April 25, 2015 2 Comments
Christians Read congratulations CR author, Maureen Lang on the release of her new novel:
Read. Write. Grow.
April 25, 2015 2 Comments
Christians Read congratulations CR author, Maureen Lang on the release of her new novel:
April 22, 2015 4 Comments
2015 so far has had a lot of “stuff” I never saw coming. I’m a thinker and as I tried to process it all I realized everything I was dealing with was word related. When I thought even further I realized they were wounded words.
Unfortunately this isn’t one instance and none of them are related. I could have handled one issue better but overall these were attacks that came without provocation. As a natural encourager who loves lifting others up, and an author who enjoys the written word, this has been a new thing experiencing words that were uttering the power of death.
How does one overcome that?
I realized fast I wasn’t going to pick myself up and move forward without the Lord’s help. The real me wanted to say the right thing, the perfect comeback, the rebuttal to all those things. But I knew wounded people wound people.
And I didn’t want to be next in line.
A few praying friends saw my distress and immediately prayed. When they finished, one of them gave me a card.
You guessed it.
These were words of life.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7, NIV
She went on to explain that the trouble are words used against me. Words that wound. Attacking words. Words of death.
The songs of deliverance?
Those are God’s words. Words that heal. Words that encourage. Words of life.
And His words trump all other words. All negative. All attacks. All barbs. All death-filled words.
I hope this little season ends and soon.
But I’ve taken away a good lesson.
Even in the darkest moments, especially in the maelstrom of horrible words, I’m surrounded by His words. His promises. His comfort.
And so are you.
April 20, 2015 2 Comments
I first heard the term “filling the white space” from my friend. She’d been praying and felt God asking her not to fill up the apparently “free” time she had with other things to do—namely, commitments or responsibilities for church or work or anywhere outside her home and family. My friend is wonderful at volunteering for things, especially if she sees a need, and she always takes those responsibilities seriously.
But a few months later, we were talking and she had realized she had still filled up that white space. She’d made several different work-related commitments that had seemed like good financial opportunities at the time, but that had ended up taking time away from her family. God was now reminding her to not fill up her time with other commitments without praying about it first and getting a clear directive from Him.
This reminds me of my own life. I tend to want to fill my time so that I’m always busy, especially if the opportunity will help increase our family’s income. But while they may be good opportunities, they sometimes take too much time away from things that are more important, like a particular book the Lord wants me to write, or volunteer time at my church, or just time spent with my family. I’m not very good at stopping to pray and waiting to hear God’s clear voice about what He wants me to do or not do.
The conversation with my friend was a good opportunity to stop and reevaluate what I’m filling my time with. I’m still seeking the Lord’s final guidance in this, but I’ve been able to create a plan to slowly filter out volunteer commitments that might be taking my time away from the important stuff in my life. I don’t want to leave anyone in the lurch, but I also don’t want to ignore God’s will for my time and energies.
I encourage you to reevaluate your time and activities, too. Are there things that may be taking too much time from what’s important? You may not have any activity in your life that should be culled, but sometimes there are things we’ve always done and we’re continuing to do them simply because we’re used to doing them, but that now might be less important than other things in our lives.
Let’s all make the rest of this year a time to give our activities to God and figure out what we may need to let go. Let’s not strive to fill up the white space.
April 13, 2015 2 Comments
We all have our visions of what a hero looks like. We’re all right and probably wrong because, with our preconceived notions, we often overlook the Hero Next Door, the everyday hero, and that hero is often the very one who makes a lifelong impact on specific lives, and on the public who eventually discovers him or her.
The hero I want to talk about today is one we can respect, admire, and one who displayed the courage, and bravery that we can but hope we, in that situation, would emulate.
Heroes are important. More so in the chaotic society in which we find ourselves. Heroes lead, guide, and exhibit in their actions and words the kind of people we aspire to be. Values like integrity, selflessness, and human dignity are inherent. The character traits we see in others and admire and respect.
Too often, we see challenges but are either overwhelmed by them or we think the challenge is too big for us. We’re one person. What can one person do?
The answer is that one person can do a lot—when s/he chooses to act and does it. Let’s get specific and talk about one such hero.
It turns out, this hero wasn’t a big, important, powerful person. It turns out Joe is not the only plumber to achieve fame. This hero, too, became a plumber . . . for a noble purpose.
In World War II, she got a job as a plumber and sewer specialist in the Warsaw ghetto, and she used that as an opportunity to smuggle Jewish infants out in her toolbox so they wouldn’t be killed. Her heroic dog barked when she would come and go through the guard checkpoints at work—trained to do so, to hide any sounds the children might make. This hero saved 2500 children and infants. She kept a record of their names and hid the names in a jar she buried under a tree in her own yard. She helped these children get placed in foster homes and to reunite them with surviving family members after the war. Unfortunately, many of those parents had died in the gas chambers.
The guards eventually caught this woman smuggling children out. Her arms and legs were broken and she was severely beaten. But she survived.
Fast-forward over sixty years. She was up for a Nobel prize, but she didn’t win. (Gore did for a video on global warming.) She should have won, in my humble opinion. But she did what she did not for glory. She did it and took on those formidable risks, to spare the children. And that makes her, in my eyes, a hero.
Here’s are two photos of this hero, Irena Sendler, then and just before her death in 2008. (Credit is given to the unknown photographers.)
My point is that heroes are all around us. Most go unnoticed. But the people to whom the hero made a difference don’t forget. They forever recall the hero’s service and sacrifice, and it’s never a small thing. That’s worth remembering.
The face of a hero well might not be famous, it might be everyday average. But admired and respected? Yes, when known, very much admired and respected.
Some would look at Irena Sendler and see just an average woman. Her’s the face of a hero? But she looks so ordinary, some would say (or think if not bold enough to actually say it). That too is worth remembering.
The face of a hero is often an everyday face. An ordinary face. A stranger’s face. And acts of heroism range from a smile to smuggling children out of a war-torn country. Heroic kind of depends on how badly what is offered is needed. A kind word can be heroic if it comes at a sorely needed time…
Some celebrate celebrity and those who aren’t admirable or the type of people we want to be. Rarely is that the case in the stories we read. In the books we read, we read about the kind of people we hope we would be in similar situations. The everyday heroes among us. That seems like a worthy ambition for us in real life, too.
April 9, 2015 2 Comments
On a writing loop I saw where a writer friend’s book was a finalist in a contest. I emailed him and copied the section showing his being a finalist and wrote, “Don’t you think you have something to tell your writer friends?”
He answered that he rejects any possibilities of bragging.
That totally surprised me. I wasn’t asking him to brag, but to share.
Of course, anyone has the right to reveal or keep quiet about their accomplishments. Then I recalled another friend who recently received a book contract after learning, trying, writing, re-writing, being critiqued for several years. She emailed me and asked if I would let our writers group know.
I said, “Absolutely not. For years we have supported you with prayers and effort and you weren’t quiet about what you were trying to do. Now, don’t be quiet about having one of your dreams come true. You tell it…with excitement and joy.”
She did, and we all rejoiced.
I remembered that she, too, had been reluctant. Is it because we hear phrases like, “shameless promotion” of one’s published books? It’s often said as if shameless means shameful. I think the shameless should mean we may promote without shame. Writing is a profession. What business or profession doesn’t promote?
That prompted me to look at DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS:
BRAG: pompous or boastful statement; arrogant talk or manner; cockiness, braggart; to assert boastfully – BOAST: assert with excessive pride (I would not recommend that!)
SHARE: to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others; often used with with; to talk about one’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences with others (I like that!)
PROMOTE: to contribute to the growth or prosperity of; to present (merchandise) for buyer acceptance through advertising and publicity (Who wouldn’t recommend that?)
And then, there’s further explanation. BRAGGING RIGHTS is entitlement to boast about something. BOASTING may imply a claiming with proper and justifiable pride (my note: such as finally meeting your goal or dream)
Pride may be negative or positive. We certainly need to guard against false pride or lack of humility. But hiding our light under a bushel is not humility. Jesus says to let our light shine.
A runner in town has medals hanging in his Running Shop of about 50 races in which he’s participated. I don’t know if he won. He ran the races. And he sells racing clothes, shoes, water bottles, accessories, health products to use while running. Is he bragging? No, he’s saying he’s qualified to help you. He knows something about what a runner needs on his feet, on his body, in his body. He’s saying, “I know from experience what it means to work at something and succeed (whether or not he got first prize).
As a Christian, I am well aware that all I have, including the air I breathe, comes from God. I cannot write one word without his allowing it. But he doesn’t write one word of my books without my hands on the keyboard. We work together. That’s the wonderful joy of it. I’m thrilled to announce that God has blessed me, worked through me to accomplish something and to bring a little meaning into the lives of others. That isn’t pride. To me…that’s worship.
So when we say we won’t brag – is that saying I am thinking about me and what others think about me? I want others to see the product produced from my trying and accomplishing.
Scripture tells us, without Him I can do nothing.
It also says, I can do all things through Jesus.
I love to hear about the accomplishments of my friends. I believe they love to hear of mine.
I feel that sharing what God has allowed me to do, or he does through me, gives glory to God.
What are your thoughts on this?
April 9, 2015 9 Comments
I recently moved across the country, well, from south to north. It was a huge move. Think hot and now cold. This time last year I lived in Louisiana, where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf, and now I live where the river freezes over, at least the top layers. But hey, I’m loving it! Except the move created a lot of additional work in my life on top of everything else I have going on, which frankly might be too much. After all, I home school three boys and I write books. Writing books means a lot more than you might think—writing a book is a huge endeavor all on its own. But these days, there’s more, so much more to be done.
With the shift to digital age, authors have to do much more than simply write their book—they have to blog in multiple places, and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and the list just keeps going. Where in the world does a person find time to write a book? Much less live life.
Hence I recently found myself waking up every morning and dreading the day. Have you ever done that? If so, then read on. I’ve decided this has everything to do with having too much to do and failing at everything. I’m afraid to face the day. Fear has resulted in dread. I’ve been so overwhelmed I’m starting to have panic attacks. Because I’m a driven person, I heap even more on my plate—my goals and thing I’d like to accomplish.
I keep thinking this isn’t the life Jesus wanted me to live. Too much busyness isn’t what Jesus wanted for us, is it? When you think about it, He changed the world one step at a time. One person at a time.
He wasn’t thinking about his long to-do list and wondering how He would ever get it done. We have a tendency to think far into the future, grabbing every potential opportunity—things we don’t want to miss—onto our plate. I think we might do this out of fear, too. We’re afraid we’ll miss something. Add to that, we worry about the future.
On that note, I have to share something I thought was profound. Did you ever see After Earth with Will and Jaden Smith?
In the movie, Will Smith said this about fear.
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”
― Will Smith
What good words!
Granted he was talking about the fear of a very real monster in the movie. But I can easily apply that to my dread of tackling my lists of tasks–facing my monsters of the day! My fear that I’ll fail.
So maybe I need to take a deep breath when I wake up in the morning and chill out. Be at peace with whatever comes my way, my to-do list. Maybe I should just live the day as it comes instead of believing everything is so urgent.
Like Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
It’s a choice.
I invite you to do the same. Who is with me?
Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty romance and romantic suspense novels and counting. To find out more, visit her website at http://elizabethgoddard.com
COMING SOON: Backfire, (Mountain Cove book 3) Fleeing Alaska and cutting all ties could be the only way to survive…but it would mean leaving her heart behind.
April 8, 2015 Leave a comment
Even though it hasn’t quite felt like spring as much as I’d like it to, I have started spring cleaning.This is our first full year in the house so it’s been fun figuring out what needs cleaning and what to use. So far I’ve steam cleaned, dusted fixtures, polished paneling and now it’s grout time.
I started in the mudroom. With my knees to the floor and a brush in my hand, I scrubbed the tile. I watched the floor transform from muddy and dull to clean and sparkly. As I rinsed and dried the floor I thought about the Lord and my life. Where I’ve been. Where I am. Where He is directing me. It was a time of contentment. I saw results with the floor and was getting excited about life.
Then I opened the door.
There before me was the rest of the floors.
Dirty, grimy, muddy, lifeless floors.
And my anxiety started.
I only blocked so much time off the day for the project.
I planned it in increments.
I have to finish the floors.
What if people saw them looking like this?
And then that still voice dropped a nugget that I know was heaven sent.
“Remember, this is a work in progress. Remember, YOU’RE a work in progress.”
Oh. Right. Cleaning grout, at least if I’m going to do it right, takes time.
There will even be days I take a step back.
And I need to confess and move on.
Because like the summer construction that tied traffic for light after light, I forgot over winter how long the process was because it was finished. And it was a great product.
And like the mudroom, each day I’ll work on the grout. And it will all be sparkly and clean.
Just not all today.
And I’m going to be okay with that.
Do you struggle with wanting everything done at once? Do you see yourself as a work in progress?
Image from Love This Pic
April 3, 2015 8 Comments
Two incidents in close proximity have given me the chance to examine how I come across–from both sides. First, after the Weekend With the Writers, I received an encouragement that moved me like a brush of the Holy Spirit. One of the attendees mentioned some things she had observed that touched her. The incidents she described were ways I had interacted with specific individuals, little things–it seemed to me–but I realize now they were not little to others. Reading her note, I was flooded by knowledge that it was Christ in me that became visible through my actions, his abiding tenderness that reached out and was present and gracious. What a privilege to be a vessel of kindness and encouragement in ways I was not even particularly aware of.
The other happened this week. After an altercation with someone in my household, I was in a grievous mood. My normal mode is to withdraw. That can have a negative connotation, but it keeps me from from saying things I will regret, things that injure and can’t be taken back–even though my husband claims to find them more amusing than injurious. I also attempt to get my thoughts back in order. It is not creative time. It is time lost, if I can’t break through it.
On this occasion, I put in my noise-cancelling earbuds, cranked up the playlist on my phone and went about doing other things. This would have been fine, except another person in the household spoke to me from above and behind. It was a perfect storm of oblivion and offense because–neither seeing nor hearing–I walked away without response, clueless to the impression being made. It escalated into a day of misery for the ignored party–of which I was still completely unaware. Had I not closed in to my own affront and frustration, the Spirit could have worked through all of it.
I’m often overcome during Holy Week by sheer sadness at the thought of Christ’s suffering and amazement that people could be in his presence and not see. Then something like the incident I described makes it clear how easy it is to close not only my ears but my heart as well. On this Good Friday, as we meditate on the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation, may our ears and eyes and hearts be open to the sorrow, to the cruelty, to the loneliness and infirmity, to the whip-strokes, agony, and death that our own selfish actions brought upon our Lord. Vow, with me, to let that reminder soften any blows that come our way, so that in all things we can respond in ways that others watching will see Christ and not our all too human shells.
April 2, 2015 Leave a comment
Hallelujah, the Lord is risen!
This Sunday we celebrate Easter. For some of the world, it’s a day of bunnies and candy treats found in a basket. But for those who serve the living God, it is a day reflecting on the ultimate gift of love.
When my children were little, I didn’t get caught up in all the bunny decorations. So unlike Christmas, the consumer stress is nowhere near as crazy. Sure, my girls got baskets with candy, but I made sure they understood what this day truly stood for.
For a few years, our church held a sunrise service where were we enacted the final days of Jesus leading up to the time of His resurrection. My daughters participated, excited to be rising before the sun rose. The area where we held the service was close to our home, so when we got out of bed, we put on our costumes and walked in the dark, ready to play our parts. Because we were outside, the story was narrated over the microphone, so we acted out the scenes as he told the story. Every time it got to the part where Jesus carried the cross, the song Via Dolorosa played over the speakers. My heart swelled in my chest, just to imagine the suffering Jesus went through. It still haunts me whenever I hear that song.
I was proud of my girls for wanting to take part of the service. They never complained about taking the time to practice or performing the actual day, even when they were teenagers and didn’t like rising if the sun hadn’t been up a few hours. It’s a family memory I will never forget.
Now, I have one daughter in heaven, who gets to see Jesus in a way we will never understand until we stand before Him. It will be an honor when my time comes, to see the Living God , hopefully with my daughter by my side. My other daughter still lives on this earth, so we celebrate together on this side of heaven.
I hope your Easter Sunday is a special day, spent with your loved ones. Take the time to think about the sacrifice Jesus made for us, as well as his joyful resurrection. He is alive!
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:4-7
Jesus told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24: 46-49
April 1, 2015 Leave a comment
Spring is a great reminder of the creativity God used to bless us with all of the beauty surrounding us every day. Gray landscapes turn colorful, from budding trees to yellow daffodils. Even in the city, little plots of grass return each year to remind us that nature’s wonders are still there, beyond the concrete and asphalt.
Soon my irises that look like this:
Will turn to this:
The Bible says we’re created in the image of God. We know no one has seen God face-to-face apart from the form He took on through Jesus. But one of the ways we do know we resemble God is the same bent toward creativity. We may differ on the definition of a beautiful creation, but we don’t differ on how we react when we see it: with pleasure.
So today, rejoice in the beauty of the awakening earth around you. Notice it! Thank God for it! And then join in the beauty by exploring and sharing your own creativity the way God gifted you to do. Maybe God inspired you to tell a story, to sing a song, to write a note to a friend or welcoming people into your home or business—or even simply blessing a stranger with a smile. Let’s spread a little beauty!
March 30, 2015 Leave a comment
Recently, one of the twenty-somethings who is part of my worship team at church told me about a new game she and other kids are playing called Tsum Tsum. You create an account in an app called Line, and then download the Tsum Tsum app and sign in with your Line account.
Apparently a lot of people at church like using Line for instant messaging with family and friends overseas such as in Japan. Since my church is bilingual with a Japanese language service, we have a lot of people who have relatives in Japan, and they use Line to keep in touch.
But Tsum Tsum is a game designed by Disney, and they use Disney characters in a game that is very similar to Bejeweled Blitz. The game captured me because the characters (called “Tsums”) are absolutely adorable! And then the game became really addictive. Since I work at my computer, I have to get up and walk around every hour. Tsum Tsum is perfect because I can walk around and play on my phone for 5 minutes, then go back to work.
But what also happened was that it gave me something to talk about with the kids at church. Many of them play Tsum Tsum and they’d add me as their Tsum Tsum friend because your friends can send you hearts, or lives. You use one heart per game, which is about a minute, and you get a new heart every 15 minutes. But if you have friends, they can send you hearts so you can play more games.
I would talk Tsum Tsum with the kids at church, discussing the different Tsums (which have different abilities) and how to get more points. Some kids at my church are freaky good at Tsum Tsum, but I’ve found that I can hold my own with most of them, which is really neat!
This simple game has drawn me closer to the younger people at my church. I see their names each week as I play Tsum Tsum and they give me hearts and I give hearts back to them. We have something to talk about after church on Sundays. I am not deluding myself into thinking I’ve suddenly become “cool” to them, but I’m not as much as a fuddy-duddy as I used to be, I think. :)
Any of you play Tsum Tsum? Be sure to add me as a friend on Line! My user ID is camy_tang.
March 26, 2015 Leave a comment
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” (Hebrews 10:25)
This is a scripture that Christians are more than familiar with. We gather together at church on Sundays or Wednesday nights, or in our homes for Bible study and fellowship. Relationships with other Christians are important so that we can pray, share each other’s burdens and talk about the commonality we share—faith in Jesus Christ—and we should have a deep abiding love for one another. Meeting like this brings encouragement and keeps us marching forward, holding our heads high in the midst of a brutal world.
The same can be said for writers, and especially Christian writers. I recently moved to Minnesota from Texas. Most of my life I’ve lived out in the country, or in a region that made it difficult to meet with other like-minded people with any meaningful frequency. But now I live close enough to meet with other writers. And not just any writers, but Christian writers, many whom I’ve known from online writer’s groups and conferences. Through virtual meetings and once-a-year conferences, I’ve developed deep friendships, and grown as a writer.
But nothing can compare with meeting with others in person. Face-to-face.
Now I understand the meaning of the scripture from Hebrews completely. Meeting with Christian writing friends in person since I’ve been in Minnesota has bolstered me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Encouraged and inspired me. I believe that I will grow as a writer like never before. (I hope)
And this is the whole point of the scripture in Hebrews. Gathering together for encouragement and prayer and talking to people who understand you like no one else is an essential part of a Christian’s walk. An especially important part of a Christian writer’s development.
So if you’re dreaming about writing the great Christian fiction novel, I implore you to meet with others. It’s vital to your spirit, Christian walk, and your work as a writer.
March 23, 2015 2 Comments
I AM WHAT I SAY: The Power of Self-Talk
What is the power of words? Our words? What we think and what we say?
I’ve been listening to people talking about everything and nothing, and what I’ve heard has captured my attention and is troubling. It’s what’s being said by people about themselves, about others, and about challenges, and even about their successes.
We know from the Bible that our words have power. Speaking them carries power and creates the reality. We’re warned:
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs: 18:21 (NIV)
Mark 11:24 tells us: “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Over and again, we read throughout the Bible that the spoken word has come to pass, and we’re encouraged to guard our minds and our mouths because what we say will direct the course of our future.
Maybe because I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve noticed more what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. Maybe we’ve always spoken negatively about ourselves and others because, well, it’s human. But whatever the reason, we would, in my humble opinion, be wise to pause and consider the consequences of our words on us and on others.
Let me share a specific example:
A writer friend and I were conversing and I shared something with her. Later it was mentioned, and she didn’t recall our conversation. “I am losing it. I keep forgetting things.”
Weeks later, she repeated that—“I can’t remember anything anymore.”
Now, she’s saying that same thing far more often—and it appears to be true. She does seem to have a lot more trouble remembering.
That benign example got my attention, and what’s happened memory-wise got me to thinking. We’ve all heard, “I am that I am.” And we know what it meant. What we might not have recognized—at least, I didn’t at the time—is that we are what we are, too.
If we believe we have a poor memory, we’re accepting that as real and valid and a part of our nature. It’s part and parcel of our personal, I am. And believing it—when we speak it, we voice our belief for better or worse—we grant it authority. We’re saying it our thought that our memory is poor carries our conviction that our memory is poor. Therefore, our memory is or becomes poor because that’s what we’ve deemed it. We have exercised our free will choice on the matter.
We’re all going to have negative thoughts from time to time. They’re human, as natural to us as breathing. They are attempts to influence our spiritual selves. But thoughts are fleeting. And if we don’t act on them, they flee, fade and fall away.
If we don’t voice them (with our focus or our spoken words), then we deny those negative things authority. They’re powerless without the authority of our free-will choice.
My point is we should exercise care what we say we are because, if we believe it and grant it authority, we will become it. This makes the way we see ourselves and how we talk with and about ourselves extremely important.
The Proverbs verse tells us the tongue has the power of life and death, and if we love it, we’ll eat its fruit. It doesn’t say we’ll eat the good fruit and not the bad fruit. Or we’ll eat the positive fruit and not eat the negative fruit. It says we’ll eat the fruit. All of it.
To me, that’s good and bad, which means how we talk about ourselves is directly relative and it impacts our future.
I’ve long said we need to guard our minds. You can’t fill your mind with trash and pull out treasures. (You reap what you sow, right?) I think we should extend that to our mouths.
What comes out of our mouths about ourselves and others should be constructive, positive, honoring us and respecting God. Good fruit bears good fruit.
Will we always do it? No, we’re human. But we should try. Hard. Our futures, I am convinced, rely on it.
Vicki Hinze is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She has written over 30 novels, 4 nonfiction books and hundreds of articles in as many as 63 countries. She is also a columnist for Social N Global network and a former radio talk show host.
March 20, 2015 1 Comment
A Spark Serves: Soul Food and the Heart-Weary Christian
It’s almost Easter. A revered time for people of faith. The most revered time for Christians. Today, I need to chat. That’s right, to chat. I need to talk with like-minded people—people who believe. My soul needs food.
Most Christians go through times of sheer weariness. We tire of the faith struggles in our own lives and in our society. Our freedom of religion is being interpreted by some as freedom from religion, and we’re frustrated by it and weary of it.
How can we not be? We look around and see children exploited, young girls being programmed that sexy is better than virtuous (look at the magazine covers targeting teens). We see a barrage of attacks against even Christmas trees with governors wanting to call them holiday trees, and Christmas break being tagged winter holiday. We see our leader insist that Christian statues be covered during a speech at a Catholic college and yet he speaks beneath a banner that includes a photo of the father of terrorism. We know important things seem, well, upside down, and now comes a push to rename an Easter Egg Hunt a Spring Egg Hunt.
What? We have Christians being crucified for their faith (literally and figuratively) and we (as taxpaying citizens) are giving them billions of dollars. Why?
All this is just the tip of the heap, as you well know, but it’s sufficient to relay the reason for the weariness.
We trust God, we celebrate Easter. We do not waiver on it being the holiest of holidays in Christendom. The Resurrection… It’s awe-inspiring and humbling. And even those who are not Christians should respect that.
If they did, I doubt we’d be living in a culture of deep corruption. In a society where half—yes, half—of the children born are born to unwed mothers. Our values have eroded and our ethics along with them. We’ve buried our moral compass. Allowing it to happen, doing nothing to prevent it, condones it. And what we condone, we own.
I’m not an idealist or standing on a soapbox or suggesting we become raging zealots, but I am suggesting that I’m weary and I know other believers are, too. For me, I’m battling it, determined to follow our beliefs and to refuse not to support them. In other words, the PC police can forget it. They have their vision of PC and I have mine, and this weary soul is opting for faith.
The weariness is not to the bone. Close, but not to the bone. In part, I thank Roma Downey and Mark Burnett for that. Yes, the star of Touched by an Angel and the reality show guru. They did the five-part series The Bible that aired on the History channel.
Okay, so there’s been a lot of controversy on the show itself. Of course, there has. But considering how many don’t and never have read the Bible, and considering that this series is the only exposure they’ll get to the Bible, can’t we see the good in it? The series is like a missionary to the U.S. And if you’ve seen the religious decline (which has been actively sought by factions within and outside this country), you know we need a revival of spiritual matters and food for our spirits. Give us that and the other problems decline. We know it. Our country was built on the premise of putting God first. Through diligent effort, particularly in the past forty years, we’ve had our identity muddied and now we’re muddled. For that reason, while some might find fault with The Bible’s production, I’m celebrating it.
It’s said to have been #1—most watched. The Examiner had an article on it that said Hollywood didn’t understand why the series was so popular. It confounded them. We, of course, know exactly why it’s popular and why other films or series like it will be popular, too. People are three-dimensional—physical, emotional and spiritual—and our spiritual selves are starving!
Simple. So very simple. We need soul food! We don’t just want it, we need it.
So I watch the fourth part of the five-part series, and I notice the commercials. Christianbooks.com had one. Walmart had one. Advertising the Bible. I’m sure there were others, but these were on when the advertisers caught my attention and snagged my thoughts. And I sat there feeling extremely emotional. An ad for the Bible. The BOOK. The Word of God. I’m choking up again now.
This is good. Even if you disagree with exactly the way this or that is done in the series, you’ve got to see that this series and these kinds of commercials (which are wholly suitable for viewing by all ages [and that certainly can’t be said for many, many ads or shows]) are good.
I hope that this series continues to spur an avalanche of films with spiritual themes that get people to thinking and talking and exploring and searching. I hope it spurs a mountain of ads that are constructive and respectful. But most of all, I hope it touches hearts. The weariness and emptiness and longing that crushes so many in our society can be filled by faith. We know it can, and I pray soon those who didn’t know that discover it, too.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to watch an early evening program with your family and not have to change the channel because of inappropriate content? To have shows with content that is constructive and inspiring to viewers?
I boldly dare to dream that this starts a trend. One that renews faith, depletes weariness in believers, and offers all who want it a path out of the darkness and into the light. Wouldn’t it be terrific to see a swell of enthusiasm that leads to truth and contentment replace the current destructive behaviors that assure the absence of both? Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, that spark will ignite a flame and those who choose to walk and live outside the light will at least respect the rights of those who choose to walk in it. That would be refreshing, and constructive.
What I know is this. I write books to help the broken heal. I read books that inspire and enlighten. I view films for the same reasons. And I know that this morning my heart is less weary. A series and some commercials and because of constructive, faith-filled content, my soul is less weary.
And I know that without a spark, there is no flame. A spark serves. And if you think about it, doesn’t it kind of remind you of the mustard seed…
March 13, 2015 15 Comments
My topic for the mini-conference is writing compelling stories. Thought I’d take this chance to see if I practice what I plan to preach. So be honest now…would you read on?
WRITERS’ QUARREL © Kristen Heitzmann
Devin Bressard scarcely blinked when Grace Evangeline Pratt stood and emptied her icy sweet tea over his face.
His eyes went flat as hammered steel, his tone even flatter. “Feel better?”
“Waste of a good sweet tea.”
“Sorry for your loss.” He took a napkin from the arm of a server instantly beside him.
“But a fitting end to this fiasco.” She snatched the calfskin clutch that matched her ecru sheath.
“You’ll excuse me if I don’t stand,” in his dampened condition.
“That’s the only thing I’ll excuse.” She raised her chin and stalked past the gapers and cell phone cameras. Oh, get over it.
Throwing a drink in Devin Bressard’s face had not been on her things-to-do-before-thirty list, but she inserted it and dragged a line through. She did not expect him to appreciate her prose, or connect with her flawed yet valiant characters. But to scorn the tragic twist in the plot? To say it gave him the best laugh of his week, the bellyache kind of laugh he hadn’t experienced since elementary school?
Her fans lined up for new releases, anticipating plot twists that plunged her characters into the predicaments he’d found amusing. She gave the maître ‘d a nod, accepted her faux fur shawl from the coat room attendant and slid a twenty into his palm.
He caught her hand. “Can I buy you a drink, Ms. Evangeline?”
“Thank you no. I just disposed of my last one.” The cubes had nestled in Devin’s lap like a toss of the dice.
Best laugh of his week? Her tales had a comedic snap—in the repartee. Her readers laughed out loud and cried in sympathy, triumph, and satisfaction. She knew from the email, blog posts, and tweets how her stories touched people. Why should she care what one snob thought?