NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

A Great Day

Yesterday is one of those days I don’t want to forget, so I thought I’d share about it on my blog. I know I’m not writing as much now, but I’d still like to occasionally share what’s going on in my life. So on to yesterday.

It all started with this really cool dream. Most of my dreams I don’t remember and I don’t remember all of this one either, but I do remember the feeling it gave me of being excited about sharing God’s truth with people and being used by Him even when I didn’t feel adequate. I think it had something to do with giving a sermon (something I’ve never done) and the topic boiled down to sharing our faith. And what kept going through my head, is sharing your faith isn’t something you should be guilted into doing, it’s something that comes naturally when you love God. You can’t share what you don’t have yourself, and if you really do have a faith in God and love for Him, it will spill into your other relationships.

Anyway, it was a cool way to wake up and it reminded me that God is at work and being a part of His plans are exciting. And I think having that dream prepared me for more of what God was going to do that day.

I went to church, and our pastor shared a heartfelt message of honesty and when we were singing I felt like I was joining in praising God with every believer around the world and every generation that had gone before me and followed Him. It was awesome. And in the middle of the service, I got a text from an old friend I hadn’t talked to in months. But more about that later…

As church was letting out, my phone buzzed with the noon text message. (Every day at noon our church sends a text to all our members to pray for someone). I didn’t look at the text but as I was leaving, someone told me, “Lydia we’re praying for you today.” And it was nice to know God was with me and was covering me in prayer for all that was happening to me that day.

I came home and got to meet with several freshman girls for our weekly discipleship group. We read in James together and prayed for each other and my fellow leader stayed late to just talk and share about her life and how God has changed her from who she was to who she is.

The afternoon turned into a nice family time of talking and laughing at a funny movie and just being together. But then I texted my friend who had originally texted during church. We decided that since we were both free for the evening, we would get together to eat dinner and talk. And as we talked I got to invite her to my church and try to encourage her in her faith. It was just so cool to me that we got to actually meet and talk on a day when I’d already been thinking about sharing my faith and being used by God.

I ended up dropping her off in a neighborhood right where my brother and sister-in-law live, with her mother. So I thought I’d stop by and say hello. My brother and his wife weren’t there, but the mother-in-law was and she was going to have surgery the next day. So I got to end my day visiting with her and praying for her about her upcoming surgery.

It was like God had all these things lined up for me to do that day and He had everything prepared in advance for me to do it. And it was just so fun to be a part of. So I don’t know what God has planned for me today, but I’m excited to see how He’ll continue to work in my life and my friend’s lives.

I hope you have a blessed day and I hope this post encouraged you to share your faith and be available to be used by God where you live.

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A Day Off

Happy Labor Day! Sorry it’s been over a month since my last blog post. I’ve realized how hard it is to do things when you are working a full time job. For all of my life up to this point I had been working part time, and I could do a lot of extra things with my time because I wasn’t working. And now, even though I’d still like to do some of those things, they just are harder to do with less time to work with. So since it’s a Holiday and I am not working today, I thought I’d write a blog post.

It’s easy to get into the grass is always greener on the other side syndrome. When you work part time, you wish you had a full time job, when you aren’t married, you wish you were, when you’re bored and have nothing to do, you wish something would happen, when you’re running around like crazy, you wish you had a day off and some time to relax.

But it’s important to be thankful. To stop and appreciate what you do have. You may be very busy with lots of work and responsibilities, but it also means you have a job and that what you do matters to a lot of people, and that’s a blessing.

Or maybe you don’t have a job and you really want one, but in that place of not having a job, you have a lot of free time that you can use to invest in people, to volunteer, to help others.

You can always find something to be thankful for, even if life is hard. You just have to look for it. So here are some of the things I am thankful for today.

-Rest. God intended us to have a day of rest once a week and I am so thankful for my days off. They allow me to refocus, refresh and allow me to spend time with the people I love.

-Friends. I am so blessed to have so many close friends, whether they live in other cities, states, or in my own neighborhood, I have so many people that love me, care about me, encourage me and will be with me through all the ups and downs of life.

-A Job. Even though it can be hard sometimes, I am so thankful that my job allows me to bless so many people, to be a part of what God is doing in this city and state and that I can join in His work. I know most people don’t dream of a job of answering phones and emails and organizing supplies and placing orders, but I love it, because it’s needed and a big part of a ministry that changes people’s lives and reveals God’s glory.

-A place to live. It may not be perfect, some things could be fixed up or upgraded, but I have water, food, a bed, and people I live with that I love and care about.

There are so many more things I could write about that I am thankful for, but with the fall upon us, I may want to spread them out for some posts leading up to Thanksgiving. In any case, I hope this post reminds you to be thankful, to enjoy the little things God has blessed you with, like a day off, or a cold drink, or a beautiful sunset.

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A Texas Hoedown in London

I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had much time to blog or tell stories from my trip to London. But I finally had a free Saturday, so I thought I’d write about one of the cool things our church group got to do.

On our 2nd Friday in London (the first one was when we were still jet-lagged and trying to stay awake) we hosted a Texas Hoedown for the community at the church. It was funny to me that we called it a Hoedown because I can’t say I’ve ever been to a Texas Hoedown myself. I live in the city and although I’ve been to plenty of Barbecues, Rodeos, Concerts, and Dances, I don’t think I can say I’ve been to a Hoedown.

But we gave it our best shot and tried to include anything Texan we could for the community to experience and enjoy. We had BBQ (though it was just burgers and hot dogs not brisket and ribs like I usually think of for BBQ), sweet iced tea, country western line dancing, and a mechanical bull ride. Lots of people came and I enjoyed seeing our students running booths, serving food and interacting with people.

I helped with a yard game called “Hillbilly Golf” or “Ladder Golf.” Several kids came over and wanted to try throwing the golf balls on a rope. I showed them how to swing it and let it go at the right time so it would spin and could wrap around the poles. A few kids got a bit too enthusiastic and threw the balls over the fence or into the tree, but we laughed it off and got some older men to help us figure out a way to get them down.

I especially enjoyed seeing people learn line dances like Boot Scoot Boogie and Copperhead Road. It can be a bit intimidating to try something new, but our team member Joy did a great job of including people and encouraging them to try out the dances.

So many people were laughing and having fun, and some of them had never been to the church before. Relationships were built, and one lady, Eileen, told me how thankful she was for this church and how it’s changed their community. It has provided a place for kids to have fun in a safe place and bring people together.

I learned a lot about how God’s church should be open and welcoming to all kinds of people through this trip. And that He really does want us to connect with our communities, not just become a click that stays separate from everyone else.

Here’s a few pictures from the Hoedown! I hope they inspires you to reach out to people in your community and get to know someone who is different from you.


I hope all y’all have a great weekend!

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Approval

As I was spending some time with Jesus this morning, I realized that I have an idol in my heart. And it’s easy to think it’s not a bad idol, everyone needs it. But that’s the thing about idols. Often times they are good things, but we take them too far, we put them up on a pedestal, and think if I only had that, then everything would be great. Or if it gets taken away, we are crushed. I actually read a great book about this years ago, called “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller. It’s a great way to help recognize the idols in your own life.

Anyway, back to this morning. I was thinking about a time recently when my feelings had gotten hurt. And I was trying to figure out why it hurt so much. I felt like usually things don’t bother me and I wanted to know why this did. The more I thought about it, I realized what I really crave is other’s approval. Whether it was in school and I tried to do everything right to do well in a class, or at work trying to finish all my assignments well, or even with friends trying to be available and ready to meet their needs. In all of these situations I wanted to be liked, to be approved of. I love getting sweet notes of encouragement or thank yous. Though I don’t want it to be in front of a lot of people. I’d rather it be personal than put on display for others.

But at the end of the day, what I really want is people to like me, to approve of me. And this, like many idols, is a good thing. I think wanting other’s approval is pretty normal for most humans. And in some ways it helps us think about others not just ourselves and be aware of how we treat others. But it can be taken too far. You can do too much, just trying to get people to like you, and you can be crushed when someone just doesn’t like you.

So after some prayer with Jesus, I think I have an idol in this area that He needs to help me overcome. Because ultimately, I should not be seeking other’s approval. I should not be ruled by ‘what will they think of me.’ Instead I should seek to live God’s way, and please Him, even if other people don’t approve. I should find that need for approval filled by Jesus, who loved me and gave Himself for me and doesn’t expect me to earn His favor.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been learning today and thought I’d share.

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Life Changes

So a lot has happened since my last post and I have a feeling I won’t be posting as frequently in the future. On May 10th, I left my house to go to an interview for a new job with a ministry that my dad has been involved with for years. They were wanting to hire a new administrative assistant and it sounded like a good fit for me, so I went to talk with them about working there.

When I drove back to the house, I saw several other cars besides our family’s at the house. I wondered if something had happened. I walked inside and found my parents and sister praying with a family friend and our hospice nurse filling out paperwork at the kitchen table. My mom told me my grandma had passed away around 10:15 am, right as I had gotten to my interview, but she had wanted me to go ahead and do the interview, so she hadn’t called me.

I hadn’t necessarily wanted to be there when my grandma passed away, so I wasn’t upset. And in some ways there was a joyful atmosphere in our home. We were glad that my grandma was home with Jesus. And my mom pointed out that an encouraging song had started playing right as she passed that reminded her that everything would be alright. And she also told me that is was exactly 40 days after Easter, or ‘Ascension Day’ when Jesus returned to heaven after His Resurrection. So it seemed appropriate that my grandma would go home on the same day.

When relatives came later, we cried some. And at her funeral and burial this past weekend there were tears shed. But overall, I’ve felt God’s peace and presence throughout these past couple weeks. And I’ve seen how perfect His timing has been.

I’ve known for awhile that my part time jobs of helping my family would be temporary. My dad is planning on retiring at the end of this year and with my grandma passing, I won’t have my job of taking care of her either. So at just the right time, God opened up this opportunity to serve in a ministry.

I’ve always thought an office job would suit me well and I’m especially excited that it is connected with a ministry that I’ve known about for years and that I know the staff personally. It’ll be good working in that kind of environment, and be a way that I can serve God and His kingdom, but also provide for myself financially.

So last Thursday May 24th I officially said yes to a new full time job as an administrative assistant for the God of Hope Ministries.

I’m just so thankful for God being with me through all these changes and that He has the best plan for my life.

On that note, because this is a full time job, and I have already started training for it, I won’t have as much free time for writing blog posts or novels. So I will still try to write posts occasionally. But I’m not as determined to write a blog post every single week. And my next novel is not as high on my to do list as it once was. I would still like to finish my 3rd novel in the Finding Home Series, but it will probably take longer. I’ll post updates on it as I get closer to publishing.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

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The Bird on the Wire

Have you ever seen a bird on a telephone wire? I’m sure you have, it’s so common that I often don’t notice it. But today I did. It’s windy today and as I watched, the bird swayed with the wind, buffeted back and forth, sometimes I was surprised he still hung on. I found myself thinking, “Just let go, just fly. It’s what you were made to do.”

But still the bird clung to the wire. And suddenly I saw myself as that bird. I cling to what’s comfortable, holding on to my little piece of wire. Then when the winds come, and life gets hard, when I feel like God is giving me more than I can handle, do I let go and trust Him? Or do I hold more stubbornly to what I want, what I think I need, what’s comfortable? Because when I do let go, I find I can fly. I have a faith that can move mountains, a hope that soars, a joy that can laugh at adversity. But I never experience that thrill if I don’t first let go of what I think will make me happy and trust that God really does have what’s best.

This past week my pastor said we don’t see how great faith is, until we’re in the storm. And as I look back on my life, I can see it’s true. When life is rolling along, everything fairly manageable, my faith doesn’t seem as important. Sometimes I forget it’s actually needed. But when those storms come, when the relative gets cancer, or the friend’s marriage is falling apart, or you lose your job, that’s when faith shows it’s strength. There’s a certain peace, or confidence God gives His children in the midst of suffering that you don’t experience until you’re in those moments. And even though it’s still hard, it’s also really good. The closest to God I’ve felt, has happened when I’m going through a hardship.

So that’s what God has been teaching me today; that He designed me to know Him, to trust Him, to love Him and that I’ll be happiest when I let go of all the other stuff, and choose to love and trust Him. Even if it takes a storm for me to do it, it’s worth it. because knowing Him is worth everything.

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Maturity

I’ve been thinking recently about what it means to be mature. There are many different expectations that people have for a ‘mature’ person. In our American culture, there seems to be an unwritten expectation that to be mature, or considered a real adult, you must be able to afford your own place to live, and support yourself financially. For many people, this just isn’t the case, either from poor job availability, or the expenses of an apartment or house, sometimes you just can’t make it on your own.

Now maybe living by yourself isn’t the real test when it comes to maturity, maybe it’s being smart, knowing the answers to lots of problems, or being confident in yourself, but either way I think our culture has a real obsession with independence. When you can do what you want, when you want, that means you’re grown up. It means you can make your own decisions and take care of yourself. Isn’t that what being an adult is all about?

I don’t want to say all of this is wrong, I think working and contributing to society is important. But something my pastor said last week has been stuck in my head. “Maturity is measured in dependence on Christ, not independence.” As humans we want control, we want our way, we’re selfish and self-centered and obsessed with getting what we want. But when we are in Christ, we put to death this old way of thinking. Instead we recognize that it isn’t about us and we have never been in control and never will be. God is the One who holds it all together and His plan is the one that will come to pass. And the more mature we become in Christ, the more we are okay with that. We are happy to let God have control and to rely on His help and guidance in all things. The more we depend on Him and not ourselves, the more mature we become.

I’ve seen this at work in my own life. When I try to be independent, and make my own plan for the day happen, every little hindrance gets me so frustrated and short-tempered and I can end up acting like a little kid who didn’t get their way. But when I give up my desire for control to God, and trust Him with how the day will go, I find that all the little unexpected bumps don’t matter. He already knew that traffic jam would happen, or that mess I need to clean up would occur. And He has a purpose for me in it. Then I can sit patiently, knowing He will get me where He wants me, when He wants me to be there. And some of those interruptions, are actually opportunities to do His work, show His love, be kind and display His glory to those around me.

So anyway, I hope my ramblings have encouraged you today and reminded you that you don’t have to have everything together or always know what to do or take care of yourself. Let go, and let God be in control and trust that He will work things out in the best way.

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Pondering Pets

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, it’s been a rough week. One of my cats got very sick and stopped eating. We took him to and from the vet multiple times and he ended up in an animal hospital over the weekend, but finally we had to just face it. He wasn’t going to pull through and it would be better to just put him down. I’ve never gone through this with a pet before. We used to have indoor/outdoor cats so they usually just disappeared or got hit by a car. We never had to be the ones to make the decision. And now I can see how hard it really is, and how drawn out the process is. We kept having hope that he would get better that different treatments would work, but they didn’t help. And even though I’ve cried more in this past week than I have in… a long time, I’ve also learned something.

I think sometimes how we love our pets can be a picture of how God loves us. It’s not a perfect picture, but there are several similarities. Like a pet owner, God owns us, we belong to Him and He wants what’s best for us. He loves us even when we make messes or need help and He delights in giving us good things that we enjoy. A book I’ve been reading called “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller goes into this further. In it I’ve seen how much God loves and cares for us, like a shepherd does for his sheep.

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And although we may get annoyed by that incessant meow, bark, or whimper, God never tires in caring for us and wants us to speak to Him in any circumstance through prayer. And though we may not know exactly what our pets are trying to tell us, God knows your very thoughts and exactly what you need.

And I think that just like I enjoy when one of my cats shows me affection and wants to be near me, get petted and maybe sit on my lap, God enjoys when we just want to be near Him and spend time with Him and sit in His presence.

So anyway, hope you are reminded of God’s deep love for you by my random thoughts today.

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The Discipline of Fasting

I’ve been a Christian for awhile now, and I’ve grown up learning how to read the Bible, memorize verses, pray, give offerings, serve, and use my gifts for God’s glory. But fasting has often seemed like an optional spiritual discipline. Occasionally I would fast because of some event or maybe for a big decision. And when I went to a Lutheran College, I learned more about long-term fasting for Lent and that it doesn’t always have to be food that we give up. It could be giving up certain forms of entertainment or things that distract you from God.

But more recently my church spent a whole year reviewing each of the spiritual disciplines, including fasting, and for some reason it just clicked that I should be practicing it more often. I mean it’s a discipline, so shouldn’t I be practicing it consistently? My older brother has been a great example of fasting to me. He’s chosen to fast from food one day a week for the past several years. And I thought I’d try it his way. It definitely seemed more intentional to plan to do it once a week and more like a real spiritual discipline. So I decided that every Wednesday or Thursday, depending on which day worked better for me that week, I would try to fast.

Some days were harder than others. Sometimes I was driving all over town, or doing more manual work, and other days I was mostly on my computer, working from home. Some days I almost forgot I was fasting, others I was very hungry. Some days I ended my fast early, because of an unexpected opportunity to eat with others. But I’ve managed to be consistent, even through the holidays, to fast each week. And I’ve noticed something pretty cool that I want to share.

Instead of dreading the day I can’t eat, I look forward to it. It’s something I enjoy now because I’ve found it’s easier to follow God and keep a good attitude when I’m fasting. All those little things that happen in a day, that inconvenience me or prevent me from doing what I want, don’t seem as important when I’m fasting and relying on God’s strength. It’s easier to switch my perspective when I’m fasting and see the problems I face as opportunities to bless others and glorify God, instead of merely hassles that I have to get through. And I’m more at peace on those days, more aware of God’s presence with me and His strength sustaining me.

I won’t say every fasting day was great, or that I don’t look forward to when the fast ends at suppertime and I can finally eat with my family. But I’m starting to see some of the spiritual fruit that comes from obeying God in the discipline of fasting. So I thought I’d share my experience in case anyone out there is thinking about fasting more regularly. God really has our best interest in mind when He gives us instructions, and just like the other spiritual disciplines, fasting has helped me grow closer to God.

So if you would like to join me in fasting today, or this coming week, I hope this post encourages you to give it a try and see what God does. But whether you do or don’t, I hope you have a great week.

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Climbing Mountains and Looking Back

The past few weeks have been very busy for me, so inevitably, some things got pushed aside, like writing my weekly blog post. But I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile. I’ve gotten the chance to climb, or see, several great views from a mountain top in the past month. And it reminded me of something that happens throughout our lives.

When you start climbing a mountain, it’s hard to know how far it is to the top. You don’t know how long it will take, how steep it will get, or how many breaks you will need along the way. But as you get closer, you don’t want to turn back. You think of all the miles you’ve come so far, all the pristine views you’ve already seen, and you just want to see what it’s actually like on the top. And it helps when someone coming the other direction tells you it’s worth it, and encourages you to keep going.

Well I think life can be like that sometimes. We all go through seasons in life when everything is just hard, and sometimes you just feel like giving up. It may be illnesses, job loss, uncertainly, changes, inconveniences, or a number of other things. But it’s hard, no matter what it is and it can seem like there’s not a point to it all. But when you choose to trust Jesus, that He is working in all of the circumstances and He is taking you to a better place, you keep going. You persevere.

It may take weeks, or months or years. But one day you’ll get to look back on all that’s happened and see that God was doing something amazing. And even though it was hard and you felt like giving up, you can see that it was worth it. It’s like how it feels when you finally get to the top of a mountain. You can see some of the challenges you faced on the way up but you also get this amazing view that you couldn’t get from the bottom. And all those hours of climbing feel worth it.

The end of one year and the beginning of a new one is a good opportunity to stop and try to look back. You may not feel like everything’s great and you are on the mountaintop. But it’s good to stop and think about where you are, and where you were when the year started. What have you seen God do in the past year? What are you grateful for?

I got to do a lot of traveling this past year, which I’m grateful for. I got to see literal mountaintops and spend time with friends and family. But I also went through some hardships. Life isn’t easy, and there are days that just suck. But those hardships showed me how God will take care of me and how He’s placed people in my life to help and encourage me. I know God was using those hard times to grow me and He has a purpose for them and for me. And I’m looking forward to where He’ll take me in the new year.

So anyway, here are a few pictures from my mountaintops from the past year. I hope they remind you to persevere and keep going today, trusting that God is going to get you where He wants you, and it will be worth it. Happy New Year!

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