IS IT WORTH THE WORK? THINGS THAT SATISFY
I never would have guessed that a preschooler would teach me an important lesson about things that satisfy. This past July (and every July for the past 31 years) my hubby and I attended a family Bible Camp at Conference Point in Wisconsin. Our days were full of worship, good food, fellowship, and teaching from God’s Word. And of course there was fun in the sun— everyone’s favorite activity.
As I would rather be on the lake instead of in it, I was satisfied with a front-row seat on the beach where I could people-watch (one of my favorite activities). Kids and adults of all ages enjoyed swimming, diving, playing tag, sunbathing, and chatting. Some were floating on the surface of the water in an inflatable chair.
However, only a subset of attendees were actually satisfied with working during their vacation, and I found that curious. It was the toddlers and preschoolers who were busy digging trenches and building forts, while the older crowd took it easy. One young girl, early on in her task, worked alongside two boys digging a long trench perpendicular to the beach. After a while, the boys got bored and left. But the girl? She soldiered on, like she was engaged in a marathon. Intent on her job, the tike journeyed to and from the lake, filling her bucket with water, pouring it into the trench and then padding back to the lake to fill it again. She must have made the trip 12 times before I lost count.
But what I did note was this: as soon as she'd turn to fetch more lake water the last bucketful would begin slowly seeping into the sand. So by the time she returned, the water had disappeared.
FRUITLESS EFFORT TO SATISFY
I wondered how long it would take before she realized her efforts were fruitless—that no matter how many times she filled the trench, it would never hold water?
Well, soon after I contemplated this, she stopped at one point to examine her work, a puzzled expression forming on her face. I could just imagine her inner thoughts: “What happened to all that water? I know I poured lots in—where did it go?”
And then it happened. The realization was too much. So, with determination, she took a breath and threw the bucket on the sand, then stomped away. Ahh, the youngster finally understood. She had expended all that effort for nothing!
It was a lesson for me, too. How many times had I put energy into something I thought would satisfy, only to be disappointed? A new self-help book that will change my life. A pair of shoes with an arch the ads say will allow you to walk all day in comfort. Classic wicker furniture for our screened-in porch that will fit perfectly. A visit to a nearby tourist spot that promises good food and even better shops.
In reality, the book is shallow and unhelpful. The shoes rub in the wrong places. The wicker furniture is too big for the spot. Most restaurants and shops in the touristy areas are closed on Sunday.
And so on. . .
So what does satisfy? Really, only Christ can satisfy. He has made you and delights in you. He wants what's best and knows what's best for you. Pouring yourself into people and digging into and meditating on God’s Word will change your life. It will bring you peace and contentment. Here’s what the book of Isaiah has to say:
Wow! Can you think of anything more satisfying than to repair the breaches in this world? To restore relationships? To make a difference in people’s lives?
Each one of us has a sphere of influence that no one else holds. Start today—with a friend, a college student or a grandchild. Take them out for a treat. Offer to help them with a problem. Tell them they are in your prayers.
Invest in things that will last. Things that satisfy. Not stuff and meaningless activity, but people. It will renew your heart and give you a fresh perspective on life.
Can you think of one person to encourage or one ministry to engage in that will bring deep satisfaction to your soul? Let me know in the comments below. . .
Challenges are Sure to Come
“Into each life some rain must fall.” —Allan Roberts
Yep, it’s true. No one goes through this world unscathed. Troubles are sure to fall like rain, whether we want them or not. So, if that’s the case, how should we respond?
As far as I can tell, there are only three ways. (If you can think of more, please enlighten me in the comments). You can either resist them by pretending they don’t exist, fight them angrily (blaming others in the process), or accept them, letting the challenges wash over you, knowing that somehow, they will transform you into a better person.
Challenges Are For Our Good
But, accepting them is not so easy, is it? We want to squirm out of them, side step them or squash them, right? If we are a child of God, though, we know He has a plan for our lives, and ultimately, our goal is to reflect our Father.
Sometimes, He uses the ‘controlled burn’ to conform us. Just enough challenges to kill the wayward parts like impatience and jealousy, so new seed can grow into hardy plants that will bear a good harvest (remember the fruits of the spirit?)
Not only do trials make us more like Christ, but when we accept them and allow them to strengthen our faith, in the end, it will bring honor His name. Check out the verses below. . .
1 Peter 1:6-7
Occasionally, we are the reason for the hard times. I know I have used a harsh word in the past, or avoided the truth when asked. I’ve even been jealous or critical, which leads to discontent and depression. No one sees it, of course, but Jesus does. He knows what’s in my heart. And at times, it’s not pretty—and I’m sure it makes Him sad.
Challenges Make Us Stronger
How many of us pray for challenges and trials? Scary idea, eh? But, consider this--we can speed up our goal of being Christ-like by putting ourselves into a situation that requires trust in our Heavenly Father. When everything is going well, why would we need to call out to Jesus?
I have done this a few times in my life. Sometimes, it’s being brave to talk with and editor or agent about my latest project. Other times it’s stepping out in faith, literally, as I walk across a mile-high swinging bridge, or climb a ladder like the one below. You see, I’m afraid of heights. But I was determined to move forward in faith. And I’m glad I did!
I’m not sure if it’s my age (I’m less intimidated), or that my desire to be conformed to Christ’s image is front and center in my heart right now. That, too, could be due to my age, since I have more years behind me that ahead of me.
This nomad journey has at times been a challenge. My time isn’t my own. Neither is my space. And don’t even talk about the issue of mail delivery when we move every few weeks. It’s a nightmare! One thing is for sure. I will appreciate our townhome So, Much. More. when our nomad life is done.
Whoa. I just thought of something. After dealing with this earthly life and our sinful nature all our lives, it will be So. Incredibly. Amazing. to finally step into Heaven and know we are FINALLY HOME and free of all that hinders us!
How have you seen God transform your struggles into something good? Let me know in the comments below!
I had come to the point of exhaustion. I'd worked diligently to write, submit and connect. But nothing was moving. Was I truly meant to be a writer, or did I imagine it? I needed to get my head together — a clear vision for the road ahead. Was I only spinning my wheels?
Then, the opportunity to join the team for the first ever writer’s retreat at Mount Hermon Conference Center near San Jose, CA, presented itself. For years a stellar writing conference was held at that lovely wooded venue, but it was time to forge another path. Writers attend conferences often. It's a place to learn new skills, be inspired, practice the craft, create new connections and meet with publishers and agents. But a retreat is none of that. No busyness. No running to the next workshop, feverishly writing down notes that will be sure to translate into a published book. No feeling of panic as we meet with an industry professional.
A Retreat means Rest and Refreshment
So what is a retreat? It's rest, refreshment, and time alone with God, finding your next right step in this sometimes frustrating journey towards authorship. And yes, it can be about connections—with fellow writers on the same path. But the main focus is to listen. What is God telling me about my next step? Your life? My relationship with Him? The great thing about the Mount Hermon Retreat was the freedom to choose where my focus would be. No pressure to attend any of the soul-care and craft sessions or gather with other like-minded writers. I could spend the entire weekend communing with my Creator on the many paths through the towering redwoods or pray along the labyrinth.
Listening to God’s Voice
So, I listened. In the labyrinth. In the chapel. On the forest path among the towering redwoods, feeling quite small. And I found answers to three questions:
In the mix was an Instagram Makover class, Author Accelerator Book Coaching Certification course, and my newly joined Hope*Writers community. I assumed, since I purchase them, I needed to continue with the instruction and connection.
These are the answers I received:
I also had a pull (not totally surprising, since this is why I entered the writing field) towards memoir. I have lived an adventurous life, with ups and downs, challenges and disappointments. But God used those times to draw me to Himself.
He also made it clear as I contemplated my career in the chapel, that my words are like seeds sown in the world. Someday, they will grow to touch hearts with the truths of God's Word and eventually change lives. I can't do it, but He can—through me!
Have you taken time away for any reason to get your priorities in order? Or maybe you just needed a rest. Either way, we all need the opportunity to pull away from the busyness and listen. You'll be surprised what God will whisper in your ear.
This year, I’m going to be grateful for all the things I didn’t get or didn’t happen as I wished. And for the prayers God answered in the negative. I’m going to thank the Lord for the hard times — the low times — that knocked the wind out of me or caused me to slip and slide. I'll be grateful for those times I would categorize as disappointments or dead ends, and for people God surrounds me with who keep me humble — those who withhold praise, give criticism, or are uncomfortable to be around.
Why, you ask? Isn’t that a bit unorthodox? Or unconventional?
Yes. Well . . . No.
I am so honored once again to be a part of Tessa Afshar’s book launch team for The Way Home released by Moody Publishers. This time, instead of a Biblical fiction novel, Tessa has written a 6-week Bible study on a topic dear to her heart: women in Scripture who have found a new beginning and a deep faith. Although I have never met Tessa Afshar in person, I feel she is a kindred spirit in so many ways, and is dear to me!
When I discovered she was drawn to Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, I had part of the reason. The other part you will find in the videos and interview below. Enjoy and be blessed!
The Inspiration to Write
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.