Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fans Anonymous

My sister used to plaster the walls of our room with posters of pop stars. I still don't know how I fell asleep with scores of smiling, airbrushed faces leering at us from every side. Admiring musicians, actors, and jocks is a normal part of growing up in America, but when does fascination with a celebrity cross the line?

Admiration becomes addiction when we rely on our so-called "connection" to the stranger as an escape from pain. Do we "fan"-tasize about one of People magazine's hundred most beautiful people as a way to calm ourselves from worrying? Do we feel like we "know" that famous actor better than others do because of our loyalty to him through thick and thin — even though he doesn't know us from Adam? These are clues that adulation may have crossed the line into idolatry.

Strikingly, along the red carpet, starstruck fans often call out "I LOVE YOU!" to a celebrity, and savvy celebrities are primed to reply with an echo. What a sham of three life-changing words intended to be exchanged first and foremost with God, and second between people in an intimate relationship. But there's room to admire peple we don't know personally — after all, I've never met Amy Carmichael, Mother Theresa, or Catherine of Siena. But there's a huge difference between admiring a celebrity and looking up to a hero — celebrities don't need character to draw attention. Heroes do. So what famous person besides Jesus do you admire and why?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Maybe I Should Have Started Sooner

This sentence is taped to my computer: “Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time.”

Do certain things keep being pushed to the bottom of your list of things to do? Last year at this time, I was caught in a scheduling snafu, and so things like “shop for kids’ gifts” and “address Christmas cards” and “wrap presents” kept getting dropped to the bottom of the list. In November those would have been fun activities to do. In years past I would light candles, put on one of my dozen Christmas movies, and have a special treat (defined chocolate) after finishing a holiday task. It’s easy—when done at the proper time.

But last year when I finally got around to buying, decorating, and wrapping, it was after December 15. The stores were a nightmare of frenzied shoppers, my hands got cramped doing cards for hours (no time to rest—hurry, hurry!), and wrapping gifts was a marathon culminating in the worst backache I’d had in years. Not done at the proper time, this “easy work” that was a joy had definitely become hard work.

This certainly applies to more than Christmas, and it’s true year-round. The dishes done at the proper time (right after they’re used) are easy; a five days’ accumulation, with gunky food cemented to the dishes, is hard work. Losing the three holiday pounds right after Thanksgiving isn’t too bad; waiting to get it off till you’ve added six more at Christmas and New Year’s will be hard.

So often when I’m struggling through a particular project, I will notice that sentence taped to my computer. I stop and ask, “Lord, is this some easy work the Holy Spirit prompted me to do a while back?” Quite often, it is. If I had tackled it when prompted the first time, it could have been accomplished in several easy stages. I could have scheduled the completion of the project with plenty of wiggle room. By waiting too long, the easy work had become hard. I am most often my own worst enemy.

Take a look at your life. Yes, teens are just as guilty of this phenomena as we adults. The projects may be different, but procrastination will have the same results. Make a list of upcoming events, projects due, even the fun things (like going to prom or on vacation.) Then back track and see how soon you need to begin preparing in order for the work to be easy. Done at the last frantic moment, it’s stressful and no fun. (e.g. Imagine hunting down your prom dress two days before the event.) Done in a leisurely manner, though, the work can be easy and enjoyable!

Hmmm... I think I'll make this a New Year's Resolution...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Twilight Inventory Time

Sorry, I’m a couple days late with my blog entry again. Hopefully everyone’s been too busy to notice.... My apologies, but life’s been jam-packed.

Okay, it hit me last night, about 3AM when I couldn’t sleep, that in less than two weeks my hubby and I will be in Maui. And while I’m thrilled at the aspect of sun and surf, especially since there’s snow on the ground here, I also experienced this sense of dread. Like where did the time go? And why didn’t I manage to loose those ten+ pounds? And how can I stand to put on a swimsuit in December? And what about these thunder thighs? And how did I get so old anyway?

Of course, I know better than to think such destructive and superficial thoughts. Haven’t I even written books for teen girls on the subject of body image and all the reasons we shouldn’t fall victim to such idiotic forms of self torture and self loathing? Doesn't one of them release next month? (Faded Denim in TrueColors). But it was 3AM, for Pete’s sake, and we’d been eating Thanksgiving leftovers for a couple of days…what can I say?

And so I put myself through the same exercise that I’ve shared with others who fall into this self-defeating trap. Take a real inventory. And that’s when I had to pause and thank God for a pair of strong legs, so what if they’re chubby. And I thanked God for two arms that are strong enough to carry my own bags, even if they are a little flabby in places. And on I go until I begin to feel very ashamed, because I suddenly remember a dear friend who recently died of leukemia. She was about my age, but due to the ravages of her illness, was model thin before she succumbed to the disease. And, okay, now I can’t believe my ungrateful attitude toward my relatively healthy body. And I thank God for all I’m able to do—and I ask him to show me how to use it for his glory.

A Word of Encouragement
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. Psalm 139:15-16 (The Message)

Tears to Triumph

I missed church today. I didn't mean to, but when I saw a young friend crying I went over and wrapped my arms around her and took her to a place we could talk. She said her boyfriend had broken up with her and I could see that her heart was just shattered. I sat and listened to her share her story as the tears streamed down her face. My heart broke for her. I wanted to take away her pain and make her stop hurting.

But God was at work.

You see, it's easy to think that God doesn't want us to hurt but more often than not, there is a purpose to our pain. Some of the things I heard her say today:

"He's so perfect."

"I'm so stupid."

"I have no one now."

"I was lucky to have him."

None of those statements were true, but because of her pain, she believed them. Believed that she'd never find anyone else, that it was all her fault, that he was perfect. I could see God calling her back to Himself. Lots of things can get in the way of our relationship with God - things, desires...and people. She had put this guy on a pedestal and God, in His mercy, put a stop to it.

God should always come first and if He doesn't, then we have to adjust. It hurts though. When we have to give up something to go deeper in God, it can hurt. I felt for this young woman today because I used to be her. Crying over some doomed relationship, sure that my heart would never be whole again. But just as God was at work deep within me, He is at work deep within her - and you. We not only get to share in God's glory, but we also share in His sufferings.

The sufferings may be hard, but I know they are worth it. Because in the end, they make us more like Christ.

If you're in a hard place today, may God's love comfort you and bring you peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Your Story

"Share your story every single day between now and Christmas."

Hmm. That should be easy. I blog. I write for teens. I have a website. I speak.

I'm a communicator.

I shared it on my personal blog and the comments came in. I shared it on my website.

But I don't think this is what my pastor meant. He meant that I should share it one-on-one with people. Eye to eye. Face to face.

"Hey Suz, how are you doing?"

"Good, really good. Hey, have I every told you my story?"

"Your story? Umm. I don't think so."

Then I will tell them. You see, there was a time that I didn't believe in God and then I discovered that he was real. Every day I get to know this amazing Savior who gives me purpose and marks me with his love. He's there in the tough times. He's there in the good. He pushes me with his word to greater destiny. I'll never forget that broken young girl that challenged God, but today I'm whole and it's because of faith.

"Really. So how did that happen? Like, what's the in-between stuff?"

Those are conversations that I want to have to celebrate this season of my faith. You see, Christmas is just a day, really. It's not the exact day of Jesus' birth. In our culture, it's definitely not celebrated as such. But maybe if I can share my story then the celebration becomes much more meaningful.


So, what's your story?

Buried by the World

Mark Twain once said something like "The reports of my demise are vastly exaggerated." Well, the reports of my early retirement are premature.
I apologize for missing my blogs lately. You might say I had been buried alive by the cares of this world. I had an eye infection, a looming deadline, a cold that should have been classified category five, and a major case of "I CAN"T DO IT ALL!"
Once I turned in the manuscript, I stared at the wall for a week, then I was icky sick for a few days, and then stared at the wall some more. I had been under pressure and in high gear for so long that when I stopped, well, I really stopped. Then I looked around at all that had slid into a major to-do pile while I concentrated on the number one priority - the manuscript. I was horrendously overwhelmed.
Then I prayed.
And I got a clear message.
One step at a time.

I shook myself like a dog coming out of the water and grabbed the first bone of contention on the pile. Days later, I am beginning to feel like a normal person again.

But one thing is clear to me once again. I am SO not equipped to be God. I can't handle a schedule that is just a little overcrowded. Think about what God handles daily. Wow! And He doesn't get stressed. He doesn't stare at walls. He doesn't get icky sick and He doesn't fumble His responsibilities.

Yep. I'm glad I am NOT God, and I'm glad I have God, a God who is capable of all His tasks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Petra: Farewell

After 33 years, veteran Christian rock band Petra is calling it quits.

I saw them at their Farewell concert in Dallas this past weekend. I was even able to get front row and center, which was a real treat. But regardless, I wouldn't have missed it.

Back in the mid-80s, my first concert was a Petra concert, during their Not of this World tour. At that concert, I bought the first album I ever bought with my own money: Never Say Die.

Since then I've enjoyed at least 20 of their albums. Petra means "rock" and they've never failed to disappoint. Their sound has changed as the times have changed, but their message has never compromised. They've had no ambitions to "cross over" or water down their lyrics. To this day, every concert has ended with an alter call.

I don't believe it's every Christian band's perrogative to have alter calls or extremely bold lyrics. But I do think that what used to be the rule has now become the exception. Petra was signed to a Christian label back in the days of "pure" labels--when Christian record companies were first and foremost concerned with a band's stand...the hope for profit was secondary. Today it's different, and understandably so. Christian labels couldn't exist without being run as profitable businesses. But that's another discussion. The point is that Petra came along before we knew profitability was necessary--and they survived purely on their bold message, musical ability and grass roots efforts.

I'm sad to see Petra go, but 33 years is more than we will see from most bands today--and every one of Petra's years has been marked by quality music, a non-compromising message and the ability to rock. Farewell, old friends. We'll miss you more than you know.


Christopher Maselli

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Confused About Love

Recently, I tuned in to MTV for my periodic check on the state of youth culture. I watched "50 Cent" rap his take on "love" to a mesmerized crowd of teens, caught part of "Room Raiders," where a guy on the hunt for same-sex intimacy was checking out bedrooms belonging to three other guys, and chuckled over the crazy improvisation on the Andy Milonakis Show. Ad sponsors included Christian Children International, an upcoming movie about a female assassin starring Charlize Theron, a troubling new violent video game that's rated "M" (I forget the name), as well as the makers of products galore aimed right at 13-17 year olds.

Wow. So that's a taste of youth culture, at least as interpreted by the thirty-something marketing-to-teen experts who carefully craft MTV's content. I glimpsed a few signs of hope and spirituality, but was struck by the complete state of confusion over love. Will you be valued and loved if you get more cool stuff? Will you be loved if you are sexually fulfilled? Will you be loved if you look and feel good? This is a generation that's ravenous for love.

But are they finding it? Our high school psychologist estimates that 25% - 35% of teens at the school will experience severe emotional distress (eating disorders, depression, complete inability to function for long stretches of time) during their four years there. Where are the healers? Where are the truth-tellers? As writers, it's up to us to bless this generation — to show them that their Maker is fiercely, passionately in love with the REAL world. A broken, bruised Lover on a cross, dying in place of His beloved? Now that's true love.


With Thankfulness We Give

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and for those born 1981+ (a generation call Millennials) you most likely will be more concerned with what you will give this holiday season, than with what you will receive.

According to Graeme Codrington and Sue Grant-Marshall, authors of "Mind the Gap!" (Penguin):

"Millennial kids . . . will be civic minded, determined to help their communnities, will (and already do) care for each other, volunteer more, be conscripted if the case is just." Which is exactly what 2 Corinthians 9:7 is talking about, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

This heart of giving also reflects the heart of God:

"Generous to a fault, you lavish your favor on all creatures," (Psalm 145:16, The Message).

So how about you? How are you going to give this Thanksgiving and Christmas? I'd love to hear all about it!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Singleness of Mind

I’ve had a fever all week that keeps peaking, then falling, then peaking again. So I’ve missed many meetings, appointments, and outings, but it’s given me tons of time to think. One morning, as I tried to focus through my headache, I started reading the various pieces of advice and scripture taped around the edges of my computer. One was from Romans 12:8-9 “Give yourself to your gift…with zeal and singleness of mind.”

God has given each of us one or more gifts. They give us pleasure when we exercise them, and they bring God glory (and generally are useful to others.) Those of us on this blog believe writing is our gift. My thirtieth book comes out in 2006, and I hope there will be many more. And yet… I hadn’t been able to find any time to write for weeks. I was certainly not giving myself to my gift, as we are commanded to do.

I absolutely drooled over the idea of being focused with a “singleness of mind.” My mind lately had been scattered in a million directions. This week I took time to examine my schedule and saw why. I had no fewer than seven jobs in four ministries of various sorts that I contributed time and/or writing to, usually both. This is in addition to my own book writing, teaching, editing and critiquing work. No wonder I was sick a lot and under stress. I just kept taking on more things, muttering under my breath, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

So now I’m beginning the painful time of paring back my list of activities. I don’t think the Lord means for us to live at such a frantic pace. I’d lost my peace, plus my joy in my work. How about you? Does this describe you too? Rather than ask for more strength to keep up with my nutty schedule, I felt it was time to let him “lead me beside the still waters.” As I pray over each ministry activity and decide which ones to let go, my heart gets lighter. I look forward, by January, to being able to give myself to my gift “with zeal and singleness of mind.”

No Boys Allowed (Zondervan 2004)
Girlz Rock (Zondervan 2005)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Come...Just Come...

Life’s been crazy this week. But then that’s nothing new. Trying to make tough deadlines, dealing with family stuff, appointments, realizing that next week is Thanksgiving, preparing for a couple of trips…and then I get an “urgent” email telling me to get over to a radio station to record some spots which I agreed to a couple of months ago. Of course, this means I have to write these 200 word spots about my “favorite scriptures,” which shouldn’t take long, but seems to take forever, and then I’m trying to get myself together, grumping at my husband for no good reason, and then hopping in my car, where I mess up directions to the radio station (which seems to be hidden on a back-street) and finally arrive there in a state of frustration.

So, there I am sitting in this stuffy recording studio, reading my “spots” while this guy who barely speaks, is watching me from another room, and I wonder why am I doing this??? Then I come to the last spot, and the scripture, of course, is the one where Jesus says, “Come to me…and I will give you rest…” And, okay, it hits me—why am I not doing this?

So, on my way home, I do come to Jesus, I do allow him to give me rest, and then I take time to breathe and to relax and to enjoy the mountain views. And by the time I get home, I am amazingly refreshed. Then I apologize to my husband, go back to my office, and return to work.

How about you? What do you do when life is pressing in, stress is piling up, and you are feeling overwhelmed?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

Swept up...

I'm not much for computer games really. Except for the occasional solitaire, I've just not been interested.

Until this weekend.

My sister introduced me to Zoo Tycoon. I got to create my own zoo, buy animals, plop down fences and create whatever kind of land I wanted. It was a very powerful feeling let me tell you. With one sweep of the mouse I could create a blistering sahara or a frozen tundra. Before I knew it two hours had slipped by and my husband came looking for me.

Him: Are you still down here?

Me: I've got to creat a habitat for my pandas.

Him: It's two o clock in the morning. Your sister wants to go to bed.

Me: Oh look! My flamingos just had babies!

I got a little carried away. But it's very easy to get to stirred up about something when we throw ourselves into it. It's probably why Paul told Timothy that he should "fan into flame the gift of God". (2 Tim 1:13)If we are to keep up our passion for God we have to add fuel to that fire in our hearts. A fire left unattended will eventually burn itself out. Passion is something we can - and should - stir up daily. I haven't even loaded the Zoo Tycoon game my sister gave me into my computer. I have a feeling I shouldn't fan that flame.

But that fire for God inside me? That can always use some attention. So if you've been feeling kind of cold and empty, throw some wood on that fire and spend some time with God today. It's amazing how easy it is to get a roaring fire going when you put your heart into it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I'm reading a cool book right now. In fact, while flying home from D.C. I snuggled in the miniscule space allowed on the airplane and read all the way across the U.S. At one point I snorted and laughed out loud.

My seatmates stared, but I couldn't help it. It was funny, a laugh-out-loud, wow this guy is a good writer type of laugh.

On the surface it seems like just another book about a humorous guy's experiece, but it's by a publishing company called Relevant, so I expected relevance.

And I found it.

The title of the book is called Flashbang.

Flashbang is a term for the explosions on stage that create light, flash, and dazzle, but really have no substance or flame. They're mostly noise and sparklies.

The author said that he was on a journey to overcome "flashbang faith". He wanted faith of substance. He wanted it to make a difference in the world around him. He didn't just want to sear the eyebrows off of listeners with the message and fail to impact them with the heart of the gospel.

I love it when an author shares a message with humor, and while I'm laughing and occasionally snorting here and there, think, "hey, that's really deep".

The book started me to thinking and that's the sign of a great book. That's exactly the type of book I pray to write.

Will they be funny? Probably not. I screw up the end of jokes every time I tell one.

But they will be real. That relevant factor -- that's what I'm asking God for. Not just in books, but in every day life.

What about you?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Top 6 Writers' Conferences

For today's entry, I thought I'd make a list of the Christian Writers' Conferences that people seem to like most--so you can get to one! There is NOTHING better for a writer's career than attending writers' conferences, and they're all over the country. They cost a good chunk of change to attend (between $100-$500 plus travel and food), but if you meet one editor who you can write a magazine article for, you'll easily pay for the whole trip.

So here are what I'd consider the top 6 most popular Christian Writers' conferences in America. Hopefully you can attend of the writers of this blog may even be there attending or teaching, too!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

How Do You Spell "Manners"?

This morning I'm speaking to the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. When the steering committee approached me in August, they asked me to organize my talk around the title, "Star Spangled Manners."

I happily agreed, but I requested they add a subtitle: Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World. As important as manners are, I didn't want the morning's focus to be on stuff like how you get a three year old to chew with his mouth closed. The way I see it, we all learn to conform our behavior if the consequences of disobedience are painful and consistent enough. The real goal is to get that three year old to value certain behaviors so much that, even when no one in authority is around, he still uses them.

So, I asked myself, "Why do we use proper manners?" And the best answer I came up with is, "Respect."

Now you ask, "Why are you writing about preschoolers when this blog is for teens?" (Yes, you do. Work with me here.)

"Fair question," I answer. "Let's ask questions that apply to your age group."

Q: Why do you refuse to go to a wild party, even though your parents probably won't find out?

A: Respect for your parents and yourself.

Q: Why do you keep your mouth shut when "the cool kids" are ridiculing the awkward kid?

A: Respect for someone made in the image of God.

Q: Why do you choose to abstain from pre-marital sex?

A: Respect for your body, the body of the other person, and the plan of God for your life.

You get my drift. We learn right from wrong in our heads, but unless we honor it in our hearts, we'll choose wrong when no one's looking. Or when peer pressure gets too strong. Or, or, or . . .

Respect springs from belief that God created us for His glory, and His plans are for our great good and delight. He places authority figures over us--parents, teachers, youth directors--because He loves us too much to leave us to stumble around trying to figure things out on our own. Of course, authority figures are human, too. They sometimes make mistakes. But God never steers us wrong. We have His Word as a clear guideline on how to live, and it starts with the heart--not the outward behavior.

Good questions to ask yourself today: Do I respect God's Word as truth? Do I respect myself as God's child created for His glory? Do I respect the authority figures God has placed in my life? Do I respect others as people created in the image of God?

Somehow I think, if we get to the place where we can answer YES to all those questions, our manners will fall in line. Don't you?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Prayer That Puts You To Work

"Strider! Co-ome!"

"Here, boy!"


Our cries had been ringing through the neighborhood for hours, but there was no sign of our yellow lab. He'd been missing since 3 o'clock. By midnight, hoarse and chilled to the bone, we gave up searching. But we didn't drop into bed without praying for his safety and recovery.

Early the next morning, we made posters and stapled them on trees near the pond and in the woods. The phone rang fifteen minutes after we got home.

"I saw your poster," a voice said. "Do you want to come get your dog?"

Before long, Strider was home, and all was well. Was this the result of prayer? I wondered. Or a well-placed, eye-catching poster? What if we'd prayed but hadn't put up the posters? Or vice a versa? Would we have found our dog? Maybe. But usually both are needed, prayer and action, faith and works, because God delights to call us partners, even in the granting of our own requests. Keep talking to the Master, keep working, keep asking for direction, keep waiting for the next step. That's how Kingdom work gets done; that's how anything lost gets found ... even a tired, footsore dog who wants his own bed.

Real Life Faith

Sunday was my day to post, but it was impossible as I traveled 12 hours that day from D.C. back to beautiful Oklahoma.

I spoke at a conference called After Eve in McLean, Virginia. I travel a lot to minister and love all the diverse places and people God allows me to experience, but this was the most amazing yet.

It was relevant. The atmosphere was one of hunger and friendship and community. The topics didn't cover external issues, but delved deep into what it meant to live as a biblical young woman in the 21st century.

At one workshop I taught (Where's the Faith?) several university students shared their dilemma.

"I love God and I want to impact my world, but I don't feel God." One young woman broke down in class. "I'm sorry to be so emotional, but if I can't feel God it makes me wonder if I've done something wrong or if he's still there."

Wow. Such a beautiful portrait of real-life faith. I wrapped my arms around this girl afterward and told her that carrying her faith into a new environment was a transition time. She was carving out her own faith, separate from mom and dad and youth group. She was learning to trust him, to turn to him and be honest about her feelings and doubts.

"Sis, your faith is powerful," I told her. "Watching you profess how much you love God, and yet how much you desire his presence and want to make an impact on your world, that's a beautiful thing."

I assured her that God hadn't abandoned her. Her heart was SO in the right place and it was a season of growing spiritually as a young woman flying solo in her faith. She cried as she received that affirmation. I felt God just wrapping her in a cocoon of encouragement.

Once again I am reminded of the struggles, victories, and even doubts that the real-life (NT) disciples faced. Are we any different? No, we are modern-day followers of Christ. God's not afraid of your honesty when you rip the mask off and say, "hey God, I'm struggling here and just want to be real with you about it."

Being real. Loving God even when the feelings dip low. Trusting that God is in control. Having a desire to impact the world around you.

That's faith in action.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Good and Proper

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Yielding returns for hard work is a benefit of life. In elementary school we’re rewarded with gold stars. In high school our hard work achieves A’s and B’s. Even in our jobs, our “harvest” consists of bi-monthly paychecks, vacation time, and bonuses at Christmas. Yet what happens when our rewards for doing good seem to fall behind schedule? The paycheck never arrives, and there is no red-penned “Good Work!” shimmering from atop a progress report. We grow weary and discouraged. We look around and question if the sweat and strain is worth our time and effort. Face it, without at least one gold star, or one grain of wheat ripe for the plucking, we contemplate giving up.

The fact of the matter is, our reward for doing good isn’t a matter “if”, but “when.” “For at the proper time we will reap a harvest,” we read. And just what is proper?

- Personal. Your time isn’t your friends’ time. It’s impossible to compare how God works in one life, verses how he works in another.

- Relational. The proper time for your harvest is interconnected with God’s plan for others. Interconnected rewards result from interrelated lives in the body of Christ.

- Out of Sight. The harvest we reap isn’t always visible, but it is often “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

- Permanent. While we may reap the benefit of small harvests here on earth, our ultimate reward is eternal life—a gift that can never be snatch away.

- Exact. Our God who designed the intricate and complex universe knows the precise time for you to reap your harvest.

- Resolved. The "when" is determined and is waiting in God’s hands. Now, it’s your job to set your jaw in determination and continue on!

When is the last time you became weary from doing good? Remember, God's rewards may not be evident in your life today, but they are far better than any gold star!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Crossing the Finish Line...

Two days ago I participated in my first race. It was five miles long, and I zipped right along until the final mile. Then I tried to take a hill too fast for my sagging energy level; I wheezed like a sick accordion. My lungs screamed, “Quit this insanity!” My running partner called out, “Slow down, or you won’t be able to finish.” I followed his advice—and I finished in good time.

When you begin a project, don't quit halfway through. Stir up your original enthusiasm, and complete the project.

Do you have unfinished papers for school, chores at home, or craft projects you started? Did you make a promise—like visiting a nursing home weekly—but you haven't gone in a month? Good beginnings are great, but if you don't complete it, you won't gain any benefit. Neither will anyone else. Excuses like "I meant to do that last weekend, but I got invited to the mall" don't count.

We begin projects with enthusiasm and a rush of emotions. Someone wants our help, and we promise without thinking. Then, when the mood passes, we regret starting the projects. As our enthusiasm dies, the unfinished projects collect dust.

"I suggest that you finish what you started a year ago, for you were the first to propose this idea, and you were the first to begin doing something about it. Now you should carry this project through to completion just as enthusiastically as you began it." (2 Corinthians 8:10-11 NLT)

How can you prevent having unfinished projects?
"Don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the founda­tion before running out of funds." (Luke 14:28-30 NLT)

Do you have enough time, money, and energy to com­plete the project? If not, wait for a better time. Think carefully before saying you'll do something. Then be a person whose word is true, someone who can be counted on. Finish what you start.

(excerpt from No Boys Allowed Devotions for Girls, Zondervan, 2004)
Girlz Rock Devotions for Girls, Zondervan, 2005
Coming in 2006: God Talk and Chick Chat, Devotions for Girls, Zondervan

Thursday, November 03, 2005

From Melody: Perfection Deception

Maybe it’s because I’m writing a novel about a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or maybe it’s just life in general, but I seem to be encountering more than my fair share of perfectionists lately. It’s easy to recognize the characteristics—especially since I used to be a perfectionist myself. Or perhaps that’s overstating it. I think it’s more accurate to say I’m a recovering perfectionist.

What I’ve learned lately, through my main character as well as others I’ve been observing, is that 1) trying to appear perfect is usually just a big fat cover up, 2) “perfection” is totally subjective, and 3) the goal of attaining perfection is hugely misleading and deceptive.

People who attempt to live a “perfect life” almost always have deep, dark wounds beneath that glossy exterior. Because a veneer of “perfection” is a good way to cover things up as well as keep others at arm’s length. I mean who wants to cozy up to a perfectionist? She might point out your flaws!

Another irony is that when people think they are “perfecting” their lives, they’re usually just making things worse—making it harder for God to get to the heart of the matter. That’s because our perspective on “perfection” is totally skewed. For instance we often assume that things like being attractive, getting good grades, having material wealth, a life that runs smoothly, etc. is a sign of perfection. It’s not.

God’s perspective is so much bigger than ours. And His plan will probably include some pretty big bumps along the way. He wants to use what we might consider some bad “imperfections” to make us look more like Him. The old “no pain no gain” kind of thing. And it doesn’t always feel good or look perfect. But the results are good.

So if you find yourself falling into the perfection deception trap, you need to remember that God is the only one who really gets perfect. And if you find yourself craving that “perfect” life—remember that’s what heaven is for.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask God to perfect you. Just know that His ways are a lot different than yours. And His goal is true perfection—the kind only He can bring about.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Are you a votary?

Here's the word for the day:

votary \VOH-tuh-ree\, noun:1. One who is devoted, given, or addicted to some particular pursuit, subject, study, or way of life.

Are you a votary? Are you dedicated to your faith? Your writing? Something else?

Or do you find yourself still searching for that "something" that will capture your heart?

Just remember Matthew 6:33... "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."


Christopher Maselli