Friday, December 30, 2011

The Journals

January opened her journal and began to jot down her New Year’s resolutions: Attend church faithfully!

June opened her journal and wrote down the happenings of the week: Family’s here from up north. I was unable to attend church this month. Went boating with family. God understands. He knows that family is very important!

December opened her journal and scribbled down her thoughts for the past year: I can’t believe it! I went to church today and someone came up and asked me if I would fill out a visitor’s card! I know I’ve missed a few Sundays, but who do they think they are?

January opened her journal and jotted down her dreams for the coming year: Lord, I’m willing to be used however You see fit. Put me where You need me, Master!

June opened her journal and wrote down what happened that week: Pastor Paul asked me if I would help in the nursery at church. Now, that takes a lot of gall! Doesn’t he know that I am way too educated to be wiping noses and bottoms? I think the mothers of all those possessed urchins should take care of their own little monsters. That’s what’s wrong with mothers today. They expect others to do their dirty work. They don’t want to take care of their own. What’s the world coming to?

December opened her journal and scribbled down her thoughts for the past year: I am so sick and tired of Pastor Paul asking for volunteers at the church. I guess I need to type up a resume of jobs I will not do—I refuse to work in the nursery, teach Sunday school, clean the church, or visit the sick. I don’t want to catch anything. Why, can’t Pastor Paul see how valuable I am? What I would love to do is be in charge of a seminar. Oh yes, I could be up front and teach others about “servanthood.” Our church needs more servants.

January opened up her journal and began to jot down her goals for the New Year: Give above and beyond my tithe this year!

June opened up her journal and penciled in the budget for the week: The economy has plummeted.  Everything costs so much—Libby’s braces, Rachel’s college, health insurance! God gave me this great job to meet my needs. I know He’ll understand if I can’t give anything this week.

December opened up her journal and penned these words: The church treasurer gave us our yearly financial receipts for tax purposes. This can’t be right. According to this report I only gave God my pocket change. This sure doesn’t help me get much of a tax break!

January opened up her journal and jotted down her expectations for the next few months: Forgive those who have offended me!

June opened up her journal and began jotting down her thoughts: Who on earth does Lillie Williams think she is? Just because she inherited all those millions, she thinks she can just boss everybody around. Who died and made her queen?

December opened her journal groaning and moaning as she wrote: I cooked Lillie Williams’ goose today. I’ve informed all the ladies at Bible study about her ulterior motives in giving all that money to the church. She thinks I don’t know what she is up to. She’ll probably want the church named after her. I can see it now: Lillie’s Christian Center! It’s a good thing God has made me so discerning so I can warn the pastor about her. He is so gullible, always believing the best in people.


January slipped inside the sanctuary. She sat on the back pew between December and June.

“You guys, I read your journals.” January gasped, “I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

“We read yours, too, January.” June replied as December nodded, “Let’s face it we’re all a mess!”

“Pastor Paul said that’s why God sent us a “Mess-iah” to help us get out of our mess. We need some major help.” December grinned.

“Let’s get it right this time.” January pleaded.

December agreed. “Yeah, I’m tired of coming up short at the end of the year.”

June nodded. “Me too. I’m tired of spiritual summer slumps.”

“And I’m tired of end of the year burn out.” December cried.

January put her arms around her two companions and chuckled, “Time for a group hug.”

They all chimed together at the top of their voices in unison, “We must stay close to Jesus and not allow the devil to add pollution to our New
Year's resolutions!”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Bag that Faith Built

We live in an exciting era. Technology makes it possible for our story to go around the world in the click of a mouse.

I always encourage my writing friends to blog. The more we write, the better writers we will become, and blogging is an excellent writing exercise. Not only will we hone our writing skills, but God may use our words to inspire others.

Last week, our oldest daughter, Rachel, shared about her ectopic pregnancy on her blog. She and her husband were devastated when they lost their first child. Rachel doesn’t claim to be a “writer.” She’s just a young wife and mother sharing on her blog how God has been faithful to her. Her words brought comfort to many other women who read her blog and are facing their own difficulties. Rachel’s blog is a perfect example of how God can use our story to encourage someone.
I felt I was to share Rachel’s story with you today. I hope it will ignite the writing fire in you. So without further adieu, I would like to introduce you to our firstborn, Rachel Michelle Phillips Nolt.

The Bag that Faith Built

The year was 2008. I was at this dark place. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t rainbows. In fact, it was hard and yucky. There was pain like I had never experienced before. And I was crawling through it. Hardly holding on, struggling for each breath.

And then God sent my sister, Beka. We went out to eat, and while we were there she told me we were going to Wal-Mart, right across the street from where we were eating. Beka isn’t a Wal-Mart person so I really didn’t know what we were doing. We walked inside and she told me her plan. “We’re heading to the baby department and picking out a diaper bag. We’re going to fill it with baby clothes for your future baby.”

I raised my eyebrows and resisted her instructions. “I don’t know, Beka.”

She spoke in soothing tones. “Rachel, this is going to be your “faith bag.” Every time you see it, you’ll be reminded of hope for the future.”

Sounds fun, right? I’m not going to lie. It was hard. I was in excruciating emotional pain. And the pain didn’t ease as I went through the motions and picked out a bag. But then I chose two blue newborn outfits, and I felt my heart heal a little bit. A seed was planted, but when I got home I hid the bag. I couldn’t put the outfits in a cute dresser drawer and get excited for the growing baby inside my womb. Mine was gone . . . taken from me before I knew if my baby was a boy or girl. Gone before I ever held my little one in my arms. I was at a loss.

Months went by and I didn’t look at the bag. I forgot about it and walked through depression I had never experienced before. Months passed and I hadn’t conceived. Everyone else was having a baby, but my womb was empty, painfully empty.

Finally, nine long months later, I was pregnant. I dug out the bag from the bottom of my closet. When I opened it, I wept. In my faith bag were the two winter newborn outfits. And here I was, pregnant with a little one who would need newborn winter outfits.

Easton Paul was born and fit perfectly in his little “faith” outfit. Every time he wore the outfit, I was reminded how God turned my sorrow into joy. Not only was my baby boy growing, but my faith was growing as well.

Seventeen months after Easton’s birth came Lincoln Hunter. Joy filled my heart when I stuffed our ten pound newborn baby boy in the “faith” outfit.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about that little outfit and how it will be a keepsake and reminder of God’s faithfulness. God used my “faith” bag to build faith in me. As I look back, I realize the first time I picked out the outfit a healing process began. I didn’t realize it completely because I was in so much pain. But slowly, ever so slowly, that little seed of faith was growing. But sometimes faith has a way of staying hidden and quiet. It shows itself at times and hides when you think it’s completely lost.

With Easton Paul, my faith was growing. I still had fears and sorrow, but my faith was stronger.

Then when I saw Lincoln wear the little outfit, something in my heart screamed, “I’m free!”

Will trials come? Yep. Do I want them to? Nope. They are not fun. But I know my Redeemer lives.
And He works when we don’t think He is working. He’s planting tiny seeds of faith in our lives. We can trust Him fully because He is wholly true.

So if you are facing sorrow today, go out and buy yourself a bag and fill it full of faith.
Years later, your heart will sing! Great is His faithfulness!

The babies in the faith outfit . . .
Lincoln Hunter
Easton Paul

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Write On

I will never forget a little poem I learned many years ago.
Two natures lie within my breast.
One is foul and one is blessed.
One I love and one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

At the first reading of this thought-provoking poem, we could think of many fleshly desires we might feed on that would take us for a walk down the darker side of life, but I want to visit with those of you who feel called to write in small and big ways, but insecurity and fear of failure have kept you from wielding your pen for Jesus.

Satan will make a punching bag out of anyone who will entertain his lies. Here are a few of his tormenting thoughts that can hinder you from writing for the Lord.
Who do you think you are? You can’t write. You have no education.

Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.

Stop dreaming. God will never allow your dreams to come true.

If we “feed” these negative thoughts, they will dominate and we will never write for the Lord.
I would like to take the time to dispel some of Satan’s myths.

Who do you think you are? You can’t write. You have no education.

”I am a child of the living God.” The Bible doesn’t say we have to be proficient in writing to share what the Lord has done for us. Most of the disciples were uneducated and unlearned men, but Jesus chose them and used them to turn the world upside down.

Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.

Satan is the one who doesn’t want to hear what you have to share. He doesn’t want to hear how the Lord has touched your life. He is the one who wants to give you a fatal case of “lockjaw.” Jesus wants you to “go and tell”what He has done for you. So others can come to know Him too.

Stop dreaming. God will never allow your dreams to come true.

It’s true that sometimes our dreams can be full of selfish ambition. God has His ways of giving us a reality check when that happens, but there are other times when, like Joseph, God births a dream inside of us. He has adivine plan and purpose for those dreams to come true. Don’t be afraid to dream big for Jesus.

There are numerous ways we can write for the Lord. We don’t have to write a novel or text book. Let’s look at some of the ways God could use us.

Are you a Deborah with a gift of wisdom for counseling? Share your wisdom in a blog, short story, or letter to a friend.

Maybe God has raised you up like Daniel and He wants to have you take a firm stand and write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or politicians. Let God use your words so right can win over might!

Are you like Mary and Martha with a gift of organization or hospitality? Share your recipes and creative ideas with others. Simple tips can help make life better for others.

Are you a David with songs welling up in your heart? Keep a journal of those songs. Share them at a nursing home or with your church. Your song can minister to a hurting soul.

May we never forget that God gave a “little” Jesus to a hurting world. Let’s give a “little” Jesus to someone today. Your story can make life sweeter for someone in a bitter trial. In Jesus’ name we write on!

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