Sep 19, 2017

Live a Life that Lasts



This week, a friend of a friend died.

He was young.  Some would say he had his whole life ahead of him.  But he didn't.   One day he woke up unresponsive, and the next he was gone.  No warning, no time to plan his last days.  He just left.

It didn't matter what he planned to do next week.  It didn't matter what achievements he wanted to reach.  Because it was all gone, a memory.  The only things that mattered were what he already did.

I don't often think of death.  The unknown is scary and dark.  I don't want to be a morbid person that always dwells in the bleak future.

But I think it's healthy to realize this:  we don't know if we have tomorrow.

The man who died thought he had time.  He probably had plans and dreams and hopes.  But they didn't matter.

Dear friends, make sure that your today counts.   Live in light of eternity.  Books, school, activities, life, nothing matters unless they're done for Him.  Live a life that lasts.

If you died tomorrow, would today matter?  Are you loving others and living for Christ?  Or do you let the days slip between your fingers?

This is a different post than most.  I wasn't planning on writing this, and I don't want to sound discouraging or dark.  Death, for Believers, is simply a step away from pain and into Jesus' presence.  It's a day of rejoicing because our mission is complete!  But as I remembered the short life we have, I wanted to remind you: eternity is all that matters.

I hope to restart our series on Project Love next week.   Until then, remember to be living for our Savior.  Live a life that lasts.

I'll end with a poem I wrote today.   I hope it inspires you to take a deeper look at life and seek to shine bright as daughters of the King.

Love,

    Hosanna


  

Only a Candle

The wick sinks low, silent flame quivers
one breath of air whispers through
and I am gone,
a memory.
no warmth, no light
continual stillness, life stolen by death.

What would my days have meant?
would someone miss me, shedding tears
longing for one last day together?
or would life go on,
birds still sing and sun still shine
life being lived without me?
another candle could be lit
to fill the void I left,
hours slipped between my fingers.

But as I rejoice in heaven
I hope that someone would sigh,
“this young girl drew me to Jesus’ arms,
and I have a reason to live.”


If only one heart was brightened
by the glow my fire had lit
it would be worth all
the pain, the tears
my life would have been well lived.

Yet still the sun is shining warm,
and birds sing in the trees
another day, a life to live
to laugh, to cling, to love.

A day is but a memory
‘til it becomes
something more.


"... be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." - Revelation 2:10b

Sep 12, 2017

Encouragement from our Savior




Dear Friend,

This month my calendar has a picture of a pink and violet sunset overlooking towering mountains.  A gentle meadow is surrounded by silhouetted pine trees.  In the grass, a deer is gazing into the expanse behind him.

But I noticed the tiny black letters that marked today, September 12, 2017.

National Day of Encouragement.

You all have been a wonderful source of encouragement to me.  From comments to emails,  shares and more, my day has been brightened by you.  Now it's my turn.  Imagine yourself in my calendar picture.  Feel the grass wisp against your ankles and smell the fresh, mountain breeze.  Watch as the deer turns his deep, brown eyes to stare into yours.

And read God's beautiful promises.  This encouragement is from Him to you.  These are His words as He declares His everlasting love for you, His child.


~♥~


Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
 - Song of Solomon 8:6


He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken. 
And it will be said in that day:
"Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." 
 - Isaiah 25:8-9

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.  
- Isaiah 26:3-4

In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
 - Isaiah 30:15


You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you.  
- Isaiah 30:19


...in the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound.  
- Isaiah 30:26


And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
- Isaiah 35:10


I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears...  - Isaiah 38:5


He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. 
- Isaiah 40:11

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
  - Isaiah 40:28-31


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


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
And I have loved you.  
- Isaiah 43:2-4


"For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,"
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you...
No weapon formed against you shall prosper. 
- Isaiah 54:10,17


...as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.  
- Isaiah 62:5

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13

...yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you. 
- Jeremiah 31:3


The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
- Zephaniah 3:17


...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; - Philippians 1:6


...for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5







I encourage you to grab your own Bible and read 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 139.  Both chapters are beautiful reminders of how great His love is for us, and they have been a blessing to me time and time again.  I hope these verses bring warmth to your heart today.

Dear one, you are beautiful, treasured, and loved.  Don't forget that.  Jesus said,

As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love.  - John 15:9

Are there other verses that have touched your heart recently?  Please share them below; I would love to read them with you!

During this day of encouragement, step out.  Love others.  And make a difference.

Sep 8, 2017

Book Release: Isolated by Jordy Leigh



Fourteen-year-old Louise Stella flees into the forest to escape an intruder who would take her hostage. But by the time she returns to her house, her country has broken out in war and her home island has become a military base. Sharing the land with enemy soldiers, Louise’s only goal is to stay alive one day at a time. Having no food or water, and little knowledge of how to survive in the forests of Quebec, her biggest adversary is “the Unknown”. Her pride crumbles and she realizes that she can’t sustain herself. She must depend on someone else... but Whom?

Isolated is a Young Adult suspense novella with uncertainty lurking at every turn. It will have you asking the big questions about life and death. Will you come to the same conclusion as Louise?

Goodreads  |  Amazon


My Review:



I first read Isolated when it was in its beginning stages of editing.  Even back then I enjoyed the exciting and, more importantly, Gospel-centered novella.  The book explores a series of events that turns Louise Stella's life upside down.  She is forced to face life head on amidst danger, uncertainty, and life-altering questions.  That's what I appreciated most about this book:  it tells the story of someone I can relate with who asks the most important questions in life.

Because Isolated is set during a time of war, there are some descriptive scenes that might make certain readers uncomfortable.  I appreciated that the author included an example of it on the book's Amazon page, so readers can get an idea before reading it.  (I wish all authors did that!)

There are still loose threads of the story as the novella closes, but I assume that they'll be tied together in the following novellas.  It makes me all the more eager for their release.  In the meantime, I encourage you to pre-order your own copy of Isolated and explore Louise's adventure for yourself!


Author Interview:


I had the chance to invite Jordy Leigh over to my blog as an interview for her newly released book.  Let's get started.  =)

How did you first get the idea to write Isolated?

It was actually quite random.  I would never have guessed.  I had a dream one night, which was shaped by the book I was reading for school at the time, The Giver, by Louis Lowry.  I casually told a friend about this dream as it came up in the conversation, and she said I should turn it into a story.  So I did - not expecting, when I first started out, that I would eventually publish it.

If you could tell a future reader one thing, what would you tell him/her?

To any future reader who is reading this interview now, Louise is a fictional character, but the emotional and spiritual struggles she faces are real-life.  I hope that in reading Isolated you'll learn and grow alongside her, just as I believe I learned and grew through the process of writing.  I can lay no claim to knowing the absolute truth about the things of God.  But to the extent that I do know, I've tried to portray them accurately in this fictional story.  Ultimately, I hope you will love God more after reading Isolated.

How has God worked through your own life during this book creation process?

As a direct result of creating Isolated, I've pondered this question: "What place does writing fiction have in God's Design?"  If you're not a God-loving, God-fearing fiction writer yourself, you may not relate.  But this was like a small identity crisis for me.  He desires for us to think about whatever is true and noble and right and... Whatever is true.  Fiction, by definition, describes imaginary people and events - that which is not true.  Was I pouring hours of my time into something contrary to His desires for me?

But just as I would tell future readers, the emotional and spiritual struggles portrayed in Isolated are true.  As well as that, when God made us in His image, He gave us the capacity to create things (using that which He first created).  So when you or I create things - stories or otherwise - we're exercising a capacity which He gave us and - if we do it right - we're giving Him glory as the Creator of creators.


What was the hardest part of writing Isolated, and how did God help you overcome it?

Perhaps the hardest part was the crisis I described above. (Isn't it interesting how God tends to use that which is hard to work through our lives?)

But since this is a new question, another hard part of writing Isolated was the constant struggle for time.  God was evidently faithful.  Isolated is basically complete and ready to be released.  And hopefully, relationships around me didn't suffer in the name of writing.  I guess you'd have to ask my family for an answer to that one.

What encouragement/advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to make a difference with their words?

I'm staring at this question not knowing what to write. Perhaps that's because I'm trying to think of ways we writers can make a difference in our own strength. I think the first most important thing we can "do" is remember. Remember that it's God who makes the difference. Our best move, I believe, is to stay faithful to what He has taught us in our own lives. We are students of His Word before we are writers.


~♥~

Isn't Jordy such a sweet, encouraging person?!  I hope this sparks some interest; go follow her blog or pre-order her book!  You'll be glad you did.  =)


About the Author:

From as young as seven years old, Jordy Leigh filled exercise booklets with stories until her hand hurt. She loves a good book, but ultimately she hopes that hers will offer something of greater value than short-lived entertainment. In reading them, may you learn more about the God of the Bible.

Jordy Leigh hopes that Isolated will at once quench your desire for compelling fiction and nourish your soul with wholesome truth.

Sep 5, 2017

God Changed My Plans


Fall's almost upon us.  Amidst the rain, the air is growing slightly cooler.  School's starting, and life is beginning to run.  Faster and faster and faster.  Like a bike, each pedal only makes the wheels fly that much quicker.  And seems to never stop.

I began to get distracted in the beginning of August.  Why?  Because I started writing faithfully again.  I went through my WIP, Emblem of Hope, and edited/rewrote half of it throughout the month.  It was special to experience the joy of storytelling, feel the emotion of my characters as I stepped into their lives, and cry with them when their lives turned upside down.  But it also distracted me.

Project Love continued.  But it wasn't real in my own life.  I tried...but distractions won.

As August ended, I had a decision to make.  A really hard one.




My Plan


I had decided exactly what my fall would look like.

I would spend September finishing the other half of my novel.  This was an exciting adventure because it's from the perspective of my other main character.  She's dear to me.  I wanted to love on her again by writing her life story.

I would also set aside my blog for a month, posting lightly - maybe every other week.  This would keep me from being too consumed.  I could write, do school and other activities, and then pick up the blog again in October.

This also included setting Project Love aside.  In October I would be free to devote myself completely to it...so what was one month?  And God was giving me such grand ideas for Project Love.  This would be bigger.  Life changing maybe.  All I needed was September, a month to rest, catch up, and do what I wanted to do.

But God had different plans.  (doesn't He always?)


God's Plan


During the last week of August, I felt a strange pull inside.  I pushed it away.  Then I shoved it away and tried to trample it down.  It was just a thought - an idea.

What if I devoted myself now to God instead of waiting another month?

Revolutionary, I know.

The problem was this: on my blog, I say that love is important.  I even say that it's the most important area of life.  The two greatest commands in the Bible focus on love.  It can literally transform our lives.

But I didn't believe that in my heart.

So the battle raged.  My writing and plans vs. spending a month focusing on loving God more.

Thankfully, God won, stubborn though I am.  It took a few days of fighting, but it's over.  September is His.

Ever since I made that decision, I haven't regretted it.  It's hard to put aside Emblem of Hope.  But this is so much more important.  And you know what?  My novel will be waiting.  One day it may be time to write on it again.  And how much sweeter it will be.

He's been faithful.  Soon after making the decision, I read an encouraging blog post by Ivy Rose that seemed so relevant.  And then, while chatting with a sweet friend, she asked if she could join me in this challenge.  The ranks are growing, and I'm so excited to see where God bring me (us!) during this month!




But What Now?


I have no clue what the next few weeks will bring.  I am going to strive to learn what it means to love God with all.  All my heart, all my soul, all my strength, all my mind...the list goes on and on.  I want to show my love for Him in every single area of life.  That's my goal for September and beyond.

Project Love won't be gone now that summer is fading.  It's changing, yes.  But I'm hoping that as we restart this challenge in a new way it will touch our lives.  Instead of posting any random post and calling it a blog series, I want this to transform the way we live.

I know you probably follow a dozen other blogs.  There are hundreds of messages, lessons, and words floating around you each day.  I don't expect you to drop everything and join me.  But I pray that as I do this in His strength, someone will be encouraged to do the same.  Drop everything unnecessary and love God in a new way.

Isn't that what being a Christian is after all?  Loving God with all?

If that's you, in two weeks I'll be posting a more practical viewpoint of how this works.  Right now I don't know what it will look like.  All I know is that we need to love Christ with everything.  And I would be thrilled if anyone wanted to join and do this as sisters united through Christ.

So until then I encourage you to pray.  Seek Him.  And grow in Love.

Life's busy, I know.  I'll be attending a college class on creative writing, college algebra, an online witnessing class, normal electives (Spanish, ASL, and/or piano), writing here, and then practicing for a play that I didn't audition for (another plot twist from God...) =).  That along with regular life.

But we need to keep out eyes on the prize.

Press on.  Fight on.  Love on.

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39