Tag Archives: Faith

What to Do When You’re Missing Chapter One

open-book

Have you ever read a fictional or biographical book minus the first chapter?

I remember as a young child sitting in the book closet of our home (I never realized until I just typed that phrase that we had a “book closet” rather than a “linen closet”! I’m thankful my parents cared that much to keep us stocked with good reading!) and reading Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John.

The book so profoundly affected me that as seven year old, I determined I was going to be a wood carver…and for several years saved money to purchase carving tools. In hindsight and judging by my decidedly un-artistic abilities, it’s probably good that this dream never materialized into mangled pieces of wood. But I digress.

One aspect I remember most about reading Treasures of the Snow was its missing cover and front pages. The story begins with a Christmas Eve scene in the Alps of Switzerland. In the first chapter, the main characters and their relationship both to one another and to the plot of the story is set…but I missed some of these pages. Without these important details, I struggled to make sense of following pages.

It’s too bad to miss the beginning of a book you’re reading. But what if you miss the beginning of the story you’re living? Continue reading

Of Birds, Hope, and Ten-Year Landmarks: Why You Can Rejoice in the Storm

cardinal

I saw a date in the margin of my Bible this morning that made me start—2/26/04. It wasn’t just the date that took me by surprise, but the realization that it has been exactly ten years since that day.

I remember where I was when I wrote that date—on the top bunk in a guest room in Bowie, Texas.

I remember the verse I read just before I wrote that date. (I don’t actually have to remember that one—it’s right there in the margin of my Bible. But I remember it anyway.) Psalm 86:4, “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”

I remember what I did after I read that verse and wrote it in my journal. I stepped outside the guest house with a spiral notebook and sat on the back stoop to write an article for the magazine I was editing at the time. The article appeared in the June/July ’04 issue of Stepping in the Light, and it was titled “Sing, Little Bird!” The article provides some insight into that day: Continue reading

I Will Hope: 13 Practical Ways to Choose Hope

desert-hope

Hope is a noun and a verb. It is what we have, and it is what we do. We who know the Lord already have hope, but we must also choose hope.

I recently did a Bible study on the word hope, and I was amazed at what I found. With 121 verses with this word (and 12 more verses when you add forms of the word), hope is all throughout Scripture. I prepared a Sunday school lesson from the study, and I had to leave out more verses than I could include!

Through my study, I compiled a list of thirteen practical ways we can choose hope. Continue reading

Words for the Week: Hope Thou in God

sunrise-boat

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.—Psalm 42:5

Hope is one of the greatest gifts of life. It is faith’s twin sister, and it is courage’s strength.

Christian hope is far more than a Pollyanna outlook; it is confidence in our sovereign God.

I recently read a statement by G.K. Chesterton: “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” Continue reading

All the Hope in the World on a Bad Day

morning light

In the last 36 hours, I’ve made approximately 732 resolutions to always back up my computer hard drive. In the previous 36 hours, I didn’t think even once about my hard drive.

Yep, my computer crashed.

A very bad day.

Everything I can think of that I ever cared about is gone with that computer. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Except that most of what I’m thinking about lately is the irreplaceable files stored on that computer. Every couple of hours, I remember ones I had forgotten.) Continue reading

What Happens While We Wait

bench

“So, what are you going to do this afternoon?”

[Grunt]

“What do you like about school?”

[Grunt]

Earlier questions had received similar answers, and Natalea and I were running out of questions for entertaining the six-year-old in the car. I had given him and his mother a ride home from church, and we were stopped at the store while she made a quick trip in.

In the hot car with a restless six-year-old, quick was seeming pretty long.

“I know! Let’s play a game—let’s see who can see your mom first when she comes out of the store!” (Yes, I know that is a boring game. I was at the bottom of the barrel—“I Spy” was next.)

But to my surprise, this was the moment Nicholas finally had something longer than a grunt to say. Continue reading

Desert Rainbow

rainbow

It would not have made a difference which side of the bed I rolled out of yesterday morning. From either side, the day didn’t look bright. Too much to do with too many loose ends hanging. Even the sky was overcast.

By the time I took my morning walk, it was drizzling. One more strike against the day. What we really needed was a good shower, not a few drops. Even in the desert, we expect (and need) some rain. And we have really needed it lately.

I had a meeting scheduled for the first part of the morning, and I knew I needed to leave the house early to prepare for it. Five minutes later than I had planned, I stepped out the front door with a grim attitude and a cloudy perspective.

And then I saw it—the rainbow. It was the kind of rainbow that forces you to stop and makes you suck in your breath quick. Vivid and brilliant, it stretched across the sky forming a full and perfect arch. Continue reading

5 Reasons it Is Wise to Pour Out Your Heart to God

waterfall

I taught last Sunday on Hannah and her prayer in 1 Samuel 1. It turns out that Hannah’s story is about far more than intensity in prayer.

It is about a woman who poured out her heart to everyone but God. And it is about the change God worked in her when she poured out her heart to Him.

As a cross reference, we looked at Psalm 142—another account of someone who poured out his heart to God. This time, it was David in a cave.

In the seven verse from Psalm 142, we drew five reasons it is wise to pour out our hearts to God.

1. Because God hears

I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.—verses 1–2

Even when you pour out your heart to a friend, she may or may not accurately interpret the cry of your soul. God always hears, always understands, always listens with compassion. Continue reading

5 Things You Never Have to Worry About

peaceful

1. God’s love for you

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.—Jeremiah 31:3

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:38-39

2. Christ’s presence in your life

And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.—Exodus 33:14

… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.—Hebrews 13:5-6

3. God’s commitment to transforming you to the image of Christ

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren….What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:29, 31

4. Jesus’ return for you

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.—John 14:1-3

5. Today, tomorrow…or the rest of your life.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.—Hebrews 13:8

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.—1 Peter 5:7

Sometimes we just need to refocus on God’s eternal promises. What promises are your focus points?

Too Valuable to Waste

Four years ago tonight I received a startling phone call from my grandma.

“Pray for Amanda,” she began. “I don’t have all of the details, but she was in a skiing accident—hit a tree, I think—and is being rushed to the hospital.”

Amanda (pictured above, left, with her sister Allison) is my cousin—my mom’s sister’s daughter. Sixteen years old at the time, she was with her high school ensemble on their way to sing at a youth conference. En route, the group stopped for a planned skiing activity.

A few minutes after that first call, Grandma called again. Before she could even say it, I knew. Through a tight throat and tears she said what none of us ever wanted to hear, “Our Amanda is in Heaven.”

That was four years ago, and I still miss Amanda. Just this past Christmas, as our extended family gathered, I thought of Amanda and her bubbly enthusiasm that would have been overflowing into every activity, every conversation, every event that she engaged in. Continue reading