"I am grateful that God always makes it possible for Christ to lead us to victory. God also helps us spread the knowledge about Christ everywhere, and this knowledge is like the smell of perfume. In fact, God thinks of us as a perfume that brings Christ to everyone. For people who are being saved, this perfume has a sweet smell and leads them to a better life." —2 Corinthians 2:14-15
Mother’s Day, for many of us, is a difficult time. There is heartache at not having conceived a longed-for child as each month passes, the yearning for a family of our own, the sadness of pain that comes from misunderstandings and rifts between moms and rebellious children, and other heart wrenching issues that pound away at the very core of our families’ lives.
I understand on some level, because I, too, struggled to have children before God opened the door to the idea of adopting. Fast forward: our three “J’s” are the joy and delight of my life—Julie, Janie and Jonathan—all grown now. They are true gifts from their biological mothers, and from our heavenly Father who does all things well.
This month of May is the fruition and finale to springtime, which I love. The radiant and blossoming trees and shrubs I enjoyed so much during my recent Ohio book tour reminded me of the stages of each of our lives, which, when I consider the loss of a mother, father, and other dear ones, is truly sobering. Those sweet-smelling tree blossoms only last for a season, and then are gone. Just as our lives are described as “a vapor” in Scripture, compared to all of eternity.
When I think of my darling mother, gone now ten years, I can tell you that the fragrance of our Lord still lingers in the lives of those who came to know Him because of her gentle and fervent witness. I’m thankful Jane Buchwalter Jones was the mother God chose for me. Without her influence and encouragement, I doubt I would be pouring my heart and soul on the pages of books. I doubt I would be the woman, wife, mother, and author I have become.
My mother led me to Christ when I was just six years old. Her heart knew that our heavenly Father was calling me to follow His Son, even at that tender age. Mother had a heart for me, and for my sister, Barbara, and she laid down her life in ministry along with my father till her Homegoing in July 2006. Her cancer surgeon and other doctors at Lancaster General Hospital, never expected her to live more than six months after her inoperable cancer surgery when she was only 34—I was just a young girl (this story is fictionalized in my book, The Sunroom). Yet, my mother lived to be 84-years-old—an answer to thousands of prayers around the world. Even the doctors called her their “miracle girl,” and she outlived all of them. Amazing, yes…and to God be the glory!
So, our unbearable and discouraging times don’t have to end badly. We’re here to struggle and come out on the winning side, no matter the situation, because God is with us. He is for us, cheering us on, carrying us along…when we need His loving arms the most.
This spectacular springtime, I am counting my blessings, despite the dark days I’ve endured through the years, knowing I can count on our heavenly Father to be all that I need, all that I yearn for, every single day of my life.
"You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." —Psalm 18:28
God’s amazing grace at work in our lives keeps our "lamps burning," redeeming our lives from the ridiculous choices we make—destructive in some cases—and crowning us with loving-kindness and tender mercies. (Another beautiful promise to cling to, friends! Psalm 103:4-6)
Easter is the culmination of our Christian faith, and what a joy to celebrate it on the last Sunday of this month. To think that our Lord Jesus took each one of our sins in his body on that cruel Cross to be remembered no more! The sacrificial Lamb of God willingly bore my sins, and yours, and offered His divine self for all who believe in His precious name. Our spirits will live on after this old body wears out and dies. Hallelujah, He is risen, indeed!
With Easter’s glory and joy in my heart, I’ll begin my Spring 2016 Book Tour for my novel, The Atonement (street date: March 29), in Ohio, with one stop in Indiana. Please check here for where and when on my upcoming events.
I’m eager to see my readers in the vicinity and some who’ve already told me they are within driving distance. We’ll have fun meeting and greeting, taking photos, if you wish, and sharing God’s love.
Spring is almost "sprung" here in Colorado, where the temperatures are above normal and the snowfall in the mountains is wonderful for the ski resorts and our all-important reservoirs. Hopefully, no water rationing this summer!
A most blessed Easter Season to you and your dear ones,
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." —Luke 15:20
Forgiveness is a characteristic of love—great love.
The scripture verse above describes a powerful example of an earthly father's love, reflecting our heavenly Father's love—amazing and all-encompassing. Who of us hasn't decided to go his or her own way? Who hasn't doubted, feared, distrusted, rejected, and walked away from the love of God, our Father?
Oh, to come running back into his strong arms, knowing He has received us, welcoming us home. Welcoming us because our hearts are tender and broken, destitute...ready and yearning to receive the love that was there all along!
I pray you will know and receive this miraculous and extravagant love for always.
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.'" —Romans 5:8
The first of January signals the start of a new calendar year, a spanking-clean chapter in our lives. A new year promises second chances and fresh beginnings.
Will we take the second chance at getting it right this year, and the constant reach for happiness...for all that we wish for? Will we strive to be better at relationships, at work, at leisure...to be more attentive to others’ needs, to follow God’s ways, above all? We want to do all of these things, sure, but we seem to fall short repeatedly.
Yet, graciously, our Lord offers us hope, and once again we remember that it’s not about our doing or being. It’s really just about accepting. Simple, yet true.
So, is it possible to lay down the rope and end the inner tug-of-war of striving, choosing rather to open our hearts and embrace THE miracle: God’s ever-perfect love? He, alone, offers each of us a beautiful second chance, no strings attached.
Here’s an excerpt from my little book, Amish Prayers, which can be prayed on New Year’s Day...or any morning.
“O merciful, gracious God, Farther of eternal light and comfort, whose goodness and faithfulness are fresh again each morning, we give you praise, honor, and thanks for the lovely daylight, and also for graciously protecting us during the night and granting us gentle sleep and rest. May we now arise in your grace and love, and under your care and protection, make gainful, joyful use of the daylight. Amen.”
I truly wish for you an inspiring and peace-filled New Year 2016.