The Easter celebration is a reminder that we no longer have to fear eternal damnation as long as we believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us.
Deep down I know this but I find at times my fingers grasping chainlink staring at the cross, wondering. Did He really die for me? Why?
There’s nothing special about me, not really-sure I have some talents, I love my family and friends–even the cats who annoy me several times a day.
What makes me special enough to save?
In Jeremiah 1-46 NIV We’re told before we were even formed in the womb God knew us! He knew what He was creating and all the faults we would have and the struggles we’d encounter to do what we are called to do. He knew if we choose to accept Him as Our Savior then we will come home to Him.
I’m letting go of the cold chain link and walking to towards the cross embracing what Jesus did for me. I will step aside from the insecure feelings that I’m not good enough. I am His. That’s the Easter Message I need to remember.
Are you familiar with the story of David in Goliath in 1 Samuel in the bible? If you are skip ahead, if not let me tell you about him.
David was a shepherd boy sent by his father Jesse, to check on his older brothers who served in the Israelite army. When David arrived he watched as soldiers ran from a giant of a man who served the Philistine army. His name was Goliath. He was huge–a giant to the Israelite army and he made fun of God’s army.
David who had slain large animals to protect his family’s sheep took the challenge to defend God’s army. With a rock and and a slingshot he took down that giant and the Philistines became slaves to Israel.
We all have giants in our lives—not usually people and please if you do—don’t get a slingshot and rock to take care of the problem!
Today giants take different forms and we have to learn to take them down. But how do we do that?
Prayer is the best place to start. When I ask for guidance about my giants it seems that God opens my eyes and I discover that not all of my problems are as big as I make them out to be. That God has equipped me to handle the overwhelming to-do list, the big project I’ve begun or just figuring out what I’m making for dinner. *yes sometimes that is the biggest giant of all for me!
Other days my eyes are opened to the heartbreaking problems others have and I realize at this moment my giant is a very small thing.
I have a friend who is waiting for heart transplant for his daughter.
I have a friend with ALS.
I have a friend trained as a Chaplin who heart is breaking because she wants to help those in need but can’t find a position.
When I look at those true giants I know that I’ve faced some of my own– Seeing my first husband die from cancer, losing 3 brothers all before I reached age of 30 and having a father that left us and didn’t come back when I was 15.
Those were hard and yet I survived, I changed and my faith grew.
Are all my giants gone?
I don’t think so as long as I’m leaving on earth as one of God’s people there will always be someone that wants me to go away. There will always be a tragic incident around the corner. It’s what I do with those that will make the difference.
If I choose to be like David and step out with the faith of God the biggest giant of all, the evil one will not win.
We’ve come to the end of the a2zmeme and my choice is Zip. I’ve found there are times in life when I should have zipped my lips and others I wish I hadn’t done so.
So the question is when “to Zip or Not Zip” your lips?
Keeping this verse in mind I’ve made up a list of Zip or Not Zip list.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart”. (NLT) ( Luke 6:45 )
Don’t mention you can see the dust on a friend’s TV screen.
Don’t ask your friend if they’ve gained weight.
Don’t tell a volunteer they should have done better.
Don’t ask your husband, “Why can’t you love Downton Abbey as much as I do?”
Don’t tell your neighbor not to hang multiple dead deer in their front yard. *this is a hard one for me.
Do offer advice when asked—after searching your heart.
Do give compliments when you find something you admire. *my neighbor has the most amazing row of lilac bushes that I enjoy every spring.
Do not be afraid to offer praises to God when told of something good.
Do tell your family and friends you love them—often!
Do unzip those lips when a friend or family member has put themselves in danger.
I’d like to think evil doesn’t lurk in my heart but it does. It comes to life when someone almost rams their car into mine, or when I feel something unjust is happening to me or my family. It’s hard to beat it back. It takes me at least 10 minutes to realize my lips have come unzipped when they should have stayed zipped tight.
Does God speak in a loud voice, show you through action what you want to know, or share His wisdom with you through other people?
I’ve never heard God speak. Not like Moses or the people of Israel or the followers of Christ.
Attending church, Sunday School and reading my bible gives me a lot of information about who God is and who He would like me to be. Through those things I discovered how much God loves me, so much that He sent His only son to die for me. Still even with faith and knowledge I long for a personal message so I search and watch and wait. I spend a lot of time searching for the Cloud Rider in the clouds.
And one day….
while we were driving…..
I stared at the clouds and wondered. “God, I know you are there by faith but can you show me you love me today?”
And this appeared.
Do you see it? You have to look at the middle cloud. There is a heart. There was an even bigger one to the right but while I was staring in wonder it broke apart. For a moment God spoke to me, showing me His love once again in a form I would recognize. Or maybe instead of saying spoke, more like a hug just for me and I wanted to share that with you.
Where do you see or hear God speak?
2 Corinthians 4: 18
Sow we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since wha is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In this life we often make two mistakes that cause immense amounts of pain. The first is to believe we are separate from God, thus rendering our lives void of meaning. The second is trying to find or gain that meaning from something outside of God.
We do this in many ways–trying to build up our bank account, buying or building a bigger house, getting a better car, and even serving ourselves into the ground trying to prove our worthiness to God and others. None of these work. But I think the most tragic way we try to gain meaning is through our children.
You know the scenario. The marriage isn’t happy, so the solution is to have a baby as the baby will give meaning to the loveless, lifeless marriage. When that doesn’t work, unhealed parents begin to strive to live out their failed dreams through their children. They put them in every camp, class, and activity that they themselves always wanted to be in–or were in but never quite succeeded at.
Then they begin to push and demand far too much from the child. Every misstep the child makes is met with condemnation and an order to do better (conditional love). I actually know parents who have taken their child out to practice for hours on end “to make them better.” Oftentimes doing so against the child’s will or better judgment.
The answer lies in the parent’s strained relationship with God. That parent, pushing their child beyond their limits in a sport or activity the child doesn’t even want to be in, is trying to gain meaning through their child’s accomplishments. The parent doesn’t realize that something “out there” — i.e. their child’s success will not give them the peace they so desperately seek.
The only thing that gives that peace is seeking God, falling on Him, and letting His love and acceptance flow through your life–not because you deserve it but just because He wants to give it to you. Until you find that, nothing “out there” will ever fill “in here.”
So if you’re a parent who is yelling at refs, forcing your child to be in an activity they neither want to be in nor like, or demanding your child excel for your benefit, it may be time to take a few steps back and ask if you are doing this for your child or for yourself.
Sit and talk with your child, ask what they want in the situation and in life. Do they like this sport or activity? Would they do it if you let them choose whatever they want? You see, their life is also between them and God. Their meaning in life is God–not pleasing you. But if you set it up so that they are trying to please you instead of God, you have set yourself up as an idol for that child.
Parenting is absolutely one of the hardest, most challenging callings on this earth. Just don’t make it harder by trying to do it unhealed and searching for your hope “out there.” Give your child the gift of putting God first in their lives, and give yourself the same gift. It can make all the difference.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling author and the co-founder CrossReads.com a new website that gives Christian readers and authors a place to meet and fellowship. With a newsletter, a blog, a forum, and other exciting, inspiring areas to visit, CrossReads visitors can find fabulous Christian books they never knew existed.
Come over on Feb. 12-14, and enter to win one of 169 virtual baskets of ebooks, gift cards, and other prizes!
It’s here, the New Year 2013 and everyone is asking what are your resolutions? I prefer to ask what is your view for 2013?
I’m a visual person. I get more done when I visualize what I’m working toward. One year I made a vision board slide show that I kept on my desktop. Every morning I watched it. That was a very good year for me.
My view for 2013 is centered around what God wants me to do. The problem for me is figuring out what that looks like. While I prefer to think God would like me to be comfortably well off-food, health insurance and a fat savings account, I have a feeling that’s not His vision for me.
So how am I going to figure it out?
I’m resting on this verse. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
But in case God needs a view of MY 2013 and the beach I’d like outside my door:
My View for 2013?
What’s your view of 2013? Tell me in the comments. I’d really like to know.
Only some people are meant to go on mission trips–I’m not one of them.
Two of our members went to Guatemala to help build stoves and teach Vacation Bible School.
So what’s that got to do with me?
Or you, if you don’t feel called to leave the comforts of home?
This is Dorinda.
She planned on building stoves when she arrived in Guatemala. A few days before leaving, she received a phone call asking her to do the crafts for Vacation Bible School.
Dorinda does a lot of things but crafts is not on her list.
That’s where others came in to help.
This is something I could do! I’m in the middle of two fun women and we were a bit crazy by the time the photo was taken.. People came and went all afternoon punching holes in paper plates, sticking stickers on Popsicle sticks and assembling over 200 craft kits to be used.
Then there was the fear of not being able to stick them all in Dorinda’s suitcase!
Not a problem as I never travel light, I sent Ed home for my suitcase. The one I take to conferences and bring back loaded with books.
That’s a strong young man to pull that heavy thing up the street! Good thing Dorinda found him.
These are a few of the kids who put together the crafts assembled in Illinois by women who couldn’t go to Guatemala.
Mission trips like this one to Guatemala need more than one kind of person to make things happen. Dorinda may not have been crafty, but she didn’t have to be. God provided hands and materials for her to use with the Guatemala children. I may not take a far away mission trip but God has people who function well without Diet Dr Pepper and 24 hour internet, like Dorinda.
I’m so glad I had a very small part in the joy. Plus I can say my suitcase has traveled out of the USA.
Have you ever been on a mission trip? Will you go again? Would you like to go or are you more like me willing to help from home? Diana
Most of us see this sign when we are driving and know we need to take a different route.
But how many times does God put a big old DETOUR sign in our lives and we pass by seeing only a blur?
I’d like to say, “That never happens to me.” or “God needed to be a little louder or sent me a bigger sign.”
Lately, I’ve been trying to push God away when opportunities to speak about the We’re Not Blended, We’re Pureed, A Survivors Guide are offered.
I wrote the book, exposed our family to the public, isn’t that enough? Why do I need to be filmed or participate in workshops? I’m done, right? It’s time to concentrate on what I want to write. Fiction.
Well, how about this sign?
That’s it exactly what I want to say back to God, but He’s not having any of that.
He’s sent more opportunities my way–not all for the Blended book–but they involve me speaking to people, even being on a video panel.
My fiction writing seems to be stalling, is it because I’m choosing my own detour and not His?
I think I’m going to start following His detours before He closes the road to my fiction writing.
What detour has God put in your life? How did it turn out? I need encouragement so please share.
So excited to have Nora StLaurent here to tell us about The Book Club Network! They are turning two this month and lots of prizes are being given away.
Noara, what lead up to you starting a book club? Had you ever been apart of a book club before? What’s your club name?
I had gone to a couple of book club meetings before I was asked to lead a book club by my boss. When my boss called me into the office and asked me to sit down because he wanted to talk to me about a few changes being made in the office, I didn’t have warm fuzzy feelings inside! He then told me,” We want to start a book club at our store, and we want you to run it!”
This was the second person within six months to ask me to start a book club. Was this a conspiracy? Didn’t these people know I didn’t read unless I had to? Reading wasn’t fun for me; isn’t that a requirement for being a book club leader – having fun reading?
I was terrified at the prospect of getting up in front of people and discussing a book. Just the thought of reading out loud to the group brought up bad memories of when I was in school and got made fun of every time I tried to do this because I never read the words that were on the page correctly. I’m dyslexic and didn’t get diagnosed until I was 26 years old.
I had my heart to heart talk with God. I felt like Moses going before God and telling him he couldn’t do what he asked because he didn’t talk so well. I pleaded with God: “You know I’m dyslexic. You made me this way. Reading and I don’t get along…remember? This is not funny, God.”
I heard Him say to me gently, “Nora, don’t be afraid. Let me ask you this: Can you love the people I put in your life the way I have loved you?”
What did I just hear? Love people He puts in my life the way He’s loved me? Is that what this is all about? It’s not about how many books I can or didn’t read? What a relief!
“Yes, I can do that. If this whole book club thing is about relationships, then I’m all about it whole heartedly.”
I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. I told my boss what was on my heart and what I experienced. He wanted the book club to be a way of giving back to the community. I started on a book club journey what would later lead to me becoming the ACFW On-Line Book Club Coordinator and creating The Book Club Network with my husband, Fred. I’m not sure what the future holds but I do know who holds my future. All things are possible with Christ who strengthens me!
Nora, that’s amazing. I have a fear of public speaking. What are your book clubs like?2. Hi, I’m interested in being apart of your book club, could you please describe for me what I can expect? What does your typical meeting look like?
I have TWO face to face book clubs. One meets at the church I go to Shadowbrook Church in Suwanee, GA and the other meets inside the book store I work at during business hours.
Both book clubs are filled with passionate readers who love to talk about books. They bring snacks for the meetings and love to talk about the book as much as they love to talk to the author of the month. We call the author and talk to them about their book for about 30 minutes or we have the author “Live” at the meeting. If we have the author “live” I combine the groups so that they all can meet the author and get their books signed.
Please describe how the book selection process works for your club? Do you vote with a secret ballet? Or some other method? Do tell. This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!!
We usually have about 40 or so current books on the list. Voting takes place every November. We vote on 12 books that will be read the following calendar year. I want everyone to participate in book club. Giving the reader a whole year start lets them check out the book from the library, get the book on sale, and/or borrow it from a friend. I want everyone the opportunity to read the book and make it to book club.
I gather the books to be put on our voting ballet. I hand them out at our October meeting. They can take them home and think about it for a while. All votes are compiled and counted in November.
Does your book club socialize outside of your regular meetings? If so, what did you do or have you done as a group that you all enjoyed?
We do socialize a couple of times a year. Once a year we have a cooking night, where we actually read a book and cook the recipes that are included inside of it. We meet at someone’s house.
Once a year we have movie night breakfast brunch. We watch a movie that had been made from a book. We meet at someone’s house.
We have our Christmas party at a Restaurant. Last year we had it at Provino’s Italian Restaurant and had a blast. When a movie that has been made from a book is at the theatre we try to support it as a group and go to it the first week. We’ve also gone on field trips too that coordinated with the book we read. We read The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser and actually went there.
What have you read at a book club recently that really touched everyone’s heart and created good discussion?
We read Lost and Foundby Ginny Yttrup. Last year we read her book Words, it was a book that touched our hearts deeply and one you’ll never forget!! There was so much discussion with each other and with Ginny!! Wow, what a book and amazing meeting.
Have you ever had an author speak at your book club, in person, or on the phone? If so, who? How did the meeting go? Any surprises you learned about the author and/or the book you didn’t know about before the chat?
In March of this year we spoke to Francine Rivers about her book And the Shofar Blew. I wanted our group to read a book by this author that no one had read before. We talked to her on the phone for 30 minutes and it was a blast.
We had a full house and learned some surprising things about this author and this book. First of all after Francine Rivers got saved she stopped writing in the market she had been writing for and switched to writing Christian Fiction. The first book she wrote for the Christian market was Redeeming Love. Wow!!
How do you top that? She said that the Lord gave her the title And the Shofar Blew.
She didn’t even know that meant. When she looked it up and learned more she noticed that the fall of Pastors all around the world was high. The story started to develop from there. This book was powerful and lead to a great discussion on how easy it is to take the wrong steps and get in the middle of a mess and wonder how you got there.
Francine said that because of the title of this book it’s in Jewish book stores. What a blessing. She said that there is a seminary that has made it required reading for their students. The university realized that Pastors are unprepared and don’t fully understand all that is involved in being a Pastor. They are also clueless to the pitfalls and dangers!
Can you tell me some books that you’ve read your members just raved about? What made them love the book so much? This might help other clubs in their book selection process.
Last year we read Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson. Neta and her husband just came back from a working trip in China. It was great fun talking to her on the phone about this trip and her book. We had a cooking night and cooked several recipes from the Yada Yada Prayer group series books. Loved it!
We talked to author James Rubart on the phone about his book Rooms! What a powerful meeting that was. It moved so many of the ladies in very different ways. Wow!
Predator by Terri Blackstock was up the list of memorial meetings. This book touched us to the core of our being at how easy it was and is to gather information about people through social media. The talk with Terri was eye opening and the ladies stories on how Predators’ have affected their lives was heart wrenching.
Kathi Macias spoke at our group “live” about her book People of the Book. She captured the essence of God’s word being the powerful, living word of God himself. By reading His word things happen and people are changed forever without anyone else’s help. It made us aware that God doesn’t need our help in getting his work done but allows us the opportunity to participate in His work with Him.
Ginny Yttrup spoke at our group about her book Words. Wow, talk about amazing. Her book is right up there with Redeeming Lovein the fact I saw it touch so many peoples lives including my own. Ginny answers the question, “What does it look like when you say God has healed you from the inside out. How do you explain that He has made your pain a scar and healed you so much so you can share what He’s done for you without all the pain attached to that event.” This is Ginny’s personal testimony. Amazing!
What I also loved about this book was the little girl in the story and how she is infatuated with words. How they sound when you say them, what they look like, what they mean and how you can use them in a sentence. Since I’m dyslexic and have found reading to be hard I found this little girls’ excitement about words fascinating.
You’ve created TBCN (The book club network) with your husband how has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?
Our hope is that book club leaders can learn from one another. I know I was overwhelmed at the thought of starting a book club when I was asked to. What books to I pick? What do you do in a book club meeting? How long is the meeting? Do they go on field trips? Etc. There are about 30 author pages set up right now @TBCN. Book Clubs Share information and learn from each other. Authors also share the fun they had a book club meetings too!
What have you learned from other clubs at TBCN that have helped you?
I learn all the time. I love reading about what another book club is reading and how it worked for their group. I love reading about other book clubs having authors speak at their groups. I love seeing the pictures and hearing how it went on their book club pages. It helps me to know what books to put on my voting list for my own groups.
I also like hearing about the field trips they went on and if they read a book that had recipes in it and how they food turned out!
What do you like best about TBCN?
Meeting new authors and their books, I also enjoy reading the Author interaction each month during the give away time. The authors come up with the best questions that give a peek into their book. Through the discussion I’ve gotten to know the authors, their passion for writing the book the Lord laid on their heart and how much fun it is to enter act with the author and other readers.
Any comments about TBCN and how it could be used in the future?
My hope is that book club leaders will connect with an author during the book club discussion/giveaway time. That they will also connect with the message in that book and make it their next book club pick. My hope is that they will and/or also want the author to speak at their group via the Book Club Network (they can have the discussion right at their book club page or via telephone or Skype!)
My hope is that more book clubs get brave enough to set up their pages and share what they’ve been doing with the read of the group. SET UP on the EVENT page their book club meetings so that others can join them.
I’d love for people who are looking to join a book club can find one to join in their hometown using TBCN MAP list.
My other hope is that the authors use this to ANNOUNCE their BOOK EVENTS; I’d love for readers and book clubs to go to where the authors are and support them at their functions.
We are turning two years old and will be celebrating the whole month of August!! We will be giving away 10 books a day.
Corn should not be this brown in July. The kernels are unformed or dry.
The weatherman speaks of more 100+ degree days and spotty showers. He reminds everyone that the showers are not for everyone in the viewing area.
We’ve seen promising clouds, excitement builds as we think today it’s our turn for relief.
Then they move on.
Writing is like this.
Raising children is like this.
Life is like this.
There are many times I’ve sent out proposals for books and waited and watched. Nothing happens, but contracts seem to rain on other writers I know, passing by me.
Bringing up my boys I often felt alone, no one else could possibly feel the loneliness I did. I craved a down pour of understanding from another mother. Then it would seem there would be a friend who would understand and then the military would move them far away.
Everyone has droughts in their lives, some are worse than others. Yet, like the corn they struggle to keep going, keep growing, grasping for the tiniest bit of hope.
So how do you stand tall at times like this? Or do you fall to your knees like me asking God for just a drop of hope, help, or understanding?
Leave me some hope in the comment section, please.
ROW80 goal check in 2nd proposal first draft done on target for blog posts, losit.com and working out 3 chapters written! Studying Rob Eagar’s Sell Your Book like Wildfire –liking what I’m reading I may need to make new goals!