Category Archives: Faith

I’m Flower Patch Farmgirl’s Guest

park bench Domestic Fringe

Please don’t faint on me, but I am a guest over at Shannan’s place, Flower Patch Farmgirl.

I’m writing something completely different, sharing a part of my story I don’t normally talk about on my blog.

I have a hard time seeing the boundaries and knowing what is good to write and what is better left unsaid, so I seldom talk about the serious stuff that involves other people.  The bottom line is that I’ve made people upset before by what I’ve talked about on my blog, so I walk a fine line; however, this is as much a part of me as anything.

That’s all.  Go read.

It’s rain and rainbows, going and getting wet.

See you there!

~FringeGirl

Book Review – Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole

When I began reading Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole, I had no idea what this book was about, but it didn’t take long before I realized I knew the author.

I didn’t “know” her in a personal way, but I recognized her voice, the way she writes.  I flipped to the back of the book and read all the inside pages near the flaps (the ones we all ignore), and I realized Angie Smith writes Bring The Rain, a blog I read long ago.

When my last computer crashed, I lost all  my bookmarks, and unfortunately, Bring The Rain was one of them.

Then it hit me, she wrote What Women Fear.  I read that book.  It’s sitting on my bookshelf.  I really do already “know” and love this author.

Mended makes me love her all the more.

I didn’t have to read long before God hit me over the head with something.  You see, for a while now, I’ve been thinking that we girls need to support one another.  We should be in the encouragement business, promoting our friends and their goals and ambitions.  We ought to help them see their dreams fulfilled.  You know, give them a shout-out more often than not.

We’re in this life, the good and the bad, together.  Why not be a cheerleader to those around you?

In some very small way, I have been trying to live that out, but I’ve had the nagging feeling it is not enough.

Maybe while you were reading this, several people came to mind, like women from a playgroup, work, Bible study, social interactions, or anywhere else there would be the potential for you to feel threatened in your role or insignificant in your own skin.  I firmly believe Satan gets a major foothold when he convinces us that we have people we need to keep up with, when that voice in the back of your head whispers, “That promotion should have been yours,” or “If you invite her to this event, everyone will just forget about you,” or maybe even something like “There’s room for one, and if you help her up it will leave you in the dust.”

Resonate with you?

Sometimes every little thing in life becomes a competition, and we begin viewing the women around us as our enemies instead of as our teammates.  I don’t believe there’s anywhere comparison plays a stronger role than in a woman’s life.  You may disagree, but keep your eyes and ears open.  It’s there like a low drone just below the skin.

There is no competition, ladies.  There is no little room that only a few can enter.

There are two choices, and the ironic part is that they don’t affect the other person the way they affect you.

Start right now, and do something bold.  Ask God to humble you and raise others up.  If that last sentence made you bristle, chances are the Lord desires this to be a place that is fully surrendered to Him, and we can assume that this nudge is from the Holy Spirit.  We need to hear encouragement from other sisters in the Lord, and they need to hear them from us.  We need to stop believing that these words of affirmation do anything to jeopardize our own standing.

It can be someone you respect, admire, or any other number of things, but before the sun sets on this day, reach out and tell that person that she means something to you, and make a commitment in your heart to pray that God will use her.”

This is only one teeny-tiny portion of the whole book.  For this alone, you need to read it.

Here’s what the practical outpouring of this heart stirring looks like for me in blogland.  Expect me to be your cheerleader.  I plan on commenting as much as possible, pinning everything that’s pretty or helpful, tweeting up a storm (they’ll think I’m a regular cuckoo bird), stumbling posts, and sharing them every way I know how.

I’m on your side.

I’ll pray for your success and anything else I can think of as often as I can, or remember.

I want you to do well, to be well.

We’re in this thing together.

Now, go read the book and find out what other gold nuggets are waiting inside.

*** GIVEAWAY ***

Because I liked this book so much, I am giving away my copy.

It doesn’t end there.  I am also giving away my copy of the One Thousand Gifts Devotional that I wrote about last week.

And, as a bonus and because I like to be random, one lucky reader will win a copy of The Busy Mom’s Cookbook.

*** TO ENTER ***

Leave a comment.

There will be three different winners, one for each book.

Of course I would love for you to follow me all over the internet, but you do NOT have to follow me to win a book.

If you’d like to follow, you can find me on Twitter HERE, on Facebook HERE, and on Pinterest HERE.

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”   ~Quick, name that book!

I am going to ask you nicely to please share this giveaway.  Tell your friends and use the buttons below to share it on the web.  This giveaway will be open until Monday morning.

* All quotes were taken from pages 44-46.

Book Review – One Thousand Gifts Devotional

If you are not familiar with Ann Voskamp, you need click right over to her blog and fall in love with her writing.

Ann is so much more than a sentence can describe.  She is a farmer’s wife, a mother, a homeschooler, a writer, a follower of Jesus, and a giver of thanks.  She took us all on her journey of counting One Thousand Gifts and finding joy in the ordinary happenings of everyday.  You can read my review HERE.

Now she has written a One Thousand Gifts Devotional.  This book takes all the principles from One Thousand Gifts and gives them to us in a practical way.  Each day, Ann takes us by the hand and walks us through life, helping us find thanksgiving in our world.  We have a chance to participate – to write our own lists in the book and share our own stories.

This book is all the wonderful things about One Thousand Gifts and more.

“Joshua, can you bring another spade?”  I call to him across the lane, him coming out of the barn, coming out from feeding all the nursing sows.  We’re breaking the earth open and it’s making something in me heal.

And I tear open up the see packets of zucchini, and is it this too, witnessing again this Genesis of giving?  That again He gives the first gift and asks for wild faith?  The seeds, they fall into my hand small, jewels.  I am holding seeds, first gift He ever bestowed upon His people.  Maybe this is why the bare feet?  But to look at seeds and believe He will feed us?  When what He gives doesn’t look like near enough.  When it looks like less than a handful instead of a plateful, a year full, a life full.  When it looks inedible.

These seeds, they are food?  It looks like a bit of a joke.

To hand someone seeds for his swelling, panging starvation, and as him to believe in a feast – is this what everyday faith is?

Behold!  For those who have learned to see – He gives, He gifts.  He gifts with seeds as small as moments, grace upon grace, and the small.  The promise of feast is within the moments.  Our enough is always in the now, because He never leaves us.  (page 102)

Ann’s words of ordinary happenings are on the page, extraordinary.  In the One Thousand Gifts Devotional, we can take little bits of her fancy writing, full of music and twirls, and meditate on the truth in those words, because this book is a one day at a time kind of read.

 

31 Days of Living by Faith, Day 31 – Running The Race

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us; Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

You are not alone in this life of faith.  You have a whole cheering section rooting you on.

Have you ever run a race?

I have not.  Believe me, I need a cheering section just to run around the block, but in races, friends and family come out to cheer you on.  There are people waiting to hand you a drink of water, and others holding signs.  For some, it is the crowd who pushes them to the finish.

The race gets difficult at times.

Sometimes quitting seems like a good option, but then you look around and realize you are not alone.  People you love and others you do not even know are supporting you.  They want you to finish, because they know you can.

You can do it.

The Bible says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in this race.  They are standing on the sidelines cheering us on.  They know we can finish the race if we will just keep running.

You have cheerleaders that look a lot like Moses, Noah, David, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (I had to lump all four of those last guys together, because I can’t just say one name without the others.  That’s why I named my son John and not Matthew.  If I went with Matthew, he would have three middle names.)

They are yelling, “Keep running.  You can do it.  Not much farther now.  It’s all downhill from here.  The finish line is just ahead.  Run. Run. Run!”

Fix your eyes on Jesus and run.

Living this life of faith is not always easy, but no race is ever easy.  Easy is not the point.  Finishing is the goal, so just keep running.

Say it like Dori, the fish on Nemo, says “Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”

Friends, the finish line is just ahead.  Those who have gone on before are cheering you on.  Jesus is waiting for you with open arms at the end of this race.

I want Him to say well done.

So just keep running.

31 Days of Living by Faith are over, but the race goes on.  Will you run with me?

Some days I need someone to come alongside me and remind me to just keep running.  I suspect you do too, so let’s cheer each other on.  It isn’t about who has the fastest time or who gets to the finish line first.  It’s all about running well.  Some days that looks likes a slow jog and other days, it’s a sprint.

Just fix your eyes on Jesus and listen for the cheerleaders.

31 Days of Living by Faith, Day 30 – Saving Faith

Today I have a very special guest, my husband.  I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this video.  It is his story of saving faith.

Here’s the good news.

Jesus died for you and me and everybody else in this world.  Salvation from sin, reconciliation with God, is for everyone.  You don’t have to be part of a certain church or have a certain past.

You don’t even have to be a really bad person.

Sometimes we think only drug addicts, criminals, and weak people need Jesus.

That is just not true, because we all have a sin problem that separates us from God.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the father, but by me.”  John 14:6.

The Bible also says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Jesus, the only begotten son of God, was the perfect sacrifice, the only sacrifice that has the power to redeem our sinful souls.

John 3:17 says that “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

God’s greatest desire is to redeem mankind, to restore the relationship, broken by sin, between God and man.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

If you have not placed your faith in Jesus, in the saving work He did on the cross, it is my prayer that you will today.

Before you can live a life of faith, you must have saving faith.

Faith is believing God.

Will you believe what He said about eternity?

31 Days of Living by Faith, Day29 – Free to Live by Faith

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  ~John 8:32

Friends, it is time for us to, as they say, face the music.  It is time to walk in truth, because that is the only way we will be free to live by faith.

mirror imagesOnce I had a skinny mirror.  That’s what I called it, because every day I would stand before this mirror and when it was hung at just the right angle, I would look ten pounds thinner.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t a whole ten pounds, but there are days when two pounds are just as good as ten pounds.  You ever have one of those days?

I loved this mirror.  If my house burned down in the middle of the night, I was grabbing my kid with one hand and the mirror with other.  It showed me what I wanted to see.  I didn’t care if it wasn’t reality.  I liked how I looked.  It made me feel better.

Everyone else saw the real me, the two to ten pounds heavier me.  I am the only one my fun house mirror fooled, but it made me comfortable, and gosh-darnit, I like to feel good about myself.

Sometimes that is how we live our lives.

We think we are showing God, our neighbors, friends, and family who we are, but all we are giving them is the fun-house mirror image.  We do not care about living in truth.  We have been living the lie for so long, we hardly know what truth is anymore.

Sometimes we pretend we are perfect.  We have a perfect little home, a perfect little marriage, two point five perfect little children, and one perfect little puppy.  Ok, maybe the puppy isn’t perfect, but everything else is just dandy!

On Sunday mornings we put on our best smile and spit-shine the kids.  Some Sundays we can even convince our husband to dress nice.  We file into our seats looking like a billboard for First Best Baptist Church (insert any denomination).  After the service is over, we file out the door, shake the minister’s hand, and thank him for a good sermon.

We aren’t touched by the sermon, and we sure as heck won’t allow God to speak to us and move us.  I mean, someone may discover we are not walking the talk.

Maybe we’re even hiding a double life – you know the Monday through Saturday life.

One of the scariest things about writing this series, 31 Days of Living by Faith, is that you’ll walk away thinking I am better than you, more spiritual than you, or that I am just “preaching” at you.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I can only write these things, because I know they are true.  I live them.

It is one thing for us to fool everyone around us into thinking we are all set, but we also attempt to fool God.

It is time for us to quit living a lie.  We can only be free to live a life of faith if we start looking in the mirror and seeing what is really there, not the polished up, slimmed down version.

Let’s quit living a pretend life and begin living a life of faith.

God already knows what we look like, inside and out.  And let me let you in on a little secret, almost everyone sitting in the pews around you knows too.  Or they will know.  Eventually.  Because we can only keep up a facade for so long before it begins to crack.

Take a step of faith (maybe it is a leap), and start being honest with God, yourself, and others.  The truth will set you free – free to live by faith.

31 Days of Living by Faith, Day 28 – Faith in Grief

Ferree Hardy has unique ministry.  She works with, loves on, encourages, helps, and prays for widows – some young, some middle aged, and some older.

She writes a blog called Widow’s Christian Place.  I encourage you to go visit her blog and then pass along the information to any widows you may know.  I have recommended Ferree’s blog to several women, because I believe in her ministry.  God does amazing thing through her.  She’s lived the grief.  She knows how to minister physically and spiritually to others.

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For some, it happens over time as disease gains and over-powers their man. Every form of cancer, diabetes, heart failures, crippling neurological disorders bring slow death— and deeply committed marriage vows.

Wendy’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer and died only 22 days later—10 days after their second child was born by C-section. Sharon’s husband came down with a rare and debilitating disorder in which their relaxing retirement plans quickly changed to exhausting home-care and a valiant fight to survive. Death doesn’t care if you’re done living or not.

For others, their whole life changes forever in an instant.

For Sandy in Indiana it was when her husband’s car was hit head-on by a recently released mental patient who wanted to commit suicide. Sandy and Steve had been having their usual cell phone chat as he drove home from work that day. She heard the boom and crunch of metal before his phone went dead. Car accidents like this, plus heart attacks, aneurisms, suicides and a ton of other reasons leave widows and their children hanging on to thin threads of faith.

And that’s what they do—they hang on. Some receive warm outpourings of grace and help from their community. Some, like Elaine Cook—who’s husband dropped dead from a heart attack while he and their son were unloading the moving truck at their new home in their new city hundreds of miles from friends and family—have no support at all. Others, sad to say, are ostracized by friends and family who are too broken by grief or, perhaps never were capable of compassion.

As I write this newsreel of stories that I, myself, hear day after day, I realize some of you have quit reading already! Others are thinking, “OMG! This is a downer!” But stay with me! Stay with me! Listening to these stories has an exciting and incredible pay-off!

Elaine realized hundreds and hundreds of other widows experience the same loneliness and isolation she felt when she buried her husband and had to sell her new house. So she started Widow2Widow, “serving God by serving widows” and has brought great joy to both herself and widows in many states.

Sandy has continued serving in her church and community by continually trusting God and simply refusing to let despair get the upper hand.

Sharon writes encouraging words to other caregivers and new widows and says her walk with the Lord becomes more precious every day.

Wendy started a group for young widows in Chicago and continually offers support and empathy through her gifted writing.

And me?

I have the sacred privilege of joining these women, and many more like them, for a few steps of their journey. I witness their new life rising up after death. I see women of faith grow stronger right before my eyes. I see them struggle in the cocoon of grief and come forth as beautiful new creations on wings that can cross the oceans of sorrow. I never asked for this job, I never imagined it existed! I’m not exactly equipped for it, but I’m living by faith, it’s what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.