Friday, December 4, 2015

A Christmas Story


 My physician / writer father wrote a story once about the birth of Jesus from a physician’s point of view. He said he had been thinking about the Christmas story and realized the birth of Jesus was miraculous in so many ways besides just the virgin status of his mother. From a medical point of view so many things could have gone wrong with a birth of a newborn in a dirty stable, at that time in history to a teenage, virgin mother. This realization prompted him to write a story which he set in a play or skit format.

His story opened with a panel of doctors from across the ages sitting at a large celestial conference table discussing God’s plan for the birth of Jesus.

The 18th century physician who pioneered the need for basic antisepsis such as hand washing, Dr Semmelwies, voiced objections to the plan. “I have grave concerns about the location of the birth. A stable?  Why a stable?! It is such a dirty environment!”

Dr. Lister who further developed antiseptic practices agreed whole heartedly with his fellow panelist.

Dr. Casselman, the inventor of forceps, also had reservations. “The mother is so young and at that time in history, I had not invented forceps yet. A teenage pregnancy is wrought with potential problems, the narrow size of her not-yet-fully-developed hips, to name one. I feel there are risks in both the maternal age and the timing in history of the planned delivery.”

21st century Obstetrician, Dr. Edwards chimed in pointing out the poor nutritional status of most people at that time in history. “It’s not like they could purchase prenatal vitamins from their local grocery store! And there are no hospitals with neonatal intensive care units in case the baby has problems.”

And so it was agreed. The panel solemnly decided they would have to give a negative opinion of the planned birth. They could not in good conscious do otherwise. 

Just then, another physician entered the room and began to speak. This man had a long beard, long hair, and wore a tunic that came to just above his sandle-clad feet. “Gentlemen,” he said. "I am Dr. Luke. And I am here to report that the birth has occurred just as planned. Mother and child are both well and I've recorded it all in my charts.”




Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Through my Kitchen Window

Veterans Day and Thanksgiving
Harriet Michael's photo. 
Today is Veteran’s Day. As I reflect on veterans who gave so much so that others, like me, can live in peace, I realize how much I have to be thankful for. 

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and I will travel to my parents, who by God’s grace are still living, and celebrate Thanksgiving with them. The picture on today’s blog is of my father, a former Marine.

Veterans Day and Thanksgiving thoughts have me remembering a true story that I once heard.

My husband has a close friend from Germany. In high school he spent six months living with this German family as an exchange student and then their son spent a year living with my husband’s family. Shortly after we were married, my husband and I visited his German family. Sitting around one night, I heard his German Vati (father) tell this story.

This man served in the German army in WWII. He was just 19 and did not understand all that his country and its wicked leader were doing. He was drafted, so he served.

Towards the end of the war, in the middle of winter, he was captured by the Americans. Tired, hungry, and cold, he had not eaten in days, his coat was threadbare and his boots so worn, his sockless toes were exposed.

He saw a fellow soldier cross an open field so he tried it. But American soldiers quickly surrounded him pointing their guns at his head. He dropped to the ground. I don’t think he even had a weapon but if he did, it had no ammo. At any rate, he knelt in the snow, expecting to be shot in the head, where their guns were aimed. But he was not shot.

Instead the soldiers told him to come with them to a nearby POW camp. “Oh,” he thought, “they will torture me before they kill me.”

Upon arrival at the camp, hidden in a wooded area, my friend’s father fully expected to be tortured and dreaded the ordeal that was about to unfold.

“Sit down,” the Americans said, as they pointed to a log near a camp fire. He sat, fearing what would happen next.

At least the fire felt warm. It was the first warmth he had experienced in weeks.
As he waited, a US soldier brought him a bowl of hot stew and a spoon. Then shortly, they gave him new boots and a new coat.

As my friend’s father told us this story, his face lit up in a smile and mine teared up. My husband’s German father said, smiling, "They did not torture me. They gave me shelter, warm clothes and food. If I had known this is what it would be like to be captured by the Americans, I would have surrendered much earlier.” And he added, “I’m so thankful I was not captured by the Russians. They would have killed me, for sure.”

Today, I am reminded how proud I am to be an American and how thankful I am for this nation and all the men and women who sacrificed so much for her!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Quotable Susan


On Grace:
“I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21
 
“Eschatology is not graduate level work for Christians. Graduate level work for Christians is grace. When it comes to extending it to others: do we really get it or not?”
-Susan Siami

“If you are not preaching grace so profoundly that you are accused of preaching cheap grace, then you are not preaching it profoundly enough.”
-Susan Siami

“Grace is not cheap; it’s free.  –To us it is offered freely but it is not cheap. It cost Christ everything.”
-John Michael
 
“When we come to God, we are coming to the throne of grace, not the throne of merit.”
-Mark Janke

“Suffering may call for mercy but sin does not call for grace. This proves that grace is free.”
-Mark Janke

“Run John run! The law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands.
Far greater news the gospel brings. It bids us fly and gives us wings.”
-John Bunyan



 

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Cheery Countenance

When my youngest child, Ty, was in kindergarten, I attended a picnic with his class. A woman I did not know came up to me and asked as she pointed to Ty, “Are you that little boy’s mother?”
When I answered in the affirmative, she continued, “Well, I saw him come up to you and thought if you were his mom, I wanted to tell you something funny he did.”
The woman went on to explain that she had chaperoned a kindergarten field trip to a hospital a couple of weeks earlier. The children were given a tour that included several brief stops along the way where hospital personnel explained things to them. In one of the rooms, they were told to sit on the floor while a doctor spoke to them about the importance of doctor visits. In this room there was an examining table with a manikin laying on it for the doctor to demonstrate on. One of the things he explained and demonstrated was how a doctor listens to a patient’s heart with a stethoscope. As he spoke, he stretched out his stethoscope and placed it on the chest of the manikin. And when he did, Ty’s hand shot up immediately!
The lady said she knew right away what Ty was thinking. She knew that he was bothered by the fact that the manikin did not have a real heart so the doctor would not be able to hear anything through the stethoscope. But the Dr. never acknowledged Ty’s uplifted hand–which Ty began to wave in an eager hope of being recognized.
Very soon this part of the instruction was over and the children were supposed to move onto the next room. Ty looked to be quite frustrated by the lack of recognition of his uplifted hand. So in an effort to console him, she approached him and tried to gently coax him to move along with the rest of the group. She stood by him and said, “Come on honey, let’s go into the other room with the rest of the group.” To this Ty got up to go but then looked at her and shaking his head in exasperation (and presumably referring to the fact that the Dr had tried to listen to a manikin’s heartbeat) he said, “I am surrounded by idiots!!”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Devotions


Image result for tomato plantsThis devotion was published in the Upper Room in its March/April 2012 issue, and a reprint was published in Word Aflame on 9/13

“I Can’t Do It!”

 Read: Amos 7: 12- 15
“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, ‘I am not a prophet, not the son of a prophet, for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore trees.” Amos 7:14 (NASB)

            “Lord, I can’t do it!” Have you ever said this to God? What has He asked you to do that you think you cannot do? In this passage, God asked Amos to do something new; something Amos had never done before.

            Every now and then a verse of scripture strikes me as a little bit humorous. This verse did that the first time I read it. In this verse, the prophet Amos tells Amaziah that he is not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. Amos claims to be nothing more than a herdsman and a grower of sycamore trees. I think Amos’ comment is funny, perhaps because I can relate to it so well. How many times have I perceived God asking me to do something for Him, whether it was go on a mission trip, write a devotional, or teach a Sunday school class, when I have told God, “But God, I am not a teacher or the daughter of a teacher…I am just a housewife and a grower of tomato bushes!”

            May we learn to offer God a willingness to do what He has called us to do. May we trust that just like God made Amos into a great prophet, He will also equip us to do whatever He has asked of us. Let us be willing to do more than just taking care of our herds and tomato bushes.

 

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, we know you are able to accomplish all that you desire, even through inexperienced and insecure people like us. Grant us willing hearts and capable hands to do your work. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Thought for the Day: Offer God a willing heart and you may be surprised at how He uses you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Author Interview


Ann White Knowles's photo.Today I am interviewing an author friend, Ann Knowles about her recently released book, The Extraordinary Presence of God.

Me: Hello Ann, and welcome. I’m thrilled to have you with me today. Let’s begin today with a little information about you; then we’ll talk about your book. Where do you call home?

Ann:  I’m a Carolina girl, but I’ve spent about half of my life living in other places—Berlin, Germany, San Antonio, TX, Columbia, SC.
What would you do with your life if you didn't write?

Ann: I’d clean my house. There is so little time for that these days. I’d like to own an RV and travel across the US with my husband. He’s a history buff and makes an excellent tour guide.

Me: Who inspired in you a love for books?

Ann: My mother used to read to me every day. When I was seven, she read Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott and A Magic Garden by Gene Stratton Porter to me, books far above my level, but she made them come to life. When she went shopping, my favorite treat was a book.

Me: How many books have you published? Do you also write other things—articles? short stories? Etc.

Ann: The Extraordinary Presence of God is my second published book—I’ve been publishing since 1986—I’ve published more than 60 articles and devotions in the past year.

Me: Publishing is an arduous process and often takes many rejections before we get published. How many rejections did you get before you published a book?
Ann: I attended the 2014 GPCWC and met with three reps from traditional publishers who asked me to send the first three stories of the book to them. I only sent it to Write Integrity Press and it was accepted. I have had articles rejected, but I mostly write by assignment.

'Read Claudia Russell's story about Scott in my new book. It will touch your heart.'Me: Tell us a little about your book.

Ann: The Extraordinary Presence of God is an inspirational book of true stories about ordinary people from all walks of life who have had extraordinary things happen in their lives. They believe those events were miracles from God. I’m especially happy about this book because I have dedicated all proceeds to Christ to the World Ministries. Learn about them here www.christtotheworld.com

Me: Would you share a favorite Scripture verse or a passage of Scripture that means a lot to you?

Ann: My compass verse has been Proverbs 3:5,6 since the day I gave my heart to Jesus. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Ann: Thanks so much for having me, Harriet. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions and telling you about The Extraordinary Presence of God.Me: Thank you for sharing your new book with us, Ann. I hope when the next book comes out, you'll revisit. 



Question for blog readers: Have you or someone close to you ever experienced a miraculous event in your life? Tell about it in 2-3 sentences.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Life as I Knew It


Driving on the Left Side of the Road-Part 2
By: Jayne Garrison


All is going as planned when suddenly, Baby Noel awakens. She is either hot, hungry or wet, but our baby-sitting skills extend no farther than dipping her pacifier into a European alcohol based tonic that is suppose to take the colic away. Barbra leans over the back seat administering this aid several times, but it doesn’t work; Baby Noel keeps crying.

“You’re going to have to trade places and do this for a while,” she commands. I dutifully obey, switching places and taking over the pacifier routine. Carefully, I dip the pacifier into the bottle of liquid and poke it into the baby’s mouth. Baby Noel cries. Once again, I dip and poke, but still Baby Noel cries. By this time, her cries have aroused the attention of our audience.


“You should not let the baby cry,” they admonish in unison while pointing fingers toward Barbra, whom they have identified as the eldest and thus in charge.


“It is very bad,” one of them chides.


“Aw, be quiet,” Barbra shouts to the cloud of annoying advice that is steadily rising above the baby’s cries.
Chris, eager to help, leans out the window with a stick that he has somehow smuggled into the car with him and makes wide sweeping gestures toward the on-lookers. “Go, go,” he says. “Go away.”

The sound of his childish voice repeating this phrase in a perfect African accent suddenly awakens the senses of my big sister. “Oh, no, Chris,” she yells realizing things have gotten out of hand.

I know exactly what she is thinking. We are missionary children. We have been taught to always treat the people of our adopted homeland with courtesy and love, because we are here to help and love. We also know that Nigerians are notorious tattle-tellers and will not hesitate to report our poor behavior to our parents. With prizes on the horizons it would never do for Mother and Daddy to learn about this.  

“Stop it, Chris.  Stop it at once,” Barbara demands again.

But even as she reprimands, she is driving. Driving. Driving. Suddenly, she stops as if coming to a real halt.

“They're coming!” She shouts.

Sure enough, Mother and Daddy are making their way across the street, arms laden with packages and baskets of goods. Quickly, we all jump into our proper places in the back of the car, squeezing uncomfortably between Chris and the carry cot. Mother and Daddy look happy and relaxed, their hour away from us having been a brief respite from ordinary routine. Not surprisingly, Mother goes straight for her crying infant.

“Couldn’t you have picked her up?” She asks wiping the drool from Baby Noel’s red face. “I left a bottle for her right here. And my goodness, she’s all wet.”

Barbra and I look at each other sheepishly. Chris nonchalantly tosses his stick out the window. We are all quiet while awaiting the verdict. Has news of our driving drifted beyond the parking lot? Did someone report our rudeness? Could Mother have heard the baby crying from across the street? But it seems we are not to worry. Mother is actually glad that Baby Noel is so happy to see her and reaches for our prizes with a smile on her face. There is a Match Box car for Chris and the promised stack of British comics for Barbra and me. We reach for them excitedly, quickly recognizing our favorites and putting them on top. We are elated. Our world is perfect. We think a child could not ask for more than to drive and receive comics all in one day.
 
I don’t realize it at the time, but years later, I will look back on these shopping trips with wonder. Was the world really safer then, or did our ignorance of the common- sense rules that we live by today, actually shield us from the danger that was awaiting in the wings?  My children are grown now, but neither was ever left in the car while I shopped. As for playing behind the wheel? Perhaps one could describe my children’s early driving as “playing,” but even that was not started without a license. 

There is only one aspect of these childhood memories that is remotely recognizable today, and that is the pleasure of a good magazine or newspaper. For these things, I find I am still willing to give up an afternoon and work. Of course, driving to that job is no longer quite the thrill that it once was, and staying on the left side of the road, is out of the question.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life as I Knew It


Driving on the Left Side of the Road- Part 1

By: Jayne Garrison

Shopping at Kingsway in Lagos, Nigeria during the 50’s was an exciting event for missionary kids, because the success of the trip totally depended upon the recent shipload of goods. The goal was to get there as soon as possible after the month’s shipment had arrived. Nothing felt worse than to run into a friend with some coveted item, only to discover that you were too late to get it.

Naturally, our interests were varied. Mother focused on food. In the Common Wealth years, this was a matter of finding those products which could somehow stand in for substitutes in our American diets. For instance, hot, brown mustard from the Netherlands worked almost as well on hot dogs as the pretty yellow stuff we ate in the States, and dehydrated shrimp chips could be fried into beautiful crispy curls that reminded us of potato chips. Later, labels familiar to our mother such as Betty Crocker and Kraft began to sporadically appear on the shelves, making our early arrival to the shops all the more important.

Beyond foods, however, merchandise was more obscure. No telling when an interesting toy or European garment of some sort might show up. Often, these were beyond our missionary budget, so my sister Barbara and I hoped for little things like china figurines, pretty handkerchiefs, colored pencils, plastic combs or wonderful soaps in interesting shapes---all things that the Europeans were great at producing in those days.

There was one thing we could absolutely depend upon, that my sister and I grew to dearly love---the British comics. These were not like their American cousins, the comic book, which our parents didn’t approve of. British comics were small newspapers full of comic- strip style stories that were almost always dramatic and usually part of a continuing series so that one looked forward to each issue with high expectancy. For a stack of these, we were even willing to baby-sit our youngest sister, Baby Noel, while Mother and Daddy shopped.

We were too young to be left at home alone and so our baby sitting took place in the parked car on the water front with Baby Noel in a carry cot and our two-year-old brother, Chris, bouncing up and down on the seat beside her. None of us would be leaving the car during this time, not even to stretch our legs, because the minute Mother and Daddy disappeared, we became an island in a sea of on-lookers who would want to touch us, play with us, and ply us for money, and while we were not afraid of them, we also knew we did not have the skills to safely maneuver through the crowd. Not that this cramped our style inside the car. As soon as we were on our own, we immediately sprang into action. It was time to drive.
 
The air was now filled with the high pitched sound of our voices arguing over who was first. I can still hear it today.

“You drove last. It’s my turn.”

“No, it’s mine. Remember, you had your chance when Daddy went to the post office.”

Finally, by some quirk of luck, I succeed in convincing my older sister that I should be the driver and take my place behind the wheel. Barbra has reluctantly taken the front passenger seat.

“Everyone ready?” I call out behind me.


I grab hold of the wheel as I simultaneously flick the blinkers and punch all the buttons within reach. We are on our way to an imaginary destination. Of course, we have not been left the keys. But the on-lookers surrounding our car don’t know this and are very uncomfortable with the idea of me behind the wheel.

“Don’t forget to drive on the left side of the road,” Barbra calls out mimicking our mother’s warnings to Daddy.


“You should not be playing with the motor,” a beggar with a twisted leg says.

“It is very dangerous,” chimes in another. 
The on-lookers are pressing in close, actually hanging into the windows, but we pay no mind as we fly down our imaginary street en route to visit an imaginary friend before shopping at the imaginary market. 

 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Strange and Interesting Bible Facts


1) Have you ever wondered what God’s spirit is like?  Isaiah 11:2 gives us a great description of God’s Spirit. This verse says, And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him (Jesus) The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. So what is God’s Spirit like? It is full of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, and the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Wow! Lord, I pray you pour your Spirit out upon us!

2) Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet and the book of Jeremiah makes it clear why he has this title. It is a depressing book filled with the details of a difficult time in Israel’s history. But it ends with a glimmer of hope that is often missed. In the last 4 verses of the book, Judah’s exiled king, Jehoiachin is released from prison and lives the rest of his days in peace. This no doubt brought hope to the exiled Jews because Jehoiachin was of the line of David from whom they believed a messiah would come. And in fact, we find Jeconiah (another name for Jehoiachin) in Matthew 1:12 listed in the genealogy of Christ. – Even amidst great adversity, God is faithful!

3) The wicked prophets living during Micah’s time did not want Micah to speak truth about the calamity to come. Micah talks about this in Micah 2:6 where he complains that the people tell him not to speak out. But Micah bravely spoke out anyway, unpopular as it was. And consequently, Jerusalem (the Southern Kingdom) was spared because King Hezekiah listened to Micah’s warnings but Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) did not listen and was destroyed.

4) The book of Matthew tells of numerous mountains:The mountain where Jesus was tempted (Matt 4:1-11), the mountain where He gave the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-16), the mountain where He worked the miracle of the feeding the multitudes with five loaves and two fish (Matt 15:29-39), the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-9), the Mount of Olives where He told of His second coming sometimes called the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:1-31). And in the very last verses of Matthew from a mountain, Jesus claims all authority in heaven and earth as He sends His disciples into the whole world in a passage known as the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior



While I was a child, still living there, Nigeria broke out into a civil war known as the Biafran War. By the time the war broke out, my family resided in central Nigeria in a town called Ogbomoso. This part of Nigeria was spared the worst of the fighting and for the most part our days were peaceful in spite of the war.

Even so, tensions in general were high all over Nigeria. Tribal infighting, which had always been a problem were at a peak. At one point, a rumor circulated around my town that there was to be a take over of the local government. Rumor had it that the king of Ogbomoso was going to be killed and his body dragged up and down the main road of the town.


The mission had two compounds; a hospital and seminary compound. Usually, the hospital compound housed missionaries associated with the hospital and vice versa. The two compounds were adjacent with the hospital and seminary in the front of both compounds and the residences behind the hospital and seminary farther away from the town. Thus, the two large facilities offered a bit of a protective barrier from any unrest that might occur in town. This was true for all missionary houses accept one. That house was right next to the seminary and just across the road from the hospital. The driveway of the house fed into the main road of the town. This house happened to be where my family was residing at the time. It often sat empty and if occupied, it usually housed a missionary that was associated with the seminary, as it offered very close access to the seminary. However, for the year my family occupied it, there was no house available on the hospital compound and this was the seminary home that was the closest to the hospital.


The rumors of the coming riot concerned my father deeply. So many thoughts ran through his mind. The king’s dead body could be dragged right in front of our home and we children might see such an awful thing. There may be an angry mob accompanying who could see our house and try to pillage or burn it and harm his family. So, my father chose to move the family in with another missionary on the hospital compound whose house was safely behind the hospital.


This was the plan but there still remained much uncertainty. My parents did not know how long our stay would be. If our house was burned down, we might find ourselves there for a very long time. My parents did not know how much to pack or what to do with the belongings that they were leaving in the house. They decided to hide as much as they could. They had brought their wedding silver with them to Nigeria which they buried in the back yard. (And yes, as a child in the heart of Africa, I ate every meal with sterling silver utensils–mine was an unusual existence.)


During all of the busy activities of that day, my older sister, about nine years old, did not show the least bit of anxiety. She sang and whistled and occasionally, she would twirl around and dance a little. Her complete lack of concern frustrated my father. He felt like his world might be coming to an end, yet she sang happily. Finally, he questioned her in a sharp voice, “Don’t you realize the grave danger we are in?”

My sister looked up at him with her big blue eyes and replied in her child like way, “But Daddy! I heard you preach last Sunday and you said to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.” My dad realized in that instance that the one with the inappropriate response to the situation was him, not her.


As it turned out, there was a riot in my town that night. The king’s dead body was dragged down the street in front of my house but we were safely in the home of another missionary. I can remember hearing that it happened but I did not see it. I and my family found shelter in the storm. Our house was not harmed and a couple days later we moved back in safely.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Father's Day


Harriet Michael's photo.As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father. How blessed I am to have been reared by a God-fearing man. And how blessed I am to still have him here on this earth.
Just a couple of weeks ago I sent some devotions that I have been contracted to write to him for editing. He is a writer too. Today I called to ask how the editing was coming and at 86 years old he told me he would be sending them to me via e-mail and was sorry he had not gotten them to me earlier. His reason for the delay? He and my 83 year old mother have been busy working in their yard and garden on the days that they have not worked at their part time jobs.
My father taught me many things but the most important lesson he ever gave was lived out before me in the way he lived his life.
Then too, I think of my Heavenly Father and the words to the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, comes to mind. Here are three of the verses:
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
           

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Quotable Susan


“I think the real church meets on Thursday nights, (when the support groups meet) not on Sunday morning, because the Gospel is a real Gospel for real people with real sins.  Those people who tip toe through life lightly without ever hitting any pitfalls present only a shadow of the Gospel to the world.  And those who have sin areas but pretend they don’t in order to keep up a good front are hiding the Gospel from the world; because the Gospel is a real Gospel for real people with real sins who can experience real forgiveness.”  -anonymous friend
 
“I saw an article in the church paper about the expectations the church has for its members. The article said the church expected such things as regular attendance, tithing, etc. I just thought, ‘That’s pretty funny because my expectation for church members is that they are going to sin, and they are going to sin, and they are going to sin.’” -Susan Siami
 
“The cross is tiny physically but in the scope of the vastness of the universe, it dominates everything.  That is why the universe is so big –so that it can be a stage for the cross.”
 -Jack Miller World Harvest Missions, “Sonship” videos
 
“The foolishness of the cross means that ministry is essentially and irreducibly scandalous and there is nothing you can do about it. There is nothing you should try to do about it. We can’t manage scandal, we must bear it.”
 -Dr. Albert Mohler
 
“Many have pity on the people at the dump. However, Christians are to have compassion.  For compassion compels us to act, not just feel sorry for someone.” -Paul Daniels (friend)
 
“There is no gifted program in heaven.  There are no special Ed classes. When we get to heaven we will all have perfect knowledge.”
 -Dr. Albert Mohler
 
“Study the Gospels until it comes out of your ears; until it runs through your veins.”
 -Jack Miller, “Sonship” videos
 
 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Life as I Knew It

This is a reprinted post. It first appeared February 24, 2010.


The Secret of my Birth

I was born in Joinkrama. It is located in what was then the Eastern Region of Nigeria but is today “Rivers State”; in the Niger River delta. Joinkrama was a tiny place across the river from Port Harcourt–a crocodile infested river. In order to get to Joinkrama, my parents crossed the river with their two small children and all their belongings on a thatched roof pontoon type boat, somewhat like the boats at Disney World’s Jungle Cruise except of course, the boat my parents was on, was wooden instead of aluminum (or whatever metal the Disney ride is made of) and the animals and danger in this river were real!

My father, a medical doctor, and my mother, a registered nurse, staffed a small mission hospital with my father as the only doctor there. Joinkrama is located in the small part of Nigeria that is in the tropical rain forest. It is an area of jungles. There were monkeys swinging in the trees outside of my house, elephants that occasionally tromped close enough to the village to be a danger to the villagers, and crocodiles in the river. The buildings were raised, for the occasions when the river overflowed its banks during the rainy season. It was in this remote part of the African jungle that I was born.

There are two stories about my birth…
One story has it that when my mother went in labor with me, she walked down a little jungle path to the hospital with my brother and sister in tow. According to this story, my father delivered me at the hospital once my mother arrived and then sent us back to convalesce at home. My mother was sent home on a stretcher carried by four men. She had me in her arms. Seeing us carried in this manner, the villagers assumed we had both died and began to weep and wail! One of the men alerted my mother to the situation and she quickly sat up, smiled, and waved so the people could see she was alive. Then, she lifted me up for them to see as well. The people’s weeping turned into dancing (literally) and they followed us home in a joyful procession! –that’s one story.

But my dad told me the real story when I was a little girl.
My dad told me that the stork was on his way to London, England–to Buckingham palace carrying in his beak the newest member of the royal family–a little princess (me) but unfortunately, he developed the hiccups, just as he was flying in the airspace above Joinkrama. …I don’t know where the stork lives, but apparently to get to London, it involves a trip over the Niger River delta. Well, overcome by one giant hiccup, the stork did something he had never done before–he dropped his bundle!

My father said he just happened to be walking home down that little jungle path when a bundle fell to the ground right in front of him! He said he knew immediately what had happened! …Now, my father never explained just how he knew all about the royal family, the stork’s hiccups, and all of that–but my father is a man of integrity so I never doubted his story!
“So you see” my father would conclude, “You are really a princess!”

….you can decide which story you want to believe, but I know the truth… I know I’m a princess!

According to the Bible, I really am a princess. I am a child of the King!

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-18

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Cheery Countenance


Oh Mom! 
My twelve year old son came home from school with a problem. Reaching in his backpack, he pulled out an invitation to a friend’s Bar Mitzvah which was to occur the next day. Although he received the invitation several weeks earlier, he had neglected to show it to me but he really wanted to attend; so I called the number on the invitation and my son was graciously granted permission to attend.

Now however, my son had a bigger problem. He didn’t have a gift to take to the Bar Mitzvah. I assured him this was not a problem, we could still purchase a gift. It was then that I began to truly understand my son’s problem. The situation meant he would have to make a trip to the mall with me–his mother–on a Friday night!

In my son’s twelve year old world, the mall was the place to be on Friday nights. The fact that he might be seen with his mother was a huge concern! But, he wanted to attend the Bar Mitzvah, he needed to have a gift, and he could not drive. Frankly, he had no choice but to risk a mall trip with his mom.


Instead of taking offense by my son’s predicament, I was rather amused. I assured him I would do my best not to draw any attention. I teased, telling him it was not so bad to be seen with his mother. There were worse fates in life. He could have a life-threatening illness. He could be in a car wreck. Or he could be seen with me at the movies.
As we walked around the mall, he looked from side to side and over his shoulder trying to spot anyone he might know before they spotted us. At long last, we settled on a gift. By this time, we were quite hungry and the food court beckoned.


What a dilemma my son now faced! We could go home without eating and he would have safely survived the outing without being sited by any of the twelve year old–why are you out with your mother on a Friday night?–police. But the smell of the food court wafted our way and he was weakening.


Spurred on by the fact that we had not encountered any of his friends yet and with his cover still in tact; my son bravely decided to risk dinner with me. This took real bravado as it involved sitting at the same table with me for a prolonged period of time.
As we sat down with our food, he once again voiced fears that one of his friends might see us. Just as I was about to respond to his comment, I picked up a French fry. Dipping one end of the fry in ketchup, I started moving it towards my mouth as I began to speak. The fries at this place were made from extremely long potatoes. Each one looked to be six to eight inches long.

“I don’t know why you are so embarrassed to be seen with me!  There is nothing embarrassing about being with your mother! There is nothing wrong with me! I am an absolutely normal human being!” I said, holding the fry in my hand.

At that precise moment the fry, which was quite close to my mouth now, began to bend in the middle and break in two. I startled, jerking the fry towards my mouth as I simultaneously turned my head. I really cannot explain why this was my response to the breaking French fry. It all happened so quickly. But it resulted in the fry hitting my face just beneath my right eye and slowly starting to break. As it broke, it slid down my right cheek ever so slowly, spreading ketchup in a red line all the way down my face.

Essentially, after having just announced that I was a perfectly normal human being, I proceeded to jab myself in the cheek with a French fry dipped in ketchup.

My son exploded with laughter! Apparently, the humor of the situation far out weighed any possible embarrassment I might have caused. Then, with a huge grin on his face and shaking his head, he said, “Mom, I rest my case!”

 

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Devotions


Image result for cloudsAs a follow up to my previous posts on writing devotions, today I am posting a sample devotion I wrote. This was published in the Spring 2014 issue of The Secret Place (Judson Press.) I sold them 1st rights so now, a year later, the rights are mine again, Hope you enjoy it.                                                              
                                            Hi God!
                                Read: Romans 1:16-20

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood by what He has made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 (NASB)

On the drive to school this morning, my son suddenly said to me, “Hey Mom! Look! Those clouds look like the word “Hi.”
Truth be told, I was unable to see what my son was referring to because of my vantage point and the need to keep my eyes focused on the road ahead of me, so I asked him to explain. He pointed out the window next to his seat and said, “Well there are a lot of straight lines in the clouds. Two are tall with a connecting puff between them and there was a smaller cloud beside them.” I knew the sky had some streaks of cirrus clouds in it, so my son’s explanation was believable. Then just as spontaneously, my son waved to the sky and offered a cheery and sincere, “Hi God!”

How often do we take time to see God in His creation? I did not see him this morning, I had my eyes focused on the task I was engaged in. (And rightly so, but just the same, the lesson seemed real.) I found myself warmed by my son’s innocent faith and longing to regain the faith of a child.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, from the beginning of time you have shown yourself to man in your creation. Give us eyes to see you more clearly! In your Son’s name, Amen.

Thought for the Day: Do you have the faith of a child?







Thursday, April 2, 2015

Through My Kitchen Window

Devotional Writing - Part Three

Finding Markets

There are three ways I write / sell devotions. I freelance them, selling 1st rights to a publication, freelance selling reprints, and work for hire where I accept assignments from a publication.

The freelance markets I have found that will buy 1st rights include:

The Upper Room–this is a Methodist publication. It pays $30 per devotion and its guidelines can be found at: http://www.upperroom.org/about/writer-guidelines/upper-room

The Upper Room has other devotional magazines which also accept freelance work, buying 1st rights. These include devozine, Alive Now, Pockets, and Weavings. Their guidelines can be found at: http://www.upperroom.org/about/writer-guidelines/upper-room

The Secret Place–published by Judson Press. It is an American Baptist publication, pays $20 per accepted devotion, and their guidelines can be found at: http://www.judsonpress.com/catalog_sp_guidelines.cfm

The only place I have found that will purchase reprints is Word Aglow–published by the Pentecostal Publishing House and they only pay $8 per devotion. Their guidelines are found at: www.wordaflame.org/assets/writers_guidelines.pdf


But there may be others too.

Once you build up some devotional writing credits, you can send a query letter along with samples of your work to magazines which make assignments and ask for an assignment. These are work for hire and there are many of them. The two I have received assignments from are Open Windows (Lifeway) and Reflections (Smyth and Helwys)

I hope these posts have been helpful. Devotional writing is not the highest paying type of writing out there but they are fun and easy to write. And it’s nice to know others are being reached and blessed by your writing.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Through My Kitchen Window

Devotional Writing–Part Two
Once you write a devotion, what do you do with it?

Today’s post will discuss author’s rights and marketing tips. There are several rights a writer can sell, depending on what the publication wants and what the writer is willing to sell.

1st Rights–also called First North American Serial Rights: If you sell 1st rights, you are selling the publication the right to be the 1st to publish the piece. After it is published or some period stated in the contract, all rights to the piece return to the writer. 1st Rights can only be sold once.

Reprint Rights–also called 2nd North American Serial Rights: This is sold when the writer has the rights back to a piece after it has been published. A writer can sell re-print rights as often and as much as he or she can find a publication which wants the piece. However, some publications do not publish re-prints.

All Rights or exclusive writes: This term means that the writer sells the publication all the rights to his or her piece. All Rights usually pays more but the writer loses possession of his or her work. Personally, I never sell All Rights to any piece I have written.

Assignments: This is when the publication gives a writer an assignment telling the writer what to write about. The publication then owns the rights to whatever work the writer has agreed to do on assignment. I do take assignments occasionally.

Regarding devotional writing, I freelance pieces under 1st rights, re-print rights, and also take assignments. When I freelance a piece, I write the devotion on any topic or verse I desire, send it to the publication hoping they will buy it. These are sold one at a time. If I take an assignment, the publication tells me what scripture passages to write about and usually assign five days at a time. Even though they will own the rights to my finished work, I will be guaranteed five days of devotions which, of course, will pay more.

In order to keep this blog post from being too long, I will write one more post about devotional writing. In it I will list some places where freelance devotions can be sent, as well as a few places that give assignments. I suggest building some freelance credits before you query asking for an assignment. The publications that make assignments will want to see samples of your work and know what other devotions you have written.