"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, January 30, 2012

No Regular Posts This Week

Grieving the loss of my dearly loved grandfather, "Grampy" this week and remembering his ability to draw a laugh from my grandmother, or any of his grandchildren, at any time. He will be very missed.

If you feel inclined, please leave a fond memory of a loved one that you have lost. May God bless you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: LAMB OF GOD

Although this name of Jesus sounds tender and sweet, to those who heard John the Baptist boldly proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God, it would have been downright disturbing.

Spangler says, "Hadn't many of them, at one time or another, carried one of their own lambs to the altar to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for their sins, a lamb that they fed and bathed, the best animal in their small flock? Hadn't the bloody sacrifice of an innocent animal provided a vivid image of the consequences of transgressing the Mosaic law?"

Here is the blameless one that laid down his life for you, for me. I am in awe over how perfectly orchestrated God's plan was from the beginning. Jesus is the new covenant. Jesus allows us our freedom.

My prayer is that we each realize the depth of His love for us, that this name would give deeper meaning to what He came to do more than two thousand years ago.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Faith In A Soup Kitchen

A few months ago I wrote of my desire to get out into the world a bit more, to experience people who didn’t share my beliefs and interests, people who I may have nothing in common. I decided to volunteer at a soup kitchen in a city a couple towns over from me. I wanted to reach out to hurting people, to be Jesus to them in any way I could.

I never expected that some of these people would show me the love of God, that some of these people would put my own faith to shame.

As I write this I’m thinking of Bo. He’s in his forties, tall, a bit shaggy. Thanks to two bad car accidents that damaged a disc in his back, he walks with crooked legs and arms. Bo does not always talk very clearly. His fingers don’t work right. But his mind is sharper than the best knife in the soup kitchen.

It was 12:56 p.m. last Tuesday when Bo came into the kitchen. I’d seen him around before but never talked to him.

The kitchen closes at 1:00 p.m. so there were a couple sighs from the volunteers (including me). This guy had to eat a chicken dinner fast or I wouldn’t have time to go grocery shopping before my kids came home from school.

But God was about to change my perspective. With a crooked finger, Bo signaled me over.

“What can I get you?”

I’m thinking his answer will be coffee. Extra sugar.

“What’s your name?” he asked.


“Hi Heidi. I’m Bo.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Bo.”

Bo glances around, then looks back at me. “You wanna know something?”

I really don’t want to know anything. I want him to stop talking and start eating his chicken thigh so I can go grocery shopping.


“My birthday is 3-16.”

“Are you hinting for a party?” I tease him, immediately nervous for what’s coming next. I’ve been volunteering at the kitchen for a few months and I’ve gotten several inappropriate comments.

“No, no, no. No party.” Bo’s forgotten his food. The kitchen staff is tapping off the seconds on the clock with their feet. “You know why I’m happy my birthday is 3-16? Because of John 3:16.”

The guy sitting next to Bo tells him to be quiet and eat. But Bo ignores him.

“John 3:16!”

Now he’s got my attention. “I know John 3:16.”

Bo’s eyes light up. “You do?” He elbows the guy next to him and his voice becomes louder, bolder. “You want to know what John 3:16 says? God loves the world so much that whosoever shall believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life!” He jabs the air with his finger to get the point across.

And I am inspired and in awe and ashamed all at once. For here I am, rushing this man out the door when I had vowed to be Jesus to those I met. Here I am expecting dirty comments from this man who preaches God’s word more boldly, more fervently than I ever had.

Where is my own faith? Why did I decide to volunteer here in the first place?

Jesus. How quickly I forget. And while I intended it to be my faith shining in this place, God had other plans.

Bo smiles at me and I thank him for sharing. I’m reluctant to hurry him along even though the rest of the volunteers are probably wishing I’d just walk away from him. I want to hear his story, know more about his faith. Bo tells me he studied to be a lawyer, then turned a criminal, and now…he’s the best thing of all: a Christian—God’s child.

And never again will Bo be just another face looking for a meal. He is my brother in Christ, the one who showed me true faith in a soup kitchen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: PHYSICIAN

I have to admit that this name of Jesus hit home for me this week. I have a couple of dear people in my life who desperately need God’s healing.

Ann Spangler brought to my mind two important things regarding healing this week:

1)  Miracles of healing are a sign of Christ’s kingdom to come.

Jesus—the master Physician—performed healings more than 2,000 years ago to draw attention to the kingdom He was establishing here on earth. We are a part of this kingdom—here, now! Yet His kingdom is not fully known to us. Only when He returns will complete healing—physical, mental, spiritual—be possible.

2) When we pray for healing we should remember Jesus is our ally. He always wants what’s best for us and those we care about.

These words are not mine, but Miss Spangler’s. I struggle even writing them, for I have not known intense sickness intimately. I do not know what it is like to suffer pain twenty-four hours a day, to rely on a loved one to perform simple, everyday tasks.

My prayer, though, is that God would supply us with faith that would move mountains—and yes, heal the sick.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Story For My Children

“Mommy, will you tell us a story?”

My children’s favorite type of story has always been this kind. The kind where a page isn’t turned or a picture displayed. The kind where my voice is the only thing that pries open the doors of their imagination. I took the month of December off from writing historical fiction. Instead, I set out to write a different type of story: one for my children.

James, my almost seven-year-old, received a story titled Sir James and the Dragon. Brave Sir James saves a neighboring town—one where his grandparents and his church resides—from a fierce dragon. With help from God, his faithful Puppy, and loyal stallion, Sir James defeats the evil dragon.

I wrote Noah and the Seed for my five-year-old. The story is about a kind old man who decides to reward a child with his grand plantation filled with a candy land, hot air balloons, and an amusement park. He gives each child a seed and tells them to bring it back six months later. Noah is heartbroken when his seed doesn’t grow and all of his friends’ plants blossom. He and his Teddy bring their empty pot on the day the old man is to choose a winner. But the old man tells the children he boiled the seeds he gave out. Nothing would have been able to grow. Noah is the only honest one, and he wins the plantation.

These stories truly resonated with James and Noah. I hope they remember the lessons in them forever. I hope they  feel how much I love them with each turn of a page. I printed out pictures for the books and they opened them on Christmas Eve. They loved the idea of being heroes in their own personal stories. I wish I had thought of the idea earlier.

Are your children fond of your made-up stories? Have you ever written one for them?  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: BREAD OF LIFE

Ever since I was little, I loved bread. There's nothing like a warm, soft, buttery roll to send my appetite a spinnin'. But as I studied this week's name for Jesus, I asked myself this question: how hungry am I for God? 

Jesus implored His followers to invest in food that doesn't spoil--in Him. Ann Spangler says that "Jesus wanted to do far more than feed bodies that were soon to perish. He wanted to nourish souls that could live forever."

So while I tend to get caught up in the world's cheap bread--comfort, pleasure, the latest electronic gizmo, even that tempting Bertucci's roll fresh from the oven--may I have the faith to kick them all to the curb in favor of the finest bread God has to offer me: the Bread of Life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

When Our Plans Go Wrong

This past week has been a whirlwind. I feel like a racer striving toward the finish line (completing the final edits on my work-in-progress) but only getting as far as the three-quarter mark before something trips me up.

I admit, I'm a bit of a control freak. This can be a major problem in life. After the kids were on Christmas vacation I looked forward to some alone time, but they've been in school for a week and that time has remained elusive. Nothing seems to be going my way. (Don't I sound incredibly spoiled? God, forgive me, I am!) Even the blog I planned for this morning has been postponed because I can't seem to put pictures on my posts any longer.

It's times like these when I realize how silly I am to assume I have any amount of control on my life. How much better are things when I give each and every day to God, instead of putting my confidence in my own plans? This lesson is a hard one for me but it helps when I can find the good in each situation. Many times when my own plans are disrupted, I find multiple blessings in that disruption. More often than not, I find myself leaning more heavily on my Creator, turning to Him instead of my own best intentions.

So today, as my oldest is home sick (my youngest had his turn on Friday), I will seek the blessing it is to spend alone time with him. I will read to him. Pray with him. Maybe play a game or two of Uno. My own plans will wait. They are never as important as I make them out to be--certainly not more important than my child.

How do you handle disrupted plans?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Short and Sweet Friday: LIGHT OF THE WORLD

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas!

As we took our Christmas lights down last weekend, I was particularly mindful of this next name of Jesus: Light of the World. Ann Spangler says that "John's Gospel portrays Jesus as the embodiment of the divine light, a light so powerful that it cannot be overcome by the darkness of sin and death."

She also reminds us that whatever darkness encircles us, or even dwells in us, we can always look to God, where not a scant amount of darkness resides. He is pure light and goodness.

So just because the Christmas lights that so boldly remind us of our Savior's birth come down, I can still look to Him confidently each day to be my Light.