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November '13

It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him. Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be blameless and innocent... You will shine like stars among them in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life.
—Philippians 2:13-16 God's Word Bible

Reflection:

Have you ever encountered a family gathering where there is non-stop quarreling and fussing? Perhaps, you were an innocent bystander, but your stomach was in knots all the same. The atmosphere intended for merriement was instead riddled with discord. Not the ideal way to enjoy such a get-together, let alone try to digest food!

With the Season of Gratitude upon us, no doubt there will be more than the typical opportunity to connect with our immediate and extended families, as well as with close friends and neighbors--around the table and, perhaps, in other venues. What if instead of demanding our own way or opinion, this year we embraced the "simple gifts" my Amish friends talk about...and practice daily? Jenny Burns, my English protagonist in my newest novel, The Secret Keeper, quickly experiences these attributes when she moves in with Katie Lapp's Amish parents as a hopeful seeker in Hickory Hollow. I'm referring to, of course, the New Testament Fruit of the Spirit, as found in Galatians, chapter five.

Sharing such characteristics as joyfulness, kindness and patience with our dear ones, making that our priority around our Thanksgiving tables will make a real difference in the mood of the entire day. Think of the potential for creating loving bonds of happiness and peace. Not to mention mercy and grace, too.

So, it's not just about finding the best-ever Thanksgiving menu online, is it?--or baking Aunt Judith's "perfect" pecan pie. The way we treat each other, and emulate God's light and love, are so essential for a happy Thanksgiving Day, and every day of the year.

Let's make a difference in our corner of the world, beginning with our very own family. Are you in?

A blessed Thanksgiving Season to you and yours!

October '13

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

—Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Reflection:

A surprising number of reader-friends, during my recent book tour to Indiana and Kentucky, asked me this question: What constitutes having influence in one’s small corner of the world? And how can we know if that calling is being fulfilled?

Especially now, in these difficult times, people are eager to know what they can do to make a difference where they live and work and minister…right where they are.

My recently novel, The Secret Keeper, delves into this important issue. When the Holy Spirit inspires a desire in our hearts—if we nurture that calling and follow it—the initial desire (with prayer, divine blessing, and hard work) can spring to life and blossom into a beautiful “garden.”

Are you struggling, unsure of your influence on those you love, your circle of friends at work…at church…in the secular marketplace? Trust in God’s perfect timing and in His cherished will. My Amish friends understand the meaning of God’s sovereignty. They truly believe, like an innocent and trusting child, in their heavenly Father’s plan for their lives.

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” ~Romans 8:26-27

A blessed and inspiring autumn season to you!

September '13

Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me because you are God, my savior. I wait all day long for you.

—Psalm 25:4-5 God’s Word

Reflection:

When asking for tech support from your computer geek, do you interrupt before you receive the information and just hope you can fix your PC problems yourself? When you’re gathering cooking ingredients for a new recipe, do you abandon the last three items, too rushed to bother, yet still hope the dish turns out okay? Do you leave off the last half of your course assignment, hoping the prof won’t notice?

Yet how frequently do we, impatient as we are, throw up our hands when our prayers seem to go unanswered? Why are we in such a hurry for answers?
James 1:4 instructs: But let patience have her perfect work.…

In this fast-paced, hectic world we live in, it’s sometimes hard to think that waiting for God’s answer is ever a good idea!
Many of my Amish friends are lifelong farmers; they are familiar with the concept of waiting and patience—one of the fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering. They wait each spring for the soil to thaw and soften before plowing and cultivating; they wait for the crops to yield produce, for the rains to come, and for the highly anticipated harvest.

So often we wonder how much longer we must wait to know God’s will. But really, does it matter if, while we’re waiting, we’re growing and maturing…trusting in His timing?

On that note, I’m patiently waiting (trying!) to see many of you during my upcoming fall 2013 book tour to Indiana and Kentucky. Please check the full schedule here.

Blessings as we grow together in Christ,

August '13

They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.

—Acts 2:46,47 (God’s Word Bible)

Reflection:

When was the last time you lingered at the table, taking time to “break the Bread of Life” with your family or close friends? My many Plain (Amish and Mennonite) friends view their tables as the most important furniture in their homes, for this very reason.

Treasured fellowship—enjoying a community of believers.

Imagine the joy of sharing God’s faithfulness and goodness, and answered prayer, with others at your dinner table! (No cell phones, please). There is nothing quite like looking into the faces of your loved ones—and others close to you—while eating together.

As the last days of summer wind down, before back-to-school craziness begins, let’s embrace every precious moment. Talk of the Lord while we sit at breakfast, when we go about our day with our kids, our friends, our co-workers, and let’s focus on Him when we tuck the family into bed at night. He is our life, our breath, our very purpose for living.

We’re only given so many precious moments on earth. Let’s savor them, embrace them, and make them count, dear reader-friends.
 
Have a wonderful August!