Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fiction Friday - The Parable of the Quilt

Time seems to have gotten away from me again and here it is Friday already!

I didn't have time to write a story this week (and I'm visiting my son for the weekend - Yay!!!!!), but a new story of mine just came out in the October issue of 4 Him 2 U, an e-zine where I have a monthly column called Patches of Grace. This month I digressed a little and wrote my column in the form of a slice of life vignette rather than a devotional thought.

It's called the Parable of the Quilt and is set in an Amish home where several women are gathered round a quilting frame sharing slices of their lives as they work on a wedding quilt for one of the community's girls.

So if you will indulge me, click this link - the Quilts and Quills page of 4 Him 2 U to find my story this week. Enjoy!

Commercial: While you're there, you might also check out some of the other stories in the 4Him2U e-zine written by the Sonrise Writers and their guests.

Back to Fiction Friday. Yvonne is our hostess today over at her site My Back Door Ministry. If you enjoy reading short stories, be sure to visit Yvonne's site and read her story today. Go ahead and leave her a comment to let her know you stopped by and while you're there, click on some of the other authors for more good reading.

If you like to write, simply post your story on your blog site, then leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box on Yvonne's page.

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spreading the Light

Welcome to "In Other Words"

Thanks for joining me as I host IOW today. If you'd like to participate, please share your thoughts about today's quote on your blog site, then leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box at the end of this post.

You're also invited to visit the other participants' blogs and leave them an encouraging comment.


“There are two ways of spreading light;
to be the candle or the mirror
that reflects it.”
~Edith Wharton~

Several years ago I was being interviewed as a candidate to participate in a therapy group made up of women who were going through a time of healing from some traumatic life events. One of the questions the group's facilitator asked me was "what will you contribute to the group?"

It seemed like a strange question at the time, but I replied that I was a good listener and would give whatever I could to the group. After all, I was a Martha - a fixer. I could never be content to just sit and soak up the light and healing from everyone else.

At the time, I had no idea how intense the healing process could be. But as we met together week after week, sharing our stories, our hurts, our concerns, our failures and successes, I learned some valuable lessons about being Christ's light as well as how to absorb it into the darkest hidden places in my own heart:

1. A mirror is coated with silver or other reflective coating on the back. It cannot absorb the light shining on it - it can only reflect it back. Like that mirror, I was good at reflecting Christ's love back at others, but I had never allowed His light and love to penetrate into the deepest recesses of my life where the most hurtful memories lurked in the shadows.

It took all the candle power in that room to finally illuminate my hurts. Their words and actions became the candles that burned away my excuses, my denials and unproductive ways of coping with life so Christ could begin His healing work.

2. After I learned to open up to His light, I learned how to better reflect it back to others through the honest sharing of my heart. I found even when I was at my weakest, His strong light was able to shine through like a candle in a dark room. More than once, I was told that my courage in sharing what I never dared to share before had encouraged and strengthened one of the others in the shadowy places of their journey toward wholeness.

3.There were times when each of our hurts seemed so overwhelming there were no words adequate enough to bring comfort. Those were the times when we took turns mirroring Christ's love to each other- forming a supportive circle of light around the one whose hope and strength seemed to fail. A comforting hug, a listening ear, unconditional acceptance and love reflected His light during those deeply emotional times.

Whether we are the candles or the mirrors that reflect His light - we can only give to others what is inside of us. We have to guard our relationship with Christ so that His light glows in us. And when that light dims, we have to replenish it through prayer, His Word and the support of others around us. Now more than ever before, we need Him and each other in the darkness of the world around us. Lord help us to keep on spreading Your the light to those around us and to future generations.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Fiction Friday - Beggars Can't Be Choosy


Beggars Can't Be Choosey

"Another donation." Shara muttered under her breath while poking through the large metal bin purposely left outside the back door of the agency. "More stuff the rich recycle for the poor.

She launched into her sarcastic beggars-can't-be-choosey diatribe as she lifted items out of the bin. "This metal garbage can only has a few dents and the handle is missing from the lid. If some poor person doesn't have a garbage can, they'll be glad to get this one, even with the dents!"

Shara laughed - the forced kind of laughter she used to mask her anger as she ditched stained onesies, a pair of ripped canvas sneakers and a frying pan with most of the non-stick coating worn off. With a loud huff, she smashed the lid down on the bin.

Next to the bin was a big box of donated cans and old boxes of cereal. "This isn't even supposed to be here. Do people want to attract rats?"

Shara fished out a half-used bag of sugar and snorted in disgust. "Well, if someone is so poor they can't buy sweetener for their cereal, this will be a real treat."

"Humph! I'd be ashamed to offer a dog leftovers and expired food like that." She trundled the sugar and the rest of the outdated food to the dumpster at the back of the lot.

She locked the door behind her as she returned to her desk, grumbling to any of her co-workers who would listen about how wasteful people were now-a-days and how inconsiderate they were to offer their castoffs to others simply because the recipients were "poor."

Back at her desk, she settled down and dug in her pockets for two quarters. "Boy could I use a pick-me-up right about now." The snack machine still had her favorite candy bars for 50 cents.

Realizing her pockets were empty, she checked her desk drawers. "No, I guess I spent those two quarters last week and forgot to replace them."

She picked up her designer bag and began rummaging for her change purse. That too came up empty with only 2 pennies and some lint. "Uh-oh. I guess I'm broke 'til payday tomorrow."

In a last ditch effort to satisfy her cravings, she turned her purse upside down, dumping the contents onto her desk. Still no change.

As she swept her makeup bag back into the purse, she found a half-eaten chocolate bar deposited there by her four-year-old daughter during church two Sundays ago. It was a little mangled and linty on one end where the paper had been ripped, but otherwise intact. Triumphantly she held it up and grinned. "Can't let this go to waste. It's chocolate!"


To read more great short stories, visit our hostess Betsy for Fiction Friday today at her site Just Another Clay Pot. Scroll down and click on the other authors names to read their offerings today and be sure to leave a comment to let them know you were there!

If you've written one you'd like to share, place your URL in the Mr. Linky box on Betsy's site.

Happy reading and writing!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blessings Journal


As promised in my Monday blog, I made a cover for my Blessings Journal and wanted to share it with you. It seems a little plain right now, but I have a feeling as I fill the inside with all His blessings, the outside will continue to be embellished as the joy spills out!

I chose the image of a canning jar because the original conversation with my online study group was about creating a blessings "jar" or basket. Since I have been canning a lot this year, I liked the idea of a jar, but it would take up more room than a journal on my already crowded desk.

The scripture on the jar is Isaiah 26:3 NIV "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

I can't think of any better way to experience God's peace each day than to log the blessings He gives just like I log my calories. It keeps His love in the forefront of my mind and heart which does give me a sense of peace and joy. It has been an amazing week so far with God turning bad things into good things that glorify Him and so many other little blessings. I don't know why I didn't start this a long time ago - but I do know I plan to keep it up!

Have you started your blessings jar/basket/journal yet?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Will Power?...NOT!

"My, you have will power!" said a friend at a recent church dinner as she glanced at the small portions of healthier food choices on my plate.

Inside I cringed, not knowing how to reply. I saw the dessert table laden with yummy blueberry cake, some kind of cheesecake type truffle and all sorts of brownies. Ahhhhhh! Chocolate, my true weakness. I really don't have much will power when it comes to resisting sweets.

The apostle Paul said it well in Romans 7: 17-20 "But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. " (The Message)

Honestly - I've been dieting long enough that I know what foods are healthy to eat. And I know that a serving of vegetables about the size of my fist is approximately a cup. I know what foods are high in fat, carbs and calories. But as I stand in that food line at church and look at all those succulent goodies, something happens to all my resolve - it disappears and I just want to taste everything in sight, regardless whether it is healthy or not - just like Paul said.

So if it isn't will power that keeps me going, what is it?

It is a combination of many things:

a. Knowledge - knowing what foods to choose.
This learning curve is a constant process. Each day I get e-mails from Spark People with new recipe ideas to help me eat better, new exercises I can try to help me with strength training and information on the latest medical news about conditions like my high blood pressure. The more I stay informed and keep that information in front of my face, the more it helps me say no to the unhealthy food choices around me.

b. Motivation - wanting to lose weight and knowing why I want it so much.
I set mini goals for myself, then each day I log my food intake. Once a week I log my weight loss to see where I am at or what I might need to do to change my eating and exercise habits so I can reach my goal. Again, by keeping my goals in front of me, it is easier to stay on track and I am motivated to make better choices.

c. Support - knowing I am not alone in my weight loss struggles; knowing that there are others praying for my success and especially knowing the Lord is there to help me whenever I call.
Support brings accountability as I meet with others who are working to lose weight too. We report in to each other, sharing our successes and failures. We reward each other with encouraging words and sometimes little tokens that say, "Way to go!" When I fail, they're there to say, "It's not the end of the world. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again." When they are down, it is my responsibility to do the same for them.
Likewise, the Lord is there cheering me on with forgiveness for my failures and loving encouragement as I learn to be a better steward of this wonderful body He has given me.

These principles apply to my Christian life too. It is my goal to grow and develop a more intimate relationship with the Lord. But I can't do that by sheer will power to avoid those things which aren't pleasing to Him or aren't good for me spiritually. When I try to do it on my own, I fail miserably every time.

I need to continually immerse myself in His Word and pray to keep Him close at all times. I need to WANT TO change and live for Him. And I need His constant presence and help through the dark times along with support from fellow believers who will pray for me when I can't pray for myself, lift me up when I fall and encourage me when I succeed. We so desperately need each other in the body of Christ!

Thank You Lord. It's not by my own strength and knowledge; it's not by my own will power. But rather it's by setting my sights on You, learning all I can and accepting help from those supportive others around me that I will succeed both in my weight loss efforts and in my spiritual growth. Help me to be an encourager to others on their journey as well! Amen.