"For skillful and godly Wisdom is better than rubies or pearls,
and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it." Proverbs 8:11 Amplified

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflections on National Novel Writing Month

Yesterday, November 30, NaNoWriMo wrapped up for another year. I again joined the almost 300,000 people from all over this globe, setting aside life for thirty days to challenge mind, body and spirit to a task that sounds doable at the beginning of the month. A task that takes guts, especially if you broadcast to family, friends and co-workers that you have jumped into the pool.

I hugely admire those who have full time jobs, children, marriages, volunteer jobs, and/or health issues. How have they accomplished this monumental task: by stealing hours from sleep, using lunch hours, writing while the kids are at their sporting events, dictating into a recorder while driving. I’m sure this list could be pages long, they used whatever moment they could because they had something to prove to others, maybe to themselves or perhaps there was a story in their heart that had to be put on paper. The reasons for writing a 50,000 word novel are as varied as the individuals doing the writing.

I became a NaNo winner for the fourth year in a row.

I now have four partially finished novels, one with a word count of over 83,000 words. What I have learned and how my writing has grown is the prize I focus on in this moment.

Philippians 3:12-14 in the Message translation says it so wonderfully.
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

After this, my fourth NaNo, I will say:
  • I am well on my way.
  • I do not count myself an expert in all of this
  • I’ve got my eye on the goal
  • I’m off and running
  • I’m not turning back
Not a bad vision to have in front of me as I set my goal to finish the novel I am presently working on. I don’t have a title for it but I do have the chapter titles, they are taken from Ecclesiastes 3.

There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born
and a time to die.
There is a time to plant
and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill
and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy
and a time to build.
There is a time to cry
and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad
and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones
and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug
and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something
and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things
and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart
and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent
and a time to speak.
There is a time to love
and a time to hate.
There is a time for war
and a time for peace.

So with the month of November behind me but much writing ahead how am I feeling today? Tired, discouraged, frantic, disappointed. Most of all fearful that I will once again end up with a partially finished novel; I count that as failure. I know that some novels don’t deserve to be finished, however, unless I am able to write The End, even to a lousy, stinking piece of garbage how will I know that I can do this. God has called and whom He calls, He equips, so it is not God’s failure but mine if I don’t press through. He gives me an answer.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 Contemporary English Version

What do we gain by all our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do.

He doesn’t promise it will be easy. Contentment waits for me at The End.

Now with Christmas twenty-five days away my focus shifts to the holidays, decorating the house, sending cards, cooking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, family time.

Today I feel sad, tomorrow may be a day of dance.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Story Setting

It is said that an important part of a good story is the setting. I am claiming that an important part of a writer’s life is to have a good setting to write in.

I am on the deck of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s home in Illinois. This is a setting to be inspired in.

I’m thinking of asking them if they need a house sitter when they go out of town. I would relish a week in this place by myself to soak up the quiet and inspiration. I love the sound of water and if I can't be by a beach a waterfall will do. This one is beautiful.

Why does it seem so difficult to be inspired at home? Is it the laundry screaming to be done or the dog’s hair that floats across the floor when I enter a room.

“A writer should be able to write anywhere,” I get it, but my spirit craves a setting like this. I realize that part of the appeal is not having the pressure of a schedule. I understand why some writers run off to cabins in the mountains or cottages by the sea. I admire those who produce quantity and quality in the midst of caring for children and a work schedule. I also will not condemn myself for needing a solitary place to write.

I thank my God for giving me this time, even if it is only for a few hours. I relish it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Have an Addiction

I’m on a high, writing, learning craft, writing, learning craft. Going to writing workshops, seminars, writer’s guild meetings, fellowship with other writers. I love this lifestyle. Runners get a high from running, when a writer is writing the adrenaline flowing can be addictive, a good addictive.

I challenged myself in my last blog to set a goal for my writing. I haven’t gotten as far as I would like but I am working at it. Taking a huge step in the right direction.

Today, like many of the wonderful summer days we are experiencing, I am sitting on my deck working on my craft.

This is what things typically look like:

notebook, mechanical pencil (my favorite writing instrument, I have them all over the house. Sam’s Club sells them in bulk),

cup of tea,

writing books,

 reading glasses (does anyone else need these?),

my camera

and my Netbook or my laptop spread out on the table. The umbrella on the table is up to block out the scorching sun or I couldn’t sit out here.

My companion Sammy remains close by.

Occasionally I have to stop to take a picture of the wildlife around me.
Two precious fawns grabbed my attention.

Like many writer’s I struggle with not trusting my writing. If it all depended on me I should be worried but God says write and He will provide the inspiration to make it into something worthwhile. My job is to show up daily and see what He drops into my spirit for that day. It may be to add to my story, maybe to write a blog or perhaps I need to read one of my many
books on the craft of writing.

It is all a part of this business called writing, and I LOVE IT.

“When I am writing I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” Anne Sexton

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Will it Take...

This weekend my daughter Coleen completed the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run.

Coleen Voeks crossing the finish line and receiving her finisher's medal.

This race began at 5am on Saturday and the runners must have completed it in under thirty hours. This involves running up and down mountains, through snow and heat, through the day and night. This is not her first 100 miler but an important one to her. Her father completed this race in 1984. Coleen finished in 28 hours and 46 minutes.

Coleen, 11 years-old, at Western States with her dad when he had completed the race in 1984.

As I thought about her accomplishment I began to think about the goals she had to set, the preparation and discipline it took to complete this race. The principles can apply to any goal.

Coleen’s accomplishment inspired me to set goals to finish my first novel, (sadly I have three particial novels), and have the finished novel ready to present to agents and publishers at the ACFW conference in 2013.

Getting a novel written and ready to be seen by agents, and publishers, is not a sprint but a long distance endurance run so, I think, I hope, I have set a reasonable goal. That gives me twenty-six months. I have begun my calendar of check-points to reaching my goal. Those who have finished a novel and presented it to agents please let me know if I need to allow myself more time.

Who am I going to surround myself with to help me reach this lofty place? Other writer’s of course. My daughter has her group of running friends; some went with her to California and paced her through the last part of the race. That is the kind of friends I need. Those who won’t let me quit and won’t let me put in any performance but my best.

I’ve been involved in a wonderful writer's group for three years and have attended two excellent writer’s conferences; my bookshelves are loaded with books on the craft of writing. I have the tools, now I need to apply them as I let my fingers fly across my keyboard. I hope there will be more "fingers flying" than "head banging."

Along this road to my dream, another goal I have set is to lose weight and get physically strong. I turn sixty-five on Thursday and I don’t want to look, or act, like a person of age. I am young at heart and my body needs to be able to keep up with where I want to take it.

It is time that I seriously begin the journey God has called me to, it is one I will be on for the rest of my life.

This is the prize Coleen received for finishing her race. A large belt buckle.

My Prize? A published novel.

What goal have you been pushing back, thinking, I’ll start tomorrow? The clock is ticking. What hints can you give to others for accomplishing the thing that won't let go of them?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stop the Pain

Pain...sometimes it creeps up on you and you have to decide what to do with it.

I’m not talking about bodily aches but the knife in your heart and twist it pain.

The, take your breath away, pain. What do you do with it?

You allow it to stay and you hold it up to the light and study it, turning it this way and that, checking out every angle and facet. The pain deepens.

Or...you accept that it is there but decide not to allow it to linger.

You offer it to God as a sweet smelling sacrifice, knowing He loves you and will never leave you and that He has carried your sorrows.

I choose to do the latter. I know the pain will return but each time I hope to send it away quicker.

So I take a deep breath, even though it is a painful breath, and REJOICE in my God.

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 Message

Friday, June 10, 2011

Used Books and Writing Prompts

The library is my friend. Not only do I check out books from their vast shelves but I also check out the shelves with books to purchase. Our local Friends of the Library has a continuously changing array of donated books for sale and they are cheap. I appreciate cheap when on a limited budget.

This week I purchased several books, the title of one of the books is: Writing Short Stories for Young People.

I pick up any books I find on the subject of writing, I'm building my personal writing reference library. I was also lucky enough to find a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, which made me very happy.

When I opened the book on writing short stories I found a card in the front of the book. It was a birthday card with a hand written note to Polly. I chuckled; my mom’s nickname is Polly.

I think God has a wonderful sense of humor. He knew I would be picking up this book and that I would appreciate a card addressed to Polly.

Have you found notes, shopping lists, sales slips or the like in books? I image we all have. Have you ever wondered about the story behind those little treasures?

What tales we writers could weave about those snippets from someone’s life.

Instead of throwing out these random pieces of paper, what about creating a file folder labeled story ideas. Who knows what could develop.

When you are being interviewed about your published book and they ask, “How did you come up with the idea for this story?” You can smile and answer, “I got the idea from a sales slip.” Watch for the puzzled look on your interviewee's  face.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

View From the Treetop

The slats of wood nailed to the trunk shifted as I grabbed one over my head. As I grasped the bit of wood above me I lifted one foot onto the lower slat. I kept reaching and stepping until I touched the platform nestled into the crook of thick branches in the middle of the huge shade tree. When I pulled myself to the place I was seeking I sank with a sigh to the rough floor beneath me. My place, my hideaway. Peering through the leaves I could see the houses across the street, I wondered if they could see me through the leafy shade.

Do kids still build tree-houses?

It was a wonderful way to wile-away a lazy summer.

Building a tree-house wasn’t something accomplished in a day.

You first had to find the right tree and get permission to build in it.

Then there was time scrounging in the garage for wood that could be used.

It might involve a trip to the grocery store for discarded orange crates. Those had to be dismantled so the wood could be used for a new purpose.

Begging dad for permission to use his tools with the promise that they would be returned or suffer the consequences of the rest of the summer locked in your room.

Securing the steps was key to getting up into the tree. Then tying a rope to the tree so that you could haul up the lumber needed for the platform. This is definitely where a friend came in handy.

Somehow we were able to get the wood stable and secured. We didn’t have carpentry skills or an adult supervising us, just the desire to make this dream come true. Friends working together can accomplish almost anything.

There were several styles of tree-houses to choose from. You could go with the very simple platform or you could add sides, have a door opening and widow openings and a roof. The latter style took a lot more lumber than we usually had.

The tree-house was a wonderful meeting place for friends, “I’ll meet you at the tree-house,” was spoken over telephone wires or shouted across hedges.

Games were played, books read, secrets told, lasting friendships made in that place amongst the leafy canopy.

As an adult I miss the laid back, free from a schedule, time of childhood summers.

How about you? What summer memories do you miss?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


“Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Be Still                 Be Quiet               Be Motionless

Simple, but difficult.

Shhh, hush, be still.

Happiness may be passing and it is looking for a soft place to alight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pull Up Your Britches

Today is May 11, 2011 and there is snow falling and accumulating on my deck. I know everyone says we need the moisture, but can’t it come in the form of rain?

God has promised us the seasons and they do show-up, but sometimes there is a teasing that the next season has arrived only to have it snatched away by a sudden reversal.

This happens in our lives too.

A dark season that has been hanging on seems to be ending, light has begun to spill through and we turn our faces towards it, feeling the warmth. With our eyes closed and our face lifted to the heat, a shadow suddenly chills our heart.

We open our eyes to see the clouds have once again rolled over us. Discouragement digs its tentacles into our mind and we are tempted to shut the door on hope. That is the one thing we must never, never do. Hope is our anchor.

Just as I know in the next few days the sun will be shining and I will be outside in my yard planting flowers I know the despondancy that thinks it has a hold in our life will melt away like the snow.

We are filled with questions, screaming for answers which may or may not come. God has His reasons for not revealing all His plans to us but He gives us hope through His promises. As God guarantees that the seasons will continue He gives us assurances in His word concerning our lives.

I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering. You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you and accept your worship. Then I will gather you from all the nations where I scattered you, and you will return to Jerusalem. Jeremiah 29:11-14 NCV

My choice: Do I throw a pity party and call all my friends to join me or do I take a deep breath, pull up my britches and call out to God:
“Good morning Lord, I'm reporting for duty, what do you have for me today.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dream Enemies Part Three

Your Dream Enemies: you, friends and family, peers and experts.

You are determined to pursue your Dream, you have overcome self doubts, you have set yourself to press through the opposition coming from family and friends and then you are confronted with another enemy.

Yikes, is everyone against you?

Peers, and so called experts, can shoot holes in your Dream faster than you can duck for cover.

Why would they do this? Jealousy, insecurity, pride, meanness.

Those who have allowed their Dreams to deteriorate are convicted by your risk taking.

They have deserted their Dreams and they don’t want you to succeed with yours so they pile on the criticism and ridicule.

Those who attempted to follow their Dreams but were stopped by one of the other enemies want to stop you too. They have a truckload of broken Dreams and since there is still room in the truck they want you to throw in yours too.

Are you beginning to wonder if there is anyone who is for you?

You have a huge fan, He is the Dream giver:
So what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?
Romans 8:31 Message Translation

God will bring each of us the right person, or persons, who can share our Dream, not only share it but help us fulfill it.

If you haven’t found that person it may be wise to hold your Dream close to your heart and not tell others right now. Dream crushers are everywhere.

Walt Disney had a dream of an amusement park for children and adults. He had to overcome discouragement too. Concerning Disneyland this is what he said: “Many people thought it was great, some thought it wasn’t going to work. Never Give Up. Don’t listen to people who discourage your ideas.” What kept him going was the belief that nothing was impossible.

Your Dream is not just for you. It may be for millions, or for one, but it has purpose. Someone is waiting for you to complete your Dream, don’t disappoint them.

Close your eyes, picture your Dream, see yourself in your Dream, know that it is yours. Write down your Dream, write the steps needed to accomplish it. Do the first thing on the list.

You are now one step closer to the fulfillment of your Dream.

Dream on.

Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, But there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. Phil 3:13-14 NCV

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Knock Your Socks Off

Dream Enemies Part 3 will be posted on Friday.

I wanted to talk about Customer Service today.

Growing up I was taught customer service is key to a company’s success. Company loyalty was also ingrained in me. You work hard for a company and stay with them and they will take care of you.

It saddens me these two principles, which had a huge impact on the growth and prosperity of our nation, have been tossed aside and the principle that seems to reign now is: Our doors are open but don’t expect us to be excited you are here, we may help you and then again we may not because I don’t know if I will have a job here tomorrow.

Because it has become rare to experience exceptional customer service, knock your socks off service, we are surprised and definitely take note when we are the recipient of it.

Yesterday was a day of pleasure because it was wrapped in this gift.

The morning started with a trip to Rudy’s. A friend from church told me about their breakfast tacos so my husband and I went on a date. The food was good. We each had a taco, you choose your toppings, I had a small coffee (it wasn’t really small) and Bob had a large. This yummy breakfast rang up at $6.15, total, not each. It wasn’t just the food that impressed us but the friendliness of the staff. The manager stopped by and visited us several times. My husband asked if the tacos would freeze well. The manager didn’t know the answer. Bob said the next time we came in he would order a couple of extra ones; we would freeze them and let them know how well they did. Before we left the manager came to us and handed my husband two tacos wrapped in foil. You know we will be going back and we will let them know how those tacos tasted after being frozen.

My next stop was Discount Tire on Forrest Hills Rd. in Colorado Springs where I was having my studded snow tires removed and my regular tires installed. While waiting I was able to observe experts in action. These trained service men watched their customers exit their cars and observed the make of the vehicle. Each person entering was acknowledged even if the service person was involved with another customer. Because I am a repeat customer I am in their computer system. I only needed to give my phone number and my account was displayed. There was more than one car on my record but since they had observed me when I existed my car they knew which one I was getting serviced. I have only one set of wheels and they suggested purchasing a second set to avoid having to pay a mounting charge each time I came in. They showed me what was on sale and what my cost would be. I declined, it wasn’t in my budget, but I appreciated them suggesting it.

After changing out the tires, the snow tires were placed in plastic bags so my trunk would not get dirty. The individual who changed my tires called me to the counter and gave me the paperwork and told me my car would be brought to the front door.

Every customer was taken care of quickly, each phone call handled with efficiency in a personal way. Doesn’t it mean a lot to you when a person actually looks at you and calls you by name? Did I mention how bright and clean the place was and there was free coffee, hot chocolate and tea?

My next destination was Delmonico Cleaners, I love this place. The owners are Christian Koreans and they always have a Christian radio station playing. As soon as a customer enters the shop the owner stops what he is doing and comes to the front. There is always a sincere smile of welcome.

They are experts in cleaning; I have had some bad experiences, but never at this place. The owner carried my cleaning to my car and hung it up for me. I was wished a Happy Mother’s Day and I am always told to have a nice day.

I remember the day I went into the shop and they had small American flags and red, white and blue bunting displayed all over. I smiled realizing what they were celebrating, they had become citizens. It truly was a celebration to them. I congratulated them and smiled all the way home.

You can sense a spirit of thankfulness on them, they are grateful to have the opportunity to own their own business and they understand how important customers are.

I had to share these experiences with you because they made me feel so appreciated and these businesses need to be recognized for the good job they are doing.

Where have you experienced exceptional customer service recently?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dream Enemies Part Two

In Dream Enemies part 1 I asked if you were your own worst enemy when it came to following your Dream. Okay, you have gotten past the self-doubts, you know what your God given Dream (your calling) is and you have set your face like flint to immerse yourself in it. In your excitement at this discovery you begin to share your Dream with family and friends.

You are stunned when the news is received with less than enthusiastic stares and head shakes. Mumbling words slip out of their mouths, “You can’t do that. Who do you think you are?” They bombard you with reasons why this can’t possibly succeed. Each phrase sends you deeper into a hole of dejection. You begin to think they are probably right. You must have heard wrong.

Well meaning family and friends can be added to your list of Dream Enemies. They discourage you because they love you and they don’t want to see you get hurt by your failure.

The Bible has examples of these well-meaning people.

When David volunteered to kill Goliath, he felt totally able to accomplish the task because God had prepared him and he felt called to do the work.

He was met with ridicule from his brother Eliab.
“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” I Samuel 17:28-29

When David was brought before the king, Saul was apprehensive about the ability of this young boy to complete the task of a warrior.
David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."
Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." I Sam 17:32-33 NIV

What if David had listened to Eliab and Saul. Would the Israelites have ever defeated the Philistines?

A young man had two dreams about his future and he shared them with his family.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."
His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:5-11 NIV

The dreams were not received with joy in fact they led to a life isolated from his family.
Genesis 37, 39-46 is the story of Joseph’s life.

The dream Joseph shared with his family was ultimately fulfilled but not without many detours.

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. Genesis 42:6 NIV

Opposition comes from a quarter we didn’t expect. We erroneously believe our family and friends are going to back us and when the discouragement is slung at us we begin to doubt ourselves again and back away from the Dream.

If we press through and begin the process of bringing our Dream to pass, each setback or failure will be met with “I told you so’s.” It’s not easy to keep on keeping on in the face of disapproval from those closest to you.

What do you do? Remember, this is your Dream, not theirs. They won’t be standing with you on judgment day when God asks you what you did with the gifts He gave you.

You can’t use the excuse, “I buried them because my friends and family didn’t think it was a good idea.”

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
"'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:24-30 NIV

If your Dream is cemented in your mind and heart you will be able to thrust through the resistance coming from yourself, your family and your friends.

If not, you will begin to see Dream deterioration on all sides.

Is the cement of your Dream dry?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dream Enemies

Are we our own worst enemy when it comes to our dreams?

Do we sabotage ourselves with thoughts like these: I’m too young, I don’t have an education, I’m a woman, I’m too old, I’m afraid, I’m not rich, I’m too fat, I was born on the wrong side of the tracks, I was told I would never amount to anything.

Walking towards our dream is like walking on thin ice, we are sure any minute it is going to give way and we will drown.

Staying where we are is easier than stepping into the unknown. The comfort zone is so comfortable.

What might happen if we turned from the comfort zone and entered the twilight zone?

Our dream just might come true but we will never know unless we take the risk.

One of my favorite risk takers is Susan Boyle. When she stepped on the stage for the Britain’s Got Talent Show the audience snickered.

She was judged before she opened her mouth. If she would have quit before performing, the world would have suffered a great loss.

This is a link to Susan singing "I Dreamed a Dream"

Susan Boyle became a symbol of personal heroism for all those who are stuck in their comfort zone.

This woman who dreamed a dream sold fourteen million albums in fourteen months. If she can dare to dream, so can you and I.

I will be sixty-five-years-old in a few months, it would be easy to use the age card but each time I hear Susan Boyle sing it gives me the courage to pursue my dream.

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  Jeremiah 29:11 Message

What thoughts are keeping you from stepping onto the stage of your destiny?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Tomb is Empty

The tomb is empty and my heart is full.

Jesus, you have changed my life, I give you all of me.

Take this broken, humbled person, who desires to give back some of what you have bestowed on me, and hold me in your nail pierced arms. Let me lay my head on your shoulder and breathe in your fragrance, the fragrance of a life poured out for my sins.

My tears dampen your tunic and you wipe them away with your gentle touch. You whisper to me, “I love you my daughter,” my tears come harder. All the longings of my life: acceptance, purpose, forgiveness, love are wrapped up in you.

Death could not hold you in the grave. I sing hallelujah to the King of kings and my Lord.
The one and only, the great

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Need of Resurrection

Day seven of Passion Week
While the apostles struggled with their grief the chief priests and Pharisees were experiencing fear. They went to Pilate with a request to have the tomb guarded. They were fearful that the disciples of Jesus would come and remove the body. They remembered that Jesus had said in three days He would rise.
Pilate was done with these people. He suggested they find their own guards.
They sealed the tomb and set guards to watch.

Those who loved and served with Jesus were devastated that He was gone. Perhaps they met together to remember all that had happened while they walked with Jesus and what had happened in Jerusalem the day before, the horror of the beating and the crucifixion. Perhaps each one of the apostles was closed up in their own home grieving alone.

Scripture says nothing about this day except for the sealing of the tomb.

It is as if the earth is holding its breath…

Resurrection by Nicol Sponberg

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Day of Crucifixion

Day six of Passion Week


1 A.M. In the Garden of Gethsemane – Jesus asked if possible that the cup of suffering could be removed
from Him. But He submitted Himself to the will of His Father. His apostles slept while he agonized.

2 A.M. When Jesus returned from his prayers for the third time and found his apostles asleep once again he told them to sleep. Lifting his eyes he was the lights of the crowd that had come to take him away.

3 A.M. The crowd approached Jesus. Judas stepped forward and threw his arms around Jesus and kissed him on the cheek. Jesus said to him, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”
Since the soldiers were looking only for Him, Jesus asked that the others be allowed to leave.
Peter, desiring to do something, picked up a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus told him to put the sword away, he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.
Jesus was taken to Ciaphas.

4 A.M. Jesus was brought to Annas. John and Peter were in the courtyard, three times Peter denied Jesus and three times the rooster crowed. Peter left and wept.
Jesus is returned to Ciaphas for a trial that broke the law saying a trial could not be held while the sky was dark.
Jesus was tired, he had been awake for almost 24 hours. He said nothing in His own defense.
In frustration Ciaphas asked, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus’ answer condemned himself.
Caiphas shouted, “He has blasphemed.” The judges declared their verdict. “He is liable to the penalty of death.”
Some of the judges spat in his face and some hit Jesus with their fists.

5 A.M. The guards took part in the torture of Jesus, slapping and punching Him.
Jesus is taken to the temple for sentencing

6 A.M. At the meeting of the elders the charges are read, the roll call is taken and all proclaimed, “He is guilty! Death.”

7 A.M. Judas appears before the court of Priests and declares, “It was wrong for me to betray innocent blood.” He threw the coins on the floor, then ran away and hung himself. The branch he hung on broke casting him to the jagged rocks below.
Caiphas is at the Fortress Antonia asking to see the Procurator about Jesus.

8 A.M. Jesus arrives at Antonia. He stands before Pilate. After questioning him Pilate finds no guilt in him. When the priests mention that Jesus is from Galilee Pilate sends Him to Herod, Tetrarch of Galilee.

9 A.M. Jesus is taken to Herod. Herod is disgusted that he cannot get Jesus to perform miracles for him and his friends. Jesus is sent back to Pilate.

10 A.M. The crowd shouts for Barabbas’ release and for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged.

11 A.M. The crowds would not allow Pilate to free Jesus. Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd and told them he would not be responsible for this man’s death. He turned Jesus over to be crucified.
Jesus is unable to carry his cross because of the beating he has received. Simon of Cyrene is ordered to carry the cross.

12 Noon Jesus and the two thieves reach Golgotha. They are nailed to the crosses. The sky begins to darken.

1 P.M. One of the garments belonging to Jesus is a garment made without seams, it is valuable. Lots are cast for it.
Jesus looks up to heaven and cries loudly, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” He was asking forgiveness not just for those who crucified him but for all of the world. Jesus has been without food and water now for 14 hours.

2 P.M. The final hour. Darkness still covered the land. Jesus nearing the end cried out, “Eli Eli! Lema sabachthani!” (My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me!”)
“I thirst!” Jesus called out. A soldier stuck a sponge, dipped in vinegar, on the end of his spear and lifted it to the lips of Jesus.

3 P.M. Jesus lifted himself one last time and spoke, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” His final cry was, “It is finished!” His body sagged.
The earth quaked and the veil in the temple was rent in two from top to bottom. Graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints arose.
The guards were hastening the deaths of the men and came to break their legs. Jesus was already dead, a soldier pierced his side with a sword.
Joseph of Arimathia went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus so that he might bury him in his tomb. Nicodemus helped Joseph with the burial preparations.

4 P.M. The body of Jesus rested in the tomb. The men rolled the stone over the opening.

The work was done. Each of the grievers returned to their homes, the Sabbath was about to begin.

This day was lived to its completion for you and me.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NAS


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Preparing to Wait

Day five of Passion Week
Passover day dawns and Jesus’ disciples are asking where they are to prepare and celebrate the Passover meal. Following his directions they find the place and begin the preparations. A celebration meal but the mood is somber.

When the full moon of the evening appeared Jesus sat with His disciples.

A servant came to Jesus with a pitcher and basin to wash his hands and a strange thing happened. Jesus took the basin and the water and wrapped the towel around his waist and went to each disciple to wash their feet.

He took the most humble position to show them what was expected of them. Strange things were happening this night.

The atmosphere changed when Jesus stated that one of them would betray him. They asked “is it I.” How sad they still had doubts but would I have done any better?

Jesus whispered to John that it was the one to whom he would give the morsel after dipping it. It was given to Judas Iscariot. Judas left the gathering after this revelation.

At the end of the supper Jesus took bread and wine and with words and actions He instituted the Lord ’s Supper, Holy Communion.

This was a departure from the Passover ritual.

Jesus waited until Judas was gone to institute this new sacrament. It could not be defiled by a sinner.

It was almost midnight when they left the room where they celebrated the Passover. Jesus spoke with his disciples as they slowly walked to the Mount of Olives. He continued His teaching when they arrived in the garden.

Jesus spoke to his apostles for hours trying to fill them with what they would need to know to carry them through the next few days. Were they fearful, Jesus said he was going to be put to death, would they be also? What did all the words He spoke to them mean? They would have a fuller understanding in a few days.

At about 1 a.m. he finished with several prayers and then asked Peter, James and John to follow him.

Jesus had completed everything. The preaching and teaching were over, the miracles over.

Now it was time to wait.

As I have been writing during this Passion Week I am sobered by the process of my deliverance. Doesn’t it seem like God could have come up with an easier plan of redemption, one that didn’t involve the suffering and death of His Son?
He made it easy for me; all I had to do was accept that Christ took the punishment of my confessed sins and turn my life over to Him.
Jesus’ part in this plan was total relinquishment of His will to His Father’s.
Daily He asks you and I to do the same.

His end was my new beginning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love and Betrayal

Day 4 of Passion Week

Passover, the reminder to the Israelites of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. On that day each Israelite family killed a lamb and placed the blood on the door posts and lintel so that the death angel would pass over them and not slay their first born.

Now Jesus was one day away from His final Passover celebration on earth. He would change the world forever in a few days.

On this Wednesday He spent time at the home of Simon the leper having dinner with his friends. A woman entered the room carrying a box made of alabaster. She broke the box and poured the contents of spikenard on Jesus’ head. The room was filled with the fragrance. Did the conversation stop? Some were indignant that this costly perfume was wasted. Jesus, touched by her actions, rebuked them. He let all those in attendance know this was in preparation for His burial. What she did would not be forgotten but included in the preaching of the gospel.

A small thing, this anointing? Maybe to some, but to Jesus it was an act of love.

While this loving act was being talked about another act was about to take place.

Judas Iscariot was walking into his destiny. A destiny of betrayal.  

The chief priests were excited to have this disciple, one of the chosen twelve, coming to them with a plan to turn Jesus over to them. They gladly accepted and agreed on a payment of thirty pieces of silver.

As Jesus was being pressed to be seen by certain Greeks He spoke again about dying.

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24

He was beginning to feel the weight of what was to come and He cried out:
“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say?
Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” John 12:27

His hour was very close at hand.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So Little Time...

Day three of Passion Week

A few days left. So much to do… so little time…

Jesus once again resorted to speaking in parables to teach his followers. Stories are easy to remember and remembering was important because He would no longer be with them.

Religious leaders came at Him, one group after another asking Him questions, trying to trap him so they might be able to condemn Him. But being who He was His answers amazed them so much that they quit asking the questions.

His words were meant to shake up the religious and they hit its mark. The leaders were furious with Him and their talk of finding a way to have Him executed became desperate.

Encouraging His disciples to be always prepared and to use the gifts that had been given to them came through in stories that showed the consequences if they ignored His warnings.

With the pressing weight of His death He took time to notice a woman and drew His disciples’ attention to her. They would have certainly overlooked her; she was a poor widow, why would she garner their consideration. As she dropped her two mites into the treasury Jesus spoke some powerful words about what she had done, “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; …but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” Her head hung low as she dropped in all she had, wishing she had more to give to her God. Jesus was smiling, He knew her heart; He knew His Father would take care of her. She would not go without.

We don’t know how old she was, what color eyes she had or even her name, all we know is that she was a widow who gave all she had to show her love to God.

She was demonstrating what Jesus would walk out in a few days.
He would give all He had to show His love for His Father and for all of sinful mankind.

"As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I shall be betrayed and crucified."
Matthew 26:2

Monday, April 18, 2011

Purity, Prayer, Power and Praise

Day 2 of Passion Week

Each day of this week Jesus draws closer to the agony, and the glory, His Father has sent Him to.

Knowing there are only days left to your life what do you do with the remaining hours?

Jesus has spent two and half years pouring into his disciples preparing them for the time when he would no longer be with them.

He showed them how to live in victory and now he would show them the ultimate victory of life over death for eternity. This was why he came, to redeem man back from the sin committed in the Garden of Eden.

On this day when Jesus entered the temple area His fervor for the House of God erupted in a fiery anger at what He saw. The area was filled with money changers and merchants. The Passover celebration meant big business to them. What Jesus saw was a blasphemy of what the temple was meant to be.

When they arrived back to Jerusalem he went to the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers, and knocked over the tables of the moneychangers and the stalls of those selling doves, and stopped everyone from bringing in loads of merchandise.
He told them, "It is written in the Scriptures, 'My Temple is to be a place of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of robbers." Mark 11:15-17 TLB

Those who came to the temple to celebrate the Passover were robbed by these merchants when they were charged exorbitant prices for animals for the necessary sacrifices and when they were cheated on the exchange rate of their international currency for temple coins. How can a person worship with a pure heart after this kind of treatment at the “house of God?”

The holiness of the temple and the Passover celebration were defiled by the deceitful practices of the sellers. Jesus was desperate to bring purity, prayer, power and praise back to the house of God, even using violence to reestablish it.

God yearns for us to examine our personal temples and plant the seeds of purity, prayer, power and praise so that our temples may once again be a dwelling place for Him.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10 NIV

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Woo Hoo Here He Comes

Day 40 of 40 days of Lenten Posts - Day 1 of Passion Week Posts
Today begins Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth as God-man, by the end of the week He would take up His rightful position at His Father’s right hand.

The time had come for Jesus to be proclaimed as their king, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the throngs shouting, “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel.”

Palm branches were waved and placed on the ground as the colt carrying the King of kings and Lord of lords slowly made its way through the crowd into the waiting city.

How far did the sound of those shouts travel? All of Jerusalem might have heard the cry from that mighty crowd.

Were the disciples excited by this demonstration or did the words that Jesus spoke echo in their minds, “I must die.”

As Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and talked to them about what would happen to him when they arrived."I will be betrayed to the chief priests and other Jewish leaders, and they will condemn me to die. And they will hand me over to the Roman government, and I will be mocked and crucified, and the third day I will rise to life again." Matt 20:17-19 TLB

The triumphal entry was a prelude to the climax of His journey to earth to die for the sins of all mankind. On His mind were those who would receive the freely given gift of eternal life and those who would reject it. It overwhelmed Him and He wept.

But as they came closer to Jerusalem and he saw the city ahead, he began to cry. "Eternal peace was within your reach and you turned it down," he wept, "and now it is too late. Luke 19:41-42 TLB

It is not too late for you.

Will you accept His gift?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alabaster Box

Day 39 of 40 days of Lenten Posts

Jesus Christ affirmed on Calvary: grace, forgiveness, love that knows no boundaries.

How could a man of perfection die for all of sinful man, die for a sinful woman like me?

I don’t understand it but I embrace it with a heart broken for the times that I have disappointed Him and turned my back on Him. He gathers my tears in His bottle and writes them in His book.

I am filled with gratitude for His loving arms that lift me up and embrace me when I have fallen. Over and over He drenches me with His love.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Seeking Him

Day 38 of 40 days of Lenten Posts

We are getting close to the time we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

It is a time of sorrow, His death on a cross, and a time of joy, the empty tomb.

May we seek Him more and more.

The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Tell You the Truth

Day 37 of 40 days of Lenten Posts

Below are quotes taken from the prologue of: The Lost Choice by Andy Andrews.

As I was reading these words, used to describe a possession the father had, the only thing he would be passing on to his son, I was struck by how these words described the power of writing.

“It is an object of fear and an object of promise. An object of ridicule and of power. The possession displays abject poverty and incredible wealth. It contains death and birth and blindness and sight. And one day, it will be yours to protect.”

Do you see: this is what the written word can and does do?

He further says to his son:
“I told you exactly what it is. As for what it does? It does nothing. It does, however, represent the power to do everything. It is believed and doubted, contemplated and ignored, pursued and avoided. Men will kill for it…and I would die to protect it.”

Individual words do nothing, but strung together in a particular order they represent the power to do everything. The Bible is an incredible example of this. It is believed and doubted, contemplated and ignored, pursued and avoided. Men kill others for possessing it and men die to defend the truth it contains.

He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue.” Psalm 15:2-3

Another quote:
“It is a gift from a father to a son.”

The Bible is a gift from our Father God to his sons and daughters. Our writing: stories, articles, novels, fiction and non-fiction are given to us by our Father, a gift to be used rightly to bring light or with evil intent to take others into darkness.

"He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:18 NIV

“The possession itself—the object—will never, alone, do anything.
“An object can inspire, arouse, prove, encourage, justify, and confirm. But it can never produce.”

My writing by itself will never do anything.

“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” Proverb 23:23

“It is only by your hand that the mind’s choices bear fruit. Intentions are like physical beauty—they mean nothing. At some point, a person must actually do something. One’s beliefs must become works. By your hand, you establish evidence for others in the truth of what you believe.”

It is what people choose to do with my words…change the world…or destroy it… that gives it power.

One person, changed by my words, brings something new into their world and to those around them…like a pebble thrown into a still body of water, the ripples extend on and on.

Long after I am gone the words I have written will continue on. Would I be pleased with what remains? Would my great, great grandchild be proud of what I have placed on paper or would there be shame because of the pain my words have caused.

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:30-32

If my words are truth there will be no shame.

Jesus continually said: I tell you the truth… Why did He have to repeat this phrase over and over? Was it because there was so much deception, was it because there would be many who would doubt His words? He knew His words were truth so He could declare them with boldness.

If Jesus felt it necessary to declare the truthfulness of His words should we not at least check our hearts and ask ourselves, is what I am writing truth?

I am not saying we shouldn’t be writing fiction, novels are filled with life impacting words.

I am challenging us all to consider what message we are coveying.

How are we handling the words He has put in our possession?

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:31 NIV