Humbly Great

The heroine in my current work is a woman who often stares at herself in a mirror and sees the weak and frightened little girl she once was, and yet, each time, as she searches the face in the mirror, she finds the woman God made her to be and she dons a public facade of strength and fortitude, an ever-present byproduct of her unwavering faith.

Sound familiar?

Are any of us really as confident as we try to appear?

At one point in my story, as my heroine falters, my hero tells her he admires her confidence and strong moral compass and his words lift her up, empower her, and help her to believe in herself.

Then her father-in-law compares her to the old violin in the poem The Master’s Hand and for the first time, she sees herself through the eyes of these two men, an instrument of God, a woman of courage and fortitude, a force to be reckoned with. This new perspective gives her courage. She dares to do something great, not just good—everyone can achieve “good”—but truly great. She steps out, beyond her fear, beyond her self-doubt, beyond her grief, to grasp a future bright with hope and faith and love, the things that make a life.

I hope you have people like this in your life, friends or family who bring forth your music and help you to discover your true worth. And I hope too, that you are a force in the lives of those around you.

You could be. We all should be.

Have you touched anyone lately?

For Such a Time as This

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Every now and then we find ourselves at a moment in time that might be considered a turning point in our own life story. I’m at that crossroads. Do I continue to write inspirational fiction for the Christian market or do I try to reach a broader audience, one that includes many who live in darkness, starved for messages of hope, faith, and goodness in a troubled world?

The thing is, Christian readers know the love of God. They already have faith and hope. They’ve found trust and healing. So if I want to reach the broken—which I do—perhaps I shouldn’t be looking among the healed.

I once cut a bouquet of flowers from my garden to give to a neighbor who was struggling with cancer. She’s a lovely woman, inside and out, one of the most live-by-faith people I’ve ever known. I asked her, “Why would God give this [sickness] to you, of all people?”

“Maybe so someone like you would bring me flowers and pray for me,” she said.

Thankfully, my neighbor recovered and as far as I know, she’s still in remission. She has since moved away, but I think of her often, pray for her nightly and remember her words. She touched my life. I’ve gotten much better over the years at reaching out to those in need.

Everything God gives us, the good and the bad, has a purpose.

I come from a broken home. I had a lonely childhood and I was a troubled teen. But maybe all of the challenges I’ve overcome, all of the blessings I’ve enjoyed, all of the personal connections I’ve made, have all led me to this one moment, where I’m called to step beyond my comfort zone, to embark on a more challenging path.

Like Esther, who found herself beloved of a king but afraid to seek his help until her cousin, Mordecai, asked, “And who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?”

Or like Moses, who resisted God’s calling, citing his lack of eloquence. “Who am I to appear before the pharaoh?” he asked. But God encouraged him, gave him a staff to perform miracles and bid him take Aaron to hold him up.

A visiting missionary once said, “Think big! Because you’re worth it. God’s love is worth it.”

Who knows what we might accomplish if we simply believe in ourselves, in who God made us to be?

Are you a Moses or someone’s Aaron? Are you an Esther or someone’s Mordecai? You could be. I could be.

Have you touched anyone lately?

Love Does

Have you heard the story of Two Bunk John? It’s a story in Bob Goff’s beautifully written short-story collection called Love Does. Each chapter details an event that shaped Bob’s life, and what a life!

The book has been out for a few years so maybe I'm late to the game but on the off chance you’ve not read it yet, this post is for you.

Love Does is a definite must-read.

The author, Bob Goff, sees the world from a uniquely wholesome perspective, as though God is in every moment, shaping Bob’s world, his decisions and the people around him. Sure, Bob makes choices that align with his Christ-centered philosophy but what’s awe-inspiring is how he applies his faith to every situation, even events that shaped his childhood.

It’s a norm we all could live by.

Through what he thought was a friendly joke, Bob wound up as the Counsel to the Republic of Uganda. And that was just a start. God had much more in store for Bob and Bob heeded the call. He went on to found Restore International, a non-profit now known as Love Does, to “find daring, productive and effective ways to fight the injustices committed against children” in Africa, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, and India.

In fact, Bob said, “Yes,” often, even when he wasn’t sure, because he trusted the ask was from God.

An accomplished attorney, author, professor and international speaker, Bob lives his faith. Last year he launched the Dream Big Framework, a workshop designed to motivate people to accomplish their biggest dreams and ambitions. “There’s nothing ordinary about Bob’s dynamic approach to life” and he’s sharing his years of experience in transforming big dreams into reality through this latest endeavor.

Oh, and Two Bunk John was a college kid whos plans were to go "off-road" with his life, to follow a path led by faith, not by expectations and predictability.

Yeah, I want to live like that!

Thanks, Bob Goff, for inspiring us with your stories of faith, daring and trust and your example of what it means to lead a Christ-centered life.

Let My Heart be Broken

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." 

Written on the flyleaf of Bob Pierce’s Bible, those words defined the man’s life. Founder of World Vision and later Samaritan’s Purse, Pierce started out in 1947 as an ordained Baptist minister with Youth for Christ. An entrepreneurial, energetic young evangelist, he set out for adventure in China and returned with a life mission.

While in China evangelizing to American servicemen, the poverty, human suffering, and the plight of orphaned children haunted Pierce, and he vowed to mobilize conservative Christians back in the United States to meet their needs.

When asked by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, how to "shake people out of their complacency," Pierce once said he had "become a part of the suffering. I literally felt the child's blindness, the mother's grief. … It was all too real to me…" Pastor Richard Halvorsen wrote that Pierce "prayed more earnestly and importunely than anyone else I have ever known. It was as though prayer burned within him. Bob Pierce functioned from a broken heart."

He wasn’t a perfect man, by any means. He had a temper and often clashed with the World Vision board. He traveled as much ten months of the year. "I've made an agreement with God," he said, "that I'll take care of his helpless little lambs overseas if he'll take care of mine at home."

His devotion to his ministries to the exclusion of all else cost him dearly. In 1963, he suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1967, he resigned from World Vision over differences that left him bitter, displaced and emotionally exhausted. While on a good-bye tour of Asia, his daughter Sharon called and asked him to come home but he refused, planning instead to extend his trip to Vietnam. His wife rushed home to find Sharon had tried to commit suicide. Later that year, she tried again and succeeded.

In 1970, Pierce legally separated from his wife and in 1978 he died of leukemia.

Yet Pierce's ministry lives on—bigger than he could have imagined—in World Vision and Samaritan's Purse. His dedication and compassion still inspire others to serve the poor. 

Thank you, Bob Pierce and family, for all that you have given to the world. You have touched so many and your legacy lives on through these amazing organizations.

Have you touched anyone lately?

From the Top of the Stairs

From the Top of the Stairs

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A five-year-old girl sits at the top of the stairs, crouched above the landing where the steps turn to ascend the last few feet, listening as if her life depends on the conversation below.

It’s Sunday evening and she and her siblings have just returned home from a weekend spent with their father, in his tiny apartment with no furniture.

She hopes her mom isn’t going to yell at him again. Please, please, please, just be nice for once. More than anything, she wants Daddy to come back home, to read her a bedtime story, tuck her in, kiss her goodnight. Things her mom says she doesn’t have time for anymore. She misses him.

It became a routine, those Sunday evenings, her mom always asking him for money then yelling when it wasn’t enough.

The little girl was too young to understand the enormous strain her mother was under, a single parent struggling to raise six kids on her own with very little, if any, financial help. Her dad probably did what he could but money was tight even before he left.

She remembers the landlord threatening to put them out on the street, her mom pleading for more time. Sometimes their electricity was shut off, occasionally the heat. When she was five, she didn’t know why. She just blamed her mom for driving Daddy away. As she sat there at the top of the stairs, her pudgy hands clasped tightly over her ears against the yelling, she heard the same things over and over and eventually, the door would slam and she’d race down the steps.

“I can’t believe you yelled at him again!” she screamed, bursting into tears. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Then she’d run upstairs to her room and cry herself to sleep, no bedtime story, no one to tuck her in, not even a kiss goodnight.

The little girl started kindergarten that year and in the afternoons she went next door to be looked after by a kind elderly lady, Mrs. Wyatt, who treated her daycare kids to a Bible study. Eager to learn to read, the youngster memorized Bible verses and learned very quickly, “Even when you think no one loves you, Jesus does.” It’s a lesson that has lasted her a lifetime.

The child’s hopes—that Daddy would come back to them—became prayers. Her whole life she prayed her parents would get back together, until a few years ago when her mother, bedridden with terminal cancer, moved into her father’s home, at his request, so that he could take care of her. She died there in his house.

It wasn’t exactly the answer to her prayers the now grown woman had hoped for. But it was an answer.

God bless you, Mrs. Wyatt, for being that little girl’s rock, for teaching her early on that even when she thought no one loved her, Jesus did. And for teaching her the power of prayer. Thank you for seeing the potential in her and for sharing His light that now shines on through her unique gifts. You touched her life.

Have you touched anyone lately?