Category Archives: Devotion

Most Romantic Lines from Literature by Amanda Everett

Y’all are in for a treat this week. My friend Amanda Everett is guest blogging.

Amanda Everette is a southern girl saved by grace. Lover of pretty things, clever words, and her stud of a husband. Not necessarily in that order.

Amanda and I met at the American Christian Writers Conference in August of 2016. We became quick friends and critique partners. I’m delighted by the post. Be sure to read all the way to the end. It brought tears to my eyes. Be sure to check Amanda out on her website at www.amandaeverettwriter.com .

A glance, a touch, that long-awaited kiss beneath a starry sky, the promise of happily ever after—this is what romance is made of. As a writer, and reader, of romance, I can’t seem to get enough of love lately! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ve rounded up some of the most romantic lines from literature. You know the type, the ones that make your breath catch, heart flutter, and mind hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear similar words of love spoken to you.

Most romantic lines from literature: 

  1. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

Technically, I combined two different quotes from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but can you blame me?

  1. “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Has there ever been a more roguish, charming scoundrel of a gentleman? *swoon*

  1. “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Winnie the Pooh

The love of a good friend is not to be taken lightly.

  1. “You have bewitched me body and soul.” Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Darcy—enough said.

  1. “I love her and it is the beginning of everything.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Okay, so this line isn’t from a book, but a personal letter in which F. Scott Fitzgerald was talking about his wife, Zelda.  I think you can see why I had to include it.

  1. “and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart
    i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” E.E. Cummings

To be forever in your beloved’s thoughts— what more could one want? Some people speculate that Cummings left the “I” lower case so as to be on the same level as his beloved.

  1. “When he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
    —William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
    It’s impossible to talk about romance without including Romeo & Juliet. I had to recite this for a high school English class and it’s one of the few pieces I still remember to this day.
  2. “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

To be loved for who you are, isn’t that what we all desire?

  1. “Always.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

When you think romance, you generally don’t think of Harry Potter, but this line by Severus Snape in regards to his undying love for Lily Potter slays me every time.

Are you feeling a little weak at the knees yet? I know I am! But here’s the thing, no matter how many romance novels I read or chick-flicks I watch, I find I’m still left wanting more. It took me years to realize there is no one on this earth who can ever fully satisfy my desire for love, not even my husband.

But there is someone who can.

He is a poet who seeks to win your affection with tender words. A King enthralled by your beauty. A mighty warrior ready to calm all your fears and rejoice over you with singing. There is one who has known you at your darkest and loves you still. One who has literally moved heaven and earth to make a way for you to be together forever.  He is the ultimate storyteller, the creator of love, God over all…and He is madly, deeply, completely in love with you

So on this Valentine’s Day, perhaps the most romantic line ever written can be found right here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”-John 3:16

May any semblance of love you read about, any chick-flick you watch, and any relationship you’re a part of always remind you of the greatest love story ever told—that of Christ and his love for you.

A Rage of Foregiveness

Must she forgive him daily? Paige snatched the hedge clippers from the hook on the garage wall. Roses symbolized love, but Brick’s garden of blooms only reminded her of his infidelity. They wouldn’t torment her any longer.

She marched to the front of the house—the tool of horticulture annihilation held above her head like a sword for battle. Paige breached the last line of defense, the porch stairs that surrounded the plants, and stepped into Brick’s sanctuary. The dense humidity made the air thick with their fragrance. The sweet scent slapped her, thwarting her advance. Her breath caught. A memory tugged at her heart—more bitter, than sweet. She shoved it under before it surfaced from where she’d tried to drown it. Heat rose in her like mercury in the thermometer on a midsummer’s day.

Forgiveness.

“Fine, God!” Paige looked to the heavens and waved the clippers in the air. “I forgive him for cheating on me with St. Simons Island’s most decorated good time girl!” She snapped a thorny limb. “I forgive him for making me the number one prayer request at the church ladies’ circle meetings with a healthy dose of ‘bless her heart’ to disguise their gossip.” Chop!  “I forgive him for exploiting my talents to further his career, insisting I stage houses for mediocre photographers when I should’ve been capturing your creation.”

Snap! She hacked a large branch—a shower of scarlet petals fell to the ground. The roses suffocated her with their pungent perfume.

Forgive Brick.

“Really, God?” Guilt, like a thorn, punctured her heart. “Fine. Brick, I forgive you for spending more time cultivating these ridiculous flowers than you spent nurturing our marriage. I forgive you for never standing up for me to your parents.” With the back of her free hand, she swatted away the traitorous tears rolling over her cheeks. “I forgive you for insisting we name our precious daughter after your over-bearing mother.”

“And Brick,” she raised the shears at the last blushing bloom. “I forgive you for breaking your promises to love and cherish me and most of all, that our life would be wonderful.” Excerpted from Island Love is Stormy by Leslie DeVooght

Wow! That’s not the way my Sunday school teacher taught me to forgive people. But don’t you connect with Paige? Haven’t we all been hurt so badly by someone we loved and trusted that forgiveness seemed impossible? We know we shouldn’t hold a grudge, but sometimes it’s so hard to grant grace.

And really why should we? I mean other than Jesus tells us to. Okay, so that’s a pretty persuasive reason. But what about punishment? What about justice? What about that scoundrel getting his due?

But what if God used that kind of logic with us? Ouch. Don’t worry he doesn’t. His grace is all-encompassing. He pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. He does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy. He will always have compassion on us, and he treads our sins underfoot and hurls all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. See Micah 7:18-19 Can I get an Amen?

For me, it’s hardest to forgive people who hurt my children. I want to fight for them. I want the meanie to say he’s sorry. I want them to cry like they made my baby cry. As a matter of fact, sometimes I secretly plot ways to do it. Then I remember that’s not what Jesus wants from me, and I pray for strength to forgive.

Forgiveness requires God. We simply can’t do it with our own power. When we start praying for those that have wronged us, our hearts are softened, and we can let them go. I think these ideas border on controversial in today’s society, but we need to forgive to be free—to be joyful.

Honestly, sometimes I think forgiveness may be a little selfish because of how much it helps me move on. The only one you hurt when you fail to forgive is yourself. It eats at you and controls you, while the offender often has no idea of your bitterness. Meanwhile, you exhaust yourself concocting ways to get even or you alter your life and avoid your friends and family to avoid the person who has wronged you. So while we’re sitting at home wallowing in bitterness, she’s at the party having a great time. Is that the justice we so desperately sought?

Friends, as we start this New Year, let’s take time to forgive. Let’s resolve to forgive even if it’s in a fit of rage—even if you have to forgive the same person every day, ten times a day. We owe it to ourselves, but most of all we owe it to God.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-23

In what circumstances do you find it most difficult to forgive?

 

Rejoice – A Word for 2018

“The angel of the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people!’” Luke 2:10 (Exclamation point added by me, but don’t you think if there’s a place to put one, it’s here.)

As we move on from Christmas and into the New Year, I’m pausing to reflect on the past and consider the future. Mostly because, as seems to be my habit, I get sick in December, and this year is no exception, so I’m writing this post through a fog of cold medicine and blurry eyes with a persistent runny nose.

But while I pause because I’m not feeling great, I hope you also pause to pray, meditate, and choose  . . . a word. That’s right, one word that you will focus on in the next year. Not a list of new year’s resolutions, just a word. Author Beth Vogt gives this challenge every year, and this year, I’m giving it a go. Although I think I probably do this without knowing it every year. Last year, my word would have been hope or delight, and the year before perseverance. This year my word will be REJOICE. 

With this in mind, being a research nerd and Bible geek, I began looking up verses, and immediately landed in Romans chapter five and knew that God had been preparing me for this word. In my Bible study group, two weeks in a row, I was asked to read these verses. The first week the words caught in my throat and brought tears to my eyes, but the next week I read it with gusto, and now, I think they will be my verses for the year. Here they are:

We Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5

Even as I type those verses, I see my other words and know that this is the place I want to dwell this year. However, just when I thought I discovered the perfect “rejoice” verse, I received my new Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible. Oh, yeah, so excited, I ripped off the plastic and danced to my writing spot. I just knew when I looked up “my verse,” there was going to be this beautiful, inspirational definition in Greek or Hebrew that would bless me with deep meaning. And I would then write the most insightful blog post ever written. It would go viral, and editors would be calling my agent begging to publish my novel. Wow! That would have been fantastic, but it was not to be.

As I read Romans Five in my study Bible, it didn’t even use the word Rejoice. I couldn’t believe it. It said Exalt, but then I remembered what Andi Lee, author of a Mary Like Me, wrote: if different translations use different words than it might mean something, so once again I pulled the cap off my highlighter and searched the cross-references. At this point, I remind you, I’m really not feeling well, so I needed to find something and fast.

And there it was. Halleluiah! (Can’t you hear the angels singing? Or is that the cold medicine?)

Rejoice is a synonym for exalt, but what is really exciting was all of the ways these words work together throughout the Bible. With the words on the page literally swirling, I found something that will keep me studying these words all year. But for now, hear this, rejoice and exult can mean leap for joy. I love that and that is what I want to do every morning, maybe not so much after a long day.

This year I want to learn to rejoice regardless of my circumstances, and although this may seem like a ridiculous goal if you’re not a believer, it is what having the Holy Spirit in you means. Friends, I hope and pray that this year we will rejoice together, and we can leap for joy because we are filled with Holy Spirit.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

May you grab hold of the peace God gives and rejoice.

What word will you focus on this year? Leave your comments below. I’d love to pray with you.

Don’t Miss Christmas by Angel Moore

Merry Christmas Friends! I am so happy to have award-winning and Love Inspired Historical author and my friend, Angel Moore, sharing her thoughts on rejoicing in this season of Jesus and family. I hope her message encourages you to slow down and take time to really be with your loved ones and make special memories. For those of you spending your first Christmas without a family member, I  join you and pray that God comforts us with His peace and fills us with Joy to bring us strength.

Angel Moore fell in love with romance in elementary school when she read the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Who doesn’t want to escape to a happily-ever-after world? Married to her best friend, she has two wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law, and three grands. She writes STORIES OF FAITH & HOPE.
Her next Love Inspired Historical book, Husband by Arrangement, will release in March of 2018. The final release of her Mail Order Brides of River Bend series, Bartering for a Bride, will release before the end of December. Find all the latest news and all of her books at angelmoorebooks.com

 

Please take Angel’s precious words to heart this year. (By the way, just love that Angel is guest blogging for me at Christmas. Like her name, she is a messenger for God.)

In a few days, we’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ with family and friends. Have you finished shopping? And wrapping? And baking? I haven’t even decided what to cook yet, but I have bought my wrapping paper.

Do you even want to talk about the traffic? I almost had to send someone to the repair shop a couple of times last week. I prefer one car to a lane.

Somehow, Christmas becomes a frenzy. And we get wrapped up in the frenzy.

I have to stop and remember the things I value most at this time of year. Decorating the tree with my grands is one of the top things. I bought acrylic and plastic ornaments—and I was the first person to drop one on the floor.

Angel’s Grandchildren

The kids laughed at me and then covered my tree with snowflake ornaments. The snowflakes were chosen to match the snowflake stocking holders I have for each of them. They are all different. I explain to my little ones that they are all beautiful and unique, just like God’s snowflakes.

 

I treasure the time with my church family. We share wonderful services filled with glorious music and messages about the birth of Christ. Then we enjoy fellowship and food together.

My mom comes to see me every Christmas. It’s a time we set aside for each other.

All of these things mean more to me than anything I could unwrap under the tree. These are the eternal things. It’s not about the money we spend or the gifts we give.

It’s about the time we share with each other remembering the birth of Jesus. In Luke, chapter two, the story of the shepherds leaving their work to encounter the newborn Savior, is one of my favorites. They glorified and praised God when they saw Christ. And they told others about Him. Mary treasured and pondered everything that happened. She stored the memories in her heart.

I see the shepherds as people like us. Working people. Serving God and wanting to be in His presence. They dropped everything and went to see Jesus.

Let’s remember to be like Mary, too. To focus on the Savior. Not just at Christmas, but always.

Jesus came to earth to restore us to Him. Having us in the family of God is important to Him.

Having our family together and serving Him is important, too.

I have to remind myself sometimes to slow down and not let the frenzy of the season keep me from the most valuable things.

Don’t Miss Christmas. Spend it with your loved ones honoring the One Who loves us all.

Angel’s next Love Inspired Historical book, Husband by Arrangement, will release in March of 2018.

Gifts of a Changed Perspective

I’m so happy to have my friend Juana Jordan sharing a message this week. During this season of busy days, I pray that we will pause and look around for people who need love. What better gift could we give?

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son,” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” — John 19:26-27

Rev. Juana Jordan is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, where she is currently planting the soon-to-be Bridges UMC in the city, a multi-ethnic intergenerational faith community in the downtown urban core of her hometown. As an elder in full connection of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Jordan holds a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga. and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. She is the former senior pastor of Harris Chapel UMC in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., her very first appointment where she served for 5 years and is passionate about pursuing her passion as a Gospel storyteller, teacher and writer, and believes like the Rev. Dr. Nancy Lane that “telling our stories is a holy work.” When time permits, Rev. Jordan can be found at the local kickboxing gym, dancing to the rhythmic beats of the African drums or thrift store and consignment shopping. Follow Juana on Instagram at preachergirl_in_the_city.

I remember praying I wouldn’t be asked to preach this text for a Good Friday service. Of all the seven last words of Jesus, this was a passage I feared. Not only did it not seem sexy enough (yes, there are passages that are sexy, therefore making them easy to preach), but it didn’t seem to offer kindling to get a good fire started — or so I thought. Besides, how could I relate to this passage. I am not a mother nor a wife. I am a no children having, single, never been married preacher and in no way can I relate to the Jesus/child/parent dynamic — or so I thought. So with hesitation, “fear and trembling” and in obedience I accepted the challenge to deliver a message, only to be surprised at what Jesus revealed. I did in fact understand the feelings that can rise up when the one you depended on being there is no longer there. I did understand the anxiety around the thought of being alone for the rest of your life. I did understand the feelings of not wanting to go on or knowing whether you can go on and how to go on when your life is torn apart. As a single, never been married, no children having woman, I guess I really could understood the absence of a family and the fear of not having one.

Jesus was Mary’s son, yes, and he was also her family. Jesus was John’s friend, yes, and he was also his family. And in a compassionate expression of selfless love, Jesus introduced them and “gave them” to each other so that they would be each other’s family. Jesus handled it, in an unexpected way. He covered their silent fears and concerns of loneliness and aloneness in one fail swoop. He sent the message that bloodlines don’t necessarily bind us. It’s the love lines we have with each other that matter. It was a point he made to the disciples: “And they will know that you belong to me by your love for each other.” (John 13:35) In other words, it is our act of love and acceptance and embracing of each other that speaks the language of family. Jesus’ action is a reminder of what he does for all of us — loves us so fiercely by adopting us into his family and connecting us to others who share his call to love beyond traditions and societal and familial boundaries. He reminds us of what it means to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. He reminds us of what family looks like and what its members do — they care for each other.

In this holiday season, I was reminded of this gift of family through this passage. I was reminded of the many times Jesus has turned me and others over to each other and sealed us as members of the same family. I was reminded, in the moments of loneliness, that I am, in fact, not alone, but a part of many families that stretch from my days in college, my work in the cities I have lived as a journalist and now those given through my vocation as a pastor and preacher.

What a beautiful present in this season of Hallmark commercials, movies and holiday billboards that can sometimes taint our mood, cloud our perspective and leave us feeling as Mary and John — that love is gone and we belong to no one and no one belongs to us. What a beautiful sight, when in those times, Jesus, in his surprising, unexpected way, commands us to look around to see who is among us and who is with us and what we have been given. He invites us to change our perspective. How has Jesus invited you to change your perspective this season? Who are those Jesus has invited you to name and claim as family? Because I am almost certain that in looking into their faces, we see Jesus and are reminded once again, like insurance, He’s got us covered!

A Teachable Spirit Takes Discipline

Do you want to be successful? Of course you do, so what’s the secret? A teachable spirit—because if you are willing to admit your weaknesses, learn from your mistakes, and seek out wise counsel, with God as your guide, you will develop the skills necessary for success.

For at least a year, I’ve been praying for one of my children to have a teachable spirit, a couple of weeks ago as I literally wrestled him into his soccer uniform, I had a revelation. God was going to use me to instill this virtue in this stubborn child. Would someone please tell me why God always works like this? I really would’ve preferred he just transform my son’s attitude, but alas, that is not to be, so if you hear me shouting, please know I am doing the Lord’s work.

Proverbs teaches us the necessity for a teachable spirit. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5.  “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” Proverbs 9:9.

Seems pretty simple, but sometimes it is easier said than done. When we have poured our hearts and souls into our works, the critiques feel harsh. I think a teachable spirit requires not only a humble attitude but also thick skin. Let’s face it, it’s hard to listen to your work being picked apart line-by-line or even word-by-word. But we can’t grow as writers or God’s servants if we don’t possess this quality. In all likelihood, we will find that we have to change a lot and work tirelessly. Criticism is hard to accept, but when we allow it to refine our work—our lives, we will be stronger, more effective writers and servants.

It is the secret of the wise and successful. They are constantly seeking instruction from experienced teachers and learned text. Proverbs 2:2-6 teaches us to “turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”

God gives us human teachers and earthly resources to improve our writing and our lives. It is up to us to listen and read. We must take this instruction and apply it. An instructor at a writing conference told me about the number of writers that argued with her about her comments. Now, let’s just be clear, this person is an expert in the field from a number of angles, and she was trying to help budding writers. It boggles my mind, why anyone wouldn’t be writing down everything she said and begging for more. What a blessing from God to have this person willing to help and encourage me as a writer.

I know I need a lot of work. My bookshelves are filled to overflowing with writing craft books, Bible studies, and Christian living texts. Usually, I’m reading one from each category plus a novel and several blogs. When friends or family members have problems, they will often receive a book from me. (whether or not they want it) Obviously, seeking God’s guidance from the Bible is a must. It is the greatest instruction, story, poetry book ever written. Craft books and novels help me hone my writing skills. Sometimes I can read the same concept in book after book, but it takes just the right author to turn the light bulb on for me. What an incredible feeling to grasp a concept, and I apply it to my own writing and life—surely, a gift from God.

To me having a teachable spirit, is not only listening to advice, but actively seeking out the best ways to write, live, and serve; praying for God to provide me with wise and experienced mentors; and being grateful for the opportunity to learn something new each day that will improve my writing and my walk with Him.

King David wrote, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches him his way.” Even the powerful Kind David, a man after God’s own heart, knew the value of developing a teachable spirit. Psalm 25:4, 9.

 

In what areas of your life do you need a teachable spirit?

 

 

Giving Thanks brings Perspective

There is a television commercial that starts about this time every year. The voiceover says, “we are thankful,” or “we give thanks.” Something along those lines, and every year, I think and sometimes say, “to who?” Who provided the bounty on the table in the commercial? Do they really think they provided it, and if so, does that means they are thankful for themselves? Seems a little narcissistic and selfish for Thanksgiving, and as you can tell, it really gets under my skin.

I mean, I am as thankful as most Americans for the convenience of the modern supermarket. Although we (and by we, I mean my husband who thinks he’s a farmer instead of a hospital administrator) keep a small vegetable garden and rarely buy beef because of our supply of venison, I really like being able to find almost any food from around the world at my local store. Not to mention the frozen food section, pizza sustains life around here sometimes.

But the Hebrew author of First Chronicles wasn’t confused about who provides for us, and we should listen to his words.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what He has done.

“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

“Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced.”

1 Chr. 16:8-12

A few years ago, I participated in a gratitude study with a small group of friends. As part of the study, we were supposed to keep a journal, listing at least five things we were thankful for every day. After family members, I’m pretty sure dark chocolate and cabernet were next on my list, just in case you think I’m a super-deep thinker.

Now, as I look back at that season of my life, I remember that it was also a very stressful time. I remember telling a friend about all of the crazy, bad things that were happening to me and my family, and she couldn’t believe I was still functioning. At the time, it seemed like bad was chasing us down from every direction. From problems with our children’s school, to problems at work, to problems with family members. Seriously, our air conditioner and dishwasher even jumped in on the action. But with hindsight, I’m certain God sent that study and those girls at just the right time to help me remember that He has always provided, and He always will. I certainly wasn’t wandering in the desert, praying for manna, but just like the Hebrews, God faithfully provided everything I really needed.

Keeping track of God’s blessings is such an important practice to help me keep my perspective. It also gives me the opportunity to remember how God has been faithful. I love to see the big ways He shows up and gives us more than we asked for, and in ways we never dreamed. I don’t always write it down in a journal, but I try to meditate daily on God’s provision.

Next week is Thanksgiving. What things are you most thankful for this year? I’ll tell you today, I’m very grateful that I stockpiled blog posts and flash fiction pieces because I’m able to spend more time on my books. Every day that the Lord blesses me with a healthy family and words to write, I give Him my thanks. This journey would be impossible without Him. He blesses me so far beyond what I need and in ways, I often don’t even comprehend. Thank you, Jesus, for letting my greatest worry be a leaky sink. (Don’t tell Carlton, I forgot to call the plumber today. I was so caught up in my characters’ lives, and their sinks don’t leak.)

I’d love to hear what you are thanking God for this year. Leave your comments below. Let’s give God our thanksgiving this year.

Faith in Seasons of Waiting by Lauren Luckhart

Lately, it seems, my life moves from one season of waiting to another. I would be willing to bet, too, that most people would share that sentiment. Maybe it’s because there are deep-seeded longings in my heart that are still at arm’s length, or maybe because I’ve reached the age where big milestones are spread farther apart, but I am keenly aware of the waiting seasons in my life right now.

Full confession? Learning to surrender my timeline has been hard. Really hard. I’m a work in progress. We live in a world of instant gratification and self-entitlement and I’m often guilty of impatience. There’s an old saying that says something to the tune of, “While your waiting for an open door, praise God in the hallway.” Waiting is difficult, especially when what we’re waiting for is a desire so deep we can think of little else. But the greater dependence on God that waiting creates is something I’m learning to be grateful for. When I realize there is nothing I can do but pray and trust God in a situation I can’t control, it draws me closer to Him, and renews my spirit to the truth of His provision and goodness.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is James. If you’ve never read through James, I encourage you to take 20 minutes and read it today. James 1:2-4 is a life verse for me. It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV) In this verse, we are challenged to view our trials with joy. Waiting can so often be a trial. Yet when we rest in the truth that God meets us in those trials, equips us to stand, and supplies our every need, our faith grows.

Can waiting be a testing of your faith?  Absolutely! But let’s refocus our prayers from seeking what we want, to seeking God’s will, no matter what. We must be careful not to let our desires become idols. If God places something in our hearts, and His word teaches that, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV), then we must believe that even if His answer is different than our desired outcome, it’s for our good. That takes big faith, friend, and surrender. God moves in His timing and for His glory, and as I look back and trace His hand in my life, I’m grateful for His perfect leading.

What are you currently waiting and praying for while you’re standing in the hallway? Is there a job you’ve been working toward and you’re praying for an interview and offer? Is your raw and aching heart praying for that pregnancy test to finally read positive? Have you put everything within you into the manuscript that’s now in the hands of an agent, editor, or publishing house, and you’re waiting for the email that could change the course of your writing journey? You’re not alone. I’m in the hallway with you, praying for you, and hoping this season reveals to you in new and mighty ways, how good and loving our Father is.

Author Bio:

Lauren Luckhart is an aspiring Christian author of Historical Romance. Having been born in the South but raised in the North, she now calls Chattanooga, TN home and is loving every minute of Southern exposure.

An avid history and movie buff, she can be found regularly geeking out over historical facts and blockbuster films. In addition to spending time with her close-knit family, Lauren is a coffee and travel enthusiast, crochet hobbyist, graduate of Bryan College with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, hair stylist of eight years, and loves to connect with others on social media.

Social Media Handles:

Facebook: @authorlaurenluckhart

Instagram: @authorlaurenluckhart

Website: laurenluckhart.com

 

A Work in Progress

Some days I feel like such a fraud—as a writer, as a mother, as a Christian. How about you? I remember the first time I thought this. I was listening to a speaker at a Christian writers’ conference. A lot of people there thought I must be successful because I’d won a few awards and had an agent, and I played along like I was the confident person they believed I was. Meanwhile, all I could think about was the rejection from an editor and the likelihood of my award-winning novel ever being published slipping away.

Last weekend, I spent two scorching days melting in the oppressive heat and humidity of Orlando, Florida, watching my youngest son play in a soccer tournament. I’m telling you if you ever want to see me lose my religion in a flash, come to a soccer game. If it’s not the referee making a bad call, it’s the rude parents from the other team or the kid that keeps shoving my son. Before I know it, I’m confessing my behavior to our long-suffering Father and begging for forgiveness.  But then, of course, we have to get on the interstate and drive home, and well, you know the drill.

How can I call myself a Christian? What kind of example am I to my children? Sure, I lead two small groups and teach Sunday school to teenagers, and I have started calling bad drivers, “sweetheart and princess.” But what would the church crowd think if they saw me at my worst? More importantly, what will the new Christian think or the unbeliever? I say I’m faithful, and yet, I doubt and worry. I think judgmental thoughts with a self-righteous attitude. Gracious, by the time, I finish this post, y’all will think I’m an awful person, and I might lose my Sunday School teacher position, but I think it is important, to be honest—to be real. (And since most people are afraid of twenty high school students in close-quarters, I don’t have to worry about being fired quite yet.)

It is not enough to ask for forgiveness, so I pray every day to be a blessing to others, and God is working on me. We all have our issues. We all sin. We all make mistakes because like I tell my children, there was only one perfect person, and his name was Jesus. Yes, dear friends, we are all frauds at some point, but hear the good news: with Jesus, there is hope for transformation. The Holy Spirit can change us and our thoughts. We have to give it all to Him and seek His direction. We must earnestly repent, and then pray for those people who cut us off in traffic.

In First Corinthians 1:27-31, Paul writes encouraging words for all of us less than perfect people. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

God gives us the strength and wisdom, and when we succeed, we give him all the glory. Surely, we understand that it is only through His power and love that great things happen. Friends, if you don’t know about this love, this power, this grace, and this freedom, please know it is a gift from God and all you need say is yes.

How has God used your weaknesses to do his work? How has God taken something small in your life and made it something great? Let’s share. I’d love to hear your stories.

The Right Path

A few weeks ago, I was working on my book proposal and emailing it back and forth with my agent. My agent—every time I say that I feel like I did when I was first engaged and peppered my conversations with my fiancé.

In one of the emails, I wrote, “I just want to make sure I’m on the right path.” This part of the proposal was new to me, and I was worried I was doing it completely wrong.

My agent, (sorry couldn’t help myself) responded, “You ARE on the right path.”

Now, I’m pretty sure he was only referring to the small section of the proposal we were working on, so I didn’t ask if he also meant my writing career as a whole. I decided I would accept the double meaning as encouragement because I’ll take assurance anywhere I can find it these days even if that means reading into a simple phrase. But, I mean, he did emphasize the ARE.

Doubt is my new favorite sin. It used to be worry, but for the most part, I’ve beaten that monster down with prayer and realization of God’s provision in my life. I know doubting means I’m not being faithful, but what if this writing thing isn’t what God wants me to do. I know in my logical brain that He has shown me over and over that I am on the right path.

The ugly doubt monster loves to whisper in my ear. “Maybe, this is all about demonstrating perseverance for your children, or perhaps, it is about connecting people who you meet to further the Kingdom. Like connecting writer friends with the Women’s Ministries Director at my church. It might not be about you publishing books at all, so why are you wasting all this time?”

But my God is bigger and stronger and more faithful than the doubt monster. He orchestrates my successes with disappointments to lessen the blow. He helps me see the side benefits of following his plan. So I can be on the right path and enjoy the people I meet and the sights along the way. This writing journey isn’t just about me being a published author. God’s vision is never that narrow. I love seeing how he is using my writing journey to help other writers and speakers, to prepare me for His work, and to shower blessings on people I barely know.

I praise God for his long-suffering patience and his faithfulness. “His word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) If I seek Him first and His righteousness, all these things will be given to me. (Matthew 6:33) Because I see how he clothes the grass of the fields and takes care of the birds of the sky, I know he is leading me right where he wants me with all I need to succeed. (Matthew 6:26, 28-30) For I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)

So take that Doubt monster!

What are your doubts? How do you deal with them? Comment below. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.