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'm Flourishing This Year!
It's that time again to pick a word of the year. Surprisingly, God didn't reveal it to me until a couple of weeks ago. Usually by Thanksgiving I've found it. Not so for 2023. But how could I have missed it? ‘Flourish’ is in the title of my latest non-fiction WIP: No Need to Guild the Lily: Flourishing in Your Silver Years and Beyond with Confidence & Joy.
If I'm going to write about flourishing then I should be flourishing, too, right? I need to be an example. But honestly, that's not what prompted me to choose this word for 2023. No, it was something else.
This past year, we sold our home of 30 years. But, unlike most who move directly to their new home, our townhome on the southern coast of North Carolina won't be completed until September 23rd, 2023 (I like the way that looks on the page.) In between times, we have moved 11 times, living with friends, family, traveling, and volunteering at camp and a non-profit missionary home. In each place, I have had to reorient my sense of space and place, learning to make myself at home. It's been a challenge, but believe it or not, and enjoyable one!
Remember the phrase, Bloom Where You Are Planted? Flourish is another word for bloom. And so is:
In any soil. In every circumstance. No matter what.
Now, it takes on a different meaning. . .
Bloom Where I am Planted
Even while waiting for a table at a breakfast cafe, I try to make the best of the situation instead of being impatient.
This is our current apartment where we volunteer as co-managers. I tried to make our temporary lodging as comfy as possible, even though we had very little choice in furniture and decor.
Each place we stayed I found a special mug to use for my coffee each morning. The variety was inspiring!
And how can you beat this view from a white wooden law chair where I read my Bible and prayed each morning while volunteering at Conference Point Camp? Each of the locations offered a tiny piece of joy during my stay. Each place taught me to flourish where I was planted. And God helped me to bloom.
Have you faced a time when you were offered a choice to flourish or whither? Tell me how you learned to grown in the comments below. And Happy New Year to all my readers!
Fear rises up in the pit of my gut. I'm signing away my home with no place to go. Is that wise? At least nine long months stretch out to the end of 2022 before my hubby and I will lay our heads on our own pillows in our own bed within our own new townhome. But until then?
I am thankful for friends and family who are willing to give us a place to lay our tired bodies for a short time as we wait for the construction crew to break ground, build a foundation for our new abode, and finally the home itself. Some weeks, we will travel, other times, we maybe rent an AirBnb. Or live in a tiny house—yay!
The Ukrainian Refugees: Fleeing Home
My thoughts immediately turned towards the heartbreakingly tragic situation in Ukraine. Now, I can't profess to know much about the situation. For more on that, click HERE for a newsletter from an author friend who lived among them and wrote two historical novels based on her research.
But, I can imagine what it would be like to leave the home you loved in exchange for the unknown. Of course, I am not being driven from my home. Nor are we fleeing. Well, maybe. Taxes and the political trajectory of our state is motivating us. Not to mention the weather. But the Ukranians have no choice. Not only when to leave or how to leave, but the choice what to take, keep or store. I'm sure they had little time to think about what to pack. Only the necessities: food, clothing, a bit of money, maybe a pet or toy for the children? Speaking of which, did you see the photo of a bridge into Poland lined with stuffed animals from the local community for the bereft children crossing the bridge to safety with their parents? If you haven't seen it, take a LOOK.
I on the other hand, have been clearing out the clutter and giving tons away. Later, we will have an estate sale. And frankly, it's a relief. The less you have, the less to lose. Less to get attached to. Less to care for. But it was my choice. The Ukranian people have no choice. Maybe owning less is a good idea?
Luke 12:22-24 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” And from what I'm hearing from refugees’ stories, God is providing in so many ways. So why am I worried about this temporary transition to our new home? He has so many ways to provide.
Something to Ponder
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
Jesus was talking about Himself! He had no place to call home. But His friends and disciples where happy to host Him. Can you imagine showing hospitality to the Son of God? Wow.
So, in a small way, I will be able to relate to Jesus in His homelessness. How much more will the Ukrainian refugees? Thankfully, there are ways to help them. If you have a desire to aid the Ukrainian church, click on this link for Christian Ministries doing so.
What am I learning in this time of year, homeless transition?
What about you? Have you made a move recently? I'd love some tips on surviving during that time of upheaval. Do you have a heart for the Ukrainian people? Have you found a way to help? Let me know below!
Since we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to do something out of the ordinary this month—post my favorite heart images. I see them everywhere! In shops, out in nature, on signs and quirky places Below are some of my favs. . .
This display above is on my kitchen shelf above the stairs. Don’t you just love the saying? It reminds me of the musical “Annie.”
Stores are full of heart shaped items in February. . .
The one above is from Starbucks. . .
This tiny sign was a gift from a friend. . .
I couldn’t resist arranging the ingredients for our Valentine’s dinner in this manner!
Even in historic neighborhoods you’ll find hearts! This one I found in Charleston, SC
Nature loves hearts, too. . .
My hubby and I took a quick cruise around Sanibel Island and stopped at a beach for some shadow play.
A lone leaf served as another natural heart image as it hung on for dear life!
And, of course, even though there is not an image of a heart on my book’s cover, there is heart in the title AND between the pages. Along with a ton of hope and a stubborn young heroine who changes hearts when she yields her heart to the one who loves her most—Father God. For a peek into my author’s heart, check out my interview on Write2Ignite this month. And consider gifting The Heart Changer to a middle grade reader who loves adventure, history and stories that they will remember many years up the road.
Tell me in the comments below which of my images you liked best. I’d love to know!
I was becoming a bit panicky when I had no word chosen for 2021 by Thanksgiving. Usually by then, a word presents itself. But not this time. It wasn't until things began to crumble, or at least take a different turn, that the word SURRENDER popped into my head.
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.