Archives for January 2008

Sweet Giveaway

6428296851_a53a4c3385_zSince February is almost upon us, I thought I would kick off the Valentine’s season with an extra sweet giveaway. And no, I’m not just teasing you with a picture of Godiva chocolates — the giveaway is for a $10 Godiva gift card! It’s just enough to get you a few pieces of heavenly delight. If you get into the store and decide you need more, you’re on your own after the $10 limit :)

To be included in the drawing, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by noon Feb. 13th and follow these guidelines: Be sure to include your name as well as an email address if I don’t know you personally. In your comment tell me your favorite chocolate treat or dessert. If chocolate is not your thing, you won’t be penalized :) Just go ahead and mention your favorite sweet indulgence. I think mine is our family’s chocolate sheet cake with homemade ice cream. I will announce the winner sometime between noon on the 13th and noon on Valentine’s Day. (I sure have fun with these giveaways — hope you do, too!)

I got to play a part in a different kind of “giveaway” on our mission trip to inner city Ft. Worth. Meals, clothing, and toiletries are given away regularly at Beautiful Feet, but our team always brings extra items to give away — full care packs, gloves, Bibles, etc. This year a group of ladies had made tote bags with shoulder straps, and I got to help hand those out between Sunday morning services. The bigger ones, more like duffel bags, proved to be quite a hit because they were large enough to hold a pillow, blanket, and a back pack — a very important feature to those who are homeless and have to carry everything they own.

Everyone showed great appreciation for these duffel bags, but one gentleman in particular touched me deeply with his reaction. After receiving his bag, he sat down and watched as we gave out the others. He had the biggest smile on his face and kept saying “What a blessing this is! What a blessing this is!”

I think this man’s biggest happiness came from seeing others receive their bags. What he didn’t realize is how much I felt humbled and blessed to be in his presence and the presence of so many other inner city folks who freely praised and worshiped God in spite of their impoverished situations. What a treasured experience to fellowship with this part of God’s family — my family — and to be a blessing to them.

Why not try a giveaway yourself during this month for love? Is there someone you could bless in a special way? Don’t forget — when you do this, you are also blessing God.

“God…will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10

*Flickr photo by Daniel Y. Go, Creative Commons License

Beautiful Feet

We just got back from our mission trip to Ft. Worth. Whew! As you can imagine, we’re pretty tired, but I thought I would take a minute to let you know that things went beautifully. Imagine a team of over 90 people going 90 miles an hours from Fri. evening until noon Sunday, reaching out in love to homeless and inner city folks while also helping with construction projects and other needed jobs at the mission. What a rewarding experience. People told us that we blessed them, but you know how that goes — we feel like we’re the ones who got the bigger blessing.

A few years ago after one of our mission trips to Ft. Worth, I wrote a poem about the inner city church where the team serves. Hope you enjoy seeing Beautiful Feet through this poem. In the coming weeks, I may share a few more glimpses of the trip, but for now, here’s a taste of what we experienced this weekend.

Beautiful Feet

There’s a place in Ft. Worth called Beautiful Feet
A place known by all who live on the street,
A hot lunch for free can be found there each day
After food for the soul is served up some way.
You see it’s not just a place, instead it’s a church
Where many find themselves beginning their search
For some shred of hope, a way out of their pain,
For love and acceptance instead of disdain.
Beautiful Feet is a light in a dark lonely world
A beacon of hope like a flag unfurled
For God’s people show love to one and all,
For Jesus is the One upon whom they call.
There are those who serve faithfully day after day,
And those who come yearly to work, share, and pray.
Each one sees God’s power heal and redeem,
The lost and the hurting become part of the team.
Each year Kansas comes the talk is who is blessed more
Those in Ft. Worth or the Kansans galore.
They truly feel like family, the bond is oh so sweet
For God is the Father at Beautiful Feet.

Wise Counsel

I’ve heard some top-notch speakers at my Fellowship of Christian Writers meetings, and last night was no exception. Jan Dargatz kept our pens flying for a full hour as she shared insight from the publishing world. Jan is a full-time freelancer, author, editor, and educator who also writes under several pen names.

Without trumpeting her own success or dropping names, the anecdotes and examples she shared from her real-life experiences soon revealed that she has worked with several very well-known people, helping them to develop and write their books. After she finished speaking, she fielded a few questions. In answer to the last one, “Have you written any plays?”, she began telling us about a time she was asked to write a passion play for some folks in Texas. Long story short, she wrote the original script for The Promise. You have perhaps seen it on stage in Branson, but it has also played in large venues around the world.

I consider myself very lucky to have heard Jan teach last night. She alerted us to “10 Pits To Avoid on the Way To Writerdom”. The question now is “what will I do with what I heard”. Will I just be excited that I got to hear a successful person in the publishing world give us 60 minutes worth of priceless advice, or will I carefully look over my notes and begin to apply the wisdom she shared to my own life as a writer?

God’s Word tells us that “…wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10b) Maybe you can help keep me on my toes by asking me sometime what advice of Jan’s I have followed. How about you? Has someone given you advice that you need to act on? I encourage you to take advantage of the wise counsel you’ve received.

Are you curious about Jan’s list of 10 pits for writers to avoid? I’ll give you the bare bones version without all the sub-points and then challenge you to think about how they might apply to your own field of interest or a problem you might be faced with right now. I hope you find them helpful in some way:

1. Unrealistic expectations about publishing.
2. A failure to read.
3. A failure to write.
4. Lack of having a real thought focus, a clear idea of what you want to say.
5. Start editing too soon.
6. Not having a good editing/mentoring coach.
7. Dismissing a job as being too insignificant or unimportant.
8. Working for an author who doesn’t have a clear focus and a strong desire to finish the job.
9. Working for dual authors or even two members of the same family on different projects.
10. Discouragement (the biggest pitfall of all).

**On another note, Don and I are leaving early Friday morning with a team of folks from our area to serve at the Beautiful Feet mission in Ft. Worth. Would you keep us in your prayers as we reach out to the inner city and homeless population there? We’ll return Sunday evening. Thanks!

Making It Off The Boat

Our daughter Kelli returned this past week from a few days in Mexico with her boyfriend and his family. While we were freezing our tails off in the Midwest, she luxuriated on the beach, enjoying sunshine and 80 degree temperatures. As you can imagine, they all dreaded coming back to face work and winter once again.

While in Mexico, Kelli enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience. She and Lance went snorkeling off the second largest coral reef in the world. Everything they saw amazed them, from the crystal blue water to the tropical fish to a stingray hanging out on the ocean floor. From the way she described it, it had to be the highlight of their trip.

What amazes me is that she experienced it at all, given the fact that she never quite learned to swim — even though I dutifully made sure she took lessons. (I don’t have any room to talk, though. I, too, am afraid in water over my head.) To participate in this adventure, she braved 7 ft. and 11 ft. depths while wearing a life jacket. Before she could do that, though, she had to make it off the boat. She couldn’t quite bring herself to jump in the way they were instructed, but she finally managed to just slide off the side. She spent the first five minutes hyperventilating but finally relaxed and learned to use the snorkel. After that, she had the time of her life.

Kelli had to face a few fears to live this bold new adventure, and I’m pretty proud of her. I may need to remember her courage this coming weekend when Don and I go to inner city Ft. Worth on a mission trip with a group from our region. No, it’s not the first time we’ve gone on the Beautiful Feet mission trip, but believe me, new experiences await us every time we go. And yes, nerves enter the picture from time to time (at least for me!) as we reach out to the homeless and inner city folks there. Like Kelli, though, after taking a few deep breaths and whispering some prayers, we have the time of our lives.

Is there something you’ve been needing, wanting, or feeling led to do but can’t quite make it off the boat? If you can’t boldly jump out of your comfort zone, try following Kelli’s example and just slide off into that new territory. Take a friend if you need to. Definitely whisper a prayer and remember the psalmist’s words “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) If you don’t try, you may be depriving yourself of one the best experiences of your life.

I’d love to hear about the times you’ve had to overcome fear or nervousness to tackle something new or step out of your comfort zone. Was it worth it? And Kelli, if I messed up any of the details of your story, feel free to set the record straight with a comment :)

*Kelli’s photo taken by friend

Life Stories

8228692320_a9c3f0204d_zSince we’re supposed to get some snow tonight, it’s the perfect time to share a snowy word picture.

Ole Hallesby said, “As white snowflakes fall quietly and thickly on a winter day, answers to prayer will settle down upon you at every step you take, even to your dying day. The story of your life will be the story of prayer and answers to prayer.”

What a beautiful picture and, more than that, what a glorious thought. Imagine it for a minute. You’re standing outside while snow is falling all around you. (Go ahead — make it the big snowflakes that look so picturesque.) As you delight in the wonder of it all, you begin to see it in an even more amazing way. The snowflakes aren’t snowflakes at all but answers to prayer. In that moment, you see the true beauty of your life, and you feel rich.

It makes you think about all the people who have prayed for you over the years, doesn’t it? Parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, children, friends, pastors, teachers. Even strangers may have prayed for you when they saw you in a tough spot or heard about your desperate need. And let’s not forget Jesus. Scripture tells us that Christ Himself is at the right hand of God praying for us (Romans 8:34). How blessed we are, living lives filled with the fruit of their prayers.

And don’t forget, in the same way, you have blessed the lives of others by praying for them. Some of these blessings you get to witness while others you may never see. Think for a minute. How many people have you touched through prayer? How many life stories are your prayers a part of? How many people have shaped your life story? Mine has been shaped by many of you.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at snowflakes drifting down in the same way again. I’ll be seeing your prayers. And I’ll be thanking God for you.

*Flickr photo by martinak15, Creative Commons License