What I’ve Learned About Church

This will be a post that has to do with my Christian beliefs and what I have learned about church throughout my life. You may or may not choose to read it, and you may or may not agree with me if you do read it, and that is certainly your prerogative.

As a child, my family didn’t attend church much, but my mother took me to church sporadically. When she did, we always went to the same church. After my high school graduation as my friends moved out of the area or went off to school and I stayed behind, I decided something was missing from my life, and I decided to go back to church. Because I was only familiar with one church, that is the church I went to and I remained at that church for more than twenty years.

However, as my husband and I were raising a family, at one point we felt we needed a to attend a different church. We prayed about it and God led us to a church that was a forty minute drive from our home, but we believed it was where we needed to be and we remained a part of that church for ten years.

Both of these churches were good for us during the time we attended them. However, as we learn and grow in our walk with the Lord, we sometimes feel a need to move to a different church. Sometimes it’s because of something we are struggling with inside the church. Sometimes it’s a change our kids need. Sometimes it’s because of something we are struggling with inside ourselves. And sometimes it’s a combination of things, but one thing I have learned in the few churches I’ve been a part of is that people put too much emphasis on theology and not enough emphasis on the Bible.

You see, the Bible, according to my beliefs, is God’s word, His truth–the one and only real truth, and I measure everything against God’s word. In other words, if it contradicts God’s word, it’s not true. And what I have learned, in the two churches I was a part of, us that when you focus on theology, you are focusing on one man’s teaching or interpretation of Scripture (the Bible). One church we went to was Armenian and focused on Scripture that supported the teachings of John Wesley, and one church we went to was Reformed and focused on Scripture that supported the teachings of John Calvin.

However, what I came to realize is that the Scriptures that supported both these teachings are ALL part of the Bible–God’s word. Therefore, ALL of those Scriptures are true. So my question became: is there a church, a pastor that teaches ALL of these Scriptures, ALL of this truth. Because what I came to realize is that when you focus on one teaching, you focus on the Sovereignty of God, and I believe God is Sovereign — nothing happens that He is not aware of and that doesn’t fit into his perfect plan for us. (Yes, He is aware of all of the bad things that happen, but those things happen because of man’s sinfulness, and though bad things happen, God never leaves or nor forsakes us. He is always there to help us and to pick up the pieces.)                                                                  If you focus on the other teaching, you focus on man’s free will and man’s responsibility. Focusing on just one or the other creates problems because if we focus only on God’s Sovereignty, we don’t think that anything we do matters, so why should we share the message of Jesus with anyone? It’s like we’re robots or something. And if we focus only on man’s free will and responsibility, we can’t believe that Grace is a free gift that only requires us to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to DO anything to earn salvation. And, so we’re always trying to do something that’s good enough.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to do good works, but if we believe in God and Jesus and feel the love He has for us, then we will want to do things to please Him, not to EARN something, but just to please Him. Like a child who recognizes his parent’s love and because he loves his parents in return, he wants to please them.

So, what I have learned is that we need to accept that God is Sovereign and also do good works and share Jesus Christ with others because we love Him, not because we have to earn our way to heaven.

And I am thankful that we have recently found a church whose pastor recently preached a sermon, putting these two things together, and whose focus is on The Word of God (the Bible), not a specific theology. That is how I know we have found the church that is right for us now, because it is what I prayed for because I want All of God’s Truth from All of God’s Word.

I welcome comments, whether or not you agree with me, as long as you are respectful in your use of language.

My Broken Heart

This post will be more personal than most of my posts, and I will be sharing some things about my beliefs. I posted the previous sentence as a warning, so if you choose to read this post, DO NOT leave a comment saying you were offended.

Recently, I have been reading about actions and decisions that some churches or denominations have been doing and making, and it has literally broken my heart–how the church can turn its back on the truth of God’s word and cling to and teach lies because they don’t want to offend anyone, or they find the truth of God’s word uncomfortable.

I’m sure in Bible times, when Paul was preaching, especially to the churches who were doing wrong or showing wrong attitudes, people were uncomfortable. I know that before I gave my life to Christ, I sat in church and squirmed in my mind at some of the truth that was preached from the pulpit because I WAS CONVICTED! That is what the TRUTH of God’s word does — it convicts people of their sins and opens their eyes to the freedom available through belief in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. And when someone knows and experiences this truth, freedom, and the unconditional love of the heavenly father, they WANT to PLEASE the heavenly father by being obedient to His Word.

My heart is aching for the churches in this world. They need to get back to the Truth of God’s word and not be afraid to preach it boldly for there are many who are hurting or are just hungry for Truth, and Only the real TRUTH can set them free.

I am praying that God will send revival to the churches and the country of the United States. If you are a true believer, won’t you join me in this prayer?

Okay, this post is finished, and if you chose to read this entire post and you choose to leave a comment, whether in agreement or disagreement (and I welcome both), do so respectfully, for that was the reason for my warning at the beginning of this post. Any disrespectful comments will not be posted and will be deleted, but I welcome a respectful debate using appropriate language.

The Connection Between Stories and Real Life

As a writer and avid reader, I’m always interested in learning about the lives of other writers, both those who have already passed on, and those still living and writing today. I love to meet writers who are currently living and writing as well.

That’s why I love books and movies like “The Man Who Invented Christmas” which is about the life of Charles Dickens. I have seen the movie and it will always be one of my all-time favorites. I have the book but haven’t had the time to read it yet, but plan to in the near future.

I have also seen the movie entitled “Good-bye Christopher Robin”, which is about the life of A.A. Milne, and what a heart-breaking story that is. A.A. Milne led a very difficult and sad life. I also have the book the movie was based upon, but have not have the time to read it, but, again, plan to read it in the near future.

I usually prefer reading books to seeing movies, because books can give you a much more detailed story, not to mention that often movies change or leave out some of the important facts. Movies even sometimes fictionalize something that they really shouldn’t, especially when they deem the movie “based on a true story”.

I also enjoy visiting places that we read about in books. A few years ago, I planned a family vacation for us and we went to Chincoteague, Virginia because our youngest son and I had just finished reading all of the “Misty of Chicoteague” stories and wanted to see where Misty and the Beebe family lived. While on the island, we visited a museum where we learned that Paul Beebe had passed away, when he was young, in a car accident, but his sister, Maureen was still living on the island, but was older and had health issues and so wasn’t receiving visitors any longer. However, we did get to see some precious items that had belonged to the Beebe family because they were displayed in the museum. One of the items was the family Bible.

It’s so interesting to find and/or visit places we read about or places we know authors live or have lived. It helps to give you a better picture of the writer and their stories. Because even fiction stories are written by real live people, every story has a connection to real life, and that is fascinating.

How about you? Do you like to know more about the people who write the books you read or are you simply satisfied to enjoy their stories?

A Poetry Hiatus

Hello Everyone,

I’m sorry if you are a fan of my poetry. I know I missed posting a poem last week, and this is not what you were expecting today. However, poetry is a struggle for me. I started writing and posting poems when a friend challenged me to participate in the National Poetry Writing Month about two years ago, but poetry does not come easily to me.

Also, my life is rather busy right now as I have a son preparing to graduate from Bible school and go off to a foreign country on a missions/preaching trip for three months. I also have another son who will be coming home from college today and will remain home for the summer and the fall, then return to take his final semester in the spring of 2019 and then graduate from college. I also have a son who is of middle school age that I homeschool, and we are finishing up our school year.

In addition to all of that, I continue to read books for authors who request that I read their book and write a review because I enjoy helping other writers. I also continue to work as a professional freelance writer, as well as, continuing to work on my first novel, which I hope to have completed by the end of the summer if not before.

Therefore, I have decided to take a break from poetry, and I’m sorry to say that I do not know what to fill my Friday space with here on my blog at this point. So, if you have any suggestions, I would love for you to leave me a comment, but for now, I will simply take a break from Fridays at least until the end of May.

The Joy of Sharing

As a writer, editor, and reader, I love a good story. A good story excites me and I want to share it with my friends — those who also love a good story. When you have a friend who completely understands that love and excitement of a good story, it just brings so much joy and fun when you can share, with that person, the treasure of a good story.

I have a few friends who fit the above description, but the one who is most fun to talk to about good story, is my dear friend, Sarah. We just love to talk about books we’ve read that we have found to be really good; characters that make us laugh, make us angry, that we can relate to; and movies that have good story and relatable characters. The excitement and joy of a good story just bubbles out of Sarah as she shares, and I catch her excitement and joy, and it works the same way when I share with her.

I treasure this connection with Sarah because she is much younger than I am, and I have found some young people who struggle to relate to older folks, as well as some younger folks who are difficult to relate to, so my relationship with Sarah brings me joy, not just because we relate about good stories, but because she actually enjoys talking to me.

Last Sunday, when Sarah came into church and saw me, she said, “I saw the best movie I have ever seen last night.” When I asked what the movie was, she said, “It’s called The Man Who Invented Christmas.” To which I responded, “Oh, I love that movie!” The woman, whom I had been chatting with before Sarah came in, chuckled at our excitement and enthusiasm and left us to share our joy and excitement over the movie.

But our conversation didn’t stop with that movie. After talking about the movie, we began talking about books we were reading or had recently finished. It’s just such a joy to share something you love with a friend who totally “gets it”.

Do you have a friend you love to share your favorite books and movies with? Does it bring joy to your heart to share with that friend? Good books and movies are worth sharing.

Enough Time to Write

If you’ve been visiting or following this blog for long, you probably already know that in addition to being a writer, I am a homeschool mom and I am doing my best to live a healthy lifestyle – eating the Trim Healthy Mama way and exercising.  This means making everything from scratch, no processed foods. It also requires protein at each meal, low carbs and no sugar. It’s going well, but it can be time consuming to make everything from scratch, though not overwhelming.

My family has to take priority over my writing during this time in my life, which I know is the right thing, but I sometimes get frustrated because I WANT to write everyday, but that is just not possible right now.

Then, when I attended the Super Saturday writers’ conference this year, the keynote speaker, Mike Dellosso, addressed this very issue. He works a full-time plus a part-time job, is the father of five daughters in a homeschool family and writes books, and, like me, his family comes first, so his keynote speech was of great encouragement and help.

You see, I’ve been frustrated and feeling guilty because I’ve had so many people say, “If you really want to be a writer, you need to write everyday, AND, you need to treat it like any other job, which means you can’t NOT do it. You have to schedule time and park your behind in your seat and write — no excuses!”

Well, that’s fine for those whose children are grown and no longer living at home, but that is not where I am at. Therefore, when Mike talked about how we have a dream for writing much more than we do, but that might not be God’s plan for us right now, that made sense.

Mike reminded us of the story of Joseph from the Bible and how he had dreams that took twenty-two years to come to fruition, but that during that time, Joseph kept his faith and remained patient and made the most of each and every circumstance. (This was both encouraging and a bit discouraging to me because as a 50+ woman, I want to complete as many books as I possibly can before I am either unable or unavailable to do so anymore.)

However, Mike went on to say that wherever we are on the road in our writing, that’s where God’s want us at this time, and we should simply be content in that AND do our best with the time we have.

So, that is what I am trying to do in my writing life right now. I am trying to be content with the time that I have to write and use it to the best of my ability. I am working on cleaning out our spare room to organize my books on the bookshelves in that room and put my little desk up there, so that when I have time to write, I will have a place where I can go and not be distracted by other things that might need doing, or by interruptions and other distractions, so that my writing time will be as fruitful as possible. I am also trying to write at least twice a week and the first chance I get at the beginning of each month, I try to write and schedule a month’s worth of blog posts, so that I can concentrate on my WIP for a month at a time, since I normally get about four hours of writing time twice a week for the most part. That plan seems to be an encouragement for me as I actually feel like I am accomplishing something and making progress.

What about you? Where are you at in your writing journey?

Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing are my two most favorite things to do. I spend as much time as I possibly can doing these two activities, which as long as we have child(ren) still living in our home, is not as much as I would like, but the fact that I have lots of friends who love to read and write as much as I do is a huge plus. It allows me to share with other like-minded people, which is great, because even my husband doesn’t really understand my artist/writing ways.   🙂

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. To be a good writer, it is imperative to do a lot of reading, and not just books on the writing craft. Actually, sometimes you can learn more about writing from reading a fiction or nonfiction book than from some of the books on writing.

I’ve been told that I must spend a lot of time reading the type of books that I want to write because that’s extremely helpful. However, I love so many different genres that I read from a wide spectrum, which I think is also extremely helpful in many ways.

Since reading and writing are solitary activities, it’s important to be purposeful about getting out and spending some time with people. After all, that’s one place a lot of story ideas come from. Also, to just spend time with other reader/writer people helps to feed our creativity and helps us to be encouraged because, let’s face it, writing is hard work!

If you visit my blog regularly, then you’ve probably seen many of my Monday posts that are reviews of books I have read, so you know that I read a wide variety of genres and stuff that’s been published recently as well as many years ago.

What about you? What do you like to read?