The Legend of the Candy Cane

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg tells the story of a man who moves to a new town and opens a candy shop.  He explains to a little girl the meaning of the candy cane, saying it looks like the letter J for Jesus and if you turn it upside down, its the shepherd’s staff.  The white represents us after we’ve given ourselves to Jesus (washing away our sins we become pure) and the red stripes represents Jesus’s suffering and blood when he died on the cross.

The story is followed by the true story of what we know about the candy cane (it was made to resemble the shepherd’s staff) and what we don’t.

Great read.  Great Christmas story.  Great ideas.  Great way to talk about Jesus to kids who know Him and those who don’t.

What’s Wrong with Self-Help Books?

Our BSF lecture last week insinuated there was something wrong with self-help books.  I immediately bristled.

As some of you know, I’m working on myself, trying to grow and fix some of “me”, smooth out the rough edges and I have chosen to do this through God’s word, prayer, and books.  Most of these books are self-help books.

The argument was made, “People look to themselves rather than God when they read these books.”  I think this is a valid argument if you do indeed rely on self-help books only instead of God.

But self-help books combined with God is a powerful tool.  I read books and I get ah-ha moments.

God speaks through people.  People write books (like myself).  And I believe God helps me write and He uses me to convey His message.  So why wouldn’t He help others?  Why wouldn’t God give us the gift of books through others to know Him better?  It sounds a lot like what the Bible is, doesn’t it?  Others words inspired by God and a chronicle of Jesus’s life–words written down so we can know Him.

Most of the books I read have God as a critical component in it.  It’s psychological advice accompanied by a strong message of faith and prayer.  It’s powerful.  It gives you ideas you normally wouldn’t see (I haven’t studied psychology) so you can become more like Jesus.

I believe God knows just what to put in my hands at just the right time.  Besides His word, books that teach life lessons that you can apply are powerful.  They challenge me to think, to analyze, to delve into my past, to see things through others’ eyes, to see me through others’ eyes.  They tell me things people would never tell me.

I agree self-reliance can lead to a powerful fall.  But I see nothing wrong with the desire to improve yourself and looking at other places in addition to the Bible and prayer.

Your thoughts?

How Does it Feel to Pray to Jesus?

This was a google that landed on my site.  And after a moment, I thought it was a REALLY good question.

How does it feel to pray to Jesus?  I’ll give you my response and then I’d love to hear everyone else’s.

It feels:  comforting, good, safe, happy, loving, relaxing, relieving, beautiful, joyful, heavy-hearted at times, and wonderful.

When I sit down to pray, when I lay it all on the line and say, “Ok, God, here it is” something is lifted off of my shoulders, I can breathe afterwards, and I can continue on with my day a bit lighter.  Sometimes I still try to carry my burdens by myself but throughout the day He constantly reminds me I am not alone.  I always end the day lighter than I began it.

Safe is my favorite descriptive word.  I can tell God anything, things I would never tell others and I’m never judged in return.  In fact, I feel He embraces me in my darkest hours–when no one else could or when I don’t allow anyone else to.  He’s there.  Always.  And we can talk about anything.

Sometimes I am mad at God.  I do question His ways because I don’t understand them.  I question my earthly existence and things that happen.  But I never question Him.

Praying is one of the best gifts God has given us.  It’s a way to Him, through Jesus, that sometimes is the only thing we have to hang on to.  Prayer is the only thing we have when we receive the phone call in the middle of the night and the rest of our body is numb and our brain has shut down.  God gets us through and praying is how we can connect with Him.

The more you pray, the more you feel God, know God, and love God.  The more you pray, the easier life is.

Prayer is a critical component to knowing God.  And it’s one of the easiest.  You can do it anytime, anywhere.

All it takes is “God…”  The rest is taken care of.

The Little Soul Series

I picked up two children’s books at the library, having known nothing about them, which were fabulous.

The first, The Little Soul and the Sun, is a conversation with God and a child as the child (Little Soul) tries to figure out who he is.  This has a lot of imagery about being the Light and is a bit abstract, which for my little kids, I think went over their heads but they liked it anyways.

The best line in this book is God says, “Always remember:  I have sent you nothing but angels.”

A part that went over my kids’ heads but I liked was when the person sent to help Little Soul learn to forgive tells him, “Remember who I am in the moment I do the worst to you.”

I’m not for sure if we’re supposed to remember God in these moments or remember the better part of the person hurting you but I liked either one, especially as it applies to relatives because sometimes people hurt us in the heat of the moment and if we remember who they are, it is easier to forgive.

The better one in my opinion, the one not quite-so-theoretical, is The Little Soul and the Earth, which continues with God sending Little Soul to be born and experience forgiveness.

This book has great timeless messages such as:  God is always with you.  He sends a guardian angel to be by your side always.  Mommy and Daddy are love and to get more love you simply must give it away.  Giving away love can be as simple as smiling.

The guardian angel tells Little Soul only one thing is necessary:  faith in God.  “You’ve got to believe that you’ll always have everything you need.  You’ve got to believe that God is on your side.”

This was great for me to hear, not just my kids.

Both books are by Neale Donald Walsch.  These books are based on the Conversations with God series, which I have not read and am in no way endorsing.  I don’t know anything about the author.  I read the on-line reviews of the book, curious as to where these stories came from and some were scathing.  Since I have no idea, I’m remaining neutral.

Just to be clear:  I’m recommending the children’s books, not the adult books.

The Answers I Seek Lie In God’s Word

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “Just open the Bible to any page, start reading, and you’ll find an answer to your problems.”

Lately, for whatever reason, I had been thinking this is hokey.  I mean, if I’m looking for comfort, wouldn’t I turn to the pages on comfort?

But, Day 5 of Lesson 19 in BSF changed all of my thinking, gave me peace in my myriad of minor problems, and turned my thinking around.

I was wallowing in self-pity again when I completed Day 5 and wrote this conclusion: “There is no other Rock.”  This sums it up for me.  If God were my Rock in every situation every day of my life, I’d be a lot happier and much more fulfilled and joyful.  Only God can fill me.  If I am full of God, then there is no room left for miscellaneous ‘idol’ distractions, mini-crises, or unnecessary drama.  God and His blessings would rule.  The Devil would have no place to hide.

This was from Isaiah 44, a passage that didn’t seem to have any bearing on my current dilemma or state of mind.  But the universal truths of God as my Rock struck me and made me realize He wasn’t my Rock in this situation.  He wasn’t my Rock in my mind.  In fact, He was dwelling far away.

I sat and meditated on this fact for a while.  I have been stressed lately:  we’re trying to decide where to move and when and the indecision is getting to me.  Hence, minor little things have been blowing up all around me.  And I haven’t been turning to God’s word for the answers.  I’ve been praying but doing little else.

Until I read Isaiah.  Then I realized (again) God was not my center.  He is my Rock.  And if I’d just slow down for a few minutes and remember that, everything else would fall into place around Him.

I must remember to pray before I flip out.  Pray in every situation.  Read His word and find comfort as it speaks to me.  And all of it (the Bible) speaks to me.

Keep God first.  Remember His faithfulness.  He will do the rest.

My Chincoteague Pony

I hadn’t meant to blog about this book but I had to share the message because I think it’s powerful.

This was actually a book I placed on hold, thinking it a mere pony book (and my girls like most love ponies)!  But the message turned out to be anything but simple.

It’s the story of a girl who has dreamed all her life of owning a pony.  So, she works all summer in order to attend the Chincoteague auction so she can buy a wild pony.  She travels to the auction with her mom and she bids on every pony but is outbid by everyone.  She slowly realizes she doesn’t have enough money to buy a pony and starts to cry.  The woman next to her says, “Don’t give up.  Keep calling out your bid.  Persistence pays off,” and she hands her $20.  Then everyone around her starts handing her dollars.

She has enough money to buy the last pony auctioned which is the one she actually wanted.

Here’s the best part:

“I have a lot of work to do,” the girl tells her mom.  “I have to save all of my money and come back next year.”

“Isn’t one pony enough?” her mother asks.

“No.  I am going to give my money to another girl so that she can buy a pony of her own.”

Now, I’ve read A LOT of kids’ books but this is the first one I’ve read where paying it forward is the central theme.  It’s so simply taught that even the littlest ones will catch the message of the importance of helping others just like you have been helped.

God is everywhere, isn’t He?

This book is by Susan Jeffers who is an excellent author and story-teller.  We’ve read many of her books but this one is by far the best I’ve read.  In her forward, Jeffers says this is based on a true story she witnessed when she was at Pony Penning Day in Chincoteague.  This just makes this story even better.

It touches my heart when kids help other kids and with all the negativity out there this is the kind of story I want my kids to hear over and over again.

This is Worse Than Writer’s Block

Ever have one of those days where everything you write is crappy?

That’s my day today.  Nothing sounds right.  Everything is repetitive.  No brilliant thoughts or analogies. Just plain and simple and to be frank, horrible, words strung together.  My 7 year old can write better than this sometimes.  Every word stinks worse than a skunk on a hot summer day.

I think I’d rather have writer’s block than these days because I get the sense I’m a failure.  I keep thinking, “This sucks!  Maybe I’m not meant to be a writer.  I should just quit now and forever hold my peace.”

Writer’s block is legitimate.  It’s where nothing comes to mind.  But it’s something you work through or just return later when the creative juices are flowing.

Bad writing is a sense you can never improve this stuff so why bother.  The only solution is to stop and come back later.  But I always wonder, “Will it get better later or can you improve something that is just bad?”

There are bad writers out there and these days I list myself amongst them.  I just pray I’m a good writer tomorrow.