RSS

Tag Archives: encouragement

Strong Enough to Jump

Many of God’s creatures like to create life in my aboveground pool. We’ve had tadpole rescue sessions (before the pool was shocked for the summer), and a few months ago, I discovered many eggs (larvae?) half-hatching from what looked to be flying ants. Yeah, so fun. Welcome to mating season. Come one, come all to what has been mistaken as a “love pond” in my backyard.

I was having such a lovely float around my pool one day for a good half hour. Slowly I drifted round and round to the steady pulse of the pool pump. I stared at the tall trees, prayed for dear ones, and marveled at the fact that my children are no longer the ages I am interrupted every few minutes. It was glorious. GLORIOUS!

When my youngest son came out with goggles on and the jumping-in-pool determination of an 11 year old set on a good swim, he made it through one quick pool-bottom-floor lap before surfacing with a shout:

“Ew! A dead frog! There is a dead frog on the bottom of the pool!”

Still not wanting my peace disturbed, I replied: “Are you sure he’s dead?”

My son, lover of all animal life and greatly saddened that an amphibian friend met its demise in our pool, exclaimed: “It was belly-up, Mom. And not moving.”

With that, we both scrambled out of the pool in search of a net to extract the remains to give it a proper burial (before my dogs thought it made a nice chew toy).

My son, Little Man, completed Operation Dead Frog Retrieval and put him down on the grass at my feet. Yup. Dead. Froggy had suffered his last supper with a side dish of chlorine.

He simply couldn’t jump out. His legs could only take him so far. He never made it out of the solar cover and over the side of the pool into the bushes.

I then thought about the five tadpoles we had rescued a few weeks before Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why We Gather

Why We Gather

I was in the middle of preparing for a new focus group at church, one that would offer support to parents of children with special education needs, physical disabilities, and mental health struggles. This plan had been on my heart for a year. I had prayed about it, researched it, pitched it to church leadership, and then let it fall into place bit by bit. With each step, I could see God’s hand in the go-ahead: the flyer, verbal announcement, sign-ups, parent survey, and soon, the first gathering.

As I watched this dream of mine take shape, I asked God which Scripture He wanted us to operate from as our starting place.

This is what He led me to:

Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV, anonymously written 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (emphasis mine).

In the middle of my planning, I realized that this is what should motivate us in any endeavor—Christian-faith-based or not.

Isn’t it a beautiful mission statement for all groups, gatherings, meetings?

To stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another?

How many times do you think about this when you go into… Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Choosing to Be Intentional

Choosing to Be IntentionalLately, I was thinking about how much I love my hairstylist.

Because she does my hair so well? Well, she does, but that’s not why.

Because she offers kindness and seems to enjoy the challenge of shaping my mangled mess of thick, wiry waves? Well, that’s awesome too, but that’s not it either.

Because, quite simply, she lets me in.

She talks to me about deep subjects. She shares her mama angst and desire to raise a good son. And she lets me see glimpses of that beautiful Spirit God gave her…that heart she is letting Jesus shape.

I absolutely appreciate that we can talk about matters of faith together, but the reason I carry her around in my heart is more than that.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PUBLISHED! My Heart in 332 Pages.

FrontCover

Today, “Espressos of Faith” celebrates the publication of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (available now at amazon.com!) with a little reflection on how it feels to hold that book for the very first time.

Thank you for being on this incredible journey with me. Your readership has made me strive to use my voice in better ways. I surely hope I accomplish that most of the time, but I so appreciate your grace on the days I fall short.

—————————

I hate the mail. I really do. And when my kids bring it into the house on the way in from the bus stop, I feel immediately anxious. Part of this comes from being conditioned to only receiving mail twice a week when we lived in the Marshall Islands. When we did get mail, it was essential mail only. No junk mail. But not here. In the U.S., two-thirds of the mail is advertisements, political campaigns, and credit card/insurance offers. I can’t stand that stuff coming into my house and claiming real estate on my countertops, which is what happens since someone else sets it down, and it might be days before I notice it. So, yeah, I have issues about my mail. Our postal worker must hate me because I personally only collect it twice a week. She gets very creative about how she stuffs my standard-size mailbox. It’s almost a game at this point.

But I was expecting my book proof for two days, so the mail was starting to seem a bit more exciting. And the mail usually comes at 12 PM. But, of course, this time it came at 3 PM. I must have gone down to the box about 10 times yesterday. I think I wore a path in the lawn. The mailbox even started just opening as I approached it, like a big yawn, because it was so happy I was finally taking an interest. Okay, that last part was a bit of an exaggeration. But it did spring open with a bit more enthusiasm than usual.

And then it came.

That box-wrapped-around-a-book thingie.

I had about two minutes alone with it before the kids piled off the afternoon late activity bus. I quickly went inside, ripped that thing open, and cradled it. Several decades of wanting to be a published book author, and several years of actually writing it later—

—and here it was.

There would be time for checking headers, footers, pagination, blank pages, and overall formatting and content in a few minutes. But at that moment, my book and I danced. I wept. My heart grew five sizes bigger inside my chest. It was real. It was here.

And it was mine.

But I didn’t just shed tears for joy. I shed tears for healing, for hope, for health, for heartaches, for all of the stories wrapped deeply into those pages. As I opened it to take a peek, I felt so many things want to leap out, ready to spill into other lives now. Things I had kept close to me. Things that were begging for release.

Ready or not, here I come.

I had prayed my words would be a comfort and a hope to others. That nothing in there would poke at anyone else’s hurt, but only serve to show the way to the light at the end of the path.

But it’s also me word-naked before the public now. Before friends, family, and complete strangers who otherwise didn’t know the ins and outs of my mind and life to that great extent.

I was standing in front of the book mirror with my pages open. And everyone could read me now.

That is exhilarating

and

terrifying

all wrapped up in one bow—or box, as the case may be.

And in my prayers as this book came to publication, I asked God to please let it be a message of hope, healing, encouragement, and faith, and that it would give people a glimpse of His amazing love for them. I asked that nobody would misunderstand or be hurt by anything written, and each time I read it through, I tried to read it from a different perspective, wanting to feel the hearts of those in my potential audience. I prayed that His words would go deep into the people who need to hear them. I prayed He would show me any places where I was not reflecting Him correctly, where I was too edgy, too snarky, too negative, and take them out—that He would only let me write and keep in what was edifying, to build up others. That can be a challenge when hitting topics that are sensitive, like abandonment or relational struggles. Those can be so hot-button that everyone thinks it is written about them (even if I don’t know them!). But, actually, it is. Because it’s written about all of us, myself included.

So, I hold my breath now, trembling a little at the thought of letting this long-term project go out into the world—no matter how limited the audience. I have held it for so long in my arms, and pushing “publish” set things in motion that now cannot be reversed. Me—real, raw, tender, vulnerable, and a little quirky—I’m out there. But beneath this tiny voice trying to get out is a bigger, more important one that I so desperately want people to hear: the voice of the Father’s amazing love and how it speaks so patiently, mercifully, and compassionately into my very imperfect life. How He speaks to all of us, if we’re listening.

As I read some of my own shared struggles as well as those of other writer/blogger/author friends of mine, I keep coming back to this: The written word is a tremendous responsibility.

  • It’s a responsibility not to lash out (there are ways to express frustration and pain without cutting anyone).
  • It’s a responsibility to be honest, even through fiction—not always that the situation we present is our own but that we know how to present a situation because we’ve done our research and listened deeply and attentively to those in that particular struggle.
  • It’s a responsibility to share our own lives, when appropriate, with integrity and in a way that is not dishonoring to anyone.
  • And it’s a responsibility to have hands outstretched in love, opening up our audience instead of excluding or polarizing people.

I pray I have done that in Not Just on Sundays and will continue to do so through the next few projects I hope to accomplish. It’s important to write well and to regularly receive feedback. It’s equally important to love and respect your audience and those in your story. Without that, our stories are in danger of becoming sour, distorted, and cynical.

Thank you, fellow writers/bloggers/authors, for inspiring me with the way you beautifully maintain that balance.

And thank you, readers, for your willingness to participate in the flawed-but-ever-growing journey.

I love that we have a God who is with us, who saves, who takes great delight in us, and who rejoices over us with singing. Wherever the journey takes me, I want to remain close to understanding that deep in my heart. I hope that you can too.

Zephaniah 3:17, Zephaniah the Prophet speaking

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

—————————

Not Just on Sundays published today, October 1, 2014. It is currently available at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sticky Notes from God [Excerpt]

Espressos of Faith is committed to posting excerpts from Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day in the weeks leading up to publication. (This is Excerpt #2.) Many of the stories within Not Just on Sundays are inspired by trying to view life through the small moments of life, by zooming in on something we might otherwise miss, much like my photographer friends do through an actual lens. Sometimes the greatest blessings and lessons are in the simple things. I hope we all look more each day to find those “sticky notes” God sends just for us, often blessing us through other people.

——————————–

Sticky Notes from GodA dear friend of mine from my island days came to visit; sadly, I was away at the time, so she and her husband hung out with Salad Boy* and the kids without me. She was unaware of the incidents I encountered the week I was gone, but when I came home, she had left me sticky-note messages all over my house, reminding me of God’s love and her friend love. She had no idea the heart returning home needed to see and feel something tangible that was the very definition of love (my own family also reminded me of that). God knows what we need, and He sends messengers to deliver the messages. We are not always tuned in to see it, but He does this. And I love it! Open my eyes to see it more, Lord! You are awesome!

So, I got to thinking how God also leaves us sticky notes. They are all over our Bibles, sure, but they are also penned by those who love us, like my sweet island friend. Salad Boy and I don’t write each other notes a lot in the everyday rhythm of our lives. I wish I could say, being a writer, that I wrote him long confessions of my love, daily, but alas, I do not. But in a rare moment when he felt inspired, as he left for work, he said: “Have a great day at work, Honey.” I don’t work yet for regular pay. Not yet. But it doesn’t matter if it is a writing day or a “keeping house” day or a “running around on errands” day, he gets it. He gets every bit of it, and I just love him to pieces for it. He was my sticky note from God that day. It was verbal, but it was a blessing.

Sometimes we are the ones writing the sticky notes. One day, this was my sticky note to a friend of mine who did not share my faith. Life had taken her down a road where she had taken a bite out of the bitter apple one too many times. Don’t we all get to that place some days? I wanted to speak some of God’s Truth to her. She didn’t magically embrace my faith. We often need a whole stack of sticky notes speaking truth to undo the hateful, untrue ones we have received.

Dear Friend:

I have many thoughts, and I probably can’t get them all down, but I do hear you on feeling betrayed, abandoned, disappointed. I think when so many people have poorly reflected back to you your worth, it is easy to think they are reflecting God as well with their awful choices to be devastatingly hurtful. I can understand why that feels like it is God acting (or not acting in some cases). This is a great discussion for a time when I can go more in depth, but I encourage you to realize humans failed you over and over again, but God knows that and has a heart that aches for you. This may not make sense right now or feel real. I had to spend a lot of time getting “human” out of my way of seeing God. Humans can really disappoint and screw it up sometimes. They kept getting in the way of me seeing God. It’s hard to distinguish. It’s hard not to feel left out in the cold at times, especially after all of your rotten experiences. I hear you on feeling like you “did all of the right things” or “followed all of the right rules.” I am sure He sees that. The coolest part for me in my faith (or perhaps the biggest relief) is that, while I want to do all of the right things because I love Him, my relationship with Him isn’t dependent on that. I don’t have to be perfect or measure up.

I want to be praying for you that the lies and untruths that all of those people (those who abused their responsibility to “tend your heart and soul”) spoke to you will scatter and that God’s love for who He made you to be will be the only voice you hear. I am still clearing out my own cobwebs and telling old tapes playing in my head to stop, but each time I do, I see myself through God’s eyes more clearly. It’s the only version of me I fully love—because He does.

Blessings,
Bonnie

Where can we see God reaching us through another person’s love or act of compassion today? Where can we be that sticky note in someone else’s life, speaking blessing and encouragement, bringing hope?

*My affectionate name for my husband because he’s on a fitness/health kick

**Update: Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day published October 1, 2014.

This blog was shared at A Little R & R.

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: