Cultivating An Adventurous Faith

imageYoung people are looking to live for something worth dying for. When we walk out our Christianity, we model a way of life to which they can aspire.

However, familiarity can breed contempt. What seems familiar to them may not seem exciting or worth their full attention.

How do we keep them on the course when they are restless for adventure?

Can we help them to see the Christian faith for the risky, radical, and revolutionary adventure that it is?

Friends, I am over at Family Fire today…will you join me?

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When Sacred Is A Walk Down The Hall – TOYS Guest Post by Shelly Miller

Shelly is one of my dearest friends. She is on the top of my list of bloggers I long to meet in person. She is gracious and kind, and her words drip with wisdom. The lessons that she finds in the common are uncommon, and the beauty she finds in the ordinary is extraordinary. If you aren’t a regular reader of her amazing blog Redemption’s Beauty, you should be. I savor her posts like Cadbury’s chocolate! So, sit back and relax and read her stuff, I think you’ll begin to understand why I love her so much!

A few weeks ago, I touched the hallowed walls of destiny in England. Leaned my head back to gaze upon the intricacy of church ceilings built one thousand years ago by the hands of those budded from my ancestral tree. I wiped my palms across the back of sturdy wooden pews, combining my DNA with those of centuries past.

Meandering around headstones, I read of a life’s imprint to the world once etched deep and now fading. And with every step around mossy pediments, I unlace my soul, allow room for history to reveal more of who I am.
While I don’t have the luxury of daily strolls of awe under vaulted ceilings of incense ribbons and angels waving, I experience the sacred of place right in the abbey of my own home.

When I began this intentional writing journey less than one year ago, I created my own room reserved for reverence. Not with clustered columns and arched windows but a quiet space to welcome His voice tucked away from stacks of mail and sinks of sudsy dishes.

On special occasions, this space is my guest bedroom, a place where friends and family spread out for coastal visits. During ordinary time, it’s my sanctuary. A space consecrated to God, a spiritual place.

My pew is a writing chair from Pier One, my altar, a re-painted childhood desk. The window that casts the first ray of sunshine’s welcome isn’t made of stained glass but it does reveal a secret garden outside my cathedral walls.
This is the place where I meet with my Savior, my friend, my Father, in the early morning hours of silence. The space where He guides thoughts that spill onto keyboard, into arrangements of words that tell His story.

In England, I marveled upon portraiture that resembles the profile of my children, admired the spoons from which ancient fingers curled in the breaking of bread. Today I look upon the words of friends and colleagues hanging memory board, eat from the Bread of Life in stacks of inspired writing, admire His creation cut in a vase beholding beauty.
Because surrounding ourselves with what tells the story of who we are today, sheds light on God’s providence in the future.

Susannah Wesley, the mother of nineteen children, pulled an apron over her head in the kitchen for moments of sacred space. Jesus slipped away to the side of a mountain in a secluded spot; in a rowboat to the middle of the sea when life pressed hard. (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16)

And when my heart hangs dripping from the clothesline of life, I look out my abbey window, watch the birds eating riches from the feeder, and remember who much He loves me, who I am. And I am thankful.
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? ~Matthew 6:26

Do you have a sacred space where you meet with Jesus?

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!


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Getting Away With God: TOYS Linkup and Guest Post by Paula Wiseman

Paula Wiseman is wildly successful. Not because she has a growing blog. Not because she’s written several novels. Not because she’s been published like a millions times. No, Paula is successful because she’s figured out who she is and how God wants to use the unique qualities that He has given her to glorify Him. You MUST check out Paula’s website and browse around. She has been so successful in so many different genres that she will inspire you no matter what track you are on. Best of all, Paul is aware that she is His Bride, and she tells us about a time that He whisked her away on a special getaway.

In 2008, I was at a critical spot in my faith. God and I were wrestling through some major issues. (I suppose, in truth, I was the only one wrestling. He was patiently waiting for me to get it.) I felt like the father in Mark 9:24 who cries out to Jesus in desperation over his demon-possessed son, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” I knew there are gaps in my faith, but I wanted a deep, intimate, intense relationship with God. My husband, Jon, suggested a beach vacation. So I went away with God.

I went alone. No computer, and absolutely nothing I ‘needed’ to work on. Just me, some books I’d been wanting to read, my Bible and my notebook. (And my cell phone- I can’t be totally gadget free).

Sun, sand and ocean- my favorites. I was ready for a Damascus Road experience with God. In fact, I walked out to the beach when I arrived and said, “God, what do You want to tell me?”

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as I envisioned, but no less true. He said two things. (Now when I say ‘God said’, I don’t mean I heard Him with my ears. What I got was a distinct, fresh thought in my mind.) God said, “You are worthy because I chose you.” I’ve got a lot of emotional baggage and struggle with self-worth issues. God knows this about me and He wanted me to understand my worthiness rests with Him, and not me. Because of that, nothing I do or don’t do can change my worth. He imputes that worth to me just as sure as He gives righteousness and salvation.

The second thing came as I watched a mother hold her little boy’s hands, helping him jump over the incoming waves. God said, “I will not stop the waves, but I will never let go of your hand.” He knows that any time I read His word, especially in Psalms, that the descriptions of waves or floods always mean some of this emotional turmoil I battle on occasion. Apparently, the battle will never end this side of heaven, but He will never abandon me, never leave me to fight for myself, never let me be swept under.

I bought a bracelet in a souvenir shop as a reminder. It lasted a few months. So I bought another. It broke too. I’m on my fourth bracelet. The promises, however, remain unbroken. I am worthy because He chose me. He will never let go of my hand.


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Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!”? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!


A Mother’s Day Visit

I’m visiting over at Stefanie Brown’s place, Uplifting Words, today. I am so honored to be part of a Mother’s Day double feature there!! I have found that each stage of motherhood is precious. Whether it’s staring at your precious package the day you’ve given birth, or shopping for college dorm rooms, every day has been an adventure. In celebration of the stages in life, and by Stefanie’s request, I wrote about what it’s like to be at this stage of motherhood…the almost empty-nester. I hope you’ll join me in reminiscing with The Seeds of Motherhood.

On In Around button

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

Cleaning Up the City – Guest Post by Kimberly Dawn Rempel

I don’t exactly remember when I met Kim, but I do remember that I was excited to find someone with four important things in common. 1) our first names 2) our middle names 3) service to our communities 4) love for the Savior. What great things to base a friendship on! She has a lovely place in the blogosphere called From The Heart Online, you really should check it out! And now, without further delay, here is her piece on one of the ways her family shows her community the love of God.

Hundreds of others (each one in a bright yellow Tee) spread across the city with gloves and bags, on the hunt for trash. Eleven churches work together to keep this city tidy each spring.

Cool, eh?

I wanted to get in on it, but no way would I drag my kids into community service. They’ve got to want it….

Join me over at my other blog What in the Word R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake? for the rest of the story.

We’re Walking Each Other Home – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga

Emily needs no introductions here a Painting Prose, because she’s the reason we’ve been spending time together on Wednesday and Thursdays. We love her, don’t we? And it’s time for me to walk you home to her place, because next week Imperfect Prose will be resuming. Thank you for the privilege of hosting this most beautiful community. I have loved every minute of it.

i made spaghetti last night, and it might have been a mistake. but i drank my glass of white wine and wound noodles round my fork while the boys slopped red across the kitchen.

“what’s this called?” joey asked, pulling the noodle between his lips and i told him it’s “slurping.” slurping noodles. one of life’s grandest and least classy of learnings.

“God is everywhere and all around and in every people?” he asked me then, my god-son who’s living with us while his mom finishes school. and his brother slapped at his lettuce leaves as kasher rolled around in his walker muttering to himself and aiden ate parmesan cheese.

and trent and i, searching out the door for patches of blue.

“yes, yes he is,” i said.

“he’s sitting here beside me, and in the bathtub, and all over my bed?” Joey asked. spaghetti all over his bathrobe and face and there’s not enough soap in the world…

“that’s right.”

no blue sky today, just one heavy cloud. i drank my wine a little too quickly and look at the clock. perhaps we could get them to bed a bit earlier tonight.

but then it was as though the years heaved and i could hear them growing, these boys all gangly and long, like sentences winding into paragraphs. and i hadn’t taken the time to read them, for the hurry to wash behind their ears and mop the floor and take out the trash. i hadn’t stopped to make them laugh, to find out their favorite color, to race them in the soggy spring grass.

God is everywhere and in all things and every people and he’s here among us in our children. if we would only look closer. and he’s in all of us, all awkward and gangly and it’s this that i want to celebrate with you. this awkwardness. this beauty of being clumsy and far-sighted and absolutely adored by the Creator of the Universe.

so let’s take the time to read each other. to marvel as sentences weave into paragraphs. let’s not try to perfect what only heaven can. instead, let’s be messed-up weirdos, walking each other home.

and i think i was mistaken. there was blue sky all along. i was just looking in the wrong places.

(this coming wednesday, on april 11, we’ll be re-starting ‘imperfect prose on thursdays’: a place for the broken to band together; a place to call home. things have changed a bit, but the premise is the same. so won’t you join me? and in the meantime, will you help me give dear kd sullivan a standing ovation for her humble hosting these past weeks? she is God’s grace in my life. love you all.)

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!


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Running The Race Against Human Trafficking by Tara Pohlkotte

Tara’s words drip like honey. You’ll have to see it for yourself here and here. But what I admire most about her is that her feet are following her words and heart. So many of us are well intentioned, and yet…that’s as far as it goes. Please join me as I delight in getting to know my world changing friend better…

I have this vibrant, full of life daughter.

She is beautiful because of how present she is in each moment, how in tune she is with her surroundings. She dreams of big things and far off places. She knows her future is wide and unending.

I have these other daughters, too.

Ones that I don’t know by name, but have been called to love. These daughters know a life where the only way of survival is to shut down. Block out the horrors of being sold. Of a number pinned on a red dress replacing their identity, their soul. They also dream of far off places, but only as a means of escaping their reality. The future to these daughters is to just make it through one.more.night. To read the rest of the story please join Tara at my other blog What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake…

It’s Not Nice to be Mean – Guest Post Adela Crandell Durkee – Painting Prose

Adela’s Once A Little Girl was one of the first blogs I stumbled upon as I began my blogging habit. I’ve been hooked ever since! She’s made me laugh out loud on several occasions, and then in the middle of my laughter, she’s brought a catch in my voice with a point driven home.  Adela’s words are written with such nostalgia and her voice brings me back to so many sweet memories. She is also the first blogger I found who lived in the same metropolis as I do…and we’re even meeting up at a writer’s conference soon! Needless to say, I can’t wait to hug her neck. I’m sure you will enjoy writing as much as I have!

When I was a little girl it was important to be nice.  Captain Kangaroo told me the magic words:  “Abracadabra, Please and Thank you.”  If I forgot, Mom or Dad reminded me, “Now what are the magic words?”
When I was in Kindergarten, I had a bunch of teachers, one at a time, most of the names I forgot, but I remember Mrs. Brown.  She was mean.  My older sister, Deanna, had Mrs. Markley; she was just like a grandma, so nice.  For some reason Mrs. Markley was out of school when I got to Kindergarten, I never figured out why; I thought maybe she died, ’cause teachers lived in the school, so if she wasn’t there, she must have died.  But the next year, Mrs. Markley was back; all the rest of the kids in my family had Mrs. Markley. I wondered where she went the year I started school.
The new teacher, Mrs. Brown was not nice; she was mean. Mrs. Brown told me I had to drink white milk, no chocolate milk, even if that’s what Mom wrote down for me to order.   “We don’t need to bother Mr. Rex with all these special orders.”  Mrs. Brown told the class.  Mr Rex always smiled when he delivered the milk. He was in charge of the whole school, he had a chain hooked to his belt with keys to every door in the entire school,  and he was super-nice.  Mr. Rex was the janitor.

Mrs. Brown had big “bowls” that hung way down below her waist; when she bent over they brushed on the table, and she kept a wrinkly hankie tucked in her belt.  I think she used the same hankie all week.  Her face was all pinched and grumpy like her hair got pulled back in her bun too tight so she was starting to get a headache, and she smelled like cottage cheese and boiled eggs.  One day she passed out brown construction paper with a picture of a leaf on it.
“You can color your leaf any color you want, because fall leaves are colorful.”  she told us.  I colored mine yellow, like the hickory tree in the field behind my house; Mom put hickory nuts in the cookies she baked.  Dale colored his leaf green.  Mrs. Brown picked up Dale’s leaf and held it up for everyone to see.  I thought she was gonna tell us how beautiful it was, ’cause everything he did was the best; I loved Dale.
“Children.”  she said.  Mrs. Brown always called us ‘children’, I don’t think she knew our real names.
“Look at this leaf.”  she pulled her eyebrows down low and together, so they touched each other.  That was not a nice face to pull, I knew that.
“No Fall leaves are green.”  Now she was shouting and Dale looked like he wanted to cry, except he knew that big boys don’t cry, and he wanted everyone to know he was a big boy.  It’s okay for big girls to cry.  No one told me that, but I saw Mom cry lots of times, sometimes she even cried what she called happy tears, like when Dad gave her something nice on Mother’s Day when she thought he forgot,  and me and Bonita had already made her mad by picking lilacs and breaking some of the branches down, and she tried hard to act happy.  So I knew big girls cry for all kinds of reasons, but not big boys, they never cry.  If big boys feel like crying they just swallow hard, till the feeling goes away.  Dale was  swallowing  so hard pretty soon he was going to have a stomach ache.
I piped right up, ’cause I had a really good memory.  “You said we could color them any color we wanted.  Remember?”  I probably don’t need to tell you that my helping made things a whole lot worse.
That night after supper, I told Dad that Mrs. Brown was mean.  He sat me on his lap and listened to the whole story.  One really good thing about my Dad, he was a very good listener.  He listened to every bit:  about the milk, about the coloring the leaves,  about Dale swallowing hard, and about me reminding Mrs. Brown.  I left out the part about how I loved Dale, but he might have known anyway.  Sometimes he knew stuff, the way Mom did, although his powers were a bit weaker.
“Maybe she just had a bad day.’ he offered.
“If that was it, she has an awful lot of bad days.  Like every day.”  I looked up into his blue eyes; they were calm and clear, like her was figuring out an arithmetic problem in his head.
“Well, tomorrow, I want you to go right up to Mrs. Brown, put on your best smile and say, ‘Good morning, Mrs. Brown.  How are you today?’  I bet that will get her day off to a good start, and things will go a whole lot better.”  I must have looked doubtful, ’cause then he said, “You’ve got the best smile I ever saw.  That smile will charm the socks right off Mrs. Brown.”
I still had my doubts, and I wasn’t that interested in seeing Mrs. Brown’s feet, but the idea of her socks flying off was pretty funny, so I started to laugh. Besides that, Dad knew a lot, like how to tell arrowheads from rocks and how to tie a hook on a fishing line, so I trusted him.  The next day, I marched right up to Mrs. Brown, and said just like Dad told me:  “Good morning Mrs. Brown.  How are you today?”
She smiled right down at me and said.  “Now, don’t dawdle, go hang your coat up.”  I was thinking about saying “Abracadabra, please and thank you.”  but I wanted that smile to stay right where it was, so I stayed quiet.
A couple of weeks later, Mrs. Brown was gone, and we had a new teacher, who must have been nice, because I would have remembered another mean one.  I found out years later, that the principal asked Mrs. Brown to “step down’ and she did.  I heard she suffered from depression, which in those days, went undiagnosed for most people.  I’m glad that Dad gave me the advice he did; I got to feel like I had a little control, while the parents worked things out behind the scene.    Of course I’m not always nice;  it’s good to know I have a (w)itch  in my tool belt when I really need her,  but I prefer to be nice.  I feel a lot better about myself and I end up feeling better about whatever meanie I come up against.  And I try to keep in mind, that the meanie might be dealing with problems that are far beyond my comprehension. Besides, smiling is infectious, and I love smiling.

Drop a note in the comment section to let Adela know how much you enjoyed hearing about her childhood.

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!


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When Fear Postpones the Birth of Dreams – Guest Post by Shelly Miller – Painting Prose

What more can I say other than that I adore Shelly’s writing? I am thrilled beyond words to hear her mention the four-letter b word, “book”, and can not wait until she shares her thoughts with the world. Her prose is full of images both visual and experiential. In this piece, I see daffodils waving in the wind, and I feel the heartache of letting a child mature…and as usual, she stirs my emotions with her poetry in prose. Please accept my invitation to visit her beautiful blog…Redemption’s Beauty.

Daffodils stand at attention in perfect rows, their yellow faces saluting the sun. Branches sway windy, waving pink fairy dust as I breathe the beauty of what blurs past my windshield. New life pops confetti on bare branches and today, I let go of my daughter’s hand. Watch her dance the last stanzas of childhood in this circle of life we share.
She turns sixteen today. A day she begins to collect her own packet of seeds to scatter. (Mark 4)
Because aren’t we all farmers of what he gives?
Yesterday I squeezed her dimpled knuckles. Today, wearing wet hair and tall boots, she drives away in her white Volvo with cardboard owl swinging from the mirror, pop music vibrating.
Later, in the quiet empty, I wipe off the syrup pitcher, put her dirty dishes in the sink, notice the pile of cards holding checks from friends stacked neatly beside her place at the bar. Pieces of hope paper stacked for the promise of a mission trip to Jamaica.
Sixteen years ago, H caught me standing in the closet sobbing silent tears over my pregnant stomach. Fear puddled out in knowing what my mind could not comprehend. That this life inside would change me, change us forever. I didn’t know how to master cultivating a successful life.
Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?
A book of invisible pages revealed to the muse in whispers by the author, at the turn of each day.

Last night, I crawl into bed next to my husband, sigh deep and he asks me what I am thinking.
I share my brick on the chest feeling over the birth of this book-writing journey. How words stumble when someone asks me why I haven’t started the book yet. Because I don’t know how to conquer this petrifying perfectionism that needs to know the outcome before I start something new.
Sixteen years later, I am pregnant once again, gasping for breath and knowing I won’t know the outcome about this either. The fear of failure postpones birth.
When He gave me my own packet of seeds all those years ago, they came with simple instructions. Just plant, water and weed. The outcome, well that is His job.
I cannot see all of the beautiful blooms yet on the life that is my daughter; what color they will be, how tall they will grow, how long they will remain on the vine. I cannot linger over the engraved letters on the spine of the book penned in my name, know how many hands will hold it, or how it will transform a life.
But I will continue to do my part: plant, water and weed.
I will wait on Him for the outcome.

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Mark 4:20 ESV
Are you stuck because of fear of the failure? Has it kept you from birthing a dream?

Please take the time to comment and let Shelly know how much this piece blessed you!

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!


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