"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seriously Write and The "Write" Heart

Okay, writers. If you're anything like me, you've been at this writing thing for a long time. Really long. Maybe your perseverance is wearing thin. Maybe your tempted to write what some would consider an "easier" sell. If so, please join me over at The Seriously Write blog today as I share my own struggles with some of these things.

I'm also excited to announce that as of July I will become a regular contributor to The Seriously Write team! Hope to see you over there. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On A Mission



 Mission begins with an explosion of joy. 
Who can be silent about such a fact—Christ defeated sin!
~Jared C. Wilson, 2014 Life On Mission Conference

            I recently attended a conference with a small group from my church. The speakers, Jared C. Wilson (author of Your Jesus Is Too Safe and Gospel Wakefulness) and Bland Mason (pastor of City on a Hill church in Boston and chaplain to the Red Sox) led a weekend of talks under the heading of Gospel-Centered Mission.

            Gospel-centered. Meaning we don’t hike up our bootstraps and enter the mission field—whether that be Africa, Haiti, or your own backyard—and leave the gospel behind. Both Jared and Bland emphasized how big the gospel is—and how often we make it extremely small. We reduce it to a sinner’s prayer, or a few Steps to Peace with God. And while none of these things are bad, they are not the beginning and the end of how great and mighty and ginormous the gospel is. Jared Wilson says, “When we turn the message of Jesus into a ‘get out of hell’ free card, we make the gospel small…Obviously the gospel is the ABC’s of salvation. But it is also the A to Z.”

            Christians need the gospel as much as unbelievers do. We need it every day, every minute. We need to live in and explore its depths. We need to breathe in its freedom. And that can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Bland Mason gave six points to help us “Live Missionally.”
1)    Get serious about Jesus and stop playing with sin.
2)    Repent of hijacking the mission. (It’s not about us, and we don’t want it to be all about us.)
3)    Approach missions as a community and not just as a solo missionary.
4)    Take steps this week to be on mission, wherever you are.
5)    Pray and dream about how King Jesus might want to use you on mission. (Step out of your comfort zone. You can glorify God in whatever you’re doing—going to school, changing your baby’s diaper, working, cooking, etc.)
6)    Write your own eulogy by the way you live your life.

These points and many others made during the weekend challenged me to live
more deeply—more really, if I can use that word—in the gospel.

Jared mentioned a story that has been very close to my heart for the last couple years, as it has inspired me to write my latest manuscript based on these historical events. 

It is the story from Paris Reidhead’s sermon “10 Shekels and a Shirt” of two young Moravian missionaries who heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. And the owner had said, ‘No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he’s ship wrecked we’ll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he’s never going to talk to any of us about God. I’m through with all that nonsense.’

Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in
the Atlantic, there to live and die without hearing of Christ.

Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale, for he paid no more than he would for any slave, to pay their passage out to his island for he wouldn’t even transport them.
As the ship left its pier, the Moravians had come from Herrenhut to see these two lads off, in their early twenties. Never to return again, for this wasn’t a four-year term, they sold themselves into lifetime slavery.

The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the gap widened and the housings had been cast off and were being curled up there on the pier, and the young boys saw the widening gap, one lad with his arm linked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them, they were these,

‘MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!’”

To listen to the audio of the Life On Mission conference, click here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Called To Stay

At a 2012 writing conference in Dallas, Texas, I sat at a large lunch table speaking with an editor from a major publishing house. I’m certain I spoke too fast. And I couldn’t have conveyed the pitch for my story as well as I’d practiced, but I had her attention. And after a morning of unsuccessful appointments, her interest and questions renewed my hope.

  When a young man sat at her other side, we broke the conversation to introduce ourselves. His name was Caleb Breakey, and as he spoke he commanded the table’s attention. I forgot about my agenda, my pitch, my story, and found myself drawn to this young man—not because of his looks or accomplishments or any other superficial characteristic we so often measure ourselves by—but because of his tangible enthusiasm and love for Jesus.

  Upon its release in October, 2013, I bought Caleb’s book, Called To Stay from Harvest House Publishers. In his book, Breakey takes a refreshingly honest look at the church and prods his brothers and sisters to a genuine faith grounded in Jesus and overflowing in love.

  Called To Stay has reopened my eyes to how precious the church is in God’s sight. Jesus lived for the church, He died for the church. And too often, I take the bride of Christ for granted. I reduce her to a building, or a sermon, or a time slot on Sunday morning, when she is so much more.

  Breakey encourages followers of Jesus to live radically for Him, to step outside comfort zones and truly fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ by going down deep into our faith. In a spirit of mutual brokeness, Breakey says we must ask after the well-being of one another’s hearts. Instead of bringing up the topic of weather or the Superbowl, ask your brother or sister about their walk with the Lord, about their heart. Open up about your own struggles and failures. And together, grasp your Savior. That is real fellowship.

  My prayer is that I would get real with Jesus, and with my church. I want to be excited—
I’m going to spend eternity in heaven with Christ one day and meanwhile, I get to live out His purpose for me here at WDCC and anywhere else I go. Christ died for me, He lives for me. That’s more exciting than any editor’s ear or three-book contract could ever be.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:23-25

For more information on Caleb's book, visit here.

This post taken from an article I wrote for The Good News Letter, a publication of West Dighton Christian Church. To subscribe, visit here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: The Headmistress of Rosemere



In her mid-twenties, Patience Creighton has lost out on her chance to find a husband…or so she thought. The headmistress of Rosemere has kept busy filling her deceased father’s shoes and tending to the hearts of young girls. 

The heir of a large family fortune, William Sterling is haunted by his past mistakes and his current debt. As he explores options to pay his obligation and regain the respect of his peers, his rental property—Rosemere—and the land surrounding it seems to be his one way out of debt. The only thing blocking his way to financial freedom is his attachment to Rosemere—and its headmistress. 

While I enjoyed Sarah Ladd’s first book, The Heiress of Winterwood, I can honestly say I enjoyed The Headmistress of Rosemere even more. Both the setting and the characters came alive beneath Sarah’s pen. Patience is a heroine to admire. Her struggle with her mother’s grief and her brother’s absence bursts forth tangibly. I also appreciated her level head when it came to William. She didn’t get caught up in a whirlwind of mush and flighty thinking (something heroines in romances often tend to do) but showed her strength of character by always thinking first of her charges, and then of herself.

What I enjoyed most was the surprise toward the end of the book and the obvious growth in William’s character because of it. A thoroughly pleasant read.

I’m looking forward to reading more from Sarah Ladd!

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bring Us Some What?



We all know what those Christmas carolers were so adamant in getting in the song, We Wish You A Merry Christmas. But although I’ve enjoyed the song numerous times, I always wonder—what in the world is figgy pudding?

This dessert dates back to 16th-century England. Our friends from my last post—the Puritans—were likely not the ones to introduce this Christmas pudding to the colonies, as they banned it for one main ingredient: alcohol.

It is made of dried fruit and resembles cake more than pudding. Seasonings of nutmeg, cinnamon, and plenty of alcohol complete this rather unappetizing-looking dessert. It has been compared to fruitcake and many claim to enjoy it.

As for those carolers, I think they may have wanted to warm up with a little more than the Christmas spirit! ;)

If anyone has tried figgy pudding, I’d love to hear your opinion on this historical dessert.




photo: wikipedia

Monday, November 25, 2013

Plimoth or Plymouth?


One of my favorite historical places to visit is Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hubby took me to Plymouth back in May on our Ten-Year Anniversary and my mother and sister took me in September for my birthday. (It’s a wonder I don't have more pictures!)

My two elementary-age boys have been coming home from school with fun history for me to feast on about the Pilgrims, the Wampanoags, and Plimoth Plantation. Here’s a few historical tidbits.  
 
~Two boats started out from England with the Pilgrims—the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell began to leak early on, so everyone boarded the Mayflower, making a tight fit of 116 people, 14 who were children. 

~One passenger—William Mullins—brought 126 pairs of shoes and 13 pairs of boots to share. The Pilgrims didn’t know if they would be able to get anmal hides to make leather in the new world.

~The Pilgrims first landed at Provincetown, but decided to build their colony across the bay in Plymouth. 

 The fort/meeting house the Pilgrims built in their colony. Photo: wikipedia
 

 Today, the spot where the meeting house was built is occupied by
          First Parish Church in the center of Plymouth.  Photo: wikipedia


~William Bradford wrote Of Plimoth Plantation, in which his most common way of spelling the town was P-l-i-m-o-t-h. That’s why the town is spelled with an “i” when referring to the village the Pilgrims settled.

~the name Wampanoag means People of the First Light
.
~birthdays were not usually celebrated in the 17th century. While some marked the day of their Baptism as a day of quiet and prayer, public celebrations were not the norm.

~boys and girls dressed alike until age seven, when boys were “breeched.” Instead of a child’s gown or skirts, they were given smaller versions of adult male clothing. They also began to spend more time working with the men out of doors, as opposed to staying with their mother.

~a total of 36% of children would die before they reached the age of six. Another 24% between the ages of seven and sixteen. With the loss of life, no doubt the Pilgrim’s felt a great need to look to God and the eternal importance of the soul. 

~although we celebrate Thanksgiving in late November, it is thought that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people celebrated a feast of harvest sometime between September 21st and November 9th, 1621. During the celebration, Massasoit—a leader of the Wampanoag—brought 90 of his men for a three-day feast.

On the Plimoth Plantation website:
~How to talk like a Pilgrim, click here.

Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote the only surviving record of the harvest feast of celebration to a friend back in England:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
 Winslow’s Letter in Mourt’s Relation (ed. Heath), 82