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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do We Ever Feel Satisfied?

What does it take to satisfy us?

An amazing piece of chocolate?
A great movie?
A personal accomplishment?
A perfect moment with our family?
The best-ever date?

These are some of the things I love. Moments that make me say...ah.
But the satisfaction in these amazing times are short-lived.
They don't last.
I wake up wanting something more.
Something else.
They don't fill the empty space in my soul.

The only place and the only One I've ever discovered true, lasting satisfaction in is when I spend alone-time with Jesus. He is my satisfaction. My fulfillment. My everything.

Minutes—hours—with Him change me, absorb me, fill me like no other.
Jesus Christ transforms my longings...aches...aloneness...with Himself.

His love, mercy, joy,
Changes everything.
And makes me satisfied.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is a "radical" Christian?

I ordered the book Radical by David Platt.
Before it arrives, I find myself questioning what it means to be a “radical” Christian.

In my Christian walk, there were times when I was “on fire” for the Lord. Other times I fell into religiosity. And the saddest of times, mediocrity.
The hot. The cold. And the lukewarm.
I've lived them all.

Right now, in the autumn of my life, I'm experiencing a deep hunger to know the move of God, to walk in a fervency in Jesus like I've never experienced before, to listen to the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis. Sometimes God's love and His presence is so big, so wide, I barely know what to do.

But there's one thing I do know...I don't want anything to do with religiosity. A token hour spent in church on Sunday morning won't suffice ever again. I want so much more.

So I've decided to make a list of what I think being a “radical” Christian is before I read the book Radical. I may be way off, but I'm going to start with a few things like...
  • being willing to give up everything...houses, cars, comfort.
  • to have nothing, so I can give everything.
  • to serve anywhere Jesus asks.
  • to share the Gospel like today is my last day to do so.
What do you think being a “radical” Christian is? Are you dissatisfied with the status quo of Christianity?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Tribute to Trouble Junction

Messy James & Calamity Pain are ready for the bad guy.
I love live theater. There's something sparkling and exciting about watching people perform onstage. This summer I wrote and directed a young adult theater production called Trouble Junction--A Wild West Spoof. This was my second young adult theater play, my 22nd lifetime production. 

The thrill of opening night never dims. Whether a small or large crowd shows up, the excitement on each actor's face is contagious. We perform for three nights in a row. Usually the first night is the smallest crowd, but the energy is sky-high as actors finally get to speak in front of a live audience for the first time. We've practiced and practiced, all the while wondering whether or not the crowd will "get it". Is this part funny enough? Will they understand that line? 

At the sound of applause and laughter, a sigh ripples through me. I was holding my breath up to that point.

Laughter is a language of its own. It gives reassurance that we're doing a good job, we're being successful in our comedy, and they want more.

Sad plays like sad stories still abound, but there's something pretty special about a night out with lots of laughter and joy. And for me, there's nothing in the world like watching a live performance, mistakes and all, especially one like Trouble Junction.

I know I'll never forget it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Close to Home Journey

It's been a stay home summer for me, but one day a few weeks ago, my husband and I climbed Schweitzer Mt in Sandpoint, Idaho. It was a 2.5 mile climb. We hadn't even planned to hike that day. They actually have a nice chair lift you can pay to ride. But when we drove up the mountain road, something inside of us wanted to take on a challenge.

Sometimes there are things in life that you just want to do. It might not make sense. But the doing brings such great satisfaction. My husband and I faced a mountain, and climbed it together.

It was our journey.
We hadn't brought enough water.
I had sandals on.
But it was a wonderful trip. Just him and me.
On this day we were celebrating 36 years of marriage.
Many mountains and valleys we had climbed together.
Our special journey.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is THIS the Right Road?

I can't believe three months have passed since my last blog.

Recently I've taken a writing break. I was busy finishing up my big production, but—I hate to admit—I got discouraged with my book writing. I even told myself I was not a writer. It was silly, I know. But it was there, nonetheless.

Writing is a gift.
Maybe one I've taken for granted.

For now, I'm taking it slow and seeing where the Lord leads. After all, it is His gift, and the road of His choosing is the one I want to follow.

We are on a journey, every one of us.

The road sometimes veers in a direction we hadn't expected. With all of the potholes, sharp corners, and difficult climbs, we might wonder if we are on the right road.

Faith, in all its wonder, bids us to keep moving forward. Always believing. Always trusting He is working for our good.

And He is.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are You a Storyteller or a Writer?

For me, writing is a tool for telling a good story.

Some people, like my daughter Deborah, are natural-born writers. Her first drafts are unbelievably well-written. If I could write like her, I would have written ten books by now. But I'm not like her in this gifting.

I am a storyteller, blessed with an active imagination. Stories flow through me as naturally as the wind blows through our big cedar tree in the front yard. I can see a story in almost anything. The beach down at Tubbs Hill is suddenly a pirate's cove with hidden treasure waiting for an unlikely hero to find. The mountain behind my house holds a secret no one has discovered—yet. Our road, that can be quite treacherous in the winter, has a landslide and the hero must seek shelter with his estranged wife for three days. Can their love be rekindled?

That's how my mind works, but can I sit down at my computer and type the perfectly written story? No, I can't. (I sure wish I could!)

This week I have rediscovered that writing well can be difficult. It takes a lot of time, focus, and discipline. While I have spent what seems like a million hours rewriting and editing my story, in less than a day's work, a professional editor can unravel a bucket load of mistakes and failings.

What does that mean for me? Work. Work. Work. And then some. But I am convinced it will be worth it one day.

Perhaps in the long run my imagination is better suited for the stage, but with some mental elbow grease and God's blessing, a novelist may yet emerge from this storyteller's heart.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Lesson Learned from the Fire

During the day, it's my job to keep the fire going. All I need is a match, kindling, and wood, and I should be in good shape. But I must confess, here it is February and I am still struggling with getting a fire going.

What's the problem? You might ask.

We have wet wood.

During a rainstorm, the cover blew completely off the wood pile, exposing it all to the elements, and we didn't realize it for days.

So here I am trying to get my morning fire going, and no matter how many times I blow air over the flame, and no matter how many times I try rearranging the wood, nothing helps.

My husband tells me that if a fire gets going hot enough, it will burn anything—wet wood included. I have seen this is true when we build brushfires outside. Once the fire really starts, I can throw anything on it and it is consumed.

Through my collective hours of nursing a weak fire, I've pondered what faith lessons I might learn from the flames. I'm sure that you can think of a few yourself.

One of the things I've learned is that a fire will burn hot and bright, affecting everything around it, IF the conditions are right. And in just such a way, if a heart is in the right place, a magnificent fire should be burning too—a mighty flame of pursuing Jesus and awaiting His return, a flame of loving neighbors and winning souls to Christ, a flame of prayer and desiring signs and wonders to be alive and active—yet how often is that fire weakened by the drizzle of circumstances or discouragement?

I used to hear people say, you don't have to worry about wild fires in the church, there's enough wet blankets around to put them out. That is such a sad take on our Christian lives. I desire a fire to burn in my soul. A hot flame that purges out the yuck and debris. One that yearns for God's presence more than anything. A fire that spreads from person to person, soul to soul. Oh, may God start a mighty move of His wind blowing over the coals of all of our lives, erupting fires of revival and passion for His work on the face of the whole earth.

I feel so ready for a consuming fire.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Encourage or Discourage?

As believers, we have an enemy.
We are in a war.
Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I forget about the spiritual-warfare side of my life and how prayer and faith invade the enemy's territory. When that happens, the devil has to do something to retaliate. So he flings what he can our way—problems, sickness, relationship problems, etc. We brush it off, knowing God is on our side, that He will fight for us—or slowly, we allow discouragement to creep in and suck something out of us.

A couple of months ago my husband and I read a great book called Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge. It was life-changing. One of the great things that came out of that reading was Jason and I started praying together, putting into action the “wherever two or three are gathered” promise. We have been believing—together—for God to do great things. We're expecting healings, salvations, provision and leading like never before. The result has been that our faith has grown. But in conflict with that, we have found ourselves in situations of discouragement. One thing after another has been going wrong.

I Peter 5:8-9a says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”

Knowing this, knowing what our enemy is up to in the face of our rising faith, we have said firmly that we refuse to be discouraged. However, yesterday I suddenly found myself in a chuck-hole of discouragement—almost without realizing it had happened.

If you, like me, have found yourself in a situation of discouragement, it may be that you have been praying and your faith has been building and your enemy doesn't want that to happen. Discouraging events may come our way, but we can fight this age-old tactic. The “Just say no” can work. Tell the devil “NO” and say “YES” to faith. We can remind ourselves that God is in control. He knows where we're at. He hasn't forgotten our situation. He answers prayer. Mt. 18:18 says “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” We can bind this attack against our faith.

I'm praying...“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. According to your Word, I bind discouragement and its effects on me, my family, and fellow-believers. I loose encouragement and Jesus' name.”

We can also build each other up in faith. Yesterday, I spent time reading the Word and praying, and then I went online and began reading fellow-Christian's blogs. I soon felt encouragement trickling into my soul. Faith blossomed in me anew as I read the journeys of my believing friends. We do receive strength from each other. In Hebrews it says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds...let us encourage one another.” (Heb. 10: 24, & 25b)

I pray that you will be encouraged today no matter the situation you are facing.

Know that God is in control.
He hasn't forgotten you.
We do have an enemy.
We are in a battle.

But the One living in us is far greater than any foe! Let faith arise. Be blessed and encouraged.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sitting on the Bench

Sometimes life puts us on the bench.

A second-string high school basketball player knows exactly what it means to sit on the bench. He faithfully attend practices. He works just as hard as the first-string guys. He's pumped and eager to play the game. The whistle blows. He waits. The first quarter passes, and he waits. He cheers enthusiastically for his team. The clock ticks on toward the half. He tries staying excited and ready—just in case the coach gives him the nod. But before he knows it, the game is over, and he never got his chance.

Discouraged, self-doubt trickles in: Why didn't Coach put me in? Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I should quit the team.

Life has a way of keeping us on the bench sometimes.

We don't get the job promotion. We lose a job we loved. A project falls through. The savings account is empty. A long-awaited vacation must be canceled. Someone else gets the lead part in the play. Writers await that promising proposal to be acknowledged, a response from an agent, a new idea to strike.

We wait. Sitting on the bench. Wondering. Questioning. Should I quit the team?

Once I heard a dad say that whenever his daughter complains about sitting on the bench, he asks, “What is God trying to tell you through this time on the bench?” I'm sure the daughter wasn't eager to hear that question anymore than I want to be reminded of it when I'm feeling grumpy over something not going my way. But the truth of the matter is, What is God saying to me during the time that I am on life's bench?

In James it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

While discouragement and doubt may hound me during my times on the bench, perseverance and patience are being worked out in my life, if I will only let them. Sure, it's tough to sit there and not make the game go the way I want. Certainly, I want to be the one charging up the court, making baskets, and everyone cheering, seeing me be successful. But for whatever reason, it's not my time. For me—and maybe for some of you—it's bench time. And while I'm here, if I listen, if I lean on God, I'll see that something good is happening within me. I am discovering a different perspective. A wider view. A calmer heart. Peace.

God is working out something good in me—and my attitude is changing toward this bench time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lost in the Story

The fire burned out.
My tea is cold.
Darkness has fallen.

Suddenly, I'm pulled from my story. How could it be so late? I haven't brought in the wood. The vacuuming isn't done. And what about dinner?

I was lost in the story again.

It takes a while for me to get there, but once I disappear into my pretend world of story-making, living there becomes more real than my neglected housework—or the cold tea in my cup. Usually, the shocker is the darkened, cold house. Once again I've let the fire go out. Chores and dinner preparations must be rushed. But for a little while I have lived in such a beautiful, enchanting place. The world of my imaginings.

It's that place I lived in when I was a little girl. It's the warm and homey spot I slipped away to when I was pregnant and dreaming of the family we would someday have. It's the place I escape to in a great book. If you are a writer or an avid reader, you know exactly what I'm talking about. How wonderful to still be able to find that magical imaginative world, where for a little while I can walk in other people's shoes, feel their hurts and pains—and their laughter. As a playwright, I have to think technically about what can and can't work on stage, and sometimes that distracts me, but oh, for those hours I live in the story, it all makes perfect sense.

I love when I'm writing and start laughing. If the actor says it anything like I imagined, the audience will really get a kick out of that one. Sometimes tears come to my eyes, and I wonder if anyone else will “get” that moment.

I love the world of my imaginings. But it's not until I share my writing that others get a glimpse of my thoughtful place...and the journey I have taken to bring this story to life.