Archives for October 2011

Radical Faith: Preparing for Answered Prayer

“And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” Philemon 1:22

Radical faith. The apostle Paul demonstrated it on numerous occasions, didn’t he? When he wrote the words above to fellow believer Philemon, he wrote them from prison—a place he frequented because of his bold displays of faith.

Being imprisoned didn’t dampen Paul’s faith, though. In fact, he made plans to visit Philemon based on his hopes of answered prayers. He encouraged Philemon to act in faith as well. Paul exhorted him to prepare a room for him—to behave as if the answer to prayer had already been granted.

When Paul told the Corinthians to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), he not only doled out instruction, he lived it himself. His instruction to Philemon shines as just one example.

What kind of faith are you and I demonstrating in our lives today? Could someone point to us and say, “Look at how she lives by faith. Look at how she trusts God.”

Are we like Paul? Are we living in the hope of answered prayer? Let’s think about what we can do right now to live in expectation and to prepare for the answers that God will send. Let’s show some radical faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

*Flickr photo by familymwr, Creative Commons License

*Please pray for Kay, one of the regular readers and online friends here on the blog. She recently found out she has breast cancer. If you’d like to offer her your support and prayers, take a moment to visit her on her blog, Notes from the Wall.

**Also, the Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

Still a Student

After fifty-plus years of speaking the English language (I’ll leave the plus part to your imagination!), I’m still looking up words in the dictionary. Since, as a writer, I need to be a reader as well, I run across new-to-me words on a fairly regular basis. It’s not that I have a poor vocabulary, there are just a lot of unfamiliar words out there, especially when I get into areas outside my realm of experience.

Recently I read a novel that featured a main character with a form of autism. Since I don’t have close personal experience with autism, I had to hit the dictionary a couple of times over terminology I’d heard before but didn’t really understand. Not long ago, I read some historical fiction that put me in a time and place that also stretched the limits of my vocabulary.

Of course, other times I’m foggy on meanings of words that I have seen before and should, in fact, know. Maybe my brain has only so much room and has started deleting past info to make room for new? Say it ain’t so! :)

Whether encountering brand new words or words I simply need to review, I have a choice to make. I can skip over them completely, try to guess their meaning from the context, or take time to look them up. I can choose to still be a student or just coast through and miss the full message intended.

Many times I choose to coast, allowing time factors or lack of convenience to dictate my decision. But lots of other times, I choose to investigate. I choose to learn, to still be a student. I may not remember the new word a day later, but the process still helped me grasp that particular passage more fully.

What about when I—and you—read the Word of God? We may be familiar with much of the language, but what do we do when we run across words and phrases or names and places that are unfamiliar to us? What about when we know the actual meaning of certain words, but we’re puzzled by the deeper meaning of the passage? Do we take time to read the footnotes or look up words in our concordance or do some cross-referencing? Do we dig deep to discover what words meant in the original Greek or Hebrew language?

Are we still students of the Word of God or do we just coast through in our reading? Do we sometimes miss the full message intended? I don’t know about you, but I don’t dig deep often enough. The Word of God is too important to miss, isn’t it? Let’s choose to learn. Let’s choose to investigate. Let’s still be students.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

*Flickr photo by crdotx, Creative Commons License

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

The Sounds of Fall

I don’t know what fall sounds like in your corner of the world, but fall means music in the air to me. And I mean that literally.

Since we live just a few blocks from our local high school, the marching band sometimes jazzes up my fall mornings with its lively, high-stepping melodies. They’re carried to me loud and clear by the autumn breezes.

The staccato beat of drumsticks readies the band for action. The syncopated rhythmic boom, boom, boom of the bass drum provides the cadence the whole band needs as they march in unison. The blare of the horns energizes the very air around me, and their crisp cut-offs add the perfect punctuation to a fall morning’s melody.

As the band busily prepares to perform at football games and march in area parades, I get to enjoy a sound that transports me back in time not only to my high school and college days but also to childhood memories of going to homecoming parades with my parents and grandparents. Larger-than-life days, for sure. The band helps me taste them again.

What does fall sound like to you? Maybe a fire crackling in the fireplace or a flock of geese honking high overhead as they fly south for the winter? It might be leaves skittering across the driveway or crunching underfoot, or it might even be the sound of someone splitting wood nearby. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s music in the air to you.

Let’s thank God today not only for the beauty of the autumn season, but also for giving us ears to hear the glorious sounds of fall. Truly music in the air . . .

“‘But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.'” Matthew 13:16

*What are your favorite sounds of fall?

*Flickr photo by Chandler Abraham, Creative Commons License

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

The Spirit of Christmas Is Here!

The Spirit of Christmas is here—in more ways than one! Our letter carrier played Santa the other day, and she didn’t even know it. She delivered pure holiday excitement in the form of a book. This particular book, The Spirit of Christmas, is the newest Christmas compilation by Cec Murphey and Marley Gibson. Why so exciting? I have a story in it! Merry Christmas, right?! :)

I swear I heard jingle bells and a “Ho, Ho, Ho” as I tore into the box. What a blessing and thrill to see a story of mine included in such a beautiful holiday book (scroll down my right sidebar to see a close-up picture of it). Not only is it gratifying as a writer to see my work used, but I’m especially excited because this book will be widely distributed and reach a larger audience than many of my pieces used in other publications.

My story, “A Quiet Christmas Moment”, highlights Christmas worship and the Christ Child, and I am beyond blessed to think that it might point some hungry soul to the true Spirit of Christmas—our Savior born in Bethlehem.

The book releases on October 25, but I couldn’t wait until next week to share my joy with you. I’ll play Santa myself the end of November or first of December and give away one copy here on the blog in a holiday giveaway. But if you’re like me and don’t want to wait :), it’s available for preorder on Amazon right now and should be available in stores next week.

Thanks so much for letting me share The Spirit of Christmas with you a little early—again in more ways than one! And thanks so much for rejoicing with me. I love you guys!

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

Annual Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway!

It’s time once again for the annual Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway! You’ve gotta love a giveaway tradition, right? Always fun!

The first week in November will mark my third-year anniversary of publishing Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter. So to say “thank you” to all of my current subscribers and to encourage new folks to subscribe as well, one lucky Life Notes subscriber will win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

This is how it will work: All those who are currently subscribed to Life Notes will automatically be entered in the giveaway, and any new subscriber who signs up by noon (CST) Nov. 13 will be entered as well. Sign up is to the right on the blog sidebar. You don’t even have to leave a comment on this post — just make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter. Easy as that. The winner will be announced in my Sunday evening Nov. 13 blog post.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Life Notes, here’s an overview: Each issue is based on a theme and includes two pieces I’ve written as well as a couple from fellow writers. Of the pieces of mine that are included, I always use at least one new-to-you piece. The second piece is often new as well (sometimes a poem or an acrostic) and other times it’s a piece from my blog archives that you may never have seen. The sidebar includes a quote, a scripture, and a website to visit (all related to the theme), and I also list my writing news that might be of interest to you.

I know I’ve said it before, but let me say it again. I’m so thankful for each of my Life Notes subscribers — and for each of you blog readers! Many of you are both, and I’m doubly thankful for you. This giveaway is just one small way I can show my appreciation. I wish everyone could win! :)

Is there someone in your life you’re especially grateful for right now? Why not think of a small way you can show your appreciation. You’ll both be blessed!

“. . . I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you . . . ” Romans 1:8a

*Flickr photo by Lauren Manning