Archives for January 2013

Midweek Morsel: "I Love Dessert" Giveaway!

This week’s morsel is an especially yummy one. February arrives on Friday, and I’m already thinking about Valentine’s Day. And, of course, Valentine’s Day calls for some sort of sweet giveaway :)

How about an “I Love Dessert” Giveaway?! One lucky commenter will win a $20 gift card to a decadent dessert mecca—The Cheesecake Factory! Just leave a comment on this post by noon Feb. 13 (CST), and you’ll be entered to win. If I don’t know you personally or your email address is not available via your blog, be sure to leave your email address in your comment or you won’t be eligible to win.

To make today’s Midweek Morsel spiritually refreshing, would some of you share your own morsel from the Word of God in your comment? What verse has meant a lot to you at some point in your life? I’ll close with one here and then watch for your comments. Can’t wait for the morsels you serve up!

“O our God . . . we do not know what to do, but we look to You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 HCSB

*Flickr photo by adrian8_8

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in a couple of days. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out author Laura Popp’s guest post. You’ll be glad you did!

Guest Blogger: Author Laura Popp

I’m happy to share an inspiring post today from author Laura Popp. Laura is a fellow member of my writers group, Fellowship of Christian Writers. May Laura’s story encourage you to answer God’s call on your life—whatever that may be today!

Earthshaking Opportunities

In the summer of 2009, God called me to be a missionary in Japan. I thought He was nuts, but knowing better than to argue, I packed my bags, and with nothing but a few contacts and a job teaching English, hopped on a plane.

Nearly two years later on March 11th, 2011, my whole world shook.Literally. But the tremors felt in Nabari, Japan were nothing compared to those 350 miles north as the largest earthquake in the recorded history of Asia struck the Tohoku area. Though I thanked God for my life, I bit my nails worrying about my friends suffering in Tokyo and Sendai. I wept as I watched events unfold on the news. The aftershocks continued, walls of water over thirty feet high sweeping away entire cities, fires raging, infants and elderly freezing without electricity, nuclear reactors overheating, and the death toll rising to 16,000.

“What can I do?” I prayed. “You sent me to these people. Teach me how to serve them!”

The next day I got a mass email from a Filipina Christian friend in Fukushima. “We have to get out. The nuclear reactor near my house is in melt down. I’m going back to the Philippines, but can anyone take in two Japanese sisters?”

“Yes!” I wrote back immediately. “Send them to me!”

Two days later, I met the sisters in Osaka. Their eyes told of unknown horrors, and fear and exhaustion weighed them down.

“What would you like to do?” I asked on Saturday, after they’d had a chance to rest.

“Take us somewhere beautiful,” the older sister Junko, an English teacher, replied.

I brought them to a plum blossom garden in a nearby town, the pink and white blossoms draping over the trees and terraces like delicate curtains.

At the entrance to the garden stood a small shrine, and the two sisters paused to pray.

“What did you pray for?” I asked when they finished.

“The safety of our families,” Junko replied.

Feeling moved by the Holy Spirit, I asked, “Do you believe there is a god in that shrine who hears you?”

Looking confused, as if she’d never thought about it before, Junko turned to her sister. They discussed it in Japanese for a few minutes, then Junko turned back to me.

“No, we just do it out of habit.”

“Well,” I offered with a smile, “would you like to meet a God who will hear your prayers?”

The two sisters discussed again, until Junko finally said, “We would.”

The next day I took them to church. There the sisters heard about God’s love for them and Japan, how God grieved for the death and destruction, and how He would rebuild Japan. They heard about the church’s plan to help and about the hope they could have in Jesus.

Tears filled my eyes as both sisters raised their hands, receiving that hope and love. Now I understand. Thank you, God, for bringing me to Japan.

Junko and her sister spent the next month in my apartment until they got government housing in Kyoto. I visited them there and we enjoyed a popular Kyoto pastime: dressing as maiko (apprentice geisha). I will never forget the day, my birthday, when Junko was baptized.

I challenge you that wherever you are and whatever you do, answer God’s call to love, to speak, and to serve. That is the greatest testimony you can give.

*In what ways have others showed God’s love to you through acts of service?

Laura Popp is the author of Treasure Traitor, a young adult fantasy novel. To learn more about her travels and book, check out her website:

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Midweek Morsel: Giving and Receiving

3354087435_0f55c35d5d_zThe one who gives also receives. It’s a principle we see proven true time and again. In fact, we’ll often hear the doer of a kind deed claim that she has received the bigger blessing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed it like this years ago: “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

Let’s go add some fragrance to the world!

“. . . remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts20:35b

*How did you recently get a few drops of happiness on yourself as you poured it out on someone else?

*Flickr photo by Pink Sherbet Photography, Creative Commons License

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Short-lived Beauty: Blue Jays and More

Blue jays are beautiful birds—at first glance. Their gorgeous colors and distinctive markings catch my eye every time.

But if I watch them long enough, I see their true colors—and they’re not very pretty. I’ve found that blue jays are bullies.

Yes, these aerial playground ruffians do their best to intimidate other birds who dare to share their neighborhood. I’ve witnessed some of their bully behavior first-hand but have also read what Wikipedia has to say about them.

Blue jays swoop in and try to chase away less aggressive birds, sometimes invading their nests and stealing their eggs, chicks, or even the nests. At times, they chase other birds from feeders and sometimes even attack or kill smaller birds. They use their harsh sounding voices to intimidate as well. Even though beautiful, blue jays are in reality bully birds.

What about us? What about our beauty?As we think of all the pains we take to make ourselves beautiful at first glance, what do people see—or hear—if they watch us for any length of time? What true colors do they find? Do they see a beauty that’s short-lived? A beauty that quickly gives way to ugly behavior?

Let’s do our best to show the world a beauty that’s real and enduring. Let’s allow our beauty to spring forth from our love for God. Let’s let our true colors reflect him.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

*What beauty are you attracted to in others?

*Photo by yours truly :)

*By the way, blue jays aren’t all bad. I read that they help protect other birds when they chase away predatory birds like hawks or owls. They will also scream if they see predators in their territories, and they’ve been known to give an alarm call when dangers are near. Smaller birds many times recognize the call and hide in response. Maybe we can take encouragement from this. When we mess up and our beauty disappears, positive things may still be found in us.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Midweek Morsel: "In the Meantime" Prayer


Father, some waits are so very long. During such times, it’s easy to grow discouraged or give up altogether. As dear ones I know continue to wait for your answer to their prayers, please sustain them in the meantime.

Show them your love, Father. Give them special touches and reassure them that you know precisely where they are and exactly how they feel. Grant them the grace and strength they need to wait on your timing and help them to keep their eyes on you. Carry them, dear Lord—carry them through!

Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.” Psalm 27:7

*How has God ministered to you during an “in the meantime” period in your life?

*Our daughter Kristin and her husband Shawn are still waiting for news of a baby to adopt. Your prayers would be very much appreciated!

*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!