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P is for…Prayer

19 Apr

It’s been an amazing week. It really has.

While I’ve battled pain and exhaustion on several fronts, the difference this week, more than anything, has been in my attitude. Looking back at my journal entries for the last few days, I see a distinct pattern.

I’ve started praying again.

Not that I haven’t been praying. But I’d have to admit that my time with God had become something…rote. Lazy even. Same prayers murmured each morning in the shower. A yawning through my thankfulness at the end of the day.

The difference I think has been in fellowship. You see I made a commitment with a dear friend, to meet online the first thing each morning (a sacrifice on my part, I’m NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination) so that we can begin our day, together, in prayer.

This is more than accountability, though that was what I first expected. There’s something more personal, more intimate in fellowship that involves a group, even if the group is a small one. After all, doesn’t the Bible even tell us to seek out fellowship when we pray. Is it because our voices are louder when paired with someone else’s? Honestly, no. I tend to think that fellowship in prayer is more to our benefit than God’s (though I’m sure He enjoys when we do.)

Either way, I feel closer to God than I have in a long time.

And in a sense I feel closer to my friend as well.

Prayer partners…who’d have thunk it, huh? I can’t wait for tomorrow morning…

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M is for…Ministry

16 Apr

I’ve taken a long time today to post. It’s almost midnight and then I’ll be two days behind instead of one. But maybe it’s worth the wait to become more sure of my words.

Prayer begins my day. Ends it. Winds through. I’m so conscious of God of late, not always in a good way. Oh, I argue with Him frequently. Even been known to swear and throw things at him (figuratively throwing at any rate) because I don’t always like the answers I’m given. I don’t know if anyone fights God as hard or as frequently as I do.

The thing is, years ago I prayed for Him to use me. To guide me. To set my feet on a better path than the one I was chosen. I figured that it was my job at that point to pick up whatever was given me to do, to take it and move with it and tend it until it was time to let it go.

Ministry starts in funny ways. I started out in publishing in a backwards sort of way. I never intended to be a publisher, an editor, an agent…any of the things I was or am now. I was going to be a writer. Plain and simple. These other things…all just came along.

It’s hard when you have no idea where you’re going. It takes a whole lot more trust than I have, or ever had. You see, trust was always my biggest issue (don’t we all have one area that we’re weakest?) So to step out in faith and do…whatever…is a Big Awful Scary thing.

But four years ago God placed an idea in my head, a way to minister to writers. Build markets, he seemed to say. Let them be heard. 

The problem with a publishing house that’s a ministry that happens to be a business is that…well…we don’t always do the things that make practical sense. And sometimes you have to release the things that make financial sense in favor of doing what’s “right.”

In the last several months while I’ve been on sabbatical I’ve questioned a lot just what my ministry is. Has it changed? Am I still called to do what I am with the bookstore, with the publishing house? Am I still where God wants me to be.

Turns out I’m not. Because when I laid it all at God’s feet, the answer came back in a much more terrifying way than I’d expected. Right now I feel like I’m standing up here all by myself, trying to do it all alone. And what’s more, the place I’m standing is on the edge of a very big cliff.

And God told me, “Leap!”

Trust. Ministry comes down to that doesn’t it?

I asked God why everything was so difficult right now, why now, when my health is still precarious, why I’m where I am.

He answered with a question of his own. “Do you trust Me?”

Perhaps I needed to be weak and alone so that I would see only Him.

Whatever the case I’m pressing on, in the best way I can. Taking the plunge again, knowing that alone as I feel, I’m not completely on my own. After all there are some mighty awesome arms out there waiting to catch me.

Picture by Kandil1 and taken from the Wikimedia Commons

Palm Sunday

24 Mar

When I was a child I think that Palm Sunday had to be one of my favorite days. We would dress up special because when we arrived at church, every child was given a palm frond to wave and was ushered into a line that became a grand procession up to the front of the church. I had little understanding of what it all meant, but it was fun to wave the frond and feel like I was part of the service, even if for only a few minutes at the start of things.

The congregation would sing as we walked. Looking back I wonder now what the hymn was that sounded so magnificent. I haven’t been to that church in years, and in adulthood I haven’t attended a church that had the same pomp and ceremony for Palm Sunday. Which seems something of a shame. I think it’s more of a Catholic tradition that my ELCA Lutheran church had held onto. Maybe someone reading this here could post in the comments in regards to other Palm Sunday traditions in other churches.

Of course Palm Sunday never ended peacefully, the fronds being used to good effect for my sister and I to beat each other with during the remainder of the service until red-faced my mother would confiscate the weapons of mass destruction and that would be the end of them. Eventually we would be relegated to positions on either side of mom and dad, the bulk of BOTH parents between us to keep us “good.” If we did it right, most of the service would be over by then anyway.

I think any religious significance might have been lost on both of us.

Today I find myself thinking more of the meaning. That Palm Sunday wasn’t just a day that ushered in spring (as it did – my mother would dress us in our Easter best for the sake of the procession and thereby gaining more wear out of over-ruffled skirts that had no earthly use the rest of the year) but the beginning of something of something else. Of a journey more deep and meaningful that impacts our lives as Christians. Without Palm Sunday there can be no Holy Week, no Easter Sunday. No resurrection. No hope for the world that comes after.

I hated that today I missed it.

This last year I’ve a sporadic relationship with the church – meaning that I attend very little, mostly as pain allows. The effort of rising and dressing and driving and herding children is more than I can handle, and with a husband at work Sunday mornings, all of that falls upon me.

So how do you begin this journey when traveling it alone, at home. A shut in that’s not really a shut in, because there are times, random sporadic times when I DO get out.

The journey then becomes my own. One of reading and praying in solitude. One of gentle reminders to the children of what this time of year means. One that lacks the fellowship of the Christian community but at least holds that measure of fellowship to be gained within my own four walls.

I wish I had palm fronds and processions to illustrate to them Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

I will settle for the quieter entry of Him into my heart.

Aside

Beware the bar codes!

23 Jan

In my second NetGalley review we’re returning to the future first explored in the the book “Swipe” by Evan Angler. Not a happy future though it looks that way at first glance. Beware the bar codes!

“Sneak” is an exciting, swift-paced adventure.  Let’s see what the publisher has to say:

by Evan Angler

by Evan Angler

In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care-but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Now he’s on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark.

Logan and his friends, a group of dissenters called the Dust, discover a vast network of the Unmarked, who help them travel safely to the capital city where Lily is imprisoned. Along the way, the Dust receives some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.

When the Dust finally arrives in the capital, it seems that all their careful planning is useless against a government that will do anything to bend its citizens to its will. Can the gentle words Logan has found in a tattered, banned Bible really stand against the most powerful military the world has ever known? Can Logan even sacrifice his own freedom, choosing to act through faith alone?

It’s a good thing that I read the first book or I’m not sure I would have understood what all was going on as we revisit Logan and his friends in Sneak, as we pick up almost right where we left off.

Logan has thus far avoided the Mark – just barely. In this dystopic society where everything seems perfect for those Marked by the government, evil and corruption lies just underneath all this talk of unity and peace. Logan escaped it in book one and this book picks right up where we left off last time, as the race continues to not only stay out of the government’s hands, but also to find those who have been taken.

Like the first book, there are times that this story reads too much like a rough outline of a really really good novel. I find myself craving more detail, wanting to see and feel and taste what’s going on. The addition of new characters keeps things interesting, but at the same time the characterization seems to suffer for it. I want to know Eddie and Peck and Joanne, and everyone else so much better. Double the length of the book and let us PLEASE just sink into this world and walk around into it!

On the other hand the story is exciting and engaging. The Christian elements so loosely introduced int he first book are made clearer here in book two. Yet there’s no alter call, no beating over the head with the faith aspect, which I think the readers will much appreciate (I know I really did).

I want more. Plain and simple, I want to know what happens next. Things have gone from bad to worse, to oh-my-goodness, you’re stopping the book HERE? (Much like the end of Empire Strikes Back in its own way).

Recommended? Yes. If you read the first book and were disappointed, do try the second. I think you’ll find it much richer and better than the first. but DO read the first one before taking on this, so that the story makes more sense. Hopefully the publisher and author won’t keep us waiting too long on the next one…

Thank you NetGalley for the free copy to review! – but the opinions expressed are my own. 🙂