Posts Tagged ‘God’

Draw Near to God: A Desire for Home

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Even a sparrow has found a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may have her young —

a place near your altar.

Psalm 84: 3

Today the heart of God is an open wound of love.  He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to him.  He grieves that we have forgotten him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence.
And he is inviting you – and me – to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created.  His arms are stretched out wide to receive us.  His heart is enlarged to take us in.
Richard Foster,  Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

Join us here as we share  some of our favorite readings to explore the Psalms of Ascent.

Betsy and Laurie

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Draw Near to God: A Yearning for Acceptance

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Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

Who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

Psalm 84: 5

The image that we have chosen for the series is a small detail of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son.  This image stirred the heart of Henry Nouwen during a critical time in his journey toward God.  The intimate embrace of the father receiving the son can bring up in us a desire for that intimacy. But how to we find it?

When I saw the Rembrandt poster for the first time in 1983, all my attention was drawn to the hands of the old father pressing his returning boy to his chest.  I saw forgiveness, reconciliation, healing; I saw safety, rest, being at home. I was so deeply touched by this image of life-giving embrace of father and son because everything in me yearned to be received in the way the prodigal son was received.  That encounter turned out to be the beginning of my own return.

Henry Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

We hope you will stay tuned as we explore that longing for God through 30 daily readings in September.  We can’t wait.

Draw Near to God

September 1 to September 30

Join us here as we share  some of our favorite readings to explore the Psalms of Ascent.

Betsy and Laurie

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8

Don’t Stay Stuck: Part Four

 

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We have been reading Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.  We love stories and this one from Day 27 is inspiring:

For thirteen years I was a frustrated writer.  I had a half-dozen half-finished manuscripts on my computer, but I couldn’t seem to finish a book.  I started to think that the dream of writing a book might be nothing more than a mirage. 

Finally when my level of frustration hit an all-time high, I decided to do a forty-day media fast out of desperation.  That fast was the turning point in my career.  I needed a breakthrough, but it took more than prayer; it took prayer plus fasting. 

In the process, I found that my writing became a form of praying.  I don’t type on a keyboard; I pray on it.  And by the time I was done, I had completed my first self-published book. 

 Mark Batterson,  Draw the Circle

What do you do when you are stuck?  When we think of fasting we think of abstaining from food, but what about a media fast?  Facebook? Twitter?

Hmmmm.

Let us know what your think.

Betsy and Laurie

Sharing Our Upcoming Book!

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Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…

Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”

Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.

The Shepherd’s Song, published by Howard Books, will be released March 11, 2014.

You can add the book to your “want to read”  list or “wish list” on Goodreads here.

You can preorder the book on Amazon here.

We are excited to share this with all our blogging friends! You have been with us all the way!

Thanks,

Betsy and Laurie

 

Don’t Stay Stuck: Part Three

American poet William Stafford (1914-1993)

American poet William Stafford (1914-1993) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Writing is like fishing. 

A nibble will always come, but all too often we dismiss the little nudge as not worthy of the great works we vaingloriously imagine we will write.”

 William Stafford

 Poet William Stafford claimed never to have experienced writer’s block. His antidote when he felt it coming on was to respect small things.  By accepting the small nudges that came to him he was able to keep writing.

The idea in my head will never match the words that come out onto my pages!  Perfectionism is a great obstacle to writing.   I must be faithful to write just what comes today and not to scorn my feeble attempts at the keyboard. When I start to feel anxious about the results of my work, the acceptance of the work by others, or the worthiness of my words I must stop and remember Stafford’s words. I may have set the standards too high.

The same is true of my spiritual life. God accepts us as we are not as we vaingloriously imagine we will be. Listen for the small nudges and whispers. Most of my growth has come through faithfulness to small nudges. When I am stuck spiritually often I need to go back to basics – the small practices of daily prayer, gratitude, journaling and private worship.

In our writing lives and in our spiritual lives great works start with small efforts. Today let go of the pressure to write a great work and simply write from the nudges that come.

Happy Writing,  The Writing Sisters

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.  Luke 16:10

Related articles

10 Definitions of Humility by Andrew Murray

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1. Humility is perfect quietness of heart.

2. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.

3. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised.

4. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.

5. Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.

6. Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.

7. Humility is simply the disposition which prepares the soul for living on trust.

8. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.

9. Humility is the path to death, because in death it gives the highest proof of its perfection.

10.Humility is the blossom of which death to self, is the perfect fruit.

Amazing ideas about humility from a wise man.

Do you agree with any of these? How do you define humility?

Betsy and Laurie

Don’t Stay Stuck: Part One

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“Disciplined runners consistently clear their heads and focus fully on the journey ahead.. .because their passion and zeal for the goal supersedes the strain.  The goal beckons them onward. Passion doesn’t negate weariness; it just resolves to press beyond it.”

 Priscilla Shirer, Gideon: Your Weakness. God’s Strength.

Two things can stop us from persevering in our writing:

The first is the past.  If we keep our focus on our failures of the past we stay stuck and can’t move forward into the work that is ours today.  If we stay focused on the successes of the past the same thing can be true.  Success can be as dangerous as failure in keeping us stuck.

The second is the future.  Do we have a goal in mind and are we training and moving toward it? That’s good.  The goal should “beckon us onward”.  Too often we become intimidated by the scope of the vision and stop. The writing life is a life of perseverance, of pressing on.

The same two things can hinder me in my faith. I can’t stay stuck in the failures and successes of the past.  I can’t be intimidated by my future.  I must live fully in today, pressing on.

We can only do our work today.

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

Are you” pressing on” today?  How?

Betsy and Laurie

http://www.WritingSisters.com

 

From Our Reading Journals: Mark Batterson

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I’m only on Day Two of the 40 Day Prayer Challenge and came across this wonderful thought on praying for books.

“I have a handful of prayers that I pray all the time… One is that God will put my books into the right hands at the right times.  I’ve prayed this prayer thousands of times, and God has answered it in dramatic fashion countless times.  The right book in the right hands at the right time can save a marriage, avert a mistake, demand a decision, plant a seed, conceive a dream, solve a problem, and prompt a prayer.  That is why I write.  And that’s why, for me, a book sold is not a book sold; a book sold is a prayer answered.  I don’t know the name and situation of every reader, but God does, and that’s all that matters.”  Mark Batterson  Draw the Circle

This is a reminder to take the focus off of traditional measures of success in publishing and to focus on the eternal prospective in our work.

This scripture is in the front of our book, The Shepherd’s Song:

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

When we write for God we don’t always see the results in sales figures but we are promised that there will be results.

I’m looking forward to the next 38 days.

Do you pray for your readers? Do you pray for books that you put in the hands of others?

Faith: Is Your Life a Page-Turner?

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But the fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness  Galatians 5:22-23

My friend always reads the last few pages of a book first.  She wants to be sure that she won’t be disappointed by the ending!  When I read a book I want to be surprised.  I don’t want to know what happens.  Part of the fun of a book is the journey that it takes me on.  But – I need to trust the author.

When I choose books to read, I often choose based on the person who wrote the book.  I like surprises but I want to trust that the experience of reading will entertain, delight and grow me.

My faith is like that. My faith in God intersects my action in the world.   Faith allows me step out on the journey.  But – I need to trust the author.

Can I embrace my own story despite the uncertainties of my life? I can’t flip to the end and read my final pages or even look ahead to the next chapter. But I can put my faith in the One writing the story.

 “To be certain of God is to be certain in all our ways.  You never know what a day may bring.  This is generally said with a sign of sadness; it should rather be an expression of breathless expectation.”  Oswald Chambers

Faith allows me to take life’s uncertainties and live in them boldly.  I can trust the God through the plot twists of life because I know He’s writing a good book.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 Hebrews 12:1-2

I’m praying for my life to be a page-turner. How about you?

Laurie and Betsy

http://www.WritingSisters

How Good is Good Enough?

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But the fruit of the Spirit is …goodness.  Galatians 5:22

In writing it is hard to know how good is good enough.  Is it good enough to finish a page, a chapter, a manuscript?  Is that good enough?

 Or is the criteria for being good enough whether your work is published? Soon after we are published we realize we only have one book or one article. Is one good enough? We look around and see that others have more.  A series!  A body of work!

And then there are reviews, awards, Do we need this affirmation to feel good enough?  The bar keeps moving.  If we chase the goal of being good enough in our writing life we will always remain frustrated. 

What about faith?  How good is good enough?  Serving others?  Telling the truth? Going to church?  Reading the Bible?  You look over and see your neighbor packing for a mission trip.  Another friend is memorizing the book of James! The bar keeps moving.  If we chase the goal of being good enough in our spiritual life we will always remain frustrated.

In my writing life I rest in the comfort that I will never be good enough.  I’ll never “make it”.  I don’t even know what “it” is. I can have peace knowing that my work is about being faithful to show up at my desk and be present.

And my faith – I’ll never be good enough with my own efforts.  I must base my faith on God’s goodness. Again I must show up and be present with God.

In both areas of my life it is in the surrender of the striving to meet the criteria of the world that brings peace and growth.

So how good is good enough for you?  What do you think?

Betsy and Laurie

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