Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Worry About Tomorrow

I've been consumed by worry, living in fear lately. I'm not going to try to get eloquent here, just let God's Word wash over and remind me...

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
- Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thorns, Weeds, Give-away and Hope

Dealing with infertility, pregnancy loss or adoption struggles or know someone who is? I came across a give-away for my book, Hannah's Hope, on the Life {Sweet} Life blog today, open through April 1! The blog author, Sarah, is currently pregnant, but has a heart for those still walking the road of infertility.

Sarah's also got some great things to say about FamilyLife Weekend to Remember. Read my review here or between April 5-26, 2010, register for any upcoming Spring or Fall Weekend to Remember using the promotion code "INVITE" and go for 1/2 price, only $129/couple!

I'm still praying my way through the life of Paul, thus giving a lot of thought to thorns and weeds. Today's post at (in)Courage, Ellie and the Weeds is a sweet reminder to let God be our gardener. (To my infertility/loss friends, the article is built sweet conversations between a mother and her 3-year-old, but this mother has also suffered infant death if this knowledge makes the sweet exchange more readable for you).

I would like to ask your specific prayers for protection over me and for my family as I venture deeper into my Paul writing. I'm starting to see signs that satan's not happy with what God's wanting to accomplish through this book and he's trying to attack us, invading my dreams with ugly images, taking reign over my tongue in ugly words that tear down my loving husband, and bringing a spirit of disorder and discord into our home. In a way I'm thankful for these attacks only because they affirm that I must be on the right track if the old snake would take the time to try to sideline us, but I also know God longs for us to come running to Him with our fears and frustrations, and so I ask you to join me prayer for God to be glorified in and through our family in a time of spiritual warfare.

Would you pray with me that the Lord will keep us steadfast in Him and bring joy and harmony to our home as He speaks truth to me and helps me to rightly divide His Word to share with hearts broken through chronic physical pain and illness? If you would like to join me as a prayer partner for this newest writing project, please leave me a note here or email me at jsaake AT yahoo DOT com and I'll send you periodic prayer updates as the book project continues to unfold. Thank you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Intimate Rain

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree
- Joyce Kilmer

The line that jumps out to me here is, "Who intimately lives with rain." While I've mentioned it before, I can't help but think of Holley Gerth's encouraging devotional book, Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. If you haven't had a chance to read this book yet, I know you will be blessed when you do. I just ordered another two copies to share with friends. Let us intimately live with God, both in the blessings and the rain, Harvesting Hope together in Him.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Temporary Home

"Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives."
2 Peter 2:11-12 (The Message)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Need Your Help for My Next Book

As some of you may know I have been "in the early stages" of writing a book on the life of Paul, specifically his "thorn in the flesh" for the past few years. It is to be an encouraging resource for living with chronic pain and illness. I've been reading, researching, jotting notes, gathering ideas, but for a very long time now it's been only that, a collection of thoughts and ideas that did very little to resemble any attempt at an actual book manuscript. I've been anxious to move forward, but felt over and over that God was telling me to wait. And so I have.

I still don't know how soon, or how far I will make progress, but over the past few weeks I've seen God very gently start taking my random collection of concepts and begin the thrilling process of shaping them into the skeleton of a book outline. I'm hesitant to say I'm actually "writing a book" yet because it's still very early in the process, but I am encouraged that ideas are starting to be pulled together in some semblance of order and I'm hopeful that there may really be a manuscript at the end of this process.

As I wrote Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss, I ended each chapter with a "Burden Bearers" section, based on the story of the four friends who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus and lower him through the roof for healing, along with the concept that God commands us to bear one another's burdens. It was a short section that gave ideas, instruction and insight to friends, family and loved ones of a couple facing fertility challenges.

I would like to do a similar thing with this new book and base chapter closings on various characters who touched Paul's life, men like Timothy, Barnabas and so forth. I would spotlight one "hero" per chapter and look at things that person can teach us about encouraging someone through their thorns.

So here's what I need from you. Please let me know what you would call such sections? I don't want to reuse "Burden Bearer" for this is a new book with a new goal and while I'm copying the concept, I feel like the sections themselves need a unique title. I've played with ideas like "Fellow Travels," "Helping Heroes," "Heroes of Hope" and others, but so far nothing really feels like the right fit. A couple of recurrent themes I plan to use through the book are blindness v/s light/sight (with a different twist than you might expect) and gardening/harvesting v/s thorns/weeds. I'm tossing that out there in case either of these topics help point to a section title idea.

I would also like to start doing monthly testimony spotlights here, spotlighting the lives of people who have touched or influenced my life, sometimes directly, sometimes just in passing by learning of their ministries on the Internet or the personal difference they made in the life of one friend. These are people who are real and flawed and living out daily struggles, but finding joy, Harvesting Hope™ in the midst of the journey. I will probably use the same title for those spotlights as I will use in the working copy of a manuscript (realizing that these section titles will be open to alternative titling by my publisher when the manuscript is reviewed by them).

Please share your suggestions. If you submit one between now and the end of April and I end up selecting it as my blog/section title, I've got a small gift I would like to send your way, so please leave me a valid email address so I can contact you for mailing information if I select you title!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Passover Give Away

Today I discovered this beautiful Messianic Passover line of serving dishes, devotional guides, candlesticks and more, by DaySpring. (To comply with disclosure laws, no, they didn't ask me to promote them, pay me anything to mention them, or offer me free product for review. ;) I'm just excited and want to pass on my find to you!) I love these tangible symbols and tools that can be used as object lessons and ongoing reminders of what hope is truly all about: the sacrifice, pain and willing grief of a King who would choose to become my Servant Savior!

I tried to order this amazing Passover Seder plate this morning, but they sold out just before I placed my order, so I'll be looking for them when they are available again next year. But I was able to order ordered several extra copies of their Passover Devotional booklet and I am considering going back for the Matzah Plate and Passover/Communion Cup as well (both would be great to use for weekly Sabbath Suppers).

While most of the items I've mentioned were still in stock as of the posting of this blog, if you are sad to see that you missed the Seder plate, then head on over to the Extravagant Grace website where Lisa is hosting an "I AM" Messianic Passover give-away for this sold-out item! Lisa even offers you a couple of discount codes to use when you place your DaySpring order. :)

Alone, with your family, with your church, I would encourage you to consider exploring the traditions of Passover this year. Our family journeyed through all the major Jewish holidays together last year and found our Christian faith deepened and enriched as we dug into the rich faith heritage of the family line of Christ. What a better way to prepare our hearts for the celebration of our risen Lord than to remember the journey that took Him to the cross.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tell Me Your Story

I started this blog, like all new blogs, with no "followers" yet. I had ideas of the topics I wanted to address and prayed that some of those posts would in some small way minister to any who found them. But what I didn't yet have was YOU!

Now that Hope Harvesters™ has been around for a while and you have found your way here, I need to hear from you what you would like to receive from this blog. Please take a moment and post a reply. It doesn't have to be long or elegant, but I would love to know something about you.

I would love to hear about the trials and triumphs of your life. What makes your heart sing? What burdens I can help carry and issues I can address that will be of meaning to you? Maybe you can tell me how you found this blog or what brings you back again?

Won't you please, tell me your story...

"Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts."
- Psalm 145:4 (MSG)

"All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day."
- Matthew 13:34 (MSG)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Showers of Blessing

Because I've lived the "drought" of infertility, I'm hyper-sensitive to the fact that my blessings can cause others pain. Similarly, I never know how to reply when I'm sitting with friends and someone who knows well my challenges pipes up with a phrase like, "Well, as long as you have your health, you have everything." It's not that I don't want others to honestly rejoice for what they have, it just seems people should put a filter on their words sometimes, considering the audience upons whose ears their words may fall.

Unfortunately I've lived so tuned into how I might unintentionally hurt others for so long that often I hurt those closest to me by default. I don't always celebrate my kids like I should, because I'm afraid of hurting someone still in the wait. I don't brag on my husband like I should, because I fear stepping on the tender toes of friends facing singleness, divorce or unhealthy marriages.

God's been working on my heart, reminding me that He is the Giver of all good gifts and that it is fine, even proper, to rejoice in what He has given. Sensitivity to hurting hearts is still good and has a place, but sometimes I need to shout His blessings from the rooftop and leave Him to care for those who might be unintentionally tender to my rain-fall-out. It's a delicate balance I'm still trying to work out and would love your input if you have any ideas.

This week I read a "repost to your profile if..." message at Facebook that I wasn't going to post because I immediately thought of several friends hurting over broken relationships. But God prompted me to think of my husband too and so I hesitantly copy/posted, "If you have a wonderful husband that works hard to provide for you and would do anything just for you and your family, then repost this as your status to give the honest, well-behaved men out there the recognition they deserve!♥ Because great men are few and far between, and I have one of them.♥"

Turned out my sweet husband had been having an especially hard week at work and had been feeling devalued by me as well. About an hour later he posted, "Great wives are also in short supply, and I have one of the best!"

Thank you, Father, that You are both found in the desert place and where the streams of abundance flow. Please help me to remember to take time to dance in the rain when you shower it upon my heart. Show me the balance between splashing in the puddles with childlike abandon and childishly splashing my blessings in the faces of those who are thirsty.

In the Season of Rain, Pray for Rain posted at (In)Courage today is a great reminder to be thankful for the blessings God showers upon me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Prayer for Contentment

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

- from The Book of Common Prayer