Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Christian Writers Blog Chain: Thankfulness

Every so often my children receive a package, in the mail, from their loving Grandmother who lives on the other side of the states. Their favorite gifts, of course, are the tapes of cartoons she records off of one of the many kids channels found on satellite or cable. Especially since we don't have immediate access to either one. This most recent tape, though, came from a Christian kids channel.

Now as a mom, it is amazing to me how many times God speaks to me through these little cartoons. Funny even, but stopping in the living room the other day, I felt God had, once again, orchestrated the message for my benefit.

The woman, whose smiling face lit up the screen, was explaining the design of her teaching puppets. Each puppet had a pocket, which enclosed a heart, and wrapped in each heart was a lesson, something that this puppet carried. And like the things we also carry in our hearts, it could be good or bad. In this particular puppet, as she unwrapped the heart, a tape measure spilled out.

Let me just say, I, Sarah, carry a tape measure in my heart. That puppet could have, very well, been made to represent me. I, like the puppet, am always trying to measure up to the standards I create for myself, making a point to note all the places I fall short; as a parent, a wife, a friend, a housekeeper, and a provider. Measure, measure, measure. I base my standards on another person's accomplishments, another's strengths, and of course, berate myself when I fail to measure up.

But, I forget too often, that my true worth is NOT measured in human standards, nor my significance in the eyes of man... or this WOman, for that matter.

As this Thanksgiving draws near I am reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of God's house, where there are NO tape measures. There would be no need. God sees us, as we are, individuals, each unique with our own strengths and weaknesses. And nothing we can accomplish could ever earn the love and acceptance He already freely gave. How grateful I am that He would take the time to remind me. As He always does.

I will never fully comprehend how the God of the universe, the God who oversees billions of people, could care enough, to send a message to this solitary woman from central Wisconsin. But - I am infinitely grateful.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, for Your overwhelming and undeserved, love.

In the past couple weeks of following the Christian Writers Blog Chain I have read so many wonderful thoughts and stories, about thankfulness in times of trouble, for the beauty God placed all around us, direction for misplaced thanks, the list goes on. However, in each blog, the underlying message is this - we serve a God who cares. Please take the time to visit the blog links to the right. I promise you'll be blessed! Have a wonderful, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding Your Writer's Voice

 "My own feeling is that voice is a natural attribute. You no more control it than you can control the color of your eyes - nor would you want to... To set your voice free, set your words free. Set your characters free. Most important, set your heart free. It is from the unknowable shadows of your subconscious that your stories will find their drive and from which they will draw their meaning. No one can loan you that or teach you that. Your voice is your self in the story." - Donald Maass

Had to post this paragraph. Please, someone let me know if by doing so I am infringing on any rights. However, I wanted to share this since it is probably the best explanation of "voice" that I have read/heard so far.


Friday, November 5, 2010

I Can't...

Some of my biggest struggles in life stem from the diminutive voice which persistently reminds me of all my past failures and present inadequacies. This dark and pensive voice continues to feed my doubts until they grow insurmountable and I am driven to the point where giving up seems the safest and most reasonable decision. It is the detrimental influence in my life that drives me further and further from what God would have me to do.  The stab in the dark that makes me question the expectations God has for me. I am rendered incompetent, defective, unusable.

And yet, in the darkness, the voice of Truth speaks. His story is much different. Though His voice be but a whisper, Iwill hear Him. Though the waves of doubt crash hard upon my shore, He is there. Calm. Confident. Reminding me that it is not my strength that carries me, but His. Only through Him can I do all things. My weaknesses turn to strengths, failure turns to victory. Through Him, all that was impossible becomes possible.

The voice of Truth speaks... Take the hand of faith, stand upon the waves, let His strength be yours. Listen, and believe...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Old Fashioned Love

Our local Dairy Queen is rarely crowded, due to it's convenient location apart from the mass of restaurants that occupy the North end of our community. It is the reason I enjoy taking my three little ones for special treats in reward for good work in school or for prolong accounts of good behavior. But this time, I couldn't help but wonder if God had something special He wanted to share with me. Of course I had no idea, as we took our seats and waited for our food, and maybe to the average person this exchange would have gone unnoticed, but it touched me more than this couple could have possibly known.

In this day we live, where love is disposable, spouses are exchangeable, and vows are conditional, it is rare to witness the evidence of a long lasting love. True love. One that expands time. One that grows old, and never impatient. One that is 'Old Fashioned'. It is one we all long for but are not willing to give for...

This elderly couple, of which I speak, slowly walked to a corner booth, her arm draped through his, a pair of dark lenses shading her sightless eyes. He spoke softly to her and held her arm as she felt for her seat and slid in. After ordering their food he returned and sat as they waited, constantly talking to her, explaining what was on the muted TV screen, or out the large glass window. I watched somewhat entranced over the top of my kids heads, hoping not to be noticed for fear my gawking would be misunderstood. But not once did he look away from her.

When their food arrived he carefully unwrapped her sandwich, then tore away a piece of bun, to make it easier for her to eat, before pressing it gently into her hands. As she ate he smoothed the wrapper flat before her, sprinkling on it half their shared container of fries, explaining as he went what was before her. He did the same as he readied her drink and helped her locate it. All the while patient, as she fumbled and felt and he directed her, making sure she had everything she needed before he finally lifted his wrapped burger from the tray.

He watched her while he ate, reaching out every now and then to pick a dropped crumb from her clothing. All so light and gentle that I wondered if she even knew he had done it. His care of her was so loving, and tender, and so very evident in the way he looked at her, touched her. My words do no justice to describe it.

I continued to watch as they finished and he helped her to the counter, bought her an ice cream cone and took her to their van, slowly and patiently, holding her arm and steadying her as he helped her into her seat then shut the door. It was a beautiful display of love that had me dwelling upon what they must have been like before time had stolen their youth, back when they first fell in love. Back when love was love.

They are but a rare gem in a world void of meaningful relationships. A message to us all if we are only willing to listen. The definition of 'love' is not one of reception but one of giving. Love is patient, kind, does not seek for itself, does not hold records of wrongs, it gives without expecting to receive. This man could not expect to receive back the care that he gave his wife, and yet he did so with so much love.

Maybe our generation's proclamation of love has no meaning because the meaning is no longer known, or rather, no longer accepted. To love is to be selfless. A hard pill to swallow in a world obsessed with self. But until we swallow the meaning, "love" will never last. It will continue to fade. True love, however, never fails. It lasts until death, and even so, beyond the grave. Love...

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Trust and Wind

We had a windy few days, last week, here in the Midwest. Trees and power lines were brought down, homes ruined and vehicles blown off the road. A swath of disaster marks the path of this history-making Midwestern storm.

Living here in the lower half of Wisconsin we received gusty winds up to 60mph and sustained winds hovering in the 30s. It was enough to make a person go insane with the sound of wind that howled about the house, flinging twigs and leaves against the window panes. I was constantly braced for what I felt was the imminent destruction of my home, and the threatened safety of my children.

I have never been one to worry over God's provision for my family. I know he will take care of our everyday needs. He has yet to let us go hungry. But I struggle with trusting God for protection. And more so with trusting Him for my children's protection.

Things that I find of less importance to me, such as wealth and material things, I give to Him freely. Take it, Lord, it's Your's. But my children, who mean everything to me, I cling to. So on my own I shelter them, try to protect them, use all my mortal abilities, and yet it could never be enough. Nor should it be.

Who am I to think my hands more capable then that of my heavenly Father's? The King of Kings the Lord of Lords, Conquer of the world, Ruler over death, Calmer of Storms. Heaven and earth bow before Him. It is only He that nature listens too. Only He can lift the planets and change their course. Only He can speak a name and bring a person into being. Only He.... Only He. His power is infinite and His love unconditional. He Is. He Was. And He will always be... God.

No hands could be better, nor more qualified then His, to hold, protect, and love my children. None.