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Faith Imagined: November 2009

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

November 20, 2009

Garbage In, Garbage Out

There were two trees in the Garden of Eden: Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but they Snake tempted them to eat a fruit from this tree. They did, and their eyes were open to their nakedness.

We all know this story, and we pity Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden apple, yet we consume poisonous apples daily and think nothing of it.

Tree of Knowledge is the symbol of evil. The snake is the symbol of the fallen Arch Angle Lucifer (Satan) who before his fall was called "the star of the morning, son of dawn" (Isaiah 14:12). The fruit is the symbol of the fruits of evil. Adam and Eve's consumption of the fruit is the symbol of sin. Sin separates us from God. God is all good. Something that is 100% genuine cannot mix with any other elements. God is %100 good; therefore, everything that has the absense of good (evil, sin, darkness) cannot mix with Him. Those things are un-God. There is no in between. God did not create evil, but since He created good, the absense of good exists.

God gave Adam and Eve free-will and they chose to allow evil enter into a creation that was made all-good by God. They consumed sin with Satan, and this sin corrupted God's beautiful design. Because of God's mercy and love, He came down to this corrupted earth and became a man we know as Jesus. Jesus felt the full repercussions of sin -- He felt pain, hunger, temptations & death; yet, He lived a blameless life. Our 100% perfect God came into our %100 corrupted world to show that He could still live a %100 blameless life. He consumed no apples while He walked among us, yet He tasted the fullness of their poison. He took that poison within His body, so that whenever we take bites of our apples, He pays the price.

There are fruits of evil all around us, and we daily have the choice to consume them. These fruits are on TV shows, movies, music, books, Internet, conversations, relationships, actions, thoughts, attitudes, etc. I'm not going to go into the specifics of what is evil and what is not. If you are a Christian, you have the Spirit of God residing in you. If you are daily allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you, He will tell you what is good and what is evil. You'll feel it in your soul. Read Galatians 5:16-23 for more information.

Our culture today relishes in pushing the boundaries of the knowledge of evil. Every aspect of media and day-to-day life dives into the unexplored knowledge that seems beautiful, delicious, new and interesting. It all appears exciting at first: a provocative new love affair, a sophisticated act of mayhem, a piercing insight of torture, a hilarious act of perversion, a subtle twist of purity. And we fill our hearts and minds with it. Christians are consuming sin by the fistful, and we think that we are doing nothing wrong. We act like we have it all together; but when disaster hits, our true colors show. Many Christians are depressed, defeated and distraught. We have forgotten that what goes in, must come out.

I'm not saying that you won't experience hardships because you will. Jesus lived a blameless life, but He experienced the effects of sin because the world is corrupted. Yet, with our choices we can tip the scales towards blessings or towards curses. Before the Israelites entered the Promise Land, God told them that they can choose a life of blessings or curses (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). God said specifically that the path to blessings was not hard to achieve: "Now what I'm commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach" (Deuteronomy 30:11). How do we achieve the path of blessings vs. the path of curses?

Here is a simple formula:

Consuming fruits of sin from the Tree of Knowledge of Evil = a path of curses

Consuming fruits of God from the Tree of Life = a path of blessings

God told the prophet Ezekiel to eat the scrolls (Ezekiel 3:3). King David meditated (ponder and contemplated) on God's laws because they were like honey (Psalm 19:9-10). Jesus broke the bread and said, "Take it; this is my body" (Mark 14:22). God's Word, God's Commands and God's Son are all fruits from the Tree of Life. What I fear for myself and for other Christians is that our daily intake of fruit is 99% from the Tree of Knowledge and only 1% from the Tree of Life. God has tested me on this, and I failed miserably (Psalm 26:2); but I'm determined to do better!

God makes a promise to us. He said that if we consume from the Tree of Life, we shall be blessed. My prayer is that Christians (me included) would drop all the apples and start clinging to God's Word. Satan was once the bearer of light, and he can make sin seem beautiful. The beauty of sin is rooted so deeply in our lives that it's hard to see it; and the only way we'll ever be able to distinguish it is if we explore the opposite -- God! When we start cultivating a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God, all those apples that seemed acceptable at first start to repulse us. Once we experience the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin become extremely apparent.

The world has made the Tree of Knowledge seem so exciting and awesome, but the fact is that nothing is more exciting or awesome than the Tree of Life! It is up to Christians to choose the path of blessings and show the world how totally amazing our God is! I know that the apples in your life may seem to taste good and look trendy, but I promise you that if you sacrifice them for God and replace them with fruits from the Tree of Life, you will be blessed. I can make such a bold promise because God promises it in His Word.

I love Christians who make an effort to set themselves a part from the world, yet maintain a high regard in the world's eyes. I can think of several Christian - athletes, singers, movie stars, scientist, entrepreneurs and writers - who are admired by Christians and non-Christians. In the New Testament when the church was in its early stages, the Bible says that many people admired the church members, though they didn't join the church (Acts 5:12-14). Not everyone is going to become Christians and not everyone is going to agree with our faith, but we still should be admired for our integrity, our work ethic, our selflessness, our compassion, our talents and our love for others. We still should lead lives worth emulating. That is why it is so important to eat from the Tree of Life!

Go back and listen to the song again. Meditate on the lyrics. Ask God to test your life, so He can sift the sin from you. Just remember that whatever is done in secret is found out. If you are spending time with God, reading His Word, obeying His commandments and staying clear of the Tree of Knowledge, your life will reflect God's beauty. And I can only guess what awesome things God will do in and through you!

* I was just asked the question, "Why would God put the Tree of Knowledge of Evil and Good in the Garden"?

I want to assert again that God cannot create evil. Lucifer was created as the most beautiful angel ever - Lucifer means light-bearer. When God created Lucifer the absense of Lucifer was also created. Everything has its opposite because of its absense; it's what defines it. Because Lucifer fell away from God, he became the opposite of the light-bearer. He became the bearer of darkness. Evil is created because of our free-will. We can embrace God (God is all-good, all-love, all-holy) or we can embrace un-God (evil, hate, corruption). God gave us the choice; otherwise, we would just be robots. When we embrace God and accept Jesus as a payment for our wrong choices, we go to heaven (the place that has God). When we shun God and do not accept Jesus as payment for our wrong choices, we go to hell (the place that does not have God). Everything that is evil is merely the absense of what God made. We decide which direction we go -- to God or away from God.

I know you might wonder why God created anything in the first place because everything He creates has an opposite. However, when I look at my life, my husband and my children, I feel so much love and good. I'm glad God created us. God created a family. He didn't have to, but He did. I rejoice that He did. I would rather be confronted with the Tree of Knowledge than never exist at all. So guard yourselves, my friends. Guard yourselves from the Tree of Knowledge of evil! Ignorance is bliss when it comes to sin!

He [she] who has an ear, let him [her] hear what the Spirit says to
the churches. To him [her] who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the
tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Revelations
2:7 NIV).

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November 18, 2009

Tablet of My Heart

When I was sixteen-years old, I stopped having my period for about five months. I didn’t know what was going on. I had never been intimate with anyone; and instead of seeking guidance, I tucked away my problem and lived in fear. In my ignorance, I could only think of the Virgin Mary, and I became trapped in a warped, religious thought process that filled me with guilt and anxiety. I didn’t know much about the Bible, but what little I did know, I applied to my situation and came up with ridiculous conclusions.

When my period finally started again, it literally felt like the world was lifted from my teenage shoulders. The entire incident was tucked away into the pockets of my heart and forgotten about it.

Just recently, I was discussing jogging with a friend of mine who teaches kinesiology at our local university. She was training for a marathon and talked about some of the effects of training – one of which was loss of period. Finally, after fifteen years, I discovered why mine had disappeared for five months. I had been on the track team that semester. What a revelation! Something which had caused me so much grief as a teenager had such an easy explanation.
The story is laughable now, but it doesn’t erase the misery I lived in all those months. I realized that my ignorance had caused so much grief. If I had only sought counsel, I could have saved myself from immense confusion – confusion that involved the Bible.

Sometimes as Christians we take our limited exposure to the Bible and apply it to our situations or, worse yet, to our friends’ situations. If we are not reading and studying God’s Word on a regular basis, our ignorance can cause damage to ourselves and to others. Moreover, if we do not seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and surround ourselves with godly influences, we will be isolated in a confusing world of religious traditions and biblical fragments.

As Christians, we are commanded by God to write His Word on the tablets of our hearts (Proverbs 7:2-3 NIV). God doesn’t command this because He wants us to jump through religious hoops in order to be worthy of His favor; He commands this because He knows that only with His Word in our hearts will we be able to stand firm in our faith (Matthew 7:22-25 NIV).

When we write the Scriptures on our hearts, we are better able to overcome temptation, negative thoughts, low self-esteem, depression, and any other struggle we face. The Bible is our sword against the enemy whose only ambition is to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). Also, if we are rooted in God’s Word, we can be a blessing to others. We can come along side our Christian brothers and sisters during their time of need and point them to Christ. The best way to bring someone closer to Christ is by using the anointed Word of God.

We become a more effective mouthpiece for God when we sit down with Him and study His Word. In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, God reprimands the false prophets who led the people away from Him. God said that if only they would have spent time with Him, they would have proclaimed His Words and the people would have been saved (Jeremiah 23:22 NIV). We can’t be expected to help others align their lives to God’s will if we are not reading the Bible. We won’t even be able to help ourselves because our ignorance will keep us smothered in shame, confusion, and hopelessness.

The Bible is filled with amazing promises that are woven throughout every story. We need to diligently seek those promises so that we can claim them! King David compares God’s Word to honey (Psalm 119:102-104 NIV) and to silver and gold (Psalm 119:72 NIV). We need to cling to the Bible like it’s the most valuable thing we own because it is! Without it, we are lost in a world of darkness. And if we as Christians are lost, who will be the light that shines on the cross for those who are seeking a savior?

Will you make it your determined purpose to know God more (Philippians 3:10 AMP)? Will you join me at making an exerted effort to read your Bible regularly and allow God to teach you? It might seem confusing at first, but God will meet you right where you are. The Holy Spirit is the Supreme Teacher. God wants to fill you with His promises. He wants you to have abundant life (John 10:10 NKJV). He will teach you if you yield to His guidance.

Let us no longer be tied to our ignorance. We need to hunger for more than small pieces of Scripture wrapped around our limited human understanding. We want God to fill us with His holy understanding and share insights with us that will free us from confusion. If we study God’s Word, surround ourselves by godly influences, and stay obedient to God’s direction, our path will not be so hazy like it was for me when I was sixteen. Once the scriptures are written on the tablets of our hearts, the Lord will become our confidence, and He will protect us from the snares of the world.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 NIV).

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November 17, 2009

Internet Cafe: Potty Training & God Training

I know that many women have been able to potty train their kids over night, but that has never been the case for me. Whenever I read an article that boasts, “Potty train your toddler in 24 hours,” I want to laugh.

All their lives, toddlers have been doing their business in a diaper, and overnight they are expected to change everything they are comfortable with and used to. . . ?

Come on, now! How is that possible?!

Yes, I know some of you have experienced that potty-miracle, but not this chick; and I suspect many other women haven’t experienced that miracle either.

My second born son is now almost three, and I must confess, I so wanted to keep a diaper on him until he turned 16. I have a lot of regrets from potty training my first born, and I was not looking forward to rehearsing all my mistakes.

This time I was determined to have realistic goals for my son. I decided to be a big ball of spiritual fruits — patience, kindness, self-control, etc. It has been two months since I started potty training my son, and he will go pee-pee in the toilet; but he still will not go poo-poo (you can add your own bowl movement euphemism).

When I first started potty training my second son, he wouldn’t even sit on the toilet, let alone do his business. He was scared of it. So my only goal has been to de-fear him.

Everyday my son sits on the toilet after we eat lunch, and we play. I read him books, we sing songs, we play games . . . I do everything to make the toilet a fun place to be. I will continue to work towards making him feel comfortable, while demanding and expecting nothing from him.

Though he hasn’t as yet completed the desired goal, I’m still proud of him. He has come a long way from the boy crying gator-tears, sitting with his legs in the air on the toilet. He now sits comfortably, while laughing and smiling.

Would you mind if I tied this potty experience into something that God taught me? He doesn’t waste a good metaphor, does He?

God is constantly training us to be more Christ-like, and change is very hard. I have a friend who moved and lost all of her spiritual-support group. She is alone in another country, and she is having difficulty being intimate with God. She is very relational and not having the influences of her Christian friends has created a gap in her spiritual-growth — a gap that God wants to fill.

She says that she doesn’t feel God doing anything with her. She doesn’t feel any great movements of the Holy Spirit. She wonders if she is doing something wrong.

I told her, “You are doing something right!”

God is allowing my friend to get comfortable just being with Him without her usual infrastructure of spiritual help. He is not pushing her or expecting much of her; He just wants her to get used to this new level of intimacy. Once she is comfortable, He’ll be ready to ask more of her.

Do you feel like God is doing nothing with you? Are you scared because you are in the middle of change? Don’t be hard on yourself! God will not push you! He cares for you, and He wants to make this transition easy.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.30 NIV).
“Thank You, God, for making Your yoke light. Help me to understand that You are caring and gentle, not hard and demanding. Guide me and show me how You are making me into the perfect design that You created me to be. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

You can also read this at the Internet Cafe.

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November 15, 2009

Sanctified Together Compassion and Discipleship Resource

Many of you know that I have an identical twin sister, Christina. She has been my help-mate and has counseled and prayed for several of my followers. She has also been instrumental in my writing blog, and God has wonderfully brought us together for an exiting new phase of this ministry. But, before I get into all of that, let me give you a little twin history.

Growing up, I was the controlling twin. Christina bent over backwards to please me. I took it for granted that I should always be first and my wants and needs were more important. I loved my sister very much, though, and at age 16 I told God that I loved her more than Him. Shortly after my confession, Christina pulled away from me. I can't blame her. I was selfish and dominating. My loss of her relationship caused the first crushing of my character (I've had many more since then). God used my brokenness to change my heart and to mold me.

As we got older, Christina learned to trust me again and our relationship was renewed. We both went to school, got our degrees, started careers, got married and had children. Life hasn't always been easy. We have strayed from God, have encountered heartaches and have made bad decisions; but God has always been there, guiding us.

Over three years ago, God asked me to start a writing blog. I didn't understand why. Although I loved writing, I had no idea how to write in the blogging world. When I first began writing, I would open the Bible and write a paragraph about the first verse I read. My only readers were my husband, Christina and God. I finally had to resign myself to the fact that I had to obediently write for God, even if I never saw a difference in people's lives.

During this "desert writing," however, I became involved in my women's ministry and started training as a disciple (disciple means learner) of Christ. I created the GBD Writing Ministry and learned as much as I could about ministry. Christina also became involved in our women's ministry and served in ministry outreach until God moved her and her family to another city. Since she lost all of her support group and ministry, she started playing with blog designs and slowly taught herself how to design blogs.

About a year ago, God started preparing me for a growth in my writing ministry. He showed me in the Gospels that the first four disciples that Jesus called were two sets of brothers: Andrew & Peter and Philip & Nathanael (John 1.35-50 NIV). I thought that was interesting, but I still couldn't believe that God would allow Christina and me to work together in ministry -- it was too good to be true!

Since Christina had learned how to design blogs, she wanted to help me with mine. When she started to help me, a miracle happened: My writing blog started to grow! She was the missing link. I could be the best writer in the world (which I'm not by a long shot), but without her, no one would read my writing. This transition in my writing blog was a God-confirmation that my dream of working in ministry with my twin could be a reality!

And now to the exciting new phase in our ministry.... Introducing Sanctified Together Compassion and Discipleship Resource! We are thrilled about this ministry and eager to see how God uses us to fulfill His divine plan. We are not perfect, but we eagerly desire to be obedient to His will and used for His purpose. We are starting this new phase of our ministry nice and slow. We have husbands and families and they are our most important ministries; however, we freely give of our spare time to serve the Kingdom of God!

We have added a few new features to the ministry. As you already know, we have changed the ministry site design. We want to make it obvious that our ministry is sanctified and set apart for God. Next, we want to pray for you! We added a new Prayer Request tab, and we hope that you will allow us to intercede on your behalf as the Holy Spirit leads. Also, we want you to be a part of this ministry, so we are producing the Sanctified Together Email & Online Publication. We are working on our first publication, and we want you to contribute!

As always, we will continue to encourage you with comments on your personal and/or writing blogs and answer your emails for support. And we will continue to write whatever the Holy Spirit lays on our hearts for Faith Imagined. Please head on over to the About the Twins tab and read all about Christina! She is taking a beautiful and bold step of obedience, and I want us to encourage her!

I wanted to add a little side note about the photo of the twin strawberries I took. I was eating at Jason's Deli with a friend after an awesome time at Corpus Christi Christian Fellowship's Fall Festival. I got to praise God, dance for His glory and consume godly insights from Marva Leavell's preaching. She is the pastor's wife and women's minister at CCCF. As I ate my fruit cup, I thought about the changes God was making in our ministry. When I looked down to the next piece of fruit, I saw two strawberries that were joined together. This was such a God wink! God wonderfully confirmed our ministry by showing me two individual strawberries that were each distinct and complete, yet bound together. Christina and I are two distinct individuals, joined together in a movement to share God's love with the world! We hope you will join us in our efforts to live sanctified lives!

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November 11, 2009

Just Jump!

I love Peter. He is one of the coolest dudes in the New Testament, besides Jesus, of course! I'm a lot like Peter. I see Jesus walking on water, and I'm mesmerized. My eyes are fixed on Him, and I beg Him to call me into the waves. When Jesus finally calls me out of my safe boat, I jump into the water and take off running. About 10 seconds into my full-on sprint, I second guess myself and get distracted.

I see big waves all around me, I feel water spray hitting my face and I hear the wind angrily howling for me to stop (little bit 'o spiritual warfare). My pace starts to slow down, and I think, "What the heck are you doing, Alisa? You can't walk on water! You're going to drown!" aaaannd . . . KERPLUNK! SPLASH! I fall into the water and go into "save my own skin" mode.

As I'm gulping water and gasping for air, Jesus comes to me calmly, picks me up, smiles and says, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?"

I look up at Jesus and sheepishly say, "Well, at least I got out of the boat! The scardy-cat Eleven are white-knuckling the edge -- safe as can be!"

Jesus sighs, smiles again ('cause He loves me) and carries me (on water) back to the boat. He knows I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.

Are you trying?

Are you sitting in the boat or are you begging for Jesus to tell you it's time to come out? I don't think Jesus was disappointed because Peter jumped out of the boat and sank. I think Jesus knew how much Peter was capable of accomplishing, but Peter didn't trust himself or Jesus.

Jesus knows our potential because He put it there. We've just got to trust Him.

Don't be scared to jump out of the boat for Jesus. He wouldn't tell you to jump if He knew you would sink. Not only does Jesus believe you can walk on water, He believes you can run up waves, backflip off whitecaps and do a victory dance all the way back to the boat. Why? Because that's God promise to you! God says that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4.13).

This promise is what distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Christians should be doing the most crazy, amazing things and the world should be gawking! We shouldn't be known for our self-righteousness or our judgmentalness. We should be known for our amazing feats, our love for others and our love for God.

Don't be scared! God has all the cosmos in His hand; I'm pretty sure He can handle your little (but important) life. And wherever you fail, God will slip in His grace. God's grace fills in all the cracks of our imperfections. His grace mixed with our obedience is an extremely beautiful and powerful thing.

Be obedient today and jump out of your safe boat. Overcome your fear and prepare yourself for the ride of your life!

What has God been telling you to "jump into"? Are you holding onto the edge of the boat, thrashing around in the water, timidly walking toward Jesus or showing off for God with your backflips?

*This post is dedicated to my twin sister -- JUST JUMP!

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November 8, 2009

Guest Post - K.M. Weiland!

Novelist, K.M. Weiland, is gaining speed in her blog book tour for her latest publication, Behold the Dawn, and she has graciously accepted an invitation to make a stop at Faith Imagined!

If you are a reader, add her to your favorite author list! She is an amazing weaver of words and provoker of emotions, and she does it all to the glory of God!

If you are a writer, follow her on her web page and learn from a master of the craft! She is part of the Author Culture team, so take time to be mentored by the best!

To celebrate this amazing author, Faith Imagined will be giving away a signed copy of Behold the Dawn. Everyone who makes a comment on this post, will get an entry into the drawing. The winner will be drawn on November 15th!

Author Interview

1. What inspired Behold the Dawn?

I happened to pick up a children’s picture book about William Marshall, the “greatest knight who ever lived.” He was a second-born son who had to make his fortune by competing in the tourneys—the huge mock battles which were the predecessors of the slightly more civilized jousting tournaments. Despite being repeatedly banned by the popes, tourneys remained wildly popular until high mortality rates forced the sport to evolve into the more familiar (and much safer) jousting tournaments. After a long career as one of the most renowned tourneyers of the age, Marshall finally hung up his spurs and headed for the Holy Land to seek absolution.

I’ve always been drawn to the Middle Ages, and I was instantly intrigued by these gladiatorial battles and their juxtaposition with the Crusades. From there, my imagination just took off!

2. Who is your favorite character?

Oh, Marcus Annan, my main character, definitely! He dominated every page and absolutely took charge of the story. He was one of those special larger-than-life characters who are definitive to a writing career. His strength, his courage, and his haunted past… he was a blast to write. In fact, he’s easily one my favorites out of all the characters I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something, because this story, in particular, gave birth to quite a cast, including Annan’s smart aleck servant Peregrine Marek, the fugitive countess Lady Mairead, a conflicted Templar named Warin, and a triad of very scary bad guys!

3. What have you learned on your road to publication?

Probably the biggest thing is simply that publication isn’t the end all. Anne Lamont nailed it when she said, “…publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is.” Being published, having people buy your words—that’s an amazing feeling. It validates your work, all the hours you’ve put into crafting and sweating over these crazy stories that won’t let you go. But it’s not the final destination; it’s just a pit stop along the road of the artistic lifestyle. Writing, in and of itself, whether or not you’re ever published, has to be its own reward. I write because I have to tell stories. I’d keep right on writing even if I was the only one who wanted to read my words. For that matter, I would pay other people to let me keep writing, if I had to. It’s a passion, a compulsion, a gift. That those other people are actually willing to pay me to continue it—that’s just an extra blessing. It’s important to keep it all in perspective, no matter where you are in your quest for publication.

4. What’s your secret to success?

No secret. Just lots of hard work. Write every day. Guard your desk with a machete and flamethrower if you have to! Writing time is sacred, and if you don’t respect that, you’ll never get anybody else to. Read incessantly: all the good fiction you can get your hands on, as well as books on the craft. Seek knowledgeable feedback on your work. Well-read, kind-but-brutal beta readers are essential. Writing can’t be just a hobby; you have to treat it like a job. More than that, it’s a lifestyle.

5. What’s next?

I have several projects in the works. I have a completed fantasy, Dreamers Come (about a man who discovers that his dreams are really memories of another world) waiting for another round of edits. I also just started outlining my next project, a historical novel called The Deepest Breath about the passion, betrayal, and vengeance that dog two men and the woman they both love through the trenches of World War I, corruption in colonial Kenya, and the criminal underbelly of London. And I’m also working on a fun co-writing project that asks, “What if Robin Hood met Sleeping Beauty?”

Comment question:
What about this book or interview intrigues you?

Purchase your copy of Behold the Dawn and get ready for the adventure! If you would like Weiland to make a blog book tour stop at your blog, email her for the details : K.M. Weiland.
Post your comment, and you can win a signed copy of Behold the Dawn!

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November 5, 2009

What Can I Say

What can I say about a God who loves me?

How can I prove His sweetness for me?

Which words would do Him justice?

I’m scared to even try.

I know I’ll fall short.

But He meets my shabby effort with the mighty force of His glory.

I reach out my insignificant hand, and He grabs it with His majesty.

He pulls me into His constant joy, and I dance! – I dance! – I dance!

I’m surrounded by physical prison; my flesh locks me into ordinary.

But with God I run in a ray of beauty and lie down in a bed of peace.

My love is multiplied in my emptiness and I find safety in my fear.

God lifts high my brokenness and His light shines through my life.

I know I’ll fall short.

I’m scared to even try.

Which words would do Him justice?

How can I prove His sweetness for me?

What can I say about a God who loves me?

*Author's note: I was doing my God-time, and God told me to write Him a poem. I didn't know what I was going to write, except to share how much I am loved by my Creator. When I was finished writing, I centered the poem and a cross appeared. Isn't God so wonderful? He reminds me all the time that I am loved. When I am obedient to His urging, He leads me right into His arms.

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November 4, 2009

Never a Writer

When I was fourteen years old, my family moved from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Corpus Christi, Texas. I was really excited. I would be starting high school in a beach town and I couldn’t wait to get involved in the sports program! Playing sports was everything to me. I disciplined myself in sports, I enjoyed playing sports and much of my identity was wrapped up in sports. All I wanted was to move to Corpus Christi and start high school on the right foot – playing sports!

The sports I loved most were track, gymnastics, volleyball and softball. I played these sports from a young age, and I was confident that I would exceed in my new high school. When we moved to Corpus Christi, however, I discovered devastating news: the local high schools didn’t have gymnastics, volleyball or softball – all they had was track! I couldn’t believe it! Texas schools were about two things back then: cheerleading and football.

I floundered my first two years of high school. I never learned the discipline of studying or reading. I almost never did my homework, and I never read books. I would watch people read books, and I wondered what was going on in their minds. In fact, the first book I read all the way through was during our drive from Fairbanks to Corpus Christi. I devoured the book, and I couldn’t believe all the beautiful images and emotions that went through my mind. I loved it! Yet, I still hadn’t learned the discipline of reading, so I didn’t pick up another book for several years.

During my freshmen year in high school, I felt hopeless and detached. I had lost my identity, my method of meeting friends (on the playing field) and my sense of achievement. Is it any wonder I accepted Jesus during this time? I struggled with feeling disconnected – I was in a new state, new culture, new climate (Corpus never has a winter) and new changes in my body, and I had nothing to cling to for acceptance. I started studying a little bit more, and I was shocked when someone called me “the smart girl.” Actually, I was thrilled! At least I had some kind of title!

During my sophomore year of high school, I ran track; but it wasn’t the same. There was no sense of teamwork. I enjoyed my track friends, but I still didn’t feel connected. Finally, my junior year in high school, I started tentatively writing. My grammar was pathetic, but I wrote with a lot of emotion. I felt a little tug toward writing, and I started writing in a journal (it is really embarrassing reading my high school journal and seeing just how desperately pitiful I was in high school).

My junior English teacher had us write an essay about Thomas Paine’s famous line, “These are the times that try men's souls.” We were supposed to research current social issues and discuss them in our essay. I, of course, didn’t know how to research, so I wrote a satirical essay that made fun of the boys in our high school. I didn’t realize that I was writing a satire, but I whipped up the essay (grammar mistakes and all) in about ten minutes. The next week as I walked into class, my teacher had a big smile on her face and she told me how much she enjoyed my writing. She said that I should write for a magazine. She even read that essay to all of her classes.

I was ecstatic, and my waning self-esteem had a dramatic boost! I finally found something that I did well, and it had nothing to do with sports. My senior year, I took a creative writing class and I excelled. My grammar still wasn’t great, but my teacher got excited about what I wrote. I started to get some confidence in my writing, and I began to integrate writing into my identity.

I went to college without any idea what degree plan I would take. I did, however, take a lot of English classes. I finally took a grammar class, and the hazy world of grammar started to become more clear. At the beginning of my junior year in college, my guidance counselor said that I would have to choose a degree plan. I chose English because I had no idea what I wanted to be, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

One day while I was in the mobile home that I shared with a friend in college, God told me that I was going to be a writer. I was twenty-one. I remember shrugging my shoulders and thinking to myself, “Well, I better start reading then.” Once I knew that God wanted me to write, my writing improved dramatically. One English professor, whom I had taken for two semesters, even commented about the remarkable change in my writing. She contributed my writing improvement to her excellent teaching skills (she was a good teacher), but I never told her the full story. I finally had a God-given purpose, and I had a clear goal at which to aim.

I write all this because for years I never understood why God brought me clear across the country to a school that didn’t have the sports that I loved. I always questioned God and wondered why my first two years of high school had to be so hard. It wasn’t until a friend showed me her “life timeline” that I gained understanding.

My friend made a timeline of her life and wrote down the big events (bad and good) that happened to her. Then, she looked at each event and asked the question, “Where was God’s hand in this?” I discussed her timeline with her, and we were able to help her gain many beautiful insights of God’s guidance in her walk of faith.

When I thought about my life, the first thing that came to my mind was my freshmen year in high school. It was very much a low point for me. However, I realized that if I had not gone through that struggle, I might not have become a Christian, and I definitely wouldn’t be a writer. God in His awesome way allowed hardships in my life, so I could become who I am today. I can say with all honesty that I am glad I went through what I did. Of course, there is more to the story; but I’m glad God gave me clarity concerning this particular struggle. I look forward to the day that God gives me complete clarity about my life. I know I will be mighty glad that I trusted Him and stayed obedient to His will.

What about you? Do you want clarity about some of the events that happened in your life? Part of knowing God more intimately is knowing who you are in Christ. God says that you are a pleasing aroma to Him (2 Corinthians 2.15). You need to know the ingredients to that “aroma” so you can make that fragrance even more distinct for God. Moreover, the world needs to see who you are as a believer, and it is hard to be open about your Christianity when you have no clear identity as a believer.

I challenge each of you to make a timeline of your life. You can bring it before the Lord and ask Him to show you His hand in all the hard times and good times. I would also suggest you enlist a close friend to talk you through it, as well. I did this with my friend, and she came away with a better understanding of how God has moved in her life and how her circumstances has made her the sweet fragrance she is today.

Remember this: Your test becomes your testimony and your mess becomes your message. Strive to gain understanding about your walk of faith, and God will bless your efforts: “Blessed is the man [woman] who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (Proverbs 3.13-14 NIV). God loves you, and He will match your heartache with His grace. Trust Him with your life. God is faithful, and He desires a strong relationship with you.

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our
Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1.9 NIV).

You can also find this article at my column, Feminine Fire, at Take Root and Write!

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