Perhaps this will be a good sequel to the last post. While reading in Exodus this morning, I wondered f I had life to live over again, would I make one day a week a time for rest, recreation, family, and friends. The finished work of the Cross fulfills the mandatory Sabbath–Jesus is our sabbath rest. We cannot work to earn our salvation. He has purchased it.
While our goals might be good, Joe and I need to take time to BE. To be together. To be with family. To talk. To meditate on what God is doing in our lives. Joe often says. “Cream rises,” his analogy for the good, hard-working folks rising to the top. It’s a good one, and true, but fine wine ages, resting. Soup tastes better when it simmers, and its fragrant aroma calls us to the table.
How often I have dashed ahead of God! I’m not of the school of evangelism that rushes seekers through the sinner’s prayer. Folks need time to gestate in the womb of the holy Spirit. Each of us is only one member of Christ’s Body. When a seeker sees the arm, the leg, the eye . . . all come together in unity, the Body of Christ is formed before him, and he sees not you nor me, but he sees Jesus. Let us be content to reveal our part and let God be God. No need to work so hard.
I recently posted on American Christian Fiction Writers blog, sending the link out to twitter and facebook. Condensing a 500 word post, I reflected on my age. I have a full life, our adult children are successful, our grandsons are healthy–I have it all. But I can’t be content sitting on my laurels. I published my first book at age 69, and last summer I saw two more in print.
My husband, at 75, works as an orthopedic surgeon. Nothing is “wrong” with us. We press on because we want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. My fiction flows from the conversations I’ve had with women in crisis pregnancies and the Mothers of Preschoolers I’ve mentored for twenty years.
We refuse to retire. Our work provides a venue to touch lives and speak from our hearts and our experiences. Real issues, real conversations. After 52 years of marriage, five children and a foster daughter, we have a story to tell. We are flawed creatures, but ours is a story of God’s faithfulness and his love.
We divided our Christmas Day between our niece, who has been overseas fourteen years, and our son. Our niece’s husband is in the Air Force, and they have been out of the country except for visits. This is her first family Christmas in all that time, and she was ecstatic. Her brother and his family came in from Oklahoma, and her other brother and his new wife were there, as well as her mom and dad (her dad is my husband’s brother). What a fabulous time we had–I met great nieces and nephews I had only seen on face book!
We left after presents and brunch to go across the state of Virginia to our son’s for Christmas afternoon. Our son’s second boy, our youngest grandson (four months old) was christened on Sunday, the 28th, and gave the congregation a huge grin with water dripping off his face. Happy day! Our other son and his family came down for the occasion, and we enjoyed watching the cousins play–one who is two and a half and the other, one and a half. One of our daughters was also there, but the second daughter was with her husband, whose mother died on Christmas Eve.
We faced new life and death with our children, rallying around our son-in-law who now has no family but ours. Families, God’s gift to bring us rejoicing in joyous moments and strength in times of sorrow. Thank you, God, for families.
When you have five children and a foster daughter, plus seven grandsons, Christmas is a busy time. Add to that the Center for Pregnancy Care Christmas Party, the MOPS Christmas party, and the church leadership Christmas party, wrapping, shipping, and getting out of town to spend the holidays with our niece and the family, and I have been breathless! In addition a story was accepted for the February edition of Splickety Love, an online flash fiction site, and I had to get a bog post off to the American Christian Fiction Writers Blog. Phew.
The Best is sharing the holiday with our niece who has been overseas with her Air Force husband for a decade. Now she is home, and her folks (my husband’s brother and his wife), and their two sons, and their wives and children, have all converged upon her. (We sleep at a hotel.) We call it happy chaos. How good it is to have her home and to get to know our grand niece. We rejoice that we can share the blessed time of year with those who know and love the One we celebrate this day. Remember those in our military who spend holidays far from families.
When I was a little girl, my daddy said this blessing: “Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for these Thy gifts which we are about to receive. . .” Grateful hearts. As parents, when our little ones smile and say: “Thank you,” our hearts melt. God created families to teach us about Himself and about our relationship with Him. Thankful hearts. God seeks grateful hearts. God, in this land of plenty, where our problem is not enough food, but too much, give us grateful hearts!
How long has it been since you thanked God for your spouse—I mean, really thanked God that He sent this one into your life to change you and make you a better person? We gripe about them, but God help us to be grateful for them and to love them, just the way He made them. (It’s hard to be angry with someone if you truly appreciate him? Can you remember why you fell in love in the first place?)
When did you last thank God for your church and the pastors who labor to bring us an understanding of God’s ways? Our friends? Our children? Ads on TV or magazines lead us to covet many things—new kitchens, new gadgets, fancy cars, gorgeous decorations, but the Master says not to lay up treasures where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal. All these things pass away—and they don’t fit in our coffins—but each breath we take is a gift. Let us be thankful. Let us please our Father God by giving thanks.
Give us grateful hearts, our Father.
It warms an author’s heart when someone reads your book and says it’s healing. Today a fan complimented Invisible Wounds, saying it reflected her own abuse As an author, I feel I’ve hit a four-run homer! She urged me to recommend it to anyone who had been sexually abused. In When I am in Your Arms, songwriter Ian O’Malley writes this song for his wife, proclaiming how he feels God’s love when he is in her arms. The faithful love of a Christian spouse brings healing. I know.
In all my books, I portray the recovery we can experience when God is allowed to form the image of Christ in us. We are, indeed, new creations. Old things are passed away and all things become new. We aren’t perfect, just forgiven, but the more we allow Him to have His way in us, the more we are made perfect by His love and grace, which usually comes through the love of others.
Love never fails, Love and receive love. It’s a God thing.
When I spoke at a women’s conference, I titled my presentation: “Following Hard after God.” I recounted all the careers I had, trying to do the Lord’s will for my life. Switchboard operator, caseworker, social worker, wife, mother, school board member, office manager, president of the state right to life organization (West Virginians for Life), mentor mom for Mothers of Preschoolers. Each change required a crushing and a re-forming, as God smashed the clay to create another vessel for His service.
As much as I tried to squirm off the Potter’s Wheel, I found each job had its triumphs and rewards. I ended up learning and growing as God shaped me on the wheel. Every time the next call came, I had grown comfortable, I’d learned the job, and then God asked me to give it up and start over. Painful.
Now I’m an author. Again, I’ve had to learn. I’ve gone to writers’ conferences, subjected myself to criticism, and found mentors to help me along the way. I’ve been humbled, starting a new career in my sixties. I published my first book, His Brother’s Wife, when I was 69. Two years later the next two, Invisible Wounds and Recovered and Free, were published, and three more in the series are under contract. The clay is being formed into a beautiful pot for the Master’s service. God wastes nothing. The clay and all these shapings were preparation for what I do now.
Come, go with me to the Potter’s House–the Potter is there, and He has wonderful things in store for you!