Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Of Dead Keys and Fruitless Fig Trees

In our house, I’m the Keeper of the Keys. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s similar to being the one who is expected to carry every else’s papers and books at church because I’m the one who carries a purse. (I usually refuse to live up to this expectation, but it’s there just the same.) I don’t carry a purse around the house, yet I’m still the one who gets to keep track of all the spare keys.
Whenever we move into a new home, every responsible inhabitant gets a set of house keys—and I get any extras to keep in a drawer—just in case. Every time we purchase a new padlock or security box or file cabinet, I get the spare keys for those, too. And because there’ve been times when a family member couldn’t find a key . . .

[To continue reading, click here.]

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Appreciating a Good Day

Father, it’s been a really bad day—I mean really, really, really bad. I'm ready to move to Australia with Alexander. Or maybe Montana will do. Seriously, Lord. Everything has gone wrong. Everything! So I’m dropping everything right now and coming to You. Please turn this day around. Please let the rest of this day be good.

Didn’t you just talk with Your mom?

I did!

What part of everything going wrong was that?

[To continue reading, click here.]

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Links to Where I'm Writing Now

Dear Friend--

In case you're wondering why I haven't posted anything new here recently, I don't blog here anymore.

That doesn't mean I've stopped writing, though! In fact, I'm writing more than ever these days. I blog, I tweet, I comment on quotes I find in great books, and I'm working on my own second book. There's just so much to say about God and His Word and His world and His work and how we can cooperate with Him to grow in His love, share it with others, and build His Kingdom. I don't have all the answers, but I'm seeking them and sharing what I learn each day.

I invite you to join me!

Below is a list of links to all the places where you can find, follow, friend, or like me, so we can interact and learn, together, about our great God. (You'll also catch announcements about giveaways for my current book and releases of new ones.):

Janet's New Blog: Wildflower Faith





Monday, November 4, 2013

As Promised: Now Available!

Hello Faithful Readers! I’m so excited! Today is the day I get to make that big announcement I promised you:

My book has been released!

Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway is a book of devotions for women who are moving. These devotions are divided into 13 chapters which correspond to all the different aspects of moving:

  • Getting the News
  • Packing Up Your Treasures
  • Saying Good-bye
  • Taking Off
  • Trusting En Route
  • Moving In
  • Embracing Loneliness
  • Getting Lost
  • Discovering Community
  • Reaching Out to Neighbors
  • Making Friends
  • Finding Your Niche
  • Accepting Your Home

It's not a practical, how-to book, but daily encouragement for the task from someone who's been through it many times. As women become uprooted, sometimes time and again, they can learn to find stability in the One Who never changes, the One Who not only sends, but Who always goes with them.

If you are moving out (or have just moved in), I wrote this book for you.

If you know someone who is moving, though, this book could be a thoughtful farewell gift from you. In fact, if you’re really creative, you could put it in a gift basket along with a new tea cup, some stress-relieving tea, and a box of chocolates along with an extra roll of packing tape and some information that you dig up for her about her new hometown.

If your church is located in a military or college town where women are moving in and out frequently, this book belongs in your church library!

And, if you aren’t moving and don’t know anyone who is but are curious about the experiences of women who've been through the experience and lived to talk about it, you might just find the book interesting. Though I wrote it primarily for women who move, the lessons in contentment contained in the book apply to anyone.

God is with you. He loves you. He has a perfect plan for your life and is using your struggles to make you into the person He planned for you to be. Contentment comes with obedience, and peace is its priceless companion. Home is where God sends you, and He always goes with you.

To purchase your copy, click here.

Also, please don’t forget, I’m writing at my new website now: WildflowerFaith.com. I’ll be posting familiar features there two or three times a week. Subscription and contact information are in the site's right-hand sidebar. It's been a joy to write for you here. I'm happy to continue writing about growing in God's Presence anywhere, over there!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bad News, Good News, and Great News for You

Dear Friends, Family, Faithful Readers, and Welcome Guests:

I’m writing today with bad news, good news, and super-duper, over-the-moon, I-may-hyperventilate-with-excitement, great news.

First the bad news. (Heavy sigh.) This is officially my second-to-the-last post on this site. After just one more post to come in a few weeks, I’ll no longer be writing for this blog. (And since it’s my blog, that means no one will be writing for this blog. But I will leave it here for people to read in case they’re interested. I just won't be adding anything new.)

If this truly does sound like bad news to you, I hope the good news will cheer you up . . .

The good news. I have a new blog, Wildflower Faith. This new blog will combine features from Wildflower Thinking and Home Is Where God Sends You in one simple place. If you follow me over there, and I truly hope you will, you’ll find Wildflower Thoughts, Parachute Prayers, Words Aptly Spoken, and On My Mind. Or, at least you will, as I begin to post them. The kind of content usually reserved for Home Is Where God Sends You will be there, too. These posts will be featured as Finding Home. And, of course, I’ll be reviewing books there, too. I even have some new features planned!

To follow me over there, click here or on the Wildflower Faith button in my sidebar to the right, near the top of the page. Once you’re over there, you can subscribe by e-mail or through a feed. Or you can follow me on Google+ or Twitter. If you’d like, you can even grab a Wildflower Faith button for your own blog. The links to do any or all of these things are in my Wildflower Faith sidebar.

To learn why I’m calling my new site Wildflower Faith, click here to read my first post there.

Now for the great news! I’ve written a book. It will be available as a paperback or for Kindle in November. My next and last post on this site will be my happy and breathless announcement of its release. I. can’t. wait! This book has been a long time in the making—a story I’ll tell soon—at my new site, Wildflower Faith.

Please watch for Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway (the book!), available next month.

And please follow me over to Wildflower Faith where I’ll faithfully continue to write wildflower thoughts, lessons in contentment, and more for you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Overextended . . . and loving most of it!

Overextended . . . and loving most of it! by Lisa Harper is an unusual book. It wasn’t what I expected, but I was thankful for the opportunity to read this book.

Most of the book is autobiographical; it’s Lisa’s account of the past year, a year full of devastating heartache and unexpected challenges. She truly was overextended, as the book says, yet she found ways to keep on going, doing all that God called her to do. She uses her story to tell us what she learned. She does this by scattering brief Bible studies and life insights throughout the book, worked into the story at relevant points. Chapter 4, Blasting through Burnout, gives readers a simple, step-by-step acrostic to use whenever they feel overwhelmed. Quotes by well-respected writers and church leaders enhance the content of each chapter.

In the final chapter of the book, Lisa includes a prayer for herself and her readers. I think this part of her prayer most clearly sums up the intent of the book:
Lord Jesus, . . . If anyone besides my immediate family reads this, please use this imperfect prose to help rip off the unnecessary burdens they’re lugging around as well. I pray they will be light enough to take whatever leap of faith you’ve called them to.
As Lisa continues living her overextended life, which now includes the blessing of an adopted daughter from Haiti, I’ll be whispering prayers for her, and others like her, whenever God brings this book and its lessons to mind--whenever I feel overwhelmed. The insights Lisa shared through her experiences will help me with this.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of Overextended for this honest review.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Joy in Submitting to Work

“When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.” –Genesis 49:15

When parents give their children household chores, the children sometimes act as if they are being subjected to forced labor. The truth is, though, they have a choice. (Shh. Don’t tell them if they haven’t yet figured this out!) When given a task, children can refuse to do their share of the work and suffer the consequences of that decision. Or they can happily oblige and enjoy the reward: knowledge that they are active and valued participants in their family community.

When children are young, it’s the parents’ job not only to train them to comply, but also to help them understand this reason why: citizens of any community, starting with the family community, each do their share of the work. As children mature and come to appreciate the benefits of a good resting place and a pleasant home environment, they’ll more willingly bend their shoulders to the burden of helping to maintain a home, especially when they leave the nest and begin to build homes of their own and to participate in the larger communities of which they are a part: church, school, city, nation, world.

In a sense, we’re all subjected to forced labor. Life must be maintained or it begins to fall apart. Furniture must be dusted. Lawns must be mowed. Relationships must be nurtured. Children must be fed. Cars must be fueled. Papers must be filed. Bills must be paid. We all have work to do.

Meaningful work, in fact, is a part of God’s original plan! Genesis 2:15 tells us that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Note God did this before His children rebelled. The ability to contribute responsibly is a gift from God.

As children in God’s Kingdom, we enjoy the blessing of this! Jesus is our good resting place. With Him, we dwell in a pleasant land. Our service in His Kingdom is valued by our Lord and by His people. We are active participants in a holy community, building together as God prepares our heavenly home. This makes it a joy to do work!

Father, I thank You for my place in Your Kingdom and the responsibilities that come with it. Please open my eyes to opportunities; please give me the strength and desire to obey. I want to serve You faithfully, doing everything You lead me to do in Jesus’ name, for Your glory and for Your people’s good. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: Born of Persuasion

Born of Persuasion, the first book in the Price of Privilege Trilogy by new author Jessica Dotta, reminds me of classics such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca, stories of dark mystery in which the innocent heroine is drawn in by a mysterious and powerful man only to wonder if she’s gotten herself in over her head, curious to know the truth, yet fearing it as well. Only in Born of Persuasion, Julia Elliston has three mysterious men to deal with: 1) Edward, the childhood sweetheart she’s secretly betrothed to yet was torn away from, so that she no longer knows where she stands; 2) the anonymous guardian who controls her life and is threatening to send her away to Scotland to work below her station as a ladies’ maid; 3) Mr. Macy, the wealthy, yet secretive recluse who promises her everything she longs for if she’ll only trust him.

The story, set in 19th century Great Britain, is full of fascinating characters, secrets, questions, complications, and unexpected twists and turns. I was only sad that it didn’t end. I’ll have to wait for the next book. Dotta leaves her readers in a good place, though, answering just enough of the questions to leave them feeling satisfied, but leaving just enough mystery to entice them to read on.

Tyndale Publishing House sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I’ll be watching for more by this new author.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What We Can Learn from Rehoboam's Life

“Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the LORD’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.” -2 Chronicles 12:12

Rehoboam wouldn’t exactly be classified as a good king. In fact, he’s the king responsible for Israel’s division into two kingdoms. Following in the footsteps of David, his grandfather, and Solomon, his father, Rehoboam wanted to firmly establish himself as a worthy king. Unfortunately, he listened to the wrong set of advisors, a group of younger men lacking in experience, who told him to treat the people harshly, so they would know he was in charge.

The people didn’t like this cocky king’s aggressive approach, so most of them abandoned him, choosing Jeroboam as Israel’s new king. The few tribes who remained loyal to Rehoboam—Judah and Benjamin first, then Levi and all the priests of the land—became the Kingdom of Judah.

Sadly, being harsh wasn’t Rehoboam’s only mistake as king, yet there are several things we can learn from his story—both from his mistakes and from his good choices.

1. Pray before seeking advice. Rehoboam had access to the group of elders who had advised his father, Solomon. He listened to their advice, but then rejected it in favor of the poor advice of his peers. Had Rehoboam sought God’s wisdom, as Solomon did at the beginning of his reign, his story might have had a happier outcome.

(Note: God had told Solomon that the kingdom would be divided during Rehoboam’s reign as a consequence of Solomon’s disobedience, so I don’t know what happier outcome there might have been. I only know that had Rehoboam truly sought God’s Will, God would have honored that somehow. Obedient servants glorify His name; this does not go unnoticed by God.)

When we have big decisions to make, it’s wise to seek counsel from several trusted sources. It’s wiser still to seek God’s wisdom first. He will help us choose the best advice and course of action.

2. Know God’s heart. After Israel’s rebellion, Rehoboam gathered an army of the men who had remained loyal to him. His intent was to take Israel back by force. God sent a prophet, however, who told Rehoboam and his army to go home. He made it clear that the division of Israel was God's own doing; to fight for what Rehoboam wanted would be to fight against God. Rehoboam wisely listened to the prophet who spoke for God.

We don’t have prophets such as Rehoboam did. We do, however, have God’s Word, Christ’s example, pastors, mentors, and Christian friends. Best of all, we have God’s ear. When we ask Him to help us know what He wants, He finds a way to make His Will clear.

3. Remain faithful. 2 Chronicles 11:5-17 tells how Rehoboam fortified and provided for the kingdom he still had. As a result, the Levites and the priests, who’d been rejected by Jeroboam, joined the Kingdom of Judah. Others, from every tribe of Israel, who still were faithful to God, followed the Levites and priests over to Rehoboam’s side. As Rehoboam remained faithful to God in spite of all that was lost, God strengthened the whole kingdom.

No matter what circumstances come our way, we can choose to be faithful, too. If we’ve suffered great losses, God will build on what’s left, so long as we’re living to honor Him.

4. Repent after messing up. Once Rehoboam’s kingdom was firmly established at last, he seems to have forgotten God. 2 Chronicles 12 tells of his disobedience and God’s decision to punish him by sending the Egyptians to destroy Judah. The Egyptians?! Exodus tells us all that God did to rescue His people from them. God must have been quite angry with Rehoboam.

God sent a prophet to warn Rehoboam, though, and Rehoboam chose to repent. Though he still had to suffer some serious consequences as a reminder of what he’d done, he and his people managed to avoid total annihilation.

For us, the ultimate consequence of disobedience is eternal separation from God. He doesn’t want this for us, though. That’s why He sent Jesus to make eternal life in His Presence, beginning with a loving Father/child relationship right now, possible. If ever we sin, He offers grace. We simply repent—admit we were wrong, sincerely apologize, and choose to turn away from sin. We may have to suffer some consequences, but our relationship with God will be restored. This relationship with God is what life is all about; we’re wise to protect it at all costs.

Overall, 2 Chronicles declares Rehoboam to be an evil king “because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord” (12:14). However, whenever Rehoboam was reminded of his failure and threatened with consequences, he did seem to turn back to the Lord in obedience. May we always remember to seek our loving Lord before we rouse His anger and need such discipline. He created us to know and love Him and live for Him always.

Father, thank You for making an eternal relationship with You possible. Thank You for helping us to understand and obey Your Will. We want to honor You always. If ever we fail, please show us what we've done. Help us to make things right that we can enjoy life with You and draw others into Your Kingdom, too. We love You, Lord! We live to glorify Your name. Amen.

You can read all about King Rehoboam in the following Bible passages:
1 Kings 12:1-24
1 Kings 14:21-31
2 Chronicles 10-12

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: Fatal Tide

I would classify Fatal Tide, the third book of The East Salem Trilogy, as pre-post-apocalyptic. In other words, the good characters in this book are working to defeat the evil characters in order to prevent a world-changing-and-definitely-not-for-the-better event. To complicate matters, some of the bad characters are demons. Thankfully, some of the good characters are angels. It’s a classic good versus evil story with an absolutely brilliant, and God-glorifying, ending.

Like most science fiction works, this one contains a lot of scientific, psychological, and medical technobabble. It’s all relevant to the story, though, and explained clearly and often enough that the reader doesn’t get too bogged down in it. There’s also quite a bit of violence as the forces of good and evil collide. But there’s also mystery and intrigue, action, adventure, and a touch of romance—just enough, but not too much. If those sound like the ingredients of a story that you appreciate, you’ll want to read Fatal Tide. Just be sure to read Waking Hours and Darkness Rising first.

I’ve enjoyed following main characters Tommy Gunderson and Dani Harris, along with their unusual assortment of friends, throughout this series. The ending caught me by surprise, but I thought it was perfect! I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for me to review for you.