Thanksgiving 2: My Health

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

Today, I’m thankful for this year and my struggles with my health. God, in His goodness, has used it to let me tangibly see the love of my church as woman cooked, cleaned, and shopped for me. He has used it to strengthen my marriage as I’ve had to rest in my husband’s help. He’s used it to slow me down and examine much of my life. He’s helped me see that this life is empty and He is all. These are the big things and there are countless small things. It hasn’t been easy to struggle with chronic fatigue, but it has been very good for me. I’m so thankful for the blessings the Lord has brought out of these afflictions.

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Thanksgiving 1: Blue Pomegranates.

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

I had planned to do short thanksgivings for the whole month of November, but I came down with bronchitis and that combined with my Epstein – Barr virus put me down for almost two weeks. So, I’m going to do Thanksgivings as I can between now and Thanksgiving Day.

Today, I’m thankful for blue Pomegranates.

Let me explain:

A few years ago, a prominent and popular pastor, who you would all know if I named, was asked what he thought about the Twilight series. His response was to lump all fantastical type stories into a form of discontentment for the world God has created. Not only did he put Twilight hand-in-hand with such epics as Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, and The Odyssey, but he said they were all a form of saying God just didn’t make the world cool enough so I’m going to make my own.

Obviously, I took a strong offense to that. And, I’ve had mental, talking-to-myself, arguments with this pastor for years now. I don’t think fantasy/speculative fiction is anymore sinful than historical fiction or any other type of novel. In fact, I find that they do nothing but enhance my love and enjoyment of what God created. They enhance my awe. Needless to say, I took his comment quiet personally. Much of this had to do with his popularity: lots of people listen to him.

The other Sunday, while home sick with bronchitis, I decided to watch a DVD by RC Sproul about art. In one of his lesson about the value of beauty, Sproul discussed the Old Testament ceremonial robes. He talked about all the artists involved in making this amazing piece of clothing. In passing he pointed out that God instructed blue pomegranates to be sown into the hem of the High Priest’s robes. Blue Pomegranates. Sproul asks: has ever seen a blue pomegranate? Nope. It’s imaginary. God put something imaginary on the hem of the High Priest’s robe. God made something up that he didn’t put in creation. RC used this to explain the love God has of beauty, artists, and imagination. I literally wept while watching this lecture. All week, I’ve smiled and said “blue pomegranates” while I’ve worked on my own fantasy world. Imagination and imaginary things are a God-given gift that can and should be used for his glory. It should not be used to fulfill lusts, but to worship the Creator, just like all the other gifts he’s given us.

“On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them…” Exodus 28/33

Fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, and so many others are to be richly enjoyed as gifts from God and used to help us worship him even more for how amazing he is. They are not expressions of discontentment but of the creature mimicking the Creator.

So. Today, I’m thankful for blue pomegranates.

(I’m also suddenly concerned some readers might decide blue pomegranates make a good gift. I had a vision of my mailbox flooded with them and my husband wondering if I’d lost my mind. Lol.)

 

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

 

Sunday Thoughts: Ordinary People

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(found on Google)

What is one of the must unsung things we as believers can do to help our congregations, our church family, our own pursuits of holiness?

Faithfully attend every service held in our local body.

Look! It’s so un-shiny, it’s so un-glitzy, it’s so . . . so . . . so boring.

Being there Sunday in, and Sunday out, on time, focused, in your pew, every week.

Where is the glamor? The excitement? The passion!?

Something inside us wants it to be more. We want to see!

Granted, there are some bigger and more obvious ways you can serve and encourage your church, but this is the best place to start. Start with the quiet and ordinary. Isn’t it funny how God always calls us to self-denial? We want something big and bold and he gives us something quiet and ordinary.

(From Google)

(found on Google)

Think about it. Faithful attendance:

First, it encourages your pastors. They’ve worked diligently all week to be ready to preach to you because they care about your soul. Have you ever thought about how discouraging it is to them when you don’t come, or you come in late, or you get up and down over and over? They are the messenger of Christ with a word from the Lord and you over slept?

Second, think about the other members. If so and so with five kids can get there, why not you? If so and so who is sick or over worked, or old got there, why not you? And how discouraging is it to your church when you decide not to make attendance a priority? Think how it might tempt others who are already struggling with faithful attendance.

You can encourage the whole body just by being there, not to mention feed your own soul!

Third, think about the outside world and the message it sends when you give up on all the ‘Sunday’ stuff to be at church. This sends a stronger message of your walk than all the tracks or evangelism you could ever participate in.

All that, and it’s so easy, so ordinary, so boring: be at church every Sunday, every Wednesday, faithfully.

We live in a world trying to divest itself of the ordinary. In doing so, it misses the beauty and power of living a quiet, ordinary life. Don’t listen to the lies. Be content and even joyful about being ordinary.

(found on Google)

(found on Google)

Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!