Sunday, November 22, 2015

Just Like Eve

How easily we miss the big picture.

How quickly it destroys us, and it hurts the heart of the God we say we love.

I've been reading And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh for a class, and one chapter talked a lot about the biblical parable of the pearl of great price. Gresh emphasized the devotion needed to give up every lesser thing to obtain the pearl, the greatest thing.

I began to think of lesser things in my life. Ironically, though I knew they were lesser, they were some of the things that were most important to me.

To my shame, I began to mentally argue with God.

"They aren't bad things!"

"Why would you ask me to give that up or re-evaluate it?"

Can you see the point I missed? Think about it! What did I miss?

In surrendering the things I love to God, He gives me something better. Something beyond anything I have. In surrendering my sin, He gives me salvation. When I surrender my desires and plans, He gives me a life that honors Him and brings me joy and fulfillment.

I'm no different than Eve. She lived in a garden with all the wonderful things she could ever need, she had a perfect relationship with her husband, and she had an unbroken relationship with God Himself. Yet instead of being thankful and content with all she had, she became fixated with the one thing she was not allowed to have. She decided God wasn't right to keep it from her. She decided she was wise enough to make her own choice and disobey God.

In Eve's story I see myself. I run to trees God has told me to avoid and ask, "Why not this tree?"

I can imagine a response from the Lord. "Why that dangerous tree when I have given you so many good trees to enjoy?"

When I choose the forbidden over the gift, I take marred happiness instead of joy.

I choose temporary pleasure over lasting fulfillment.

I chase destruction and evade restoration.

I cling to wounds and refuse healing.

Don't mistake my meaning. I'm not suggesting that if I give God all my money, He'll give me more. That's not the kind of blessings I'm talking about at all here. I'm just making one statement about God's goodness.

God gives to His children above and beyond anything He takes.

Monday, November 16, 2015

It Dies Today

I see it fading. My heart is torn between disappointment and glad acceptance.

A selfish dream of my heart fades. Its absence confuses me. It has been a part of me so long that I almost can't imagine myself without it.

I will never be strong.

How many times have I fought and worked to be a strong person? At my core, I wanted to be the girl who could take every hit and still get back up. I thought I could find enough fight in me to keep myself going. I shouldn't need anyone. I shouldn't ever be overwhelmed or past my abilities. I craved control.

And I can't have it.

Because I am weak. I read God's Word and I see it. I'm a sinner (Romans 8:28) who doesn't even understand the mess of her own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus's statement in the garden of Gethsemane seems to describe me: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). I see these truths in my life. My failures and sins clearly demonstrate that I am unable to overcome.

What good is a weak person, one who is saved but still unable to handle her own life?

Apparently ... that's just the person God tends to use.

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Why is weakness such fertile ground for God to work? Because it shows that He is the One doing the work. And He does the work.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

My own strength is utterly insufficient. When I try to rely on myself, I only end up disappointing myself, others, and God.

But when I allow Him to work through me, then I can obey every command He gives.

So in the end, I will never be strong.

But I will have strength.

It just won't be mine.

Monday, June 22, 2015

What Life Is

Without ever meaning to, I began to believe a lie.

I believed that my life consisted of the little moments. Which sounds good, right? It sounds like a popular quote, something you'd see on a plaque or on pintrest. And it seemed to fit with my experience. The things I tend to cherish the most are hikes with friends, visiting a favorite coffee shop, or learning a new skill. Identifiable points in time that add up to a happy "life."

I believed life was something I was supposed to build and compile. Like a garden, I was supposed to plant the good things and weed out the unhappiness and struggles.

I don't think I fully realized what I believed and how I was acting. But things began to make more sense as I read God's Word.

My life is not here.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. "

 Colossians 3:1-3

It made me pause when I read it. My life is hid? It's with Christ? Then another passage came to mind.

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
John 17:3

Again, this passage describes life as something not on this earth. While I do have a "life" here on earth in one sense, in the truest sense my life is my relationship with God. He is my sustainer and fulfiller. He is the One Who gives me breath, existence, and purpose.

With this understanding, I'm finding that the only way to evaluate life is to measure the depth of my walk with God. If I'm having the happiest earthly life--full of all the things I love--but I'm not praying, reading the Bible, walking with God, then I'm not living much of a life. If on the other hand things aren't going well--if I struggle financially or I fall short of my goals or I fail in a career--but I'm close to God, then my life is a full one.

As hard as it is, in each joy or struggle of my earthly life, I have to remember that this is not my life.

My life is hid with Christ in God. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Christian, You Are Not A Writer ... Not Like You Might Think

I used to think that I was a writer. That I would write until my dying day, and if I didn't I would lose myself. I think maybe other writers, especially young ones, have the same feeling.

But if you're a believer, that's not the truth. Not by a long shot.

College has forced me to re-think writing. I still love it and plan to pursue publication in the future. But right now it's not a part of my life. Not like it used to be. I'm taking 19 credit hours, I'm on a drama team, and I sneak some fun in here and there. So even though I have story ideas, they sit mostly untouched.

This would have bothered me a while ago. It doesn't now.

I have come to realize that my identity can never be tied to whether I can write a novel or can't string two words together. My identity is in Christ. I am God's child.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

I want to seek Christ, not a writing career.

So here's my encouragement to my fellow Christians who write: embrace your writing, whether it be now, later, always, or for only one season of life. But remember that you are not a writer, not when it comes down to it.

You are God's child.

Follow Him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Light ... and Darkness -- Part II

Sometimes I feel smothered by the evil and pain in this world.

The darkness is all around. Violence. Horrible accidents. Corruption of all kinds. We hear it on the news. We see it in our own lives and in the stories we hear from many others. It's enough to discourage even believers. If we let it.

But Christians have hope that no one else possesses ... because we know the darkness has already lost.

Jesus said this shortly before His death: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

In His life, His death, and His resurrection, Jesus conquered the powers of evil.

The darkness is still in this world. It is still around us and will trouble us, and yes, we will likely be discouraged by it at times.

But Christians don't have to live that way. We can have peace, because our Lord said so. We can be of good cheer, because He told us to be.

Light has won. Darkness is defeated.

Peace is ours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Switching POV

I've heard that it's easier for most new writers to write in third person.

Is that even possible?

Maybe you're one of those blessed people who can naturally write a novel in a third person point-of-view (POV). But I am not one of you. First person is my style. Remember that genre shift I talked about last week?

For my new genre, my new work in progress, I need to be able to write in third person.

Have you ever tried use your non-dominant hand to write a note, or even your name? That's kind of what it felt like as I tried to write in third person. My sentences, which usually pour into my mind in first person, were choppy, boring, and hard to come by.

Because of this, I've had to think a little about how to switch POVs, and I have at least one solid tip to pass on to you: Think in your dominant POV, then translate the sentence before you type it. If that doesn't work so well for you, try typing a paragraph in your dominant POV, then change the pronouns and verbs and such.

I tried this for my work in progress, and between that and thinking about the style I was going for, I was able to transition. I wouldn't say third person is easy for me yet, but that little trick helped me take my first steps into writing third person.

Any other POV suggestions? Let me know!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Needy People

"Don't be too needy."

This seems to be a constant whisper, a hidden or even blatant message I keep hearing in the world around me. "Don't be too needy, or no one will want to be around you." "Don't be too needy; that's selfish." "Don't enable a needy person." "Needy people need serious counseling."

But here's a little dose of truth: Every. Single. Human. Being. Is. Completely. Needy.

Yes. I just lumped you in with the needy people. Sorry, not sorry.

The facts are simple:

We can't be righteous in our own strength; we're sinners (Romans 3:10, 23).

We can't solve our sin problem on our own (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:1-18).

We can't seek God without His enabling (John 6:44).

We need God for the saving of our souls. We need God for our joy, peace, goodness, self-control, and everything else (Galatians 5:22-23)! Without God there would be no earth (Genesis 1-3). Christ sustains the world that He made (Hebrews 1:3). We have nothing without God.

See, that's where the problem is with "needy people." The problem is not that people are needy. The problem is that sometimes people seek the fulfillment of their needs in people, things, or accomplishments, and they fail to realize that God is the only one Who can supply their needs.

That being said, God does want Christians to love and serve each other--we are supposed to care for our brothers and sisters in need! "Bear ye one another's burdens" is still in the Bible (Galatians 6:2).

Yet when we find ourselves or others becoming a little too "needy," it is time to learn to depend upon God. This won't be a quick-fix. Though it sounds a little funny, you may need to help the "needy" person learn to depend on God if they've lost their way and don't know where to start.

But, ultimately, each of our needy, needy hearts can only be satisfied by Almighty God.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trying Something New ...

Ever feel like switching writing genres?

If you're a published author, this may not be as much of an option for you. There is a lot to say for the benefits of developing a distinctive brand and a following.  Because of this, your experiments with genres will likely be mostly limited to hobby-writing. The stuff you don't plan on publishing.

If you're not published though ... the world of genres is wide open. You can go try something crazy, or you could make a smaller shift in your genre.

Most of my writing has been in Young Adult. I often call it Contemporary Young Adult, to differentiate it from other styles like YA Dystopian or whatever.

Okay, quick moment of transparency: YA is a genre. I don't know if Contemporary or Dystopian or Whatever are really sub-genres of YA. I sort of made that up, and at the moment I don't feel like checking to find out what Google thinks. Not very professional, I know. But just bear with me--I'm trying to communicate my ideas as clearly as possible, and these labels seem necessary at the moment.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way ...

My particular style of YA is set in present day, and I usually deal with big life-issues; in the past I've written about the death of a parent, juvenile delinquency, and foster care. One of my current works-in-progress deals with the disappearance of  an autistic teenager.

Within these issues, I focus a lot on my main character's spiritual development. I'm not usually the writer to throw in explosions, earthquakes, or fight scenes.

But I'm trying something new. An idea came to me recently that would push me out of my normal genre boundaries. If YA Action/Suspense is a thing, it's where I'm headed with my current story. And I've already found out that I know nothing about writing this genre.

That said, here are my top two suggestions for those of you thinking of experimenting with a new genre:

1. Pinterest. I feel a little silly suggesting it, but I've found useful links on there that will probably help me learn to write more action-oriented scenes. So try it out.

2. Read the genre you want to write. Find a book that typifies the style you want to write, and read it. See how the author does what he does. If you're desperately worried you'll copy the author's style, then just make a point to read several different authors within this genre.

So there you go. My current top two ideas for learning a new genre.

You have any other ideas? Comment below and teach me something new!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beginning to Understand

This year, my college has been emphasizing the idea of thankfulness.

I thought I understood thankfulness. It's biblical, so we're supposed to do it. Simple enough, right? I mean, truthfully, I didn't like feeling pushed to be thankful.

Then while preparing for a small-group devo, I read Colossians 3.

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." ~ Colossians 3:15-17

That's just a bit of the thankfulness in this chapter. And it finally started to make sense to me. Thankfulness shouldn't be something I do so I can say I did it. Thankfulness can change my life.

Thankfulness is part of being content in whatever situation I'm in (Philippians 4:11).

Thankfulness affects how I forgive--I'm to forgive as God forgave me (Ephesians 4:32)! 

Thankfulness helps me keep my focus off of myself. My life isn't about me, but it's about the God Who is so good to me!

Thankfulness is no longer just my college's theme. It's a goal of my own heart now. I'm tired of my old attitude--the one that said that life was about me, my comfort, my success. 

I want to live my life thanking the God Who granted me life eternal!

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
John 17:3

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Powerful Topics

Well ... at one point this was supposed to be sort of a blog about writing. So it seems fitting to take a moment and devote an article to that topic. Who knows, maybe soon we'll get on a steady schedule that balances life/spiritual posts with writing posts. No promises it will happen soon, though. Life is hectic.

Okay. That's out of the way. Now on to today's topic. Which, actually, is about writing topics.

Have you ever read a book that just didn't pan out the way you had expected, and not in a good way? Maybe a friend recommended a book to you, or you might have chosen it because of good reviews or awards it had received.

One book I'm currently reading is proving to be just that: I'd heard great things about it and to the best of my knowledge it was an award winner. The topic intrigued me. So when it went on sale for Kindle, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Problem is, the writing style itself is lacking. The plot is moving too fast. The emotional and spiritual character arcs are stilted.

So now I muse over the question of why this book sounded so popular. The only conclusion that I could come to was that it was because of the topic of the novel. The author highlighted at least two major cultural problems. In my opinion, it was these hot-button topics that made her book popular, not her actual writing. While this resulted in a disappointing, almost one-dimensional book, it does give me a useful clue into the writing world.

It's not all about how we write. What we write about can overcome many stylistic problems.

Now, hear me out. I'm not advocating that writers ignore style. Not at all! What I am suggesting is that good writers who know how to craft good plots should also harness the power of relevant, powerful topics. The subject matters that authors choose to delve into hold the potential to gather a huge readership of people for whom the topic resonates.

So there you go. My writing thought/idea for today: Choose a timely topic that will grab the hearts of readers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Light ... and Darkness

I started reading 1 John because of a Facebook debate.

I normally try to avoid those.

Anyway, I started reading and re-reading the book of 1 John mostly because I was confused by something someone said about it, and I wanted to see for myself what was actually in there.

What stuck out to me didn't really pertain to the debate, but it has stuck with me and is slowly transforming my thinking.

Light and darkness.

There are only two options.

The first chapter of 1 John makes it pretty clear: God is light. And His children walk in light. Now, obviously this is symbolic language--it's not saying Christians can never turn off a light switch without sinning. Here's the best summary I can give of it at the moment:

God is righteous. Holy. Pure. Lovely. Unblemished. Good.

His children are to be daily becoming more like Him.

This has been coming back to me in my actions the last few days. When I'm with my friends, do my actions reflect light or darkness? When I interact with the others on my campus (most of whom are in that awkward stage between friends and complete strangers ... small campus problems ...) am I being loving? Pure in my words and thoughts?

1 John ended up challenging my spiritual walk more than I ever expected. And I'm super thankful it did.

"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." ~ I John 1:5-7

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Each Moment, Each Day

Approximately one week into this semester, I think I'm already about maxed out with work and emotions. I've also learned two distinct things. Two little lessons to pull me through these crazy days of what will likely be my hardest semester ...

First, I have to appreciate the little things and thank God for them.

With the classes I'm taking this semester, my time with friends has almost disappeared  compared to last semester. That's ... upsetting. I understand that it's just part of adult life. There will be plenty of days I will work from the time I get up until I go back to sleep.

That's fine. That's life.

But it's not fun.

I'm having to learn to deliberately appreciate each free moment I get. If I don't thank God, I'll forget the good moments ... and I'll get discouraged. Thankfulness seems to multiply the moments and help me through the next hours of work.

Second, God provides me enough strength for today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. I have no idea how I'll get through everything this semester. Each day I'm cutting it close to get my homework done for the next day, even though I'm working hard.

But somehow, with the help of Someone, I am getting things done on time.

I don't know how I'll get my projects done by the time they're due. But they aren't due today. God is giving me the strength for today's work. I'll trust Him to be there with strength when I reach tomorrow.

I will make it through this semester. Each moment, thanking Him. Each day, relying on Him.

"My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:26)

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I've noticed something about my generation, and about myself. We like questions. We don't prefer to accept what everyone else says and does. We'd rather evaluate things for ourselves. It's a good thing, really.

But are we truly looking for answers, or are we merely enchanted with the questions?

Here's the truth: God's Word has answers for our questions, if we're willing to search.

I'm not saying the Bible lays everything out, black and white. What I'm wondering here is if sometimes my generation takes the first step of asking a question, but doesn't actually seek an answer.

I confess, sadly, that I know I do this.

It's easy for me to wonder about whether a certain choice is right or wrong. It's harder to search the Bible.

It's easier for me to question God when life gets difficult than for me to trust what He says about Himself in His Word.

Again, I'm not saying we're able to understand everything about life and about God. All I'm suggesting is that we follow up our questions with prayer and Bible study. Allow God's Word to show us the truth, rather than settling for unneccesary ambiguity that is sometimes an excuse for us to do whatever we want.

This year, I want to take steps toward finding answers.