Monday, December 24, 2012

Finding the magic...

It's Christmas Eve!

Every year on Christmas Eve, as a young teenager and every year since, I've asked God to show me a glimpse of His magic on this special night. That Christmas magic, that soulful, heartfelt connection to the Lord that seems to take place once a year under star-studded skies.

As I grew up, I realized that I was also outgrowing the magic of Christmas and that terrified me. I didn't want  to be just another stressed out adult, checking off my list and racing to make sure the pies were baked and the gift were wrapped and the bicycle under the tree was assembled before dawn. I didn't want Christmas to become commercial and expensive and wasted.

I wanted to FEEL it. Whether I was 8, 18, or now - 28.

So I pray for the Christmas magic, and guess what?

God shows me every time.

This Christmas Eve night, steal away outside for a moment when you can be alone. Or if you can't do that, just take a quick minute as you stroll from the parking lot to the church, or from the driveway to your house, or wherever you are - to stare up at the Christmas Eve sky and ask God to reveal His holiness to you. His Christmas magic. To make the night Christ was born real in your heart. To let it overshadow the stresses and concerns and worries that fill your mind.

To breathe in Christmas.

He'll meet you there.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When Life Doesn't Go as Planned


Nothing is going like planned.

Life wasn't supposed to be like this.


At age fifteen I planned on going to college to be a school teacher. I planned on living in the same small California town I grew up in. After having Cory, getting married, and having more kids, I planned on settling down in the (somewhat) larger California town that we lived in. John would get a good job. We'd buy a nice house. I'd homeschool and maybe write articles on the side. And maybe someday write a book. But nothing went as planned.

We felt God's stirring to move to Montana. We moved and God pointed me to stories that would be impossible to write in my own strength. The church He directed us to wasn't one I'd pick (at first). The friendships He orchestrated took me out of my comfort zone. And getting involved in started a pregnancy center...that wasn't in the plan at all.

At least we found a place to settle down for good. At least we had a nice house. Our house. We had our best friends close, a church we loved (after we realized we weren't there to be served but to serve), ministries we believed in and enjoyed, money to meet all our needs. The plan then was for our children to finish school, get married, live close and give us lots of grandkids I could spend time with. Then the plan changed. God made His plan known. You'd think I'd get used to my plans being changed. I wasn't.

MY plan for our lives in this new city 2,000 miles away was to replace all we left behind, yet once God moves you out of your comfort zone, finding an “easy fit” doesn't become an option any more. Even as I write this my heart aches. It knows what it wants, “Let's just make a plan. Let's buy a house and unpack our things. Let's get organized, set a schedule, and build a routine.” It's the plan I think about every day. It's the one I want most.

You'd think I'd learn by now not to focus too much on my plan. My plan is to make myself—my family—comfortable. God's plan has always been to move me closer to the people who need help and hope. Closer to the issues that break His heart.

If I think about it, deep down—from a young age—I've had another plan, too. To make a difference in his world. It seems that making a difference can only happen when I allow God's plans to be worked out in my feeble body...as I take unsure steps. It's then I look to God more, I depend on Him more. It reminds me of the verse I read this morning:

God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble. But cozy islands of escape He wipes right off the map. Nahum 1:7-8 The Message

It seems those cozy islands of escape have always been part of my plan. A nice house, a good family, friends and a church close by, work that's fun and impacting (but not too challenging). Teaching Sunday School to three-year-olds is the type of ministry that's right up my alley. I can do that with little effort and lots of rewards. But in the way God works, He's led me to people, situations and even book projects that don't come with an easy-to-follow curriculum guide. Instead of two pages of ideas and instructions, He's the One I have to look to for help, strength and advice.


What it all comes down to is God putting me—and my family—in places where we must look to Him for help. That's been His plan all along. That's the only good plan for sinners in need of grace and servant-children who desire to be transformed into the image of His Son.

And should I really complain? God's plan pulls me closer to the heart of the Creator of the universe who loves me completely and desires to give me a hope and a future. There can't be any plan better than that. There isn't any plan better. I just need to remind myself of that the next time my house, my work, and my life shout out, “We need to get a sense of order here!” Life will never be cozy, at peace, and organized when following Jesus is the most important thing. But the more I lean in, the more I discover that depending on Him is a good, good place to be.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Different but Good

This time last year, I was preparing for a very different Christmas. One family member was no longer in the picture and my sons and I were in the midst of a lot of changes, including what our holidays would look like. I had accepted the fact that it would be hard--that we just needed to get through it. But amazingly, even in the sadness and feelings of loss, God surrounded us with His warmth and love. We received so many anonymous gifts that I made a point of listing each one so I wouldn't forget. As we let go of some traditions, God helped me see the beauty in doing things a bit differently. (For example, we spent most of Christmas Day on the train, so I set aside some cash to treat my boys to lunch in the dining car and saved one of their candy stocking stuffers so they would have something fun to munch on while playing games in the lounge.) The heaviness of knowing our Christmases would never be quite the same again mingled with assurance that God would meet every need. I am not exaggerating when I say that last year was probably the sweetest Christmas I have ever had. Never has Jesus felt closer or His love more tangible.

This year, we are having another very different Christmas. My youngest son and I just moved and my oldest is living on his own for the first time. We left a lot behind, including a few more traditions like performing in the choir Christmas concert and watching some of my favorite holiday classics. (Somehow, my copies of It's a Wonderful Life and the old BBC production of A Christmas Carol ended up in storage instead of with me.) Thankfully, big brother got time off to come down for Christmas and will stay through New Year, and we plan to make our typical Christmas Eve dinner of homemade pasta Alfredo with my parents. I am rediscovering the fun in watching church concerts instead of performing in them, and for the first time ever, my sons will have Christmas morning with Grandma and Granpa. Even in the changes, God is making this year sweet. It's just sweet in a different way.

Are you facing a different holiday season this year? Note how God reveals His love and goodness to you, even in the difficulty. Ask Him to give you many reasons to look back and see this year as different but good.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. My son Nate took this picture on a day trip to San Francisco with my parents, one of my sisters, and two of her kids--another nice change we are enjoying: being with family.

    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Santa?

Most kids are disappointed to discover there is no Santa. It’s devastating. No Santa Claus? No big jolly fat guy? I’ve been lied to all these years?

I remember being disappointed, too… but it wasn’t by the fact that there was no weirdo singing Ho Ho Ho on my rooftop. 

It was because if there was no Santa, I was going to have to start buying presents for other people.

I feigned belief in the big red guy until last year, when I accidentally slipped and thanked my husband for a gift. At this point I realized… the 25 year reprieve on gift-buying was over.

This Christmas was my first year shopping. And you know what I discovered? I love it just about as much as I love regular shopping. Which means there’s only one other thing that takes precedence over my love for this chore: getting my tonsils taken out without anesthetic.

I love the crowds. I love the smells. I love the frantic screaming of employees when they finally lose their minds over one more sale gone bad.

But before you call me a Grinch and accuse me of stealing your Christmas, you should know I do love the actual holiday of Christmas. No sarcasm here. I love the end result of all the effort. I love the fact that when the family’s all together… snuggled up… by the fire… opening gifts… it’s all worth the effort.

It really, really is. But next year I’m asking for some anesthetic.

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Bekah Hamrick Martin writes about What You Missed in Sex Ed on her blog, The Bare Naked Truth. She also writes about how Waiting Is Sexy in her book, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New contest from Camy Tang

I haven’t had a major contest since October! Here’s new one just in time for Christmas. I’m picking 3 winners to each be able to choose 10 books from my Christian book list! And yes, that list includes my books!

Click here to learn how to enter!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas monkey...

When you have a 4 year old, it's totally the perfect excuse to get to watch all the kiddo Christmas shows on TV with minimal teasing from your husband ;)

That said, I've watched Curious George's Very Monkey Christmas about three times this season. (and pretty sure we aren't done yet)

It's a cute show, with a seriously annoying jingle. "Christmas monkey, Christmas monkey, no one's sung about Christmas monkeys..."

The story line is about a girl (named Betsy, which is scarily ironic) who is trying to find a gift for her beloved Aunt Margaret. She is performing in the annual Christmas pageant and wanted to surprise her Aunt Margaret with a special Christmas song during the show, in her honor. Apparently, Auntie M loves Christmas music more than anything else. But Betsy soon realizes what King Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes loooong ago: There's nothing new under the sun. 

Desperate, knowing the show must go on, Betsy panics backstage and is sad at having missed the chance to give her aunt a special gift. But at the last minute, Curious George saves the day by reminding Betsy that no one has sung about Christmas monkeys. So she writes an impromptu song, sings it for the pageant, and the crowd (and Aunt M) are thrilled.

Gotta love a Happily Ever After ;)

But that got me thinking about gift giving at Christmas. And how we always put pressure on ourselves to give the best gift ever. Sometimes it's for attention or pats on the backs, and that's not right, but I think most of the time, we want to give the best gift because of our love for that person. Maybe your Mom or Dad or best friend has done something really nice for you lately or has been there for you in a rough time and you want to show that appreciation by giving them a rockin' present. But that's not always easy, as Betsy in the show discovered.

This year, instead of spending money you might not need to spend or might not have at all, think outside the box. Go all Christmas monkey on your list and think about things that haven't been done yet that could bring even greater joy than the latest hit from Best Buy or Target. A photo album of memories of you and that person. A scrapbook of mementos you've saved from special times together. A book of letters celebrating that person, from a group of all those who love them. A homemade gift card booklet filled with cute coupons for movie dates or coffee dates or shopping dates with the recepient.

What's your Christmas monkey this year? :)

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Be the Change


Lately, I've been thinking there's a lot of things I'd like to change. 1) I've actively started exercising and using a food journal to lose weight and get in shape. 2) I've been trying to curb my spending. 3) And I've been be trying to be more thankful. All of those things aren't easy! Can you think of what you'd like to change in your life? Maybe procrastinating less on your homework? Focusing more on being involved at church than with that cute boy?




#1 and #2 are things that I now realize need to stem from the inside out. I've tried for a long time to "make myself be good." Now I'm praying for a heart change. I'm praying that God will fill me up so much of Him that I naturally strive to do the right things in His strength and with His wisdom.#3 started because I've been reading Something More by Catherine Marshall. It's an older book, but a good one. In it Catherine talks about "thanking God in all things." She goes on to encourage readers to thank Him even for the challenging/painful stuff. I've started doing that more, and it's amazing what a different outlook I've had. Usually, I'm a joyful person because I try to ignore the hard stuff and instead just focus on the good. But lately I've been thanking God for everything easy and hard, and somehow He's been showing me the good IN it.

I know these are simple lessons. They are things God has tried to show me in the past. In fact, one of the lessons He's taught (and retaught me) is that I don't always need to look for change from external means ... sometimes I'm called to BE the change.

This lesson first fit home after our family moved to Montana and were looking for a church home. There was one that God was connecting us to AT EVERY TURN, but personally I didn't like it much. In fact, even when John and I felt God calling us there, I REALLY didn't want to go to that church. Even though the people were nice, the music wasn't that great and there was no children's program for the kids. Yet, instead of complaining about it, John and I felt God telling us to do something about it!

Once we became members, WE started doing children's church and new families started pouring in. Over the years the church grew and changed. It has become the type of place I longed for. We've been going there for thirteen years now, and it's home. Yet at the time, I didn't realize that I was part of the change!

Today, you might be thinking about changes in your life. Don't stop. Don't become complacent! Remember that God wants to fill you and help you. He wants you to offer Him thanksgiving in the easy stuff and the hard stuff, too. And mostly, if there is change that needs to take place remember that often YOU are called to be the change. What you want most is out there in the future ... have faith in that! Have faith in Him!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

God in the tough stuff at Christmas



You’re not smiling this Christmas.

It’s not that you hate the season. It’s just that everywhere you look, you see the face of the one you loved and lost.

Some twinkling lights and a few shiny gifts under the tree don’t cover up the pain you feel inside.

You’re pretty good at that, though. Covering up. It’s the only way you can go on — by breathing in, breathing out — putting one foot in front of the other.

The only thing I have to offer you is two eyes and a heart that will cry with you.

The only thing I have to offer you is two arms that will hold you while you cry.

The only thing I have to offer you is two ears that will listen as you share about the person you love.
And while it may seem strange to ask a devotional-writer for a listening ear — it’s not strange to ask the people around you to care.

Yes, folks may seem caught up in the season — the twinkling lights, the shiny gifts. But beneath the surface, they are wishing they could do something significant this holiday season.

The holidays are actually the “holy days”. God Emmanuel is God With Us. And what is more holy than one human being there — eyes, ears, arms, and hearts — for another human being.

Lord, I need to feel You with me today. I need You to send people to be with me when I feel sad and alone. Thank you for always being close to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

GO DEEPER:
Ponder: “And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33: 14 (NKJV)
Apply: Seek someone out who can care about what you are going through.
Share: How can you care for someone who’s going through a hard time this Christmas?

Reprinted from Rad Revolution

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What's tough for you this Christmas?

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Bekah Hamrick Martin writes about What You Missed in Sex Ed on her blog, The Bare Naked Truth. She also writes about how Waiting Is Sexy in her book, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“All I’ve Ever Wanted” by Margaret Becker

Camy here. I was writing to music and this song came up on my song mix. I have always loved it but I haven’t heard it in a while, and the lyrics impacted me strongly when I was listening to it again. This has been my prayer, that I would be so in love with Jesus that I want to give all of myself to Him. This is my prayer for you, too.

“All I’ve Ever Wanted” by Margaret Becker

From where I lay I can see the sun
Rising through the trees
Before I face this morning rush
I get down on my knees
I lift my eyes and thank You for
This life you've granted me
I pray that every day I live
Your heart will be pleased

I pray for hands that hold You
Higher than anything else
And a heart that loves You
More than life itself
This is all I've ever wanted
This is all I want to be
All I've ever wanted
Is to love You faithfully


From where I stand I can see the dreams
That you have fulfilled
Such kindness I did not deserve
But You gave it still
What do I have that You did not give
There's nothing that I can see
So all I have to give to You
Is what You've given me

I pray for hands that hold You
Higher than anything else
And a heart that loves You
More than life itself
This is all I've ever wanted
This is all I want to be
All I've ever wanted
Is to love You faithfully


I know I don't have the power
To love You like I should
But every day with everything I have
I wish I could
I'm standing here now
These words I pray
I wanna love You better whatever it takes

I pray for hands that hold You
Higher than anything else
And a heart that loves You
More than life itself
This is all I've ever wanted
This is all I want to be
All I've ever wanted
Is to love You faithfully


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Post Thanksgiving advice :)


The Saturday after Thanksgiving - it's the time when most people are still in a turkey-induced mini-coma or attempting to button their pants after indulging in Grandma's pumpkin pie or Mom's homemade iced cookies. Maybe you're still lounging in your sweats absorbing football on TV or playing a game of it in the yard with family. Maybe your ears are ringing from all that time around your toddler cousins. Maybe you're traveling this weekend or coming back home from some Turkey-and-Dressing related fun.

Regardless of the details, at this point in the holiday season, we're typically fully in. Committed. Bring on the leftovers, bring on the Christmas decorations, and bring on the 25 Days Before Christmas movie countdown on ABC Family. Right!?! :)  TIS THE SEASON!!!

But let's take a small step back before we get totally caught up in the holiday madness. 

Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and stuffing ourselves with yumminess and hanging out at Grandma's. All of that represents the deeper meaning of the holiday, after all - abundance. Gratitude. Family. Love. Faith. Those are lessons we shouldn't toss out with the leftovers but should contemplate year round. I hear others talk about how people in general seem to be a lot nicer during the holiday season (maybe not on Black Friday in the middle of Target's toy aisle) - but how sad is that? Why can't people have that "do good" attitude year round? 

So this holiday season, before you start checking off your Christmas list and hitting the clearance racks and dreaming of sugarplums, STOP. Don't let Thanksgiving slip away. Pause and really take a minute to let an attitude of gratitude sink in. Share Christ's love with others. Let them see Jesus in you. 

Even on the toy aisle. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Man, You Have a Lot of Books."


There is one comment that I get from 99.9% of all people who visit our house. "Man, you have a lot of books." It's a true statement, because I DO have a lot of books. I love books--old ones, new ones, classic, books, novels, historical research. And on any given day I'm "reading" a dozen books. This means that around the house there are a dozen books (at least) that have a bookmark in them. Some I just started. Others are nearly finished. These are books I pick up through the day and read. Some one page. Some fifty pages. (I'm sure many of you wish you could read just one page each day in your school textbooks!)

The cool thing is that I'm never without something wonderful to read. The hard thing is that I want to read them all, now, today.

In the morning, as I have quiet time with God, I have a stack of 20-30 devotional books to choose from. These include classics like, "My Utmost for His Highest" and workbook style books like, "Live a Praying Life" by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. Sometimes I pick up the books on the top of the stack, but most days I feel "drawn" to a particular book. There are times when the book I feel lead to read isn't on the stack, yet I know I have it, and then the hunt begins.

Usually, it's pretty easy to find a book. My books are organized: fiction, non-fiction, research, childrens, teens, Gen X, parenting, marriage. But there ARE more books than space, so I have additional books tucked around the house--under beds, in baskets, in trunks. Yesterday for some reason I felt led to hunt out a book by John Sherrill called, My Friend, The Bible. I'd read about this older book somewhere and bought it years ago, yet it wasn't until yesterday that I really was drawn to read it. I searched through the non-fiction shelves, and the Biblical research shelves, but I couldn't find it. I looked on other shelves just in case it was misplaced. Finally, I found it in my old trunk, where I'd stashed it with others.

The book is an interesting story about a man's journey to being drawn to read, and fall in love with, the Bible. Now, John Sherril WAS a Christian and He loved God, yet to read about his journey to falling in love with the Bible is a beautiful thing.

As I'm reading it, I--of course--began thinking of my own journey toward the Bible. I grew up going to church, but except for memorizing Scripture to win prizes, I never spent much time in the Bible. After accepting Christ at seventeen-years-old, I remember opening up my Bible for the first time. I'm not sure how I ended up in 1 Peter, but there I was. And, in 1989, as I read 1 Peter 1:24-25, I felt my chest burn as if God was speaking to me:

For all flesh (mankind) is like grass, and all its glory (honor) like [the] flower of grass. The grass winters and the flower drops off, but the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever. And this Word is the good news which was preached to you.

That day when I read it, I KNEW it was truth, and it was confirmation that my accepting Christ and living for Him was the right decision. I wouldn't be around forever. I needed to consider my life and eternity. And I needed to put my faith on God's Word, which was around long before me and would remain long after I was gone.

Today, as I'm reading John Sherril's book, I'm again awed by the fact that God SPEAKS to us through His Word. As Sherril writes, "As I was grasping the huge fact of literalness, I was still only part way into the awesome reality of this Book. For the truth in the Bible was also contemporary. It had happened then; it was also happening now."

The Bible tells what happened, but when I read it something happens. God uses these Words to prick my heart, to speak to me, to point out direction, or correction, or inspiration within the pages.

Like Sherril. The Bible is my friend. No, more than that. The Bible is a tool my best friend, my Savior, uses to speak to me today. What an amazing thing, when you think about it. What an amazing God to develop this process.

May I ever continue to be faithful to read and listen and understand. And how about you? How do you feel about your Bible? How does your feelings toward it impact your life?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful for Family

Two weeks ago, I found myself back home with Mom and Dad. I won't go into all the details, just that the move required a lot of prayer and willingness to leave a comfort zone that has doubled as my support system through a very difficult season.

It felt very strange to unpack my things and realize that I would be sleeping on a bed that had my childhood headboard attached to it, yet Mom, Dad, and my sister Kristy had taken the time to decorate the room in a way that is 100% me, with room for my books, my computer, and my giant magnifying screen.

Between the painful circumstances that brought me here, saying goodbye to so many dear friends, and the struggles of adjusting to being under Mom and Dad's roof again, some might expect me to be extremely discouraged right now. While it isn't easy, I realize that I actually have many reasons to be Thankful. Thanksgiving week seems like an appropriate time to name some of those things. (Since Nathan had to list 10 things that he was thankful for as part of his penmanship homework today, I will also list 10.)

1) I have a loving family to move in with. They begged me to come for months before I actually took them up on it.
2) I love my room!
3) We will be here for the holidays, including many fun events that we usually miss out on.
4) Nathan gets to see his cousins several times a week.
5) Nathan now has the benefit of being influenced by his grandparents on a daily basis.
6) Uncle Brandon is teaching Nathan to play the drums--something he has been dying to learn.
7) After over a year of carrying the load of responsibility, I now have other adults to share it will. (Mom likes to clean and I love to cook, so guess who does what.)
8) We have time to regroup and rest after a difficult year.
9) It doesn't snow here. (Snow is pretty, but it isn't fun to shovel, and I always dread the ice.)
10) Being welcomed here is one more reminder that God is taking care of my family.

What are you thankful for this week? What change or difficulty are you seeing blessings in? I would love to hear about them.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Betrayal



I’m not going to color this pretty: Betrayal hurts more than almost anything (take it from the woman who’s recently given birth).

Have you had it happen to you (betrayal, not birth ;))? You thought you could trust him? He stepped into your life like a perfectly timed dance, at just the right moment…

...but when the music ended, he walked away?

Or better yet…

...He bowed, just after pulling the knife out your upper thigh?

(This is not an anti-man column. Girls can be even more vicious.)

So… when the pain goes deep, where do we run? When the person we trust the most wounds us the most, where can we go?

Here are a few things I’m continuing to learn for myself:

-    Accept what I’m feeling. Don’t push it down or try to ignore it.
-    Talk with someone who’s “safe” – not to gossip, but to process those feelings.
-    Write about it. Journal what’s happening.
-    Ask Jesus to meet me in the pain-to give me a picture, a verse, or a word that will start the healing process.
- Confront the person. Put on my big girl panties and try to understand where they're coming from.
-    Allow some space. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean trust. I don’t have to let unsafe people have full access to my life.

Betrayal hurts, but I don’t have to feel it alone. God Himself was betrayed with a kiss… did it not hurt Him even more to know what was coming?

Q4U: What do you do when the pain runs deep?

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Bekah Hamrick Martin writes about life, love, and relationships at her Bare Naked Blog, and in her book, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting, and God's Purity Plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday fun...

So it's officially "That Time Of Year".....

(The most wonderful time of the year? Isn't that a song? ::wink::)

Tell me...

What do YOU want for Christmas?  :)

(and please don't ask my four year old. You'll get an alphabetized, color coded list with bullet points.)

Seriously though, I love hearing the things on everyone else's Christmas lists. Partially because it gives me ideas for my own (hehe) and because I really enjoy seeing what people value, what is important to them, what they desire. It can be fascinating. Clothes, money, toys, gadgets, gift cards, home decor... ?

This holiday season as you make your list (and I really do want to know what you want!) try to remember to schedule time, money or energy into giving. Not just giving the gifts you always give  or make for family members, but for someone special. Someone who might not get a gift otherwise. Someone who needs some holiday cheer. A little bit goes a LONG way there. (Think homeless shelters, the kid at school who wears the same thing every week or who you know doesn't have a good home life, soup kitchens, church adoption projects, etc.)

PS - Quick poll: Are gift cards to stores you really like awesome or boring? Be honest!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

All Around the World



Every once in a while I get a really fun email. Here is one from my friend Mary DeMuth that I just had to share.

Dear Tricia,

A lifetime ago (well, four weeks ago), we flew a Transavia flight from Nice to Amsterdam. On the flight as I was getting my seat, I noticed a woman with one of YOUR NOVELS. I said, "Hey! I know that author." She smiled. "I love her writing," she said, in a thick Dutch accent. Be encouraged! Your words are reaching around the globe!!!!!

Mary

How fun is that?!

I suppose it still amazes me when I hear that people all over are actually reading my novel. They've been translated in German and Dutch and . . . still I get really excited to see them in a Barnes in Noble in Atlanta!

What an amazing thing the written word can do--share a piece of my heart with people I won't have the pleasure to meet . . . until eternity, that is.

You never know how God will use you. When I was a teen, I had no idea that God would use me to reach people all around the world. In fact, you as modern-day teens are probably just looking to get through this day in middle school or high school. But be encouraged, because you never know what path God will take you down.

When God gave the command to "share the good news with all nations," he meant it for everyone, whether young or old.

My question to you: How do you plan on sharing the good news with all nations?

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Week of Goodbyes

Last week was a week of goodbyes.

On Tuesday, a precious friend and writing mentor went home to be with Jesus after a battle with cancer. On the same day, another writer friend passed away after suffering a stroke.

I had a coffee date with a friend, a luncheon, and a potluck, as sendoffs  (we are saying, "See you later") before my youngest son and I made final preparations to move.

Yesterday, I sang with the choir for the last time before heading out of town.

My oldest son decided to stay where his job is instead of moving with us (he is an adult so I knew I needed to give him the freedom to make that choice), so I feel like I left part of my heart behind in Reno, Nevada.

Needless to say, this week has been one long emotional roller coaster ride. But one thing gives me hope--in each case, I say goodbye to someone I will spend eternity with. As I accept the reality that life is full of sadness and change and letting go, I know I will one day be in a place where I can enjoy my brothers and sisters in Christ--whether friends or family--forever, with no sad "See you laters."

Have you had to say goodbye to someone you love lately? How did God help you through it?


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Aiming for Perfection? Think Again.




I was minding my own business, driving to church, when suddenly I heard the familiar stutter. It was the engine, and it was talking to me:

Feed me.

Only I was miles from the gas station, I was wearing a pair of red heels completely not conducive to walking, and it was ninety-five degrees outside.

Easy, right? Make a phone call. Only it was at this very second my phone began to scream death chants at me. I’m dying! I’m dying! Beep. Beep.

I felt like I was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but with only one lifeline. I knew there was enough juice to make exactly one phone call as I veered to the side of the road and searched for the hazards on my husband’s Jeep.

(Did I mention it’s my husband’s Jeep? That the gas gauge is broken? That he apparently determines when it needs fuel by “how it feels when the engine cranks”? Nice.)

So I called a deacon from church. I listened hopefully as his phone rang again… and again… and again… finally to be answered. Only he was at the beach. Nowhere near my stranded car.

Score.

My deacon-friend blurted the church number quickly enough for me to hang up and dial the pastor’s wife, who sent a search party to the highway just as my phone breathed its last.

(And why did I not call my husband? He also was having a rough night and accidentally left his phone on the kitchen table.)

I arrived at church in time to teach four out of my five classes. But it wasn’t pretty. I was hot, I was sticky, and I was in a mood. Also, I’m pretty sure four out of every five kids won’t be coming back to VBS because of the gas fumes that were leaking from my pores.

I tell you this story as a confession:

I used to obsess about “having it together”.

I couldn’t teach, couldn’t write, couldn’t contribute unless my life resembled a perfectly pristine, starched, white shirt.

No wrinkles.

No flaws.

No mistakes.

I think it’s something we do as Christians; we don’t want people to know when we screw up. We don’t want to admit we don’t have it all together.

But God has something different to say about us. He wants us to do our best—all for His glory—but trust that He uses our weaknesses as strengths for His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 1 says, But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Feeling flawed today? Like you don’t have it all together?

Go ahead. Breathe deeply. Let it go. God might just choose to use that to further His kingdom.

****
Q4U: What can you let go of today?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book giveaway - A Perfect Square by Vannetta Chapman

Camy here! Today I’m giving away a book!

A Perfect Square (A Shipshewana Amish Mystery)
by
Vannetta Chapman

There's more to the quaint northern Indiana town of Shipshewana than handcrafted quilts, Amish-made furniture, immaculate farms and close-knit families. When a dead girl is found floating in a local pond, murder is also afoot. And Reuben Fisher is in jail as the suspect! Reuben refuses to divulge any information, even to clear himself of a crime Deborah is certain he didn't commit. So, with her English friend, Callie---fellow sleuth and owner of Daisy's Quilt Shop---Deborah sets out to uncover the truth. But the mystery deepens when an elderly man seeks Callie's help in finding his long-lost daughter, missing since the days of the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes. An old man who has lost his past. A young man who may lose his future. Once again Deborah and Callie find themselves trying to piece together a crazy quilt of lives and events---one that can bring unexpected touches of God's grace and resolve the tragedy that has shaken this quiet Amish community.

Camy here: I’m giving away 3 copies!

To enter to win today’s book, leave a comment on this blog post, giving your name and US state. Sorry, no international entrants. Please click here to read giveaway rules and why I had to change them.

Please also leave an email address or website where I can contact you (please use this format--you [at] yourmail.com--or something like that to prevent spammers from trolling for your email address). It is the winner’s responsibility to check to see if you won and to email me if you haven’t yet heard from me.

I always email the winner and give them a week to reply, but if I don’t receive an answer, I will pull another person to win the book. I am not responsible for a lost opportunity if you are on vacation or leave an email address you don’t check frequently.

Only one entry per person. The winner can expect their free book in 4-6 weeks.

I'll pick a name out of a hat on November 14th. (BTW, you can post a comment and NOT enter, too.)

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the first book in her new series, Protection for Hire, which is like Stephanie Plum meets The Joy Luck Club. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jesus's voice in the storm...

We all go through storms of various sizes and intensity. Storms regarding friendships, grades, choices, peer pressure, relationships, finances. No matter how old we are, how established we are, how wise we are - there is always either a storm coming or a storm we are just getting through.

I'm going through a storm right now that is deep and personal and hurts. A storm that leaves me helpless and out of control and pleading for God's mercy. A storm that instead of booms thunder, booms lies. A storm that instead of flashes lightning, flashes hopelessness. A storm that seems it could truly sweep me away.

The other night, a random storm sprung up here in the country. My four year old and I were headed home, and my husband was at the fire station. Little Miss is always more nervous when he's not at home, and she's TERRIFIED of lightning and thunder. I was reassuring her and comforting her while we were in the car driving down our street and parking in the carport. I carried her inside and once we got in the house, the truth of what I had just spoken slapped me across the face.

I'd said in the course of the last few minutes:

"It's just a storm, baby. God is still in control."

"This storm is just an example of God's power."

"It will be over soon."

"Remember the Bible story, when Jesus and His disciples were in the boat and a storm came? Jesus was asleep, and the disciples were scared. Jesus woke up and calmed the wind and the waves. The storm had to respond to Him."

"It made Jesus sad that His disciples didn't trust Him in the storm."

"Just because Jesus is in Heaven now doesn't mean He's not still in control."

Wow.

Yeah.

What's your storm today? And which sound are you choosing to listen to in the midst of it? The overwhelming noise of thunder and wind and crashing waves?

Or the voice of Jesus? The One who is in control of it all and won't let you drown?

I trust You today, Jesus.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Adopt Amish Principles . . . as a Teen

{source}

Living in Montana for fifteen years I enjoyed being out of the flow of busy life. Montana is a destination. It's not someplace people "drive through" or "stop by." Life has a slower pace, too. Maybe because there is snow on the ground 6 months of the year. Maybe because the views of the meadows, mountains and lakes make you remember what's really important in life—God, family, nature—and not the to-do list.

Imagine my surprise when I traveled up to the West Kootenai area and discovered a slower pace still. My daughter Leslie and I had lunch in the West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery and noticed neighbors running into each other and sitting down for an impromptu lunch—Amish and Englisch alike. There were little boys driving four-wheelers and a few girls riding horseback down the country lanes. Another teen boy was mowing the field behind the grocery but his attention seemed to be drawn to the sky and the mountains on the horizon as much as the weeds he was trying to whack down. People in the store chatted about their gardens and yesterday's rain. I thought my life had been slow-paced in Kalispell, but being in the mountains of West Kootenai I felt like I'd taken my first deep breath.

Since writing Beside Still Waters I've moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Things are busier here. There are more cars, more traffic, more things to do and see. The challenge for me has been not to get caught up in the flow. To remember that just because people around me have full schedules doesn't mean I have to do the same. It's something I'm still trying to figure out.

Yet being in the West Kootenai has taught me a few lessons I've tried to incorporate, and you can, too.

1. If you run into a friend, whether you're at school or at the grocery store, try to chat for even five minutes. Ask about that person's day. Ask how they really are.

2. Take a few minutes to enjoy nature. Yes, that means putting down the phone for a few seconds. Really stop and look at those beautiful vegetables you are bagging up at the grocery store. Pause to appreciate a flower bed at the park or even in front of your favorite store.

3. Take a big breath and sit back and enjoy lunch on a weekend with someone you care about. You don't need to be on vacation or spring break to make time for a friend.

4. Finally, appreciate God's handiwork in your area. He's created each place with joys of their own. Don't forget to thank Him for that today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Making Health Fun

Lately I have been on a health kick. A stressful couple years was taking its toll and I couldn't afford to get sick or drag around. One fear I had was that I would start out strong only to lose my enthusiasm and slack off. Instead, the opposite has happened. The more benefits I see (make that feel) in this healthier eating plan, the more I want to stick with it. The nice part is that my family is on board too, which hasn't always been the case in the past. I think part of this has to do with my attempts to make it fun. For example, we discovered that we can pack a lot of nutrition into a smoothie and it still tastes like dessert. The nice thing about smoothies is that you can throw in whatever you want. Here a few items to keep on hand for a quick health boost:

Milk
Yogurt (I like plain Greek style)
Frozen berries
Bananas
Other fruits like mango or kiwi
Honey
Wheat germ or ground flax seed
Ice cubes


If you really want to be brave, add a handful of spinach or kale. I tried this a few weeks ago and no one in my family could taste the difference.

You don't need to know how to cook; you only need to know how to operate a blender. Smoothies make for a great breakfast or afternoon snack.

Play around with different combinations and see what great-tasting things you can come up with.

I would love to read some of your creations if you come up with a recipe that you really like.

Enjoy!





     

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Social Media

Camy here! I was at Yogurtland with the high school kids from my church youth group because only two of them came, so instead of having lesson, we went for frozen yogurt. :)

We were talking about social media--well, specifically Facebook and Instagram. It was neat getting their perspective on it and understanding how they used it as opposed to how I and my husband use it.

I use Facebook a lot for connecting with people who read my books, and also for playing Zuma Blitz. :) (I love Zuma Blitz!)

I haven’t used it for connecting with my youth group, mostly because I accept pretty much any friend request, and I don’t know a lot of those people personally, and I don’t want any of them to be able to be find the profiles of any of the youth I know.

The high school kids, on the other hand, use social media as “social” media. They connect with friends and utilize media in a way I don’t often think about. Take Instagram. I haven’t used it much, but they were talking about the ways they use Instagram all the time, and it enables them to post pictures on Facebook a lot easier than the clunky Facebook app on their phones.

So how about you? How do you use social media? And if you’re on Facebook, like my author page! Pretty please? :)

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the first book in her new series, Protection for Hire, which is like Stephanie Plum meets The Joy Luck Club. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's enough?

Betsy here, with a hard question today.

What's enough?

Interesting question, too - and if you ask a 4 year old, the answer is usually "nothing". lol They always want more juice in their sippy cup, more Cheezits in their bowl, more cartoons on TV, more candy at Halloween, more money in their piggy bank, more friends at their birthday party, and always, always more cake.

It's never enough.

And we're sort of like 4 years old too, aren't we?

We never have enough friends. Enough popularity. Enough allowance. Enough clothes. Enough attention from the hot guy at school. Enough status. Enough cash. Enough talent for the team. Enough GPA to get to the college we want to go to.

It's exhausting, isn't it? The good news, JESUS is enough. And I know that sounds like a trite, church answer. I used to think that too, used to think that I SHOULD believe that. And I did believe it. But rarely felt it. It was like, okay, God, I know you're supposed to be enough for me, and my pastor says that a lot, but I'm not feeling it. Come on - I'm human. I want this other stuff too. I want a boyfriend and a husband and kid and a good job and my dreams to come true. I want to love and be loved. I want money and a nice house one day and security. I want to tour Europe and live life. What's wrong with that?

Jesus came that we might have ABUNDANT life. And abundant life isn't found when we stick Jesus to one side and focus on that never ending, exhausting, "never enough list". Because when we get those things, we discover they weren't enough after all.

And that truly, seriously, deeply - only Jesus is.

Think about that today, as you review your list of wants and needs and desires and longings. Where does Jesus fit at the list? The Bible tells us to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added. "Added" - meaning, later, in addition to, at another time. Because we have to get the steps in the right order, guys. And when we truly live for Jesus and want Him and let Him be enough in our hearts, we're strengthened and encouraged for the journey.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Top Ten Reasons to Stay Abstinent


No one doubts that sexual activity is physically, emotionally, and socially dangerous.

But what are the actual risks?

10. The risk of death. More than 600,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the United States since 1981. As many as 900,000 Americans may be infected with HIV.

1 Corinthians 6:18 says, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body."

9. The risk of lost relationships. When you choose to develop a sexual relationship with someone, you've immediately changed the definition of the relationship. There is no such thing as casual sex. Once you have developed a sexual relationship, that relationship turns a critical corner. After the relationship ends, you and your partner will experience that guilt and pain of promises broken.

Hebrews 12:16 says, "See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son."

8. Risks of incurable disease. Imagine you have found that one special person with whom you want to share your life . . . and now you are forced to break the news that you have an incurable disease. Even though such diseases like herpes are generally not considered life-threatening, currently no cures exist. Not only is it incurable, but it fills a life with worries, awkward revelations, and continuous need for medication.

1 Corinthians 6:13 says, "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."

7. The risk of damaging the destiny of your future marriage. There is no way premarital sex of any kind is positive for your future marriage. (Just ask my husband how he feels "knowing" about my past.) It only causes suspicion, mistrust, and regret.

Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."

6. The risk of permanently damaging your testimony as a Christian. You'll never be able to say honestly, "I was a virgin before I was married." You'll never be able to live as an example of committed purity.

Ephesians 5:3 says, "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."

5. The risk of depression. Those who participate in premarital sex experience emotional damage that can lead to an increased chance of mental depression and emotional despair.

2 Corinthians 12:21 says, "I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged."

4. The risk of placing your future children in spiritual harm's way. The Bible clearly speaks of the concept of generational sin. What you sow (plant) spiritually may be reaped in the life of your children. Remain pure before God, and you'll be tenaciously guarding the future of the next generation.

Proverbs 20:7 says, "The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him."

3. The risk of sexual dysfunction. People spend millions of dollars to correct sexual dysfunction through drugs and psychotherapy. Why? Because they entered marriage with unresolved sexual issues. For example, a man may think that he will be free from the curse of pornography once he gets married, only to find that the problems are even more noticeable and controlling. Sexual purity before marriage is the first step to incredible sexual fulfillment after marriage.

Mark 7:21 says, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,"

2. The risk of shame. Premarital sex imputes a spiritual state of shame that becomes a major weapon for our enemy. God forgives you, but you will still be vulnerable to Satan's whispering accusations on your worth.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 says, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you . . . Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief?"

1. The risk of disobeying God and letting Satan get a foothold. The Bible, time after time, tells us to flee sexual sins. Why? Because it is a major strategy of the devil to sabotage God's work on Earth. How can God work through you when you aren't living up to His standards?

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality."

So, what do you think?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

When it hurts too much to pray




I've been thinking a lot about Hannah lately; about her desire for a child.

Even when God was silent, Hannah continued to press in. Even when her heart was breaking... she didn't push the Lord away.

Lately I've been grieving my own lack of answers. And I know my heart is a great distance from Jesus, as if I've withdrawn into myself; somehow become immobilized.

Tonight, as I lay on the floor, I asked Jesus to meet me there. To make up the distance I could not reach. To give me the desire for relationship with Him in the midst of the pain He's allowing.

Not even to restore me... but just to begin by wooing me.

Woo me gently, Jesus
When I don't have the strength to raise my hand
Woo me gently, Jesus
When my heart breaks and cannot understand

I've knelt before You here so many times
I gasp for air, not sure that I'm alive
My hopes are scattered pieces on the ground
I try to speak -- my lips won't make a sound

When I am broken, lonely, and ashamed...
Gentle Jesus, woo me once again.

****
God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit... (Psa. 34:18)

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart... (Psa. 37:4)

Trust in the Lord and do good, trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass...
(Psa. 37:3)


****
Postscript: I wrote this blog before God gave me the desires of my heart. He answered my prayer most of all in allowing me to see that He was enough for me in the waiting.

Will you ask Him to be enough for you today, even when it hurts?

Love,
Bekah

Monday, September 24, 2012

Labels

This past weekend I attended a writer's conference, the 2012 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas, Texas (www.acfw.com) and as always, it was fabulous. I took away a lot of info this year related to craft, and more importantly, related to my heart.

One of those nuggets of truth I'd like to tell you today.

Fellow author and teacher JIM RUBART (he writes fabulous books, ya'll) said during one class I attended "You can't see the label from inside the bottle." He was speaking partly in regards to our writing careers as authors - meaning it's hard to see how we are being perceived, how we appear to others, our label, our brand in our career, what we represent, etc. But he also meant in regards to our heart. And that applies to you too, author or not.

It's hard to see ourselves from inside us. After all, we all live internally. Only we hear the echoes of our hearts, only we hear the thoughts in our heads. These echoes and thoughts are what develop us and shape us and give people the outside persona.

What does your label say?

Your label, in my opinion, is how you dress, how you speak, how you act, how you react, etc. So what does your wardrobe say about you? What does your reaction to a traffic jam say about you? What does a bad grade on a paper say about you?

More importantly - What do you WANT it to say?

Think about today, as you go about school or work or other hobbies/chores. What is your outside label reading, and does it match what you want others to read about you?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Weekend, Watch a Movie


I know what you're thinking: Classic movies are boring. They're old. They're not relevant. But let me just tell you that I loved these movies as a kid, and as my kids grew older and I showed them these movies, they came to love them, too. So, since this is the weekend, grab your friends and host a classic movie weekend. You might just be surprised at "new" favorites you'll find!

Tricia's Top Picks:

Newsies—My 20-year-old daughter and I love watching it together. The music and dancing is great!

Source: google.com via Tricia on Pinterest


The Sound of Music—I didn't watch this until I was an adult, and now I watch it a few times a year. I've been to Austria and know members of the von Trapp family, so that makes it extra special to me.

Source: imdb.com via Tricia on Pinterest


The Parent TrapThis was my favorite movie growing up. I didn't know my biological father ,so I always dreamed I had a sister out there somewhere. Come to find out I had four sisters!

Beauty and the BeastThis was the first movie I took my son Cory to. He sat through the whole movie, eyes wide.

Annie (1982 version)I love the music, and I love the story. Carol Burnett cracks me up.

The Princess BrideThis is a family favorite. If you are around the Goyers for any length of time, you'll hear us quoting it!

The SandlotThis was Cory and Nathan's favorite movie when they were small. Along with The Land Before Time, I can sit there and quote the whole movie!

It's a Wonderful LifeThis is my favorite Christmas movie. I'd always begged my kids to watch it with me. They were turned off by it being black and white, but when they finally watched it, they loved it, too!

Below is a list of movies for teens. Make sure you check out reviews first.

The List:
2,000 Leagues Under the Sea
3 Ninjas
Alice in Wonderland
All I Want For Christmas
Angels in the Outfield
Anne of Green Gables
Annie
Annie Get Your Gun
Back to the Future
Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Benji
Big Red
Bob Hope Movies
Calamity Jane
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlotte's Web
Cheaper by the Dozen
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Cinderella 
Corina Corina
Crocodile Dundee
Denise the Menace
Dudley DoRight
E.T.
Free Willy
Incredible Journey
Into the West
It's a Wonderful Life
Goonies
Heidi
Herbie the Love Bug (old versions)
Home Alone
Homeward Bound
Hook
Iron Will
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Karate Kid
Little Women
Mary Poppins
Matilda
My Fair Lady
My Girl
Newsies
No Deposit, No Return
Not Quite Human
October Sky
Oklahoma 
Old Yeller
Oliver
Pete's Dragon
Pippi Longstockins
Pollyanna
Richie Rich
Rocketeer
Sabrina (older version)
Secondhand Lions
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Shirley Temple
Short Circuit
Singing in the Rain
Sound of Music
The Apple Dumpling Gang
The Labyrinth
The Man from Snowy River
The Mouse on the Motorcycle
The Mountain Family Robinson
The Never-Ending Story
The Court Jester
The Princess Bride
The Sandlot
The Scarlet Pimpernel (with Leslie Howard)
The Secret Garden
The Swan Princess
The Swiss Family Robinson
The Music Man
The Little Toaster
The Three Musketeers
The Treasure Seekers
The Wizard of Oz
Where the Red Fern Grows
White Fang
Yours, Mine and Ours

Enjoy! And also let me know of any that I missed!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Who’s reading Young Adult novels?

Camy here! I came across this article in Publisher’s Weekly today about a study that showed 55% of YA Books are bought by adults. I thought that was interesting, although not really surprising.

I know this blog has a wide age range of readers, but the majority of you guys are young, right? So I thought if you guys are up for it, some of you please tell me:

1) how old you are (you can fudge and say twenties or thirties or forties rather than your age)

and

2) if you read young adult novels

I admit that I do, and I’m almost 40. But I’ve also worked with the youth group at church for 16 years now. My editors have often told me my adult characters sound too young, and I’m like, “But that’s how I talk!” so I think my youth group stint has made me think I’m younger than I really am. :)

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the first book in her new series, Protection for Hire, which is like Stephanie Plum meets The Joy Luck Club. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Monday, September 10, 2012

For every season...let there be candycorn.


I mean. It's like they read my mind...

Autumn brings to mind blessings, and for the above, trust me - I'm pretty grateful ;)

What about you? What does Harvest Season do for your soul? I've never met a person, young or old, who didn't like Fall.

Think about - Spring is pretty popular, but has naysayers because of the pollen. (achooo!) Winter is enjoyed or despised for various reasons (too cold, or some other people love the cold) Summer is controversial because kids love being out of school (and teachers too!) but a lot of people just can't stand the heat.

But Autumn? It's beloved.

I think Autumn reveals to us a lot about God. It's a season when things are reserved, calming. Leaves are changing colors and twirling to the ground. It's almost mystical. There is still color, but it's muted. The air is brisk and tangy. Some view the falling leaves as death, others as a peaceful wait period before the promises of Spring and renewal.

Are you in a rough season right now? Remember, God promises His own Spring. Whatever trials you're facing are only for a season, an appointed time until life buds forth again. Regardless of the season, God is with you. He promises that, friend.

(And I'm personal testimony to the fact that you CAN save up enough candycorn through Autumn to last well into the summer...)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

True or Not True?


In the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy, one of Katniss’s friends (I won’t say who in case you haven’t gotten to Book 3 yet) is held prisoner by the evil Capitol. He returns a completely different person who has been so tortured mentally that he no longer trusts Katniss. In fact, thanks to the Capitol’s cruel mind games, he is convinced that she is his enemy. The method that finally brings him back to reality is an ongoing routine of “True or not true.” He has a memory, good or bad, and asks her if it really happened.



“You (fill in the good memory). True or not true?”

“True.”

“You (fill in the bad memory)? True or not true?”

“Not true.”

Even while hearing that some of his worst nightmares are false, he must learn to trust Katniss again. Is she playing games with him like the Capitol did? Learning to recognize the truth from the lies in his head forces him to consider the source and choose to trust a friend who has so clearly earned it. 

Recently, the “True or not true” topic came to mind while discussing fears with some friends at church. One friend wanted to teach her kids to play this game when they got scared.

“There’s a monster under my bed. True or not true? Really?”

“God is with me, even in the dark. True or not true?”

I realized that I needed to start playing “True or not true” in some areas myself.

“I can’t expect God to keep providing for me. True or not true?”

“Life will always be this hard; I might as well accept it. True or not true.”

“Just because I can’t see what’s next, doesn’t mean God isn’t working. True or not true.”

I admit that it’s often difficult to sort the truth from the mind games that the enemy plays with me, and even the games I play with myself. But I’m learning to trust what I know about God. He has definitely earned my trust.

What about you? Do you feel like your mind is full of so many confusing messages that you can’t decide which is true and which isn’t? Do you need to start a regular “True or not true” routine? How do you know when a thought is from God?