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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Belated "Thank You"

I wish I had expressed my gratefulness in the moment. Maybe I didn't understand the value of those treasures until now. Maybe I didn't know I would carry them with me from junior high school all the way to fifty-something. But this week, I want to say "Thank you."

The year I had Miss Latta as a school teacher in fourth grade, we began attending Winchester Community Church. Five blocks from our home, it offered family-friendly programs of which we soon became a part.

I remember singing "O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end . . ." in children's church and "Dare to be a Daniel" in the Junior Department Sunday School opening exercises. In Pioneer Girls, we learned to change a tire (on the pastor's car!), build teepee campfires, and layer lasagna. Our leaders, "Phoebe" and "Chips," not only planned fun overnights and taught us silly songs (that I now sing to my grandson) but  held up God's Word as a "lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). 

I loved Sunday evening services. Mr. Holland led the singing like no other. I learned to sing alto by sitting next to Mrs. Davis. The pastor's wife encouraged me to play my flute. Sometimes we played a duet. They even let the young girls take the offering once in a while. In the summers, we enjoyed singspirations at the homes of various church members and sang till we were hoarse. There were always refreshments afterwards.

During Easter week, we came to church almost every night, as I recall. After the sermon, the pastor, also an artist, did a chalk drawing to illustrate his message while the organ played. Then he'd shine different colored lights his picture. Easter Sunday brought us to church early for a sunrise service and breakfast. My mom always made plum and apple raisin kuchens.

Vacation Bible School was the best. For two weeks, every summer, we lined up by departments in the parking lot to say the three pledges. We listened to Bible lessons and missionary stories, learned our verses, and created crafts. Before going home, we gathered in the auditorium and sat on the edge of our seats to find out which team was winning the contest. We sang "We can know that Jesus saves us. We can know. Be assured each moment, everywhere we go . . ."

This past summer, we drove past where the church building used to be. It burned down a while back. The congregation has moved to another location. But the memories live on, memories I cherish.

Thank you to the people from Winchester who invested in a young girl's story. Thank you for giving me the gift of God's Word, the gift of positive spiritual expressions . . . the gift of belonging. 

It's the time to give thanks. What belated thank-yous come to your mind?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Peace on Earth?

The summer before last, I met a new friend at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Cheryl and I attended some of the same classes and workshops and enjoyed a few meals together. Since then, we've kept in touch. Emails, phone calls, and prayer have linked us together, along with our love for writing. This past summer, we attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. Throughout this time, she put the finishing touches on her book, one I think you'll enjoy. It's about peace. A relevant topic on the brink of a season when we talk about "peace on earth" but most often fail to achieve it.
So . . .why do so many Christians still lack peace? Is it possible to experience God's peace all the time?

Pathway of Peace: Living in a Growing Relationship with Christ by Cheryl Elton is a book which explores key areas of life that help cultivate enduring peace, including handling stress, quieting the mind, prayer, and forgiveness. It is rich with insights into relevant Scriptures and full of inspiring stories to encourage you and help you develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

The book's back cover concludes: "As we learn to partner with Christ and live in His presence, we will not only experience His peace in our hearts but also find freedom from the worries and fears that so often plague us."

For more on Pathway of Peace, visit Cheryl's website or find her book on Amazon.com. 

I know you'll be blessed!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Measure of a Woman . . .

I discovered these words posted on the bulletin board in a local gynecologist's office:

A woman is often measured by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn't curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers, all by the outside things that don't ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become . . .

Reminds me of a parallel idea penned by Robert S. McGee. "If we know who we are, we will not try to become someone else in order to have value and meaning in our lives. . . . God has given us a secure self-worth totally apart from our ability to perform. We have been justified and placed in right standing before God through Christ's death on the cross . . ."*

Who we are and who we are becoming goes far beyond statistics or performance. God's measure of a woman--or a man or a teen or a child--is based on the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Christ.

Your thoughts?

 *The Search for Significance, pages 44, 46