Category Archives: God

I’m Saying “No”

I say no to letting my precious gift of a life slip by while I drown in an electronic, anti-social, busy world.

I say no to not making decisions, or letting others make them for me, thus making the worst decision of all.

I say no to ignoring the friends who are near and needing me.

I say no to fearing freedom and clinging to slavery like a coward.

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

I say no to complaining and bickering about the dirt I tread on, when God has given me gems enough to light the world.

I say no to listening to Satan’s lies, which keep me from spreading God’s love more fully.

I say no to being offended for my own sake, because in the end that’s only selfishness anyway.

I say no to the laziness and indecision that keep me from coming fully alive and awake, as I was meant to be.

I say no to the mentality that big moments are what we live for, when the small ones are the rich fabric my life has been made of thus far.

I say no to seeing only with my eyes, when God has given my heart the ability to see His Kingdom all around me every day.

I say no to waiting for someone to show love and attention to me before I give it in return.

I say no to demanding fairness for myself in relationships and in life.

I say no to walking timidly and with fear, when God has given me the wonderful, beautiful heart of a lion.

And I say yesyes to God alone, and the joy and the life and the purpose He has for me.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

An Allegorical God

God in allegory. Even though I’m an allegorical writer myself, I often have issues with this one. Well, maybe not issues. Let’s just say I approach it carefully.

God is sovereign. God is almighty and all-knowing. His ways are not our ways. How, then, can any writer really do wood thrushHim justice in an allegory? We seek to know Him, but we’ll never know Him completely. Not on this side of death, anyway. If we did, He wouldn’t be God, right? But if we don’t understand Him, how can we write about Him in a way that will satisfy readers who want to see Him in all His wonderful, awe-inspiring glory?

I don’t have a cut and dried answer for this, really. I only know what I prefer when I read allegory, and the rules I personally follow when I write God into an allegorical story of my own.

MYSTERY

An allegorical representation of God should be as mysterious as the true God. So we don’t understand all the facets of this God-character we write about. So our readers don’t. That’s ok. Use the mystery to good effect. Let the unknown deepen the reader’s experience of this God whose ways are not ours, and thus deepen their awe of Him.

EXTREME

Large or tiny. Roaring or whispering. God is anything but a lukewarm, mediocre Being. C.S. Lewis uses a great lion to represent God in his Chronicles of Narnia. In one scene of my book I represented God as a field mouse, whispering encouraging directions in the ear of the protagonist before a battle. Anne Elisabeth Stengl represents the holy spirit with a wood thrush, which I absolutely love. Whether it be intriguing, awe-inspiring, or even quirky, the character a writer chooses to represent God has to be worthy of the reader’s attention and respect.

aslan roar

FEARED

God is to be feared. We fear His wrath, His judgment, His anger when we have chosen to disregard His Word. But take away that fear and you’re left with little love and no respect at all. That’s not a the type of ruler I’d want to follow. Whatever creature or person a writer chooses to use as her representation of God within her story, it should be one whose actions and power inspire a healthy fear. God has the power over life and death and time and all the earth. Fiction shouldn’t show Him as anything less.

LOVING

Yet beyond the fear, a writer must be sure to show the deep and unconditional love God has for His creation. Fear alone can perhaps turn our heads and keep in our minds what will happen if we stray. But it’s love that binds us to Him, heart and soul. It’s God’s mercy and forgiveness and sacrifice that give us the passion to follow Him to the ends of the earth. So why should an allegorical God be any different?

Do you have any preferences when reading Christian allegory? What are the things you like to see in a symbolic fictional God figure?

Light and Peace

Well, I suppose it’s not too late (yet!) to wish you a Merry Christmas! My plan was to write a Christmas post full of depth and meaning … But the truth of it is that I haven’t had a spare moment to sit down and write a post of any kind in a shamefully long time! I have been up to my eyeballs in revisions, which are taking soo much longer than I anticipated *sigh*. But mostly, I am just attempting to find joy in this Christmas season with friends and family.

a christmas carol

Jacob Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by 3 spirits.

Caroling with my son’s school, leading my poor family on a merciless quest for the “perfect” Christmas tree, taking my son to his first play (A Christmas Carol, of course!), and lots of hot chocolate, story-reading, game-playing and snuggling have been uppermost on our family agenda of late!

So since I have not had the time to conjure some inspiring words about Christmas myself, I’ll borrow some instead! Hope your Christmas is blessed and bright, friends!

 

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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” (Dr. Seuss)

“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.” (Bing Crosby)

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!” (Benjamin Franklin)

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” (Charles Dickens)

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

christmas light

photo by legate01

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” (Norman Vincent Peale)

“We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice.” (Pope Paul VI)

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” (Roy L. Smith)

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” (Alexander Smith)

“Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.” (Lucinda Franks)

“Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” (Pope Francis)

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” (Sigrid Undset)

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'”  (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

 

Vital Imagination

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

I suppose there are people who believe imagination isn’t essential. People who think the visible realm is the important one, facts are what matter, not theories or dreams.

I’m not among those people.

I believe imagination is important. I’d even go so far as to say imagination is vital to our well-being as humans and as Christians.

Imagination helps us empathize with others.

Romans 12:15 tell us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Then of course there’s the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12: “treat people how you want them to treat you.” Have you ever considered how difficult this would be if you had no imagination? How can we weep with the brokenhearted if our hearts don’t break a little with them? How can we truly rejoice with the joyful if we don’t feel some of their happiness as if it were our own?

Imagination is the bridge that takes us from the world we live in, the world that has “me” at center, to the world of others’ hopes and tears and Imaginationjoys. It broadens our feelings, our views and our ideas. It forces us to treat others not as something separate, but as a part of ourselves. Which is exactly as God intended, isn’t it?

Imagination helps us picture the future, and prepare for it.

Pretty straightforward, right? You have to imagine what your future will be like, sometimes tomorrow or next week, sometimes in a year or ten years. It doesn’t matter if you’re grocery shopping for the week, or budgeting for the month, or planning a marriage, or raising a child … you have to picture the future in order to make smart choices now. Say what you will, that takes imagination.

Imagination helps us know God better.

Imagination is at the heart of God, really. As the Creator of the universe, imagination was crucial to Him. His very nature is a creative one. And when we feel His nature speak through us in the form of our imaginations, we know Him better. Yes, our attempts at creating things are pathetic and second-rate compared to His. But they bring us closer to Him, still; they forge a strong link between ours hearts and His. We are like children emulating our Dad, and finding joy in it. When I create things I understand my own inadequacy, but in the light of my Father’s greatness, that doesn’t seem to matter … I just find joy in the act of creating, and in my creations, however flawed. Like He does.

Imagination gives us hope.

Try for a second to stop thinking about what will happen to you in a minute – an hour – a day – a week – a year – a lifetime. The dreams you have always had? Nowhere to be seen. The hope you have for a husband and family of your own?  Gone. Becoming a stronger Christian tomorrow than you were yesterday? Don’t even think about it. In fact, you can’t think about it … because you have no imagination … remember?

What a dismal picture.

Emily Dickinson (Imagination)My efforts for myself and my family and my son and my career would flag and die if I couldn’t conjure an image of a hopeful future. Why discipline or love my son if I can’t picture his future as a man after God’s own heart? Why live a life for God at all if I can’t imagine the hope of heaven, if I can’t picture being there myself?

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7

Imagination makes us stronger Christians.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not certain I’d be a Christian if I didn’t have an imagination. It always seemed to me that you could take every fact in the world to prove something – Christianity included – but in the end it still comes down to a matter of leaping. A matter of faith.

Yes, the facts are lined up for me. Yes, the evidence of God’s works are before me. His Word is written on the pages beneath my fingers. … But perhaps my heart is wary still. What will such a leap mean for me? When I believe, what will be required of me? I imagine looking into the face of God, for that’s what such a leap will mean, surely … I can imagine being in His presence, accepting Him not as a fact, but as all-consuming, beyond facts, Alpha and Omega, Creator of the world and of my soul.

So the leap must be made. And to make it, imagination is vital. And what do I imagine? Arms that hold me, a voice that whispers truths unseen. I see God’s face in my imagination. And not only do I have to believe He is God … I want to believe.

Imagination: Necessary

Some of the most important things in life have a basis in imagination. Foresight. Hope. Wisdom. Faith. Even love. Can you picture life without even one of these things? No? Then you are like the rest of us. You are like me. You have an imagination. Personally, I think it’s one of God’s greatest gifts.

Books Are Dangerous

beware of book

Books can be bliss. Books can be a wonderful escape. Books can be deadly dangerous.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m addicted to books. I know of many people who are afflicted by this madness as well. It’s not really curable, and I’ve never been quite clear on whether that’s because it’s impossible, or just the fact that people simply don’t want to be cured of it.

Books have blessed me with countless hours of laughter, happiness, heart-thumping excitement and soul-wrenching sorrow. They have given me what I consider to be some of the richest times of enjoyment in my life.

So why are they so dangerous?

For someone like me who is immersed in books, it is easy to lose your way. The characters within them can become more real than the people in your life. The adventures in them can make your own life dull in comparison. The satisfaction of happy endings can distort your real-life expectations.

Don’t get me wrong. Books offer us much. New worlds, ideas, emotions and thoughts. The epic romance, the love at first sight, the evil that is always punished, the bad guy who is always caught, the ending that is always happy. I don’t blame you for wanting that. I want that. And it’s not something we’ll find very often, if at all, outside the covers of a book.

And this is where the danger lies.

Books teach us to expect these things. Books teach us not to settle, not to give in, until we have found these things. They promise that things like true love and happy endings are always attainable, if we could only find the right person, if we were only in the right circumstance, if we were only …. If only …. If ….

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:3-5)

You see, our war is within. It’s a subtle one—you can’t hear it raging, most times. But it’s there. And our own thoughts will turn against us if we books2don’t take them captive, bend them to our own will.

If I get annoyed with my husband because he doesn’t give me the deep and mysterious affection that Mr. Rochester gave Jane Eyre, or because he doesn’t change for me as Mr. Darcy did for Elizabeth, that’s no one’s fault but my own. It’s wrong for me to have those thoughts, the thoughts that books put into my head, the ones that I allow to control my expectations of real-life people.

Admit it, it’s a little bit funny, isn’t it? To know that a book can change the invisible pathways of my mind? To know that I want my husband to be just a bit more like Mr. Rochester? To admit that my life frustrates me and makes me want to cry like a child who hasn’t got her way when things don’t go right?

I think Satan must think it’s funny, too, watching as I’m separated from God’s plan for me. Watching as I grow bitter with life and friends and the people I’m supposed to be showing God’s love, all because I want someone to sweep me off my feet, or because my life is not the adventure I’d like it to be, or because I must watch as someone I’m close to suffers an ending that is anything but happy.

Books. Are they right or wrong to teach us these things? Right or wrong to make us long for … more?

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Books. Dangerous or not? Do they lead us to neglect the springs of life from our own hearts, and make us instead focus our eyes on the imaginary, the unattainable?

No.

Books, when all is said and done, don’t control your mind. Media doesn’t control you mind. Your mother, your father, your spouse, your friends—they don’t control it either. Only you, and only God. And even God will not force His way in unless you invite Him. So it’s your choice, then. Just as God intended.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Trust in the Lord … that’s the key, isn’t it? Keep your eyes on Him. Read books, enjoy books, love books … but keep your eyes on God and His Kingdom.

This world isn’t likely to offer you the epic romances you read about. It’s certainly not going to solve every crime and punish every criminal. And ask anyone … happily-ever-afters are but a myth.

We live in a world of sin and darkness.

But God is not vanquished by sin, and His light is not to be put out. What we look for in books and fail to find in real life—we may find in Him.

God gives us the fullest, most all-consuming love. He pursues us with relentless passion and gentle steadfastness. Isn’t that just what any true romantic longs for in the end?

God is the ultimate judge. Bad guys go free on earth too many times. But don’t believe for a moment that means their sins will go unpunished.

God is the creator of mystery, and therefore the solver of it. We should revel in His creation, even the mysteries of it, and look forward to one day having Him explain them to us.

Lastly, God is the maker of happy endings. Some of them do happen here on earth—some of them even rival the best books we’ve ever read. But nothing compares to the Final Happy Ending that we as Christians have to look forward to. Not a single book on earth can hold a candle to that.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before. (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle)

This world is not our home. It is not where we belong. Books tell us of other worlds—let us not forget the one we are in, nor the one we are going to. Books give us happiness—let us not forget where our eternal happiness lies. Books tell us of adventures and heroes—let us not forget that the life God gave us is the greatest adventure of all, and that the only hero we need is our Savior, the maker of the truest Happy Ending.

If I Had One Year to Live

In honor of Nadine Brande’s brand new Christian dystopian novel, A Time to Die, I am taking part in the How Would You Live blog hop. Nadine’s book is truly special and thrilling, and I will be posting my review of it here on my blog on the day it releases (Sept. 23), along with a giveaway.

A Time to Die deals with the theme of living and dying … do we take every moment God has given us and use it for His good, or do we waste our lives, squandering the time allotted to us?  These questions are brought into sharp focus when you consider your life in terms of time – days, hours, minutes. What if the time left to you was only a year? What would you do with it?

Here are my thoughts.

____________

Five years ago my best friend died.

I’ve never written about her, and only in the last year or so have I begun to speak much of her death, even to those closest to me. Everyone around me knew I was grieving, and they also knew that, for a long time, my grief was too deep for words. She was a part of
me, a sister in all but blood, and I truly loved her. Even now, typing these words, my heart still bleeds a little for missing her.blog hop button

In the three short years that she sickened and declined, we were living far apart. I was able to visit her a handful of times, enough times to watch in awe as she laughed good-naturedly about her surgery scars and cracked jokes about her hair loss. I wondered how she could do that – look death in the face so lightheartedly. Because I myself felt a gripping, paralyzing fear for her and for the loss of her that I dreaded. But she … How could she, who left behind a husband and a young child, take the time out of the dwindling days left to her and spend it at a hospital comforting those sicker than she? How could she bear to take even one precious hour away from her family in order to speak to me on the phone and listen, patient and understanding, while I spoke of my own petty day-to-day concerns?

It blew my mind. And if I’m honest, I’ll say that it scared me. She lived so much life in the little time she had, and an astounding amount of it was for others, though many didn’t even see it until it was too late, and some never saw it at all. She didn’t have much time … a couple of decades and a handful more years … and instead of hoarding it when she knew it was slipping away … she gave it.

When I saw the theme of Nadine’s blog hop, my first thoughts went to my dearest friend, and the admirable – no, the graceful – way she lived the last year of her life on earth.

There are many who would rush to travel, to experience and taste, to live on the edge, perhaps even pursue danger and thrills, knowing their last 365 days lay ahead of them.

Me? I hope that my last days would be days of grace, and of love. Of forgiveness and mercy. Days that reach gentle fingers and touch – and touch again – those around me, whether family or friends or strangers.

A Time to Die quoteI would hope to live my love more acutely than I do now, to find the bravery to speak it, the strength to overcome anything that would stand in its way or distract me from it. I think many of my desires would die, upon knowing I lived my last year. The desires to travel and see and experience … they would fade to nothing in the brighter light and warmth of the things that mean the most – my family, my loved ones, my God.

I may not be able to shake the world or start a revolution or write a bestseller or end a war … but I could touch those few around me. Genuinely, honestly, with utter and unconditional love. And I could hope and pray that my love – God’s love – would pass through me to them, and through them to others, and on and on until a small piece of the world, at least, shines brighter for it.

That’s what my friend did in her last days. She had such strength, even in her youth, such clarity and love. I was confused by it for so long, terrified at the brightness of it, ashamed that if it had been me in her circumstance I’d have hidden myself away like a chastened, cowardly child, fearing death, fearing even the life left to me.

But I see now what I didn’t then. She was a vessel, and though she was strong, her strength was not her own. Though she loved deeply, the love she gave was God’s.

And whether it be my last year, or my first of many more to come, I hope I can learn to live that way, too, a little more each day.

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Now comes my invitation to you … write your own post and join the How Would You Live blog hop. Finish the statement, “If I had one year to live, I would ….” You can simply post it for your followers to see, or if you’d like to officially join the blog hop, send Nadine an email and she’ll add your name (find her info below).

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How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?ATimetoDieCover

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

This is book one in the “Out of Time” trilogy (subsequent volumes coming in 2015 and 2016).

Find the author here:

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You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe said it. “You can’t go home again.” And he was right.

This past weekend, I visited my hometown. The one I was born in. The one where I grew up. The place I went to school, wrote my first stories, received my first kiss, made my best friends, had my heart broken by a childhood that flew away all too swiftly.

It is a small town, a boring town, even. But for me it’s a town full of ghosts and memories. And when I visited there, I found myself wanting to walk with those ghosts. I wanted to climb into the memories that were some of my happiest and live in them. Pretend I was a child again and that the world didn’t hold nameless horrors in the future for me or those I love.

But I can’t. No one can.

Because you can’t go home again.

I took my son to the beloved library that was “mine” as a child, just a block away from where I lived. I watched him climb the same stairs that I used to, touch the same books, walk the same creaky floorboards. Yet nothing was as it had been when I was a child myself.

My hometown library

My hometown library

Rooms had changed. The library itself is more than three times larger than it used to be. Walls had been taken down, others had gone up. Squeaky floors and new floors met together beneath fresh, flat carpeting the color of a robin’s egg.

I went to stand in the same spot where I had stood so many years ago, gazing at the bookshelves, dreaming of crawling into the worlds between the pages … the seeds of what eventually grew into The Word Changers. But it was no longer a children’s book room, and the space I stood in was awkwardly between magazine racks and “new release” shelves.

You just can’t go home again. Not really.

I watched as my favorite “story-time lady” talked to my son. She had always been my favorite as a child – you know, the type who does the voices, makes the faces, practically jumps out of her chair with animation. Her face – the one that was so familiar and yet somehow so changed – had been a large part of my growing to love books. I saw the eventual recognition come into her eyes when I began talking to her. She shook her head, not believing so much time had passed. She told me my son would be my age in the blink of an eye, and it would be him taking his own kids to story-time. After I left I realized I should have told her what her stories always meant to me … what they still mean.

Perhaps I’ll do it next time I go home again …

Then we drove by the house I grew up in. It’s practically the only one left standing on the block, and it’s barely standing at all. In place of the roses my mom used to grow were sparsely-leafed bushes and broken cement. The fence my grandpa had put in had lost so many panels you could see straight through into the yard. And that was the worst shock of all. Because there in the backyard was the playhouse my dad had built for my sister and me. It was leaning sideways against the garage, hovered against the bushes like a huge, sad, beaten animal. I saw the tea parties that had been had in that playhouse, the dolls and sleepovers and board games and neighborhood clubhouse meetings, the laughter and even the arguments …. Ghosts and memories.

I want to go home again … I long to go home again. This past Friday, visiting my old haunts, remembering that fleeting, thoughtless joy I had as a child … I ached to go home with every fiber of my body.

That’s when God spoke.

“This world is not your home.”

Simple words, stern and gentle at once.

father's handIt came to me, slowly at first, and then in a rush. And I realized what I had really known all along. That you can’t go home again because “home” isn’t a place. It’s a state of mind, a feeling, an age, a group of people, a combination of events and objects, a transient, bittersweet moment of time that you don’t realize even happened until it’s over and gone and irretrievable. A wisp of cloud, a sweet, faint scent in the wind.

You can’t go home again because you’ve never really been home at all.

Thank goodness the home God has in mind for me isn’t made up of these things. Worldly things. Fleeting things. No, the home He calls me to, the home I should be spending all my longing on, is entirely different. It’s heavenly, and eternal, and all else pales in
comparison to its splendor. I’m blessed to have that hope. And I’m a fool if I let myself stay locked and lost within the past, beautiful as it may have been.

So I have a choice before me, one I have to make every day, in fact. I can take the memories and the happiness and even the sweetness that feels so much like sadness, and I can either mourn over them, or I can let them remind me of where I’m going…. through the narrow gate, to a place where tears and sorrow will be gone forever. A place that my heart yearns for, though I’ve never seen it. A place that’s in front of me, and not behind.

My home, of course.

 

Plastic Armor and Wooden Swords: Prepare for Battle

Homemade Warrior

I have a 7-year-old son who is … well, a boy. That’s the best way to put it, really. He likes mud and bugs and Transformers and wrestling with his Dad on the floor and making his own sound effects when he pulls a cool move … and believe me, he’s got a lot of moves.

He also loves knights and castles and dragons and swords, running through the house rigged out in his plastic armor and helmet, flourishing a wooden sword above his head, chasing invisible enemies.

Nearly everything he gets his hands on becomes a weapon. Almost every move he makes is a new “battle” maneuver.

Last week my husband and son and I were riding in the car on our way to church. I looked into the backseat and saw that my son had brought his sword with him. He was sitting calmly with it laid across his lap, his hand on the hilt.

“Wow,” I said, smiling. “You’re ready for battle, huh?”boy in armor2

Without skipping a beat, he answered somberly, looking right at me, “I’m always ready.”

And that was that.

Except that it wasn’t.

Because I … being who I am … started thinking about that.

Prepare For Battle

To be ready for battle at all times … that struck a familiar chord somewhere in me. To be primed to fight at a moment’s notice. Not to fight without reason, of course. But, like my son, to fight that invisible enemy, the one who lurks in the shadows, just out of sight. The one who would poison and destroy every good and godly thing in us and in our lives.

Every day is a battle, really, isn’t it? Every day we have to pick up our swords and prepare to defend our hearts. Battle for our very souls. Every waking hour of our existence, from birth to death, we have to live with a sword in our hand, ready to raise it against anything that would threaten to separate us from our Leader.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

What a powerful message that was to me, seeing my son’s bright innocent eyes looking at me. “I’m always ready.”

His little heart will know soon enough the dark enemy he faces. The adversary who wants his heart. And no wooden sword will stand against that enemy. What a heart-rending thing to think about. For a mother, a nearly heartbreaking thought …

… but for one thing.

“Do not fear or be dismayed … for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Yes. The battle is not ours. Thank heaven. Thank God.

If we’re in His ranks, it’s won already. All we need do is don our flimsy armor and brandish our homemade swords and stay on that battlefield till the bitter end. Show God our hearts are where they need to be, even though our strength is not our own, but borrowed from Him.

If God is with us, who can be against us? And God will be with us. Because the battle belong to Him.

One day my son will put away his wooden sword. He’ll tuck it into his toy box for the last time, too old for childish games. I hope that when he leaves the battle of his imagination, he will understand the true battle he prepares to engage in. I pray that when he steps onto the field and joins the fray, he will be wearing God’s armor. That no matter what dangers surround him, his eyes will always be upon his Leader… the One who has vanquished the enemy already.

The Author of the Story

I found it amusing, at first, to know that I was writing a story within a story while penning The Word Changers. Now and then I would smile ironically to myself and shake my head. It was just too much fun. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, The Word Changers is about a girl who falls into the pages of a book. She spends almost the entire remainder of the story within that book (a fairy tale, in fact). Yes, with my dry sense of humor I found it incredibly droll to think about that.

But then I reached the part about the Author.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had it all planned out. I knew the theme I was aiming for. I knew the meaning I wanted to hide within the Hand writing using quill penpages of my story, the meaning that the Author would be a part of. I knew what I was in for. Or so I thought.

Writing about the Author made me start asking my own author-self some questions. And as I wrote the dialogue between the Author and some of his characters within my book, I began to see something happening that I hadn’t planned on at all.

Not, as you might imagine, a change within my story. But a change within myself.

Because, as an author myself, I do care about my characters. I do want what’s best for them. But many times, in order for them to have what’s best, I have to watch them go through some heartache and pain. If I take control of them and force them into roles, put them in just the situations I want them to be in, like chess pieces in a game, what would that say about me? My poor characters would never learn a thing. And they would end their stories just as they began them. Selfish, heart-sore, bitter and broken. Would my love for my characters be truly shown if I allowed that to happen?

This led me, of course, to look at the way God handles us, his “characters.” He allows us to see heartache and pain. We wonder why He doesn’t lift a finger to help us. But His help is often different than the help we demand of Him. It comes in a form that is subtle, sometimes invisible … many times unexpected.

*Spoiler Alert*

In The Word Changers, Posy is imprisoned. While in her cell, she cries out angrily to the Author. He is the one who wrote the story she’s stuck within, isn’t he? Why can’t he change her story, release her from prison? It would be so simple … he would only need to change a few of the story’s words, wouldn’t he? Posy wants the prison doors to be opened for her. She wants to walk straight out of her cell.

Instead, the Author shines down on her in the form of the moon. Gently, silently. And that single ray of moonlight shining into her prison cell is his answer. At first Posy doesn’t see it. Then she realizes she has to work with what she’s given. Her door isn’t thrown open, as she wished. But the shaft of moonlight shows her the way to escape. It’s a painful and difficult escape, but an escape just open bookthe same.

*Spoiler Alert End*

So writing The Word Changers helped me understand God a little better. It made me focus on His eternal intent for me, as opposed to my own petty every-day goals and desires. It made me understand that sometimes the difficult way can be the best way – the way that helps me to grow and learn and become more closely the person God wants me to be. Writing about the Author in my story forced me, for just a small minute, to enter into God’s way of looking at things. And what a different and infinitely superior way of looking at things that is!

That’s just a small part of what God has done for me through the act and process of writing for His glory. I can only hope that you, my readers, will get half the blessing out of reading my book as I did in writing it.

The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in the Lord of the Rings

the grip of graceAs a Christian who has both read and watched Lord of the Rings for years, I thought there was not much of its deeper meaning left for me to discover. How wrong I was! Brent King takes a classic we all know well and revisits it, bit by bit, uncovering things of value and eternal worth. Tolkien himself may not have had the purpose of “Christian” meaning in mind when he wrote his trilogy, but it is clear at the same time that he wished at least to represent the battle between darkness and light. The author of The Grip of Grace takes those representations and shows us how to apply them to our Christian lives and our walks with God.

I love how the book is split into short 2-3 page sections – so easy to devour several of them in a setting! Each section begins with the author’s (slightly paraphrased) version of a scene from the trilogy (chronologically organized). The section then goes into the application of the scene – how we might use or apply it in life. Something simple, or perhaps something epic, can turn into something so real that I can see it clearly in my own life. It reads almost like a devotional, and I can completely see a group of Christian Tolkien fans using this book for a Bible study! Wish I had just such a group of friends …!

The author weaves and reveals the Christian meaning from Lord of the Rings in such a natural way that it’s difficult for me to believe Tolkien did not intend it to be meant that way from the very beginning. I got great good out of this book – new perspectives, inspirations and blessings from the world of Middle Earth that I never dreamed of.

Are you a Christian? Are you a Tolkien fan? Read this book!!

 

Visit Brent King at his site and find articles on God, fantasy, writing, and more. Also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Purchase The Grip of Grace on Amazon.

King’s newest book, Tempting Jesus, released last month as well!