Category Archives: Christian faith

The Source of Harvest

 

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A dear friend gave me a beautiful flowering plant called “Oxalis.

This particular species’ leaves are a deep maroon color and each is shaped like a triangle. Oxalis triangularis is what I have. They bear pale pink trumpet shaped flowers. I placed the plant on the window sill, and when it got bigger, I re-planted it to a bigger terra cotta pot. All year that beautiful plant gave me joy.

Then, my oxalis seemed to grow weaker. The leaves became sparce and fewer flowers decorated its foliage.

It seemed to refuse any of my nurturing, or watering, or plant food.

Finally, I gave up and put the dying plant in my cool storage room and forgot about it. I felt a kind of grief, like when the vibrant reds and oranges of fall give way to bare branches.

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Next year, I needed a good-sized terra cotta pot for some new pansies I’d picked up at a local plant sale. I took the pot I’d used for my now-dead oxalis, turned the soil, added more potting mix and fertilizer, then planted the new pansies.

I put the pot of pansies out on my bistro table on my deck. Each morning I enjoyed coffee out on the deck, savoring the beauty and variety of colors and textures, of the dappling of sunlight across the banister and over my impatiens, pansies, and marigolds, and geraniums.

Then something almost miraculous happened. In the middle of summer, a speck of maroon-colored foliage peeked through the green leaves of my pansies.

What?

Sure enough, as I delved through the greenery and bright purples and pinks of the pansies I saw the children of my oxalis straining beyond the shadows to reach life-giving light.

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The two plants lived harmoniously for the rest of the summer and into the fall. But as the weather has cooled, the pansies have reached the end of their time-lines. But the oxalis will live on.

That plant goes through cycles where it seems to wither and die. But wait a while. Leave it. Go away and look at something else. And when the time is right, come back and scratch into the soil and find a new creation, straining upward.

This is the story of the miracle of God’s creative power. Like the oxalis, we artists—made to reflect God’s image—also go dormant at times. It is not strange, as I once thought about the oxalis. I didn’t understand about such things.

But as writer, I have found that we must be patient when we cycle in and out of creativity and productivity. We need those quiet times while we rest from our frantic pace of growth and reproduction. We must let our minds lie fallow for a time.

And trust God to prepare the new seeds for germination and to enliven the old, dried up roots.

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In the book of Galations, Paul is speaking about those who live to please God, how they will reap a harvest of everlasting life. And for Christian writers, as well as others who love God and seek to care for others, we can draw the same conclusion.

Here is what Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

 

 

 

A Single Thread

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There’s a wonderful song from the Disney movie, The Prince of Egypt that goes:

“A single thread in a tapestry though its colors brightly shine, can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design.”

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I’ve typed out the text to that entire song and pinned it onto my bulletin board in my office. I often refer back to the words, “a single thread,” because it reminds me that there is a much larger work going on in the world that transcends the tracks of my little footprints.

But …

the little part that I  decorate in this tapestry is woven by a Designer who has a purpose.

I am just one person who happens to volunteer each Friday at Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic. I have no idea whose life I will touch each day as I walk through those doors at nine AM for my four-hour shift. In fact, most of the time it’s the other volunteers and staff and clients who touch me. Their stories  inspire me to keep praying for this wonderful organization, and to keep me coming back week to week.

Recently I met a lovely lady who’d been assigned to me for an Earn While You Learn twelve-week series of meetings. I’ll call her Lora, but that’s not her real name. Lora made it clear in our first meeting that she had no interest in God or any spiritual aspect of the sessions, just wanted to learn all she could about healthy pregnancy, delivery, and how to raise and nurture a young child.

It became clear to me as we talked that Lora was highly intelligent and diligent. She always did her homework assignments and when we watched videos, she was quick to apply the  information presented to her own life and marriage. We did much more that simply watch videos and fill out worksheets. We talked, and discussed, asked and answered questions, and shared information about our past experiences, our educational background, and life goals.

As the weeks flew by, Lora and I began to strongly connect, and we reached a level of trust where I was able to tell her, “I’m praying for you and your baby,” and she said she appreciated it.

One morning, out of the blue, Lora asked, “Are you a volunteer?” Which surprised me because I was pretty sure I’d told her in the first meeting that client/mentors are mainly volunteers. I told her yes.

Lora shook her head in wonder. “You mean you aren’t paid to do this?”

“Nope,”  I answered. “I just love people and want them to have the best start they can when their babies arrive.”

“That’s amazing, ’cause this is a lot of work for you.”

“It’s work, but you make it fun work.”

“And all the baby clothes and diapers and the other stuff in the baby store, who provides them?”

“They’re all donations.”

Lora is a hard-working, independent sort of gal. The kind who made her way through life by dint of a strong will and a good brain. Maybe it seemed strange to her that so many people would give of their time or their resources just so a stranger—not family, not friends, nor associates— could benefit.

I could see the wheels turning. I sure would have loved to see if Lora’s mind concluded that the love for God can indeed translate into a love for people.

On Lora’s twelfth week, we exchanged business cards, exchanged gifts, and gave each other a heart-felt hug.

I haven’t heard from Lora in the last few weeks, but I pray for her still. In some small way that I can’t see, the “grand design” was for me to meet Lora, connect with her, and show her how much I care for her.

Who knows, maybe my “single thread in a tapestry,” will be woven with other ‘threads’ in Lora’s life, leading her to seek out more people who are God-lovers and people-lovers.

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What If?

 

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What if you took the train instead of driving to your cousin’s home out of state?

What if you went to another college?

What if you decided not to accept the job offer and, instead, chose to work as an intern at a non-profit?

What if you’d married that other guy?

What if you traveled the world instead of working that summer between your junior and senior year in college?

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Have you ever thought how your life might be different today if a you had made a different decision a year ago, or even twenty years ago?

Six months ago, my publisher, Write integrity Press, released Haven’s Hope, book two in my series, The Hunted. The book had gone through a few months of intense re-writes, and I thought, hey, why not let the reader see the parts that didn’t get included in the final product? These “deleted scenes” include lots of entertaining chapters. It shows my main character, Haven, having a completely different experience, one that leads her to a different set of challenges and dangers.

 

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So, if you’d like to receive this (completely free) Pdf. simply go to the front page of my website, then click on the subscribe button to receive my newsletter. Once you’ve done that,  you’ll be able to download the Pdf. “Haven’s Hope: Deleted Scenes.

And with this novella-length offering, I’ve also included a discussion guide and a letter from me, the author.

And, as always, blessings on your day!

Dena

It’s All Connected

A few months ago I put out a call on social media for anyone interested in reading my newest release, Haven’s Hope. One of those who responded was a lovely gal named Katie. Katie wrote a review for my book and posted it on Amazon. Thank you, Katie.

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Then Katie asked if I happened to know any people who had gone on short term missions or any missionaries who had ever hosted short-term missionaries. She wants to write a book on the subject. It could be any missionary, going anywhere in the world. I said I thought I could do some asking and perhaps gather some names and email addresses.

 

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So, a couple of weeks went by during which I contacted some folks at my church who were able to supply me with email addresses I could give to Katie.

I sent them along, and she thanked me.

Yesterday, Katie sent me a very nice thank you note, letting me know that my one email address plus two additional names netted even more interviews than she’d hope for. Katie posted on Facebook some of her interview with the missionary whose address I had supplied, which then came to the attention of an editor of ChristianWritingToday.com. He was willing to give her photos for her book, and tell her about his thirty plus years as a photographer and journalist for short-term missions. And as a bonus, since he’s also a writer, he wants to stay in touch with Katie.

Maybe they’ll one day collaborate on another project.

It always amazes me how all of our lives connect and touch each other in ways only the Master weaver knows. Like like a single dip of an oar in the sea, you never know where your words or actions will ripple.

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Love Needs Memories

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Quinn’s grandpa, my loving husband, Bruce

 

My grandfather was an enterprising, intelligent, successful, and moral man. But Alzheimer’s disease stole all of that when he was only in his mid-sixties.

Once, he took his grandchildren down to the San Francisco financial district and gave us lessons about business and banks (all age appropriate) and people, and manners, and proper deportment. He took us on trips to the ocean, even though he was allergic to the sun, to the zoo, and Golden Gate park, and rowed us on Stowe Lake, and treated us to tea and cookies at the Japanese Tea Garden.

 

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Oh how I loved Granddaddy. He also played duets on the piano with my uncle Harold and sang funny songs from another era. He was a good provider, president of his import/export company, a loving husband, and a good gardener.

But Alzheimer’s gradually robbed him of an articulate tongue, of recent memories, and how to do simple things.

I remember visiting my grandparents when I was about fourteen. One night, my grandmother had put Granddaddy in the other bedroom in a twin bed. He was too restless to sleep in the same bed with Grandmommy. I was sleeping in the other twin bed. Granddaddy kept waking up yelling, “Help, help!”

i got up and tried to soothe him. “What wrong, Granddaddy?” He looked scared, and my grandfather had never been scared of anything.

He finally came to full consciousness and said, “It’s nothing. Don’t listen to me. Go back to sleep.”

Eventually my grandmother had to put him in a nursing home. We went to visit him but he didn’t remember us. Didn’t remember that he ever loved us or that he had done so many grandfatherly things with us. All of that was gone.

The last time I visited him, he was very close to death, was in a hospital, and didn’t have a mind. His emaciated body and sunken eyes shocked me. I think he only weighed about 80 pounds. My granddaddy had once been a robust 170 pounds on an average five foot nine frame.

Mercifully, pneumonia took him. I had just turned sixteen. My aunt June, the wonderful singer, tearfully sang for his funeral.

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A recent memory of a drive with my honey on the Cascade Loop and Diablo Lake

I thought, how terrible to lose your memories. When that happens, you don’t remember that you loved someone, and you don’t know that that woman or man standing over your bed loves you.

Being loved and loving others is the most important thing in the world. But if you don’t have any memories of that person or all that you’ve meant to each other, then you don’t love.

Nearly fifty years later, I’m thinking about my love for Jesus. How grateful I am to have memories of all that He’s done for me, His lovingkindness, faithfulness, His provision, His protection. If I lost those memories of all the times He’s revealed Himself to me, would I still love Him?

Psalm 103 says:

“Let all that I am praise the Lord;

may I never forget the good things He does for me.

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.

He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

He fills my life with good things;

my youth is renewed like the eagles.

 

How grateful I am that I can still remember all these things. I’ve learned not to take memory for granted because I’ve seen how quickly it can be stolen by disease. Yet even though we forget, God will never forget us, or that we are held in His mighty hand. What a comfort!