the right road leading to a bright future. God gifts us with periods of abundance. "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above . . ." (James 1:17).

At other times, though, we suddenly find our road trips a bit more challenging. Thunder rumbles in the distance, the wind kicks up, lightning strikes. Before we know it, we encounter a full-blown storm. Or we meet up with a detour sign, taking us miles out of the way. Or we find ourselves stalled at the side of the road with engine trouble while others zoom by. And then there's all that traffic.

Life journeys include similar "bumps in the road." Our relationships bring stormy conflicts. Much to our dismay, we find ourselves on a detour far from our intended plan. Our bodies break down or our finances go south. We face unexpected limitations. We grieve our losses. 

Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulations and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer, take courage. I have overcome the world. In me you may have peace and confidence" (John 16:33, The Amplified Bible). 

We’re headed for a glorious destination on this journey called life. 

Every year our family drives fourteen hours to a family reunion in Frankfort, Michigan. It’s long. We get tired and cranky. There are detours, traffic, all the rest. But when we finally arrive and we see the welcoming faces of those we love, and we feel the Lake Michigan breeze, see the sand and the lighthouse, I always think, "The long journey was worth it."
Our life journeys include both blessings and trials. We find bumps in the road every day. But someday we will finally see the welcoming face of the Lord Jesus. We can have courage on our life journeys, in our life stories, because . . .

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus….. 
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ; 
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase, 
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
(Esther Kerr Rusthoi, 1909 – 1962)