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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Still Kickin' Through the Leaves . . .

Autumn Walk

I walk
around the block, dwarfed
among balding maple giants
whose hair, crinkled and withered
tops rough and knotty skin.

I kick up
dusty piles and a smell
that makes me a little girl again . . .
with hand-me-down jacket and homemade scarf,
raking leaves into rows, neat and square
to build yet another leaf house
in the back yard after school.

What fall memories make you smile?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Truth About Trouble . . . Part Two

So, how has your week been? Have you been pursuing truth? Seeking a sense of joy? Even when trouble chases you down and you feel surrounded by unknowns and what ifs? 

Robert J. Morgan, in his book, The Red Sea Rules, writes, "We don't always know why God allows problems, but we know He intends to use them to heighten our maturity and deepen our faith. Trials and troubles are dumbbells and treadmills for the soul. They develop strength and stamina" (page 96). 

The way we handle trouble follows us. Elisabeth Elliot mentioned this in her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms. "Faithfulness today is the best preparation for the demands of tomorrow" (page 39). God's invitation to ask Him for wisdom in James 1:5 encourages me. We're not alone in our trials.

I've found gratefulness to be a joy-giver. Rather than dwell on the negatives (which seem to multiply at times), we can choose to look for the grace-moments in the midst of hard times. Jotting down what we are thanking God for cements those blessings in our minds - and helps us remember what may too easily be overlooked.

Finding a broader perspective also helps us navigate hard times. Grace Fabian's book, Outrageous Grace: A Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, recently gave me perspective. Stories of heroes of faith down through the centuries give us courage in adversity. They help us see a bigger picture.

What trials are you facing today?

James wrote, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has passed the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

The truth about trouble? "This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison . . . " Someday, God Himself will dwell with us. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things . . . the earthly things . . . the trials of this life . . . will pass away (2 Corinthians 4:14-16; Revelation 21:4).

Now, here's something to be joyful about!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Truth About Trouble . . . Part One

A very special group of ladies and teens gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Bloomsburg this past weekend. The Fall Seminar brought us together for a few hours away from our regular routines, a time to relax and connect. The theme of the event was "Count it all joy . . ." taken from a letter written by James, the first words of the New Testament.

New Testament Manuscript
We talked about the Jewish men and women in the first century who remembered the stories of Jesus, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection. Gradually, they began to understand the good news of salvation and placed their trust in Him for eternal life. But opposition and persecution drove them far from Jerusalem, far from their beloved homeland, far from all things familiar. But they took the good news with them and shared it with their new neighbors.

And then, one day, these scattered believers received a letter from James, their pastor back home. They gathered around with excitement to hear his words read aloud.

"My brothers and sisters, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Much like our first-century friends, we experience trouble, trials, suffering. Little troubles and big troubles . . . all a part of life but never easy. James suggests a joyful response because we know God is weaving patience and maturity into our character. We chatted about our natural reactions to adversity and our beliefs driving those reactions. The thinking behind these "joy stealers," like chronic complaining , worry, or blame, needs to be replaced with the truth about who God is and what He is doing. This brings us to a place of trust in the midst of hard times.

So, what's the truth about trouble? I've jotted down a few references from God's Word to consider, truths to help us think about  our trials differently. I hope you'll take some time to look them up this week, maybe just a few each day.

Psalm 23
Psalm 119:30, 50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 93
1 Corinthians 10:13
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
1 Peter 1:3-9; 3:17; 4:12-16, 19, 5:10, 11
2 Peter 1:3-8

Warren Wiersbe writes, "In the Bible, patience is not a passive acceptance of circumstances. It is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty."

"The only way the Lord can develop patience and character in our lives is through trials. Endurance cannot be attained by reading a book, . . . listening to a sermon, or even praying a prayer. We must go through the difficulties of life, trust God, and obey Him. The result will be patience and character."

Whatever the week ahead brings, let's remember to hold on to the truth of the promises of God. He's trustworthy, no matter what happens.

Choose joy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ten Books

Are you one of those people who likes a list? I am.

Besides my ever-present to-do list, I have lists of potential writing topics, books I hope to read, gift ideas, and even people I pray for. What lists do you keep handy to help you stay on track?

One task that finds itself on my list three times a year is to put together the next issue of The Women's LINK. Its logo reads, "Linking Women to One Another and to the Word." Fitting for a church newsletter, don't you think? We try to cover a variety of topics to encourage the women (and men) who read it. Last winter, our theme was "Ten Things." Yep! A newsletter full of lists. These lists were not intended to keep readers up late or bog them down. Instead, we hoped they would encourage them, spark some fresh ideas, and even make them smile.

This coming weekend, the fall issue of the LINK will be distributed. Our theme? Books! Seems to me this is the time of year when we find ourselves reaching for something to anchor our routines and stimulate our minds, something to read.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers" (Charles W. Eliot).

So, here's a list of ten books. Perhaps one or two will be the right read for you.

 1. Pathway of Peace: Living in a Growing Relationship with Christ by Cheryl Elton
 2. The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times by Robert J. Morgan
 3. Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf
 4. Windows of the Soul: Hearing God in the Everyday Moments of Your Life by Ken Gire
 5. Pictures Your Heart Remembers: Building Lasting Memories of Love and Acceptance in Your Family by John Trent, Ph.D.
 6. Acts of Faith Trilogy: The Centurion's Wife, The Hidden Flame, The Damascus Way by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
 7. Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow
 8. Ruth Bell Graham's Collected Poems
 9. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young
10. Secure in the Everlasting Arms by Elisabeth Elliot 

What books have you enjoyed? Please . . . add them to the list!