Idea Starters

October 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

Have you ever wondered where ideas originate? I love cooking up ideas, so it’s a natural fit for me to celebrate International Ideas Month in March.

I recently joined Pinterest—a social networking site for members to share virtual bulletin boards. You can pin images and ideas on your board to share a variety of interests. How brilliant! And it all started with an idea to save, share, and swap more ideas.

Have you ever asked God to give you an idea? As a writer, I designate time for brainstorming. During some of these think tanks, my thoughts surge so fast and furious, I call them brain tsunamis. Other times an idea hits when we least expect it—and we have to be ready to jot it down. I’ve had ideas strike at red lights, bank drive-thru, waiting rooms, and during church. I’ve learned to capture the gist of the idea in my idea notebook because just as quickly as ideas appear in my mind, they can disappear. I hate it when that happens!

The best evidence of ideas is when I’m speaking to a group and I see faces light up. I can be fairly certain they’ve just experienced an “aha moment.” See why I celebrate ideas?

We can miss two important steps with ideas though. First, we have to make sure it’s a God idea if we want to be operating in His purpose and for His glory. How can you be certain it’s a God idea, not merely a good idea? I ask Him to show me a green light in the form of peace if my brainstorm is from Him and give me a red light in the form of doubt if it doesn’t fit with His direction for my life.

The final step to ideas that often gets overlooked is fulfillment. Some people have fun conceiving ideas, but have a harder time working the idea through—taking action steps to bring to completion what started as a brilliant concept. Ideas are only wishes until we act on them and see them accomplished. Can you think of those uncompleted projects that seem to hang out forever on your To Do List?

Ask God to lead the way. May He:
• Inspire the idea.
• Endorse it so you know it’s from Him.
• Give you the resources to complete the idea.
• Give you the discipline to stick to it when you’re tempted to quit.

Then praise God when you experience the reward of checking off the idea from your list and you can say, “It is finished!”

Never forget, God will complete us as one of His good ideas, too. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV).

Down for the Count

October 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Candace McQuain –

As a writer, and a human being with goals and aspirations, rejection is not an uncommon occurrence. As a matter of fact, it’s become a way of life.

For a while, I allowed every rejection to hit me in the gut.

We appreciate your submission. We are sorry to say that we don’t have a place for it in our publication at this time.

Left jab!

Thank you for your interest in the position, but after reviewing the applications received, yours was not selected for further consideration.

Right jab!

For various reasons you are not what we are looking for at this time. Really? There are various, as in more than one, reasons?

Knock Out!

The constant rejection became debilitating and forced me to lose sight of my goals and God’s calling on my life. Beat up and exhausted, I eventually kissed the canvas. No need for the ten-second count.

In this darkness, God showed me something very special through His word that forever changed me.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the LORD has done this, And it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23 NIV).

Understanding that the person delivering the successes in my life was the same one sending the rejections changed my whole way of processing the good and the bad. Every Yes was His yes and every No His no. No longer did I feel personally attacked at the sight of rejection and gone were days of giving myself kudos for what God orchestrated for me.

My perspective on the way my life unfolds has grown substantially at the realization that it’s not about me. Each success, rejection, and everything in between are but tiny pieces of a gigantic puzzle that I will never see completed until I meet Jesus. Agonizing over the no’s of yesterday when the yes’s of today requires my full attention is selfish and will only keep me face down on the canvas.

Jesus was rejected, not only by strangers but also by those in His own hometown. Through all of the pain and loneliness, He never once stopped and said, “This just isn’t worth it. I’m giving up!” He persevered, remaining focused on His goal—to spread the Gospel.

I pray Lord, that we never lose focus on our goals when we get into the ring with rejection. Fill us with the strength to instinctively lift our head upwards and seek you and the assurance of Your perfect love and direction. In Your glorious name, Amen.

The Miracle Manifested Part Two

October 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Quick Recap of Where is the Miracle?
I ask myself, what happened to The Miracle? A question I mulled a lot while Kyle suffered. What sin kept The Miracle away? What treatment did his doctors leave out? What did I do wrong? What did I miss? What prayers did I leave out? Why did Kyle suffer for four years before we got our lives back? Why did the sweet little girl in the hospital room next to ours go through three years of agony and never get her life back? We all ask these hard questions—controversial faith altering questions and God tells us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).

What if The Miracle did occur and I missed it?

What if The Miracle had nothing to do with the end result?

And everything to do with the journey?

In the middle of Kyle’s battle with leukemia, my friend Robin and I were having coffee and talking about our kids and the worst thing that could happen to them. At the time, caught up in Kyle’s cancer, I immediately said, “death.”

She shook her head to disagree. “Eternal separation from God.”

Wow.

All I could think about revolved around Kyle’s life now. Here. With me. And what it would be like to live without him.

But what if my earthly perspective on suffering and death didn’t fit with God’s perspective on eternity? Wrapping my head around The Miracle in the journey seemed as impossible as stretching out my hand in Plano, Texas to touch my mother in Madison, Wisconsin.

What if God saw suffering like this—the life of one small, vulnerable child or one broken-hearted mother could impact the eternal lives of two people? Or four? Or forty?

What if The Miracle in the journey gave me a glimpse of God in a way I never would have seen? I am a new person. A different person. A better person in so many ways. And so is Kyle. What if I learned that trust came in different forms and brought unique blessings—one of them being my son’s relationship with Jesus and his life goal. After high school graduation this May, his heart’s desire is to go to nursing school and then work in pediatric oncology.

I need to re-examine my journey. The moments. The day by day. I need to stop looking for The Miracle at the end and open my eyes to search for it in the midst—the midst of pain, fear, frustration, and hopelessness.

That takes a special pair of eyes.

Eyes that I don’t have.

But I know where I can get them. God’s Word spills over with His perspective. His ways. His miracles. I believe the Bible when I am encouraged to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). I hang onto to the promise that, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding” (Proverbs 3:13 NIV).

What could it hurt to ponder The Miracle being in the journey rather than at the end of it? We’re going to walk the walk no matter what. If suffering, pain, and death must be part of that journey, anger and denial won’t change a thing.

But looking for The Miracle in the midst just might.

Where Is The Miracle? Part One

October 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

I follow a lot of CaringBridge sites.

If you are unfamiliar with this amazing cyber vision, check it out at www.CaringBridge.org. CaringBridge allows a family in medical crisis to post updates, prayer requests, and needs to a page that friends and family can access.

The sites I follow have catchwords like “children” and “oncology.” My rooting in the pediatric cancer community comes out of the four years our family spent battling leukemia with our oldest son, Kyle. Because we’ve tread our own rough journey, people send me CaringBridge links, ask me to write encouraging emails, and pray for their friends and family that are dealing with similar struggles. I consider their requests a privilege. The way I see it, if I can’t take something away from my stay in a very dark pit, what good are my experiences? Not letting Jesus use me would be a waste. I staggered through the journey for a reason. So did Kyle. And I wouldn’t give back the empathy, wisdom, or perspective that came out of that trek.

Here’s how this works for me. I go to the link and sign up to receive updates to my email. I read the journal entries and the family’s story. I pray for these anonymous kids until I know them and their parents—intimately. I join them on their journey—sometimes from a thousand miles away.

As I go about my own life—kids, homeschool, cleaning, laundry, activities—various updates load into my Inbox. I click on the updates and scan the latest news.

My heart breaks every single time.

These kids struggle with school and friend issues, unsuccessful and painful chemo treatments and surgeries, hair loss and mouth and skin sores, intense bone and muscle pain, and the desperate desire to just be “normal.” I’ve walked in those shoes. Fallen under the weight of Kyle’s agony. Lived the desperation to save my child—at any cost.

I’ve begged and pleaded for The Miracle in hopes of sparing the journey in favor of healing my child.

Many stories do not have a “happy” ending. Families dive into a dark pit where they breakdown, fall apart, and suffer right along with their child. Sometimes they get their lives back. Sometimes they don’t.

When the decline begins and the updates grow more desperate, my fingers hover over the Enter Key that will activate the link and I hesitate, knowing one day soon I will receive The News.

I relive the desperate hope, the deep need to believe in The Miracle. The pleas for The Miracle to come quickly. The anger when The Miracle fails to manifest.

I slump in my chair at the appearance of that last post listing interment arrangements. In lieu of a gift, please send a donation to the…

I ask myself, what happened to The Miracle? A question I mulled a lot while Kyle suffered. What sin kept The Miracle away? What treatment did his doctors leave out? What did I do wrong? What did I miss? What prayers did I leave out? Why did Kyle suffer through four years of hell before we got our lives back? Why did the sweet little girl in the hospital room next to ours go through three years of hell and never get her life back? We all ask these hard questions—controversial faith altering questions.

Here’s a new question: What if The Miracle did occur and I missed it?

God tells us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).

Coming Next: The Miracle Manifested Part Two

Flames That Twirl

September 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

Have you ever set a fire?

One summer, baton camp ended with flames, ashes and fire trucks.

I was in middle school and that summer my twin Mel and I joined several hundred other girls for a two-week stay at a college campus in the mountains of Arizona.

The daily schedule included classes of varying kinds for all levels and ages. We competed in small contests, learned new routines, and reunited with our friends from the summer before.

Our housing included dorms on the college campus and on opposite sides of the grounds in another set of dorms. Some of our best friends ended up across campus. My twin and I stayed in a dorm far away from them.

We wanted to be near them, so Mel and I took on the names of two girls who didn’t care where they slept. We then traded rooms via the fire escape.

We became Jennifer and Sally, the two girls from dorm G, while Jennifer and Sally became Pam and Mel, and they moved into our room in dorm T.

One day in the cafeteria, the worker asked the girls with tags, Pam and Mel if they were fraternal twins since they didn’t look alike. I had instructed them to say all the right things.

All week, no one caught on, not until the day everything went up in flames.

Our teacher had moved our group to the street for safety reasons, so if we dropped our fire batons, nothing burned up—at least in theory.

She, along with her assistants, soaked the wicks on the end of our batons in gasoline. We held them out in front of us as the ends were lit.

I have a knack for bumping, dropping, and creating mishaps—and this teacher had no idea how dangerous I might be to myself and others.

Then it happened, my right hand twitched. I looked up to the sky, and without thinking, I opted for a high toss. One quick toss and I’d catch it. But the baton sailed upward in a ball of fire and beauty twirls.

And never came down.

My baton got stuck on a limb of this giant tree and hovered over the class of girls. The flames on the end of my baton swept like a whirlwind of orange, consuming the leaves and tiny branches, and the tree burst into a ball of flames.

The homeowner rushed to the street. She screamed. I screamed. My sister screamed. The teacher screamed. A choir of panic set in and someone called the fire department.

After the fire trucks left and their water hoses doused the flames, my nightmare ended. Now all eyes were on me. I became the girl who started a fire at camp.

Talk about a horrible, no-good, very bad day.

Oh, and remember the real Jennifer and Sally, the girls who traded rooms with us? For some reason they didn’t want to be involved in our shenanigans anymore and we had to move back to our old dorm.

To make matters worse, the camp director caught wind of the fire, heard about our trading rooms and assuming new names. Yes, you guessed it, more scolding took place. Well, at least Mel was in on this one.

Before the director sent us on our way, he director shared how we had been candidates for campers of the week. Had been. Have you ever watched your day go up in flames? Have you wished to be someone else?

Well, I learned one thing from that fiery day—there’s always another day, another class, another opportunity to twirl, another toss to make. The key is to be you and remember there’s a God above who removes mistakes. He’s slow to anger, unlike that teacher I had at camp, and God is always compassionate toward me, unlike the director. And no matter if I cause the fire, or not, He is ready to lift me from the ashes.

Speaking of compassion, my twin and I did receive camper of the week at the closing ceremony—even though those few hot moments almost took our prize away.

By the time I attended high school, I’d become pretty good with the fire baton.

That is, until the night I caught the football field on fire—but not to worry, they didn’t need fire trucks this time.

Next Page »