Lord, reveal and remove my pride. Extend and expand my humility. Amen
A simple prayer but a powerful one. All work for God, whether writing, preaching, praying, parenting, teaching, loving, giving, sharing, all work that we do that bears fruit in the world starts with our humility.
Humility is being humble. The word, humble, comes from the root word, humus, which is soil. Like dirt, we aren’t much without God’s Spirit in us. When we recognize that, we become open to God’s work through us, and His power to do amazing things in the world.
Today, before you come to the keyboard, the office, the breakfast table, the bedroom chair, the classroom, pray for humility. It is a prayer that God loves to answer.
We long for our children to be safe and secure in a dangerous world. We invest in security systems for our homes. We buckle our children into car seats. But are they safe? Are we missing something? What if prayer could make a difference?
In a world that is unsafe, God provides protection by giving us his equipment for security: the armor of God. Within the verses of Ephesians, we find everything our children need for their protection – truth, righteousness, faith, service, salvation, scripture, and prayer.
Fourteen devotional messages and prayers will equip you to pray these powerful verses for your children.
The Shepherd’s Song paperback is out and we are celebrating with a blog tour! Come by any of the links and visit us and leave a comment. We have prizes! We love prizes. You can sign up to receive a free Psalm 23 devotional and printable poster here.Then keep a lookout at the great sites below for free books, recipes and gifts.
Writing Tips From Jesus: Take Off Your Outer Garment
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. John 13: 3-4
Take off your outer garment. But we don’t like exposure. A writer’s ego is fragile.
There is a poet who hides her beautiful poetry under her bed in a box. Another writer burns her journals. A friend of ours will not tell his story because his sisters would not approve.
After publishing The Lord of the Rings Tolkien said, “I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” And there are those that would take target practice on our hearts.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. compared a critical reviewer to “a knight in armor beating up on a hot fudge sundae.” And there are those knights in armor waiting.
We are all protective of ourselves. Writers can’t be. We “take off our outer garment” and serve by being vulnerable. When we write, we show ourselves and connect with others by being transparent, allowing others to see inside of us. It’s risky.
There is a cost to the exposure that writing brings.
Knowing that God has all things under control makes us brave. We make a choice to be “shot at” and “beat up” and we expose our thoughts anyway. We let go of fear and use our one wonderful life for His Glory.
What power there is in the pen. The power to allow a reader to step into a world of our creating and experience truth, love, revelation, joy. Or with stories we can take a reader to a place of fear, hate, abuse. Our creator God has made us in His image to create. It’s up to us how we will wield that power.
Light or darkness
Love or hate
Building up or tearing down
“A farmer went out to sow some seeds . . .” Jesus begins a story that is layered with meaning but simple. The reader, even years after the telling, has room to move around in the story. Jesus loves the reader.
“A man had two sons . . .” Jesus begins again and our hearts are drawn into the narrative, listening and experiencing, not manipulated and controlled. In humility Jesus creates the world of a story and gives it to us.
In the best writing the author is invisible. The reader enjoys the story without awareness of the writer’s agenda. The author’s intent and focus as been on the reader, not on himself.
As writers, storytellers, mothers, fathers, teachers we use words every day. The most powerful words are spoken or written in love and humility.
When I see a flock of sheep I see exactly that, a flock. A rabble of wool. A herd of hooves. I don’t see a sheep. I see sheep. All alike. None different. That’s what I see. But not so with the shepherd. To him every sheep is different. Every face is special. Every face has a story. And every sheep has a name. . . The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.
When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd. Filling a stadium or flooding a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans. A flock of faces. That’s what we see.
But not so with the Shepherd. To him every face is different. Every face has a story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. . . The Shepherd knows you. He knows your name. -Max Lucado, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
I Corinthians 13:12
There’s something magical about seeing your work published – and you never know when that moment of joy will come. You stroll out to your mailbox one day, not expecting anything special; and voilà, there it is. You rip it open and beam with joy. After all that work, lots of ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, your initial idea has been transformed, and you are face to face with your words in print.
When we first begin a new writing project we are filled with excitement and hope and promise. We have no idea what the finished product will look like, but we eagerly rewrite, get critiques, rewrite again and again – all the while watching a transformation take place. We eventually pass it on to an editor and illustrator, where more transformation occurs. Then eventually, it is finished.
The Shepherd’s Song was like this. When the idea came, we did not know what the final book would look like. We had to have faith that our work would be shaped and used by God. We got glimpses of the final book along the way. First the printed pages. Then the cover art. The bound galley. A jacket proof. Finally face to face we held the book.
The Christian life too, is filled with ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, joys and sorrows. Like a book, our lives are being written, edited and transformed. We start with great excitement and hope and promise; then transformation begins. It’s hard work, but slowly we are transformed more and more to the image of Christ.
Best of all, there is a moment coming when all the work will be done, and we will see our Savior face to face. It is hard to imagine what such a moment will be like – the magnification of joy and awe and wonder.
Our experiences in this world teach us about God, and transform us more and more into His image.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
There’s a question we should ask ourselves at the beginning of each creative endeavor: a painting, a musical piece, a book, a meal for our families, a fingerpainting project with the kids.
The question is: “Why?” Why are we making it, singing it, sewing it, cooking it, writing it?
The Shepherd’s Song dedication page has only three letters: SDG. But those three letters represent so much to us. The letters stand for the Latin term, Soli Deo Gloria, which means Glory to God Alone. Artists like Bach and Handel wrote these letters on their work to show that the work was created for the purpose of praising God.
In the creation of their compositions they found meaning and purpose by dedicating their work to God for His glory. It changed their work from earthly work to holy work.
To God alone belongs the glory.
We can ask the same question about all of our creative efforts. Are they for God’s glory or for our own glory? What is the intent of our hearts as we paint and write and cook and care for others?
If we can add those three letters, any work becomes holy work.
What difference does is make if our goal in all our endeavors is God’s glory? What do you think?
What does it mean for God to be your shepherd? What does a shepherd do? Why would God’s people be compared to sheep? Research in books taught us a lot. But we needed more.
We found the sheep farm online and scheduled a visit with Keith Odom, a modern day shepherd in North Georgia. There is nothing like a road trip and soon we were on our way. What did we learn about sheep? Lots. But more important is what we learned about The Shepherd. (capital S!)
What captured our imaginations and hearts the most was “Bucket Time”. After Keith would feed the sheep he would take time to sit on the overturned feed bucket and watch the sheep. Some never realized he was there. Some ignored him. Others came looking for another bit of food. But some came, wanting to be with him. What perfect picture of God and our choice of interaction with Him.
It was moving to see how tenderly this man cared for his sheep. How he thought only of their wellbeing. Does God love us like that?
He made himself available to the sheep but never forced their affection. Does God wait for us, hoping that we will come to Him?
Keith rejoiced when the sheep came to him to nuzzle or be petted. He loved their gratitude. Does God rejoice when we remember to thank him for all that he does for us?
The answers that we discovered: Yes, yes, and yes.
Look at the responses of the sheep: Some never realized he was there. Some ignored him. Others came looking for another bit of food. Some came wanting to be with him.
Which response do you relate to in your spiritual journey? He’s waiting for you.
After twenty years of writing for children we felt called to make a change. We had not needed an agent before. Twenty years ago you could still have a manuscript read by a publisher without an agent, especially in the world of children’s books. Once we had a relationship with a publishing house we didn’t feel the need. Now that we were writing a book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, and we were writing about our faith – the rules had changed. We needed an agent – but how could we find the right one?
Today we are on Vonda Skelton’s blog sharing 10 things we learned about finding an agent on our quest to write and publish The Shepherd’s Song. read more