You probably don't need me to tell you this, but it's two days until Thanksgiving. Many around me have spent the month of November striving to be more thankful. Perhaps you've seen the posts on social media, listing a new tidbit of thankfulness each day this month. That seems to be in the spirit of the original intent of the holiday. After all, what is Thanksgiving if it isn't designed to turn our hearts toward . . . prayer. Oh, not what you were expecting?
I did something very brave. In the week prior to writing this, an opportunity arose with two of my kids that I decided to take advantage of. I asked them, "As your mother, what have I done right? What are you glad I did as you were growing up?" Parenting is one of the issues Kathy and I tackle in The Warrior's Bride, and it's one of the topics young moms ask me about today. As I look over my twenty-plus years of parenting, these are my best tips for each stage of your child's life.
E.M. Bounds wrote in his book The Necessity of Prayer that "trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer chamber." Interesting. I'd guess that most of us understand on some level that we need to increase our trust in God. After all, faith and trust are inseparable. You cannot have faith in something you do not trust, and as trust grows, so does faith. So, we must ask this question: Is trust tied to prayer? Is increasing faith in God truly as simple as focusing more on prayer? And if so, what does that look like? A prayer closet? More time on our knees? A prayer formula of some sort?
Exciting news! Extinguishing Embers, the third book in the Embers series, is NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle! If you've missed any of the books in this series, you'll want to start from the beginning. Keep reading to get the links to each book.
Words are powerful. Yeah, yeah. Who rolled their eyes a that opening statement or decided to check out of this post? Go ahead, it's okay to be honest. I prefer it. Hit the delete key if you want, but this issue is bigger than many of us -- okay, you can insert my name there -- want to admit. We (I) have a tough time getting some things through our (my) thick skull. In my book Igniting Embers, the heroine is worried about the incoming hurricane. She repeats phrases from Scripture to remind herself Who she belongs to: The Lord is my Shepherd, my Rock and my Fortress. Other than a quick pick-me-up or feel good moment, does this practice of positive self-talk really do any good? How do the words you choose affect your behavior?
Once upon a time, there lived a great truth-teller. Have you heard this one? Growing up, I loved story. I would read all kinds of things, but I was particularly drawn to fiction. Books like Green Eggs and Ham and To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street captured my young imagination long after I'd put the book down. Some book lovers are die-hard fiction fans. Others are solidly non-fiction only readers. But both have value. Non-fiction relates through logic. It involves the brain and invites the reader to follow a path of argument or assumptions. It blatantly challenges us to learn and to change. Its value is easy to see. But fiction? Don't discount it so quickly. Even books written for pure entertainment can teach you something that you may not easily learn any other way.
My heart sank as I sat across a coffee shop table listening to a friend talk about her latest experience with church. Another set of flawed humans casting judgment based on another set of human traditions, and my friend was found wanting. In my travels all over America, I've seen a lot. Words casually used in one state are curse words in another. Different places have different rules for dancing, drinking, and playing card games. Even blue jeans or simple pants can cause a stir. While many Christians will readily admit that these kinds of topics are not critical elements of salvation, we can't blindly ignore them altogether. They cause problems among us, so we must wrestle with what the Bible says.
I have skeletons. I don't specifically talk about a lot of them, but it's not because they are hidden away in the proverbial closet. When God brings a lady to me that would benefit from hearing part of my story, I openly share those moments when life sucker punched me or I chose to act in a way that wasn't God's best. This is not something that came easily to me, and truthfully I still hesitate before I confess my failures and shortcomings. No one likes to look foolish. None of us wants to be thought of as less than. And I certainly don't jump at the chance to admit how out of control I sometimes get. So, what is the point of sharing? And how can we do so in a manner that glorifies God even when the choices we made do not?
A popular notion is finding its way around Christian circles today. Perhaps you've heard it or even said it. It sounds good, so maybe you've put faith in it. It goes something like this: Everyone needs a Timothy, and everyone needs a Paul. If you know anything about these two men from the New Testament, this sounds good on the surface. But something about it has always bothered me. I didn't realize what it was until my daughter came home from her small group recently. They've been reading a book together, and this concept came up. In our discussion about it, I realized that she was troubled by the exact same part that bugs me. And that sent me into prayer and deeper study, wondering as always: Is this popular notion biblical?
Many years ago, I took a broad stroke writing course that briefly talked about the various forms of writing: fiction and nonfiction, newspaper articles, screenwriting, and more. As part of this class, I had to do a couple of lessons on children's books. Not my thing. Well, that's not exactly true. I love to read children's books. When my kids were little, we'd visit the library almost every week, and we frequently walked out with thirty or more books between the four of us. The stories we read were fun. Poignant. The characters were sweet. Daring. Hilarious. But to combine character development and plot lines into a story that was largely communicated through pictures and keep it under 1,000 words (shorter than many of my blog posts) — that was not my kind of writing. However, a seed was planted in those writing lessons that wouldn't let go.