"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD." – Psalm 150:6
This day, August 1st, may be one of the kind of days you'll want to take your Bible outdoors and read. Or to walk leisurely and talk to God in praise, surrounded by the sound of birds, embracing the peace of that particular moment. Praying while walking, conversationally, can bring peace and comfort during difficult times, or it may even be a catharsis for bottled-up emotions. Definitely, it's a worshipful experience.
Rhoda Miller, a devout Amish wife and mother in my novel The Tinderbox, is encouraged to simply walk and talk with Jesus in the midst of one of the most trying seasons of her life, when a secret from her husband's past threatens to destroy her marriage and their family. Walking outdoors while pouring out one's heart to the Savior is incredibly cleansing, just as shedding tears can heal the heart and bring full release. There is a reason why we cry, right? And also while we laugh aloud.
Expressing ourselves to our Maker is an encounter not to be missed. I wholeheartedly suggest it, and daily.
Many beautiful blessings ahead,
Writing Update: The Timepiece, the gripping conclusion to The Tinderbox, is right on schedule for release on September 17. You can have it on the official release day by preordering now, if you wish. Thanks for all of your lovely words of encouragement and support, dear reader friends!
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." – Psalm 33:12
In 1893, a professor, poet, and writer named Katharine Lee Bates traveled to Colorado Springs (where my family and I reside), and while Katharine was standing at the top of Pikes Peak, the words to a remarkable poem began to form in her mind. This poem we have all come to know and love is titled "America, the Beautiful," as majestic as that famed mountain which I am delighted to see every day out my home office windows.
I remember as a little girl in elementary school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania singing this amazing song with my classmates each morning, followed by standing for the "Pledge of Allegiance" and saying The Lord's Prayer, too. All the memorable moments of the start of our school day. . . .
How very different things were then. Some of you may remember bowing your head in this reverent prayer even before the teacher took attendance and collected milk money.
This month, when we commemorate Independence Day, what if we also thank our heavenly Father for the privilege of living in a land where a poet like Katharine Lee Bates could be so inspired as to write the following lyrics to that lovely song, (verse 3):
"O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine."
Take a moment with me to ponder that and all the verses. It touches my heart deeply and takes me back to my childhood classroom. I am so grateful to have had the freedom to blend my voice with my teacher and classmates and sing such a soul-stirring song! One that is embedded in my mind for life.
"America, America, God shed His grace on thee. . . ."
Blessings abundant, and Happy Fourth!
"For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." – James 1:3
My father often spoke of the importance of starting strong. . . and of finishing well.
Recently, I had the opportunity to remember those words while on vacation near Slade, Kentucky with Dave and our twins, Janie and Jonathan. We had embarked on a hike to the top of a so-called moderate trail leading to a massive natural sandstone arch poised like the ancient landmark it was, towering over the mountainous terrain below.
Complete with numerous steep steps—woody, rocky and root-laden (Janie dubbed the latter “ground veins”)—we slowly made our way, step over precarious step, toward the top. We stopped for frequent sips from bottled water and enjoyed snacks that Dave carried in his backpack, catching our breath, thankful this hike wasn’t happening in Colorado, a mile higher in altitude. Despite that, the climb was arduous in places, and I wondered aloud if our twins would ever want to take on my bucket list in the future.
But we kept going, though it crossed our minds how much easier it would be to simply turn around and head back down.
Then, at last, rounding an enormous boulder-strewn area, we caught the first breathtaking glimpse. There, the Natural Bridge loomed high over us. . . our reward for perseverance!
I wished in that moment that my dad could have seen the four of us inching upward to our final goal, perspiring and weary of the climb. And I tried to imagine, too, that glorious Day when our heavenly Father will welcome each of us across the finish line, life’s journey over. Home at last, following His lead all the way.
As we pause this month to honor our fathers, I'm thankful for a dad who wholly trusted God, and though the path toward the end was rocky at times, strewn with disappointment, sadness and pain, my father finished strong in faith on January 9, 2014.
Blessings abundant, dear reader-friends.
And happy Father's Day to all the dads!
"With all your heart, you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow." – Proverbs 3: 5-6
This month, many of our children and grandchildren will graduate from high school. I vividly remember my own high school graduation day, decades ago. And I'm grateful that I could not see too far into the future. Our heavenly Father knows each of us intimately, and He understands that we simply could not bear to know all that may befall us.
God is merciful to take us one moment, one step at a time. Otherwise, many of us might wander off the path, attempting to do things our own way, not depending on His wisdom each hour, each day...and each year.
Yes, we yearn to know the future. We plead with God to lead us, and we want to know immediately what's coming next...tomorrow, and next week, next month. We're in a rush for answers. We're not interested in waiting. Patience is not our virtue. And, sometimes, we think we know best.
But, truly, when we earnestly look to Him with all of our heart, it is remarkable to see how God works. He is at work in us all the time as we surrender our will. It's hard to release our grip and believe that He is going before us, paving the way, isn't it? Even so, there is that quiet serenity of wholly trusting. It is miraculously freeing and brings great peace.
I pray for God's many blessings on all the graduates in your life, dear friend!
And I ask Him to give you wisdom and direction for all your days.