Dawn Comes

“. . . Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
This Scripture is even more meaningful when we remember the darkest period of the night comes before the sunrise. The darkness is oppressive, but the sun always dispels the darkness. In our hours of trials and temptations, when we see no end in sight, look for the dawn! For the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings . . . (Malachi 4:2)

How often illness besets us at night or symptoms become stronger as the sun goes down. We need the watchmen at the gates, fighting the good fight of faith. Remember our childish prayers “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep. There are four corners to my bed, there are four angels at my head, sweet guardians come and bless the bed that I lay on.” A mother myself, I knelt down beside my aged father one night, and, although he had all his faculties, he prayed that simple prayer and told me his mother (who died when he was nine) taught it to him and he never felt he’d outgrown it. God keep us in the simple faith of our childhood, let us enter into the Kingdom as a little child.

How much more sleep we would enter into, how much rest we would have, if we but cast our cares on the One who cares for us.


Something to Die for

Recently 29 Coptic Christians were captured by Isis and forced to kneel on the sand and choose. If they would proclaim themselves to be Muslim, they would be allowed to live. Instead, every one of them proclaimed Jesus is Lord, and one by one they were beheaded. The scene was shown on television across the globe—Isis made poor choice, because the world saw a faith worth dying for. I have a book, Martyred for Christ, and I receive a monthly magazine by that name. More Christians have been martyred for their faith in the last century than in all the centuries since the Resurrection of Christ. We think of the lion’s den, the Roman catacombs, Nero—even the Reformation, but no, now is the time of martyrdom.

The Church in America is so blasé. We see fake murders in movies and on TV, but that actor lives another day. It’s not real. We have become inured to murder and mayhem. We spend more time listening about, talking about, arguing about whether gays should have a wedding cake than the death and kidnapping of hundreds of Christians in Africa. We tweet: “bring back our girls” for a couple of days and forget. We don’t imagine it could happen to us here. For us, if someone ridicules us or rejects us, that’s persecution?

If you were forced to kneel and the person beside you had his head cut off, would you, too, confess Jesus? You might run into a burning building to rescue your child, but would you die for an unseen Savior? In North Korea after the war, Christians were rounded up. A father was forced at gunpoint to dig a trench. His wife and children were marched into that trench and buried alive before his eyes. His wife sang songs of faith and assured her children over and over that: “In just a few minutes we’ll see Jesus.” She knew one day her husband would be with them in that place that Jesus has prepared for us. One of the soldiers who saw this was haunted until the day he found the Savior and a faith to die for.

Eternity is a long time—an unending time. Talking of His impending death, Jesus told us. “I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come again to receive you to Myself.” We will have a personal escort to that place. When the first martyr, Stephen, was being stoned, he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Those 29 young men on the Libyan sand saw the same thing, and like him they cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Do we have a faith to sustain us, a faith die for?

He is Risen!

He is risen indeed, hallelujah!

What difference does it make?

It’s up to you. You can ignore it, buy a new dress on sale, maybe pick up some spring shoes.

Or . . . It can revolutionize your life. Clean you up on the inside. make you brand new. Give you New life . . . forever.

That’s why God prepared a body for Himself to dwell in.

Became a sinless man to be the perfect Passover Lamb.

Sinless for sinners—me and you.

God’s blood for eternity with His beloved.

Death for Life, eternal life, together with God.

You on His heart, You in His mind as he suffered.

Let Him rise in your heart this Easter

Why Do We love Fairy Tales?

I am a grandmother. I could be a great-grandmother, and I still love fairy tales. (I also love Winnie the Pooh and Brer Rabbit.)Universally fairy tales are beloved stories, read and re-read, and made into movies, generation after generation. Why?

I love ” . . . and they lived happily every after.” Many novels, movies, and TV dramas today are filled with angst, and no one succeeds, Conflict is left unresolved. I find that unsatisfying, even distressing. I want an ending–a happy ending!

We had a big discussion about this at St. David’s Christian Writers Conference several years ago, where one of my sister writers and I insisted books with happy endings were our favorites. Yes, often life doesn’t revolve into neat packages, we said, but life presses in on us, and books are no longer escapes when they don’t provide us happy endings. I need hope. I need laughter, I need evidence that life’s trials can turn into a happily ever after.

Perhaps that’s simplistic. Call me simple. Perhaps that’s a stretch of the imagination. Call me imaginative. Maybe it’s even incredible. Call me a woman of faith. I believe in Divine Intervention. I believe people can, and do, change when God touches their lives.

Sometimes it takes work, blood, sweat and tears, but I want happily ever after. How about you?

Mothers: Joined with the Creator

For many years I didn’t comprehend the Truth about women until it dawned on me—you’ve heard me use the term Steel Magnolias. Fragile enough to discolor at a touch. Strong enough not to break, and, when bruised, to release a sweet scent.
Women. Mothers.
Ah, that’s our great secret. Because we are weaker, because we carry life within our bodies, feeling that life yearning to live apart, straining at the confined space of our wombs, because we undergo that most amazing force of nature, the separation of the child from its mother in the impossible-to-stop powerful force of labor, we reach out for Someone outside ourselves. We seek God. Every time I gave birth, I thought: Me and God have done this amazing thing. Together we have given Life.
In the difficult places and choices of life, we are aware of a Life-force greater than ourselves, and we seek Him, and then we find in our weakness is strength. The Spirit of woman.
The Lord said: “Let the weak say I am strong.”  We cannot cling to man’s foolish notion that he is strong. In labor, we can do nothing to prevent that birth. When we are broken in spirit, we look at our babies and know, somehow, someway, for them, we must go on.
A woman’s words can crush her man or build him up,
Comfort her child or make him cruel and bitter,
Sooth trouble or stir up wars.
Because we turn to the One Who made us and let His life and love flow through us, we are strong. We are joined with the Creator. Without Mothers, the world could not continue. We not only give birth, but we give life: we feed, clothe, nurture, whisper words of love, speak firm words of correction, hold, speak, sing. We are mothers, the strongest force on earth.

Because I can’t Not

At a writers’ conference once, the workshop moderator asked the class, “Why do you write?” That was my response, “I can’t not write.” For years I wrote professionally: letters, editorials, op ed pieces, but once retired as president of West Virginians for Life, I turned my hand to writing fiction–telling the stories I encountered working with women in crisis pregnancy and the Mothers of Preschoolers I have mentored for twenty years. I went to conferences and workshops, learned a whole new craft, and fell in love with writing.

My material is fiction, but it springs from conversations I’ve had, real women I’ve known. Women who have been abandoned, rejected, used, even exploited.  My publisher says I’m too edgy for the Christian market and too spiritual for the secular market.  I want to write where the rubber meets the road and give hope and a hand up to these women. (And men such as Ian O’Malley, Recovered and Free and Nick–I can’t wait for my next book to come out, When I am in your Arms. You’ll get to know Nick, an abused foster kid who found God’s love and the love of a Christian woman and became a father after God’s own heart.)

No woman or man is beyond God’s love and His redemptive power. In my writing, I  can shout it from the housetops! Join me on these adventures. Books are available at Oak Tara’s website on facebook and on Amazon.

When Work Turns Sour

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.