In the Dailies has moved to my main website:
There I’ve combined the last few years of posts from here with my Bookshelf (which used to be an external blog), Big Word Bible Studies (which now offers FOUR complete studies!) and my professional bio. It’s all in one spot.
I will keep this site live for older posts. You’ll still be able to search recipes and random life ramblings here, BUT if you want to stay current and know what’s going on in my life and writing NOW … you’ll want to check out the new site and subscribe there.
I tried to offer a recap of my conference yesterday, but my efforts fell far short. This is Take 2. Click here for Take 1.
This weekend’s trip marked my very first time to the West Coast. In fact, it was my first time travelling anywhere west of the Mississippi River. Yesterday I mentioned some unexpected treasures during my trip. The journey was definitely one of those.
I got to see the Grand Canyon.
AND the Pacific Ocean.
Meet Tim and Samantha Keller. You can learn more about them, their ministry and their writing at KellerDating.com.
They were so sweet! I had accosted nearly every conference attendee trying to find a local who had a car and would drive me to the ocean. I didn’t even need to visit it; I just wanted to see it and get a picture. A drive-by from the highway would have been sufficient, but my new friends wouldn’t allow that. They said I had to get my toes wet.
Did you know that California sand is different than East Coast sand? It has GLITTER in it! My toes sparkled all day. It was so cool.
Yesterday I mentioned meeting Paul Young, author of The Shack, Peter Strople, absolutely the most genuine man I have ever met in my life, and Joel Clark, an excellent storyteller with whom I would just love to be friends forever.
The photo below shows Paul on the far right. You can also see George Barna (yes, THE George Barna) sitting in the middle, Ken Blanchard (author of One-Minute Manager and dozens of other titles) to his right and Jim Henderson (the guy who bought the atheist’s soul) speaking into the mic. Read the rest of this entry
This weekend was amazing. I hardly know where to begin, but I do know that if I postpone this any longer, a hoard of people bearing torches may come knocking on my front porch. I say that with extreme endearment. You guys are simply fabulous. Not only have you prayed for me, but so many of you have sent me texts, tweets, even cards with a stamp and everything just to let me know that you believe in me and in the mission God has given me. THANK YOU. Thank you for loving and supporting me the way you do.
Re:Write was unlike any conference I’ve ever attended. I’ve been to a handful of writers conferences in the past, and they’re all great, but this one was truly unique. What made it so was the size (maybe 100 people?), the speakers (HUGE names like Mark Batterson, Wm. Paul Young, George Barna, Ken Blanchard … You can see the list and read their bios here.) and the accessibility of those speakers. I mean, I ate breakfast with the “most connected man in America,” Peter Strople, and the author of The Shack. It was so surreal and yet completely affirming. (They said I was a beautiful crier.)
Joel Clark expressed (much better than I can at the moment) some of my thoughts here. Every speaker oozed humility and genuine generosity. They were wise, transparent, faithful and so tremendously encouraging. (Well, George Barna’s speech on the statistics and reality of publishing’s future was a bit depressing, but he ended on a good note. I may have to write more on that another day.) Read the rest of this entry
We, as born-again Christians, are exceedingly blessed to have direct access to God at all times. He is omnipresent. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us. He never sleeps or closes His ears to us. Even if this — a continuous access to our God — was the only benefit of our faith, we would be blessed above all the earth! And yet He has granted us more and more beyond this.
But imagine with me if God only visited us for ten days a year. He promised to be a benevolent protector of the innocent and a ruthless destroyer of evil, but he only came among us for his birthday and a short celebration after. Imagine. How much trust could you put in him? How much emphasis would you put on those ten days?
And what if you expended all that energy and expectation for a god who didn’t really exist? Read the rest of this entry
Long, long ago in a far away land I learned a priorities matrix. This nifty little chart, with its properly labeled quarters, promotes proper focus by sorting what is important from what is unimportant and what is urgent from what is not. Do you remember this? I think we covered it in college. Or was it high school? Clearly I don’t remember it well, and my life lately has reflected such. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been keeping a secret from you.
Even now a little voice whispers that I shouldn’t say anything. It advises me to just keep it to myself, lest I make a big deal out of nothing. Still, my very small circle of confidants has continued to grow over the past few days. I just don’t think I can keep it in any longer. And you know what? It’s not nothing! This is actually a very cool something.
In July I entered a writing contest sponsored by Tyndale House Publishers. I didn’t win. I didn’t even make the top ten, but I did get noticed. An agent saw my proposal (a nonfiction book I’ve fiddled with for a number of years) and it piqued her interest. A couple weeks ago she called to invite me to San Diego. She said she “loved” my proposal and really wants to discuss it with me face-to-face.
And so I’m going to San Diego.
In eleven days.
To talk with an agent who is interested in my book.
Can I get a little exultant whoop in here? Perhaps a jubilant dance? Read the rest of this entry
Recently I ran into a friend I’d not seen in months. We smiled, clasped hands, and progressed with the typical salutations of a chance meeting. When I exclaimed that I had been thinking about her so much lately and praying for her, she grew suddenly serious. “Well, that’s no coincidence.”
Um, okay. I kind of brushed it off. “So, how have you been?”
She went on to thank me profusely for listening to the Holy Spirit. She’s had a really rough summer and was so grateful to know that, even though we hadn’t spoken in a while, I was still faithful in praying for her.
Oh, boy. It’s not that I hadn’t prayed for her. I had! But had I truly been faithful in praying? Had I been prayerful enough?
Years ago, what seems like a lifetime ago, I lived in a Bosnian village called Gorazde. The house held our landlord’s family (Bosnians who spoke also spoke French), two Korean missionaries (only one of whom spoke English fluently) and me (armed with American English and a handful of very random phrases in about eight different languages; important things like “I’m tired of looking for a man” and “Elvis is alive.”). Even though language proved a formidable barrier, the Koreans and I met every morning for a time of spiritual reflection and prayer.
Frequently during those times the one who spoke English would share how prayer was so easy for her. She loved that she never really talked to God; she would just feel Him. She thought things and He would understand her and carry those thoughts to His heart.
Now I know that God perceives our thoughts even before we think them. But is that really prayer? Is that what it means to walk with God? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry
In my experience the American church holds two sins on unforgivable pedestals: abortion and homosexuality. Christians can forgive pedophiles, murderers, thieves, drug addicts, liars, men who beat their wives and public menaces to society. If you willfully kill your unborn child or are attracted to the same sex, however, you might as well have leprosy. This is not right.
I am not saying that it’s okay to do these things, but neither is it okay to limit God’s grace. Sadly, that is what I’ve seen the church do for decades. Longer, really. This is why I am so excited about a brand new book by Kim Ketola.
We all make mistakes, some bigger, some smaller. Some with lasting repercussions, visible and not. Cradle My Heart addresses women who have experienced abortion. It details the healing God’s love can provide and the hope these women need. It offers a path to self-forgiveness and reconciliation with faith and Father.
In bullet form it looks like this (taken from the back of the book):
- Face yourself and face God
- Forgive and be forgiven
- Repent and accept God’s love
- Grieve and find an end to sorrow
Oh, but there’s so much more in this book. She talks about Heaven and mourning the lost child. She discusses cultural inconsistencies that circle the definition of life. With vulnerable glimpses into her own experiences, she tackles the issues of blame, guilt and relational reconciliation (both to the other people involved and to faith). The text overflows with compassion and understanding. It’s peppered with Scripture and solid doctrine. The back of the book provides loads of extra resources and reading suggestions. This book offers a path to renewed wholeness, all by the immeasurable love of our God and Savior. Read the rest of this entry
I became a believer as a teenager. Having been raised in church, I knew all the right things to say and do, but I didn’t make it mine until high school. Then I made it really mine. I became a passionate evangelist to all my friends. The Gospel was (and is) very personal to me.
I remember one particular encounter in which I tried to present the Gospel as easy and simple. I tried to explain: you just need to believe. But then my thoughts got all jumbled with a dozen or more “hafftoos” — you haftoo believe Jesus is God and that He died for your sins and that His sacrifice is enough to get you to Heaven and you have to pray to ask Him into your heart … AND you haftoo surrender to His lordship and read your Bible and go to church and get baptized and live a better life and … Well, that’s all you have to do. That’s all? Really??
Christians often try to present the Gospel in palatable, bite-sized steps. In doing so, we too often get it wrong. We present practical half-truths and then try to follow up with more complete (also bite-sized) addenda. In the process, those whom we try to reach feel duped. Instead of seeing joy and freedom in God’s grace, they see rules and lots and lots of strings attached to this “free” gift. Worse: they want little or nothing to do with our God. Don’t we want more for them? For ourselves? Read the rest of this entry
This week, in particular the last two days, I have ping-ponged between bold confidence and debilitating insecurity. I have jumped from ecstatic hope to paralyzing fear.
What sparked this? Well … nada. Nothing has changed. I was merely given a little encouragement from a surprising someone.
It’s so silly. It wasn’t even a kudos, really. Just a simple pat on the back and a “keep at it” kinda talk, and yet here I am secretly rejoicing over my great fortune. What fortune, you ask? There isn’t one! Realizing this my emotions catapult in the other direction, wondering if I’m worthy, if I truly have what it takes. I’m afraid to grasp the hope offered lest I disappoint. I fear it’s only a matter of time before I’m proven a hack. Who do I think I am anyway?
Do you see my problem?
All this hubbub, the nauseating instability of emotions stems from one cause: misplaced focus. Read the rest of this entry
Busyness in real life consistently prompts online absence. And that’s the way it should be. As much as I treasure each of you, those within arm’s reach come first. They’ve come first a lot lately. And don’t they look worth it?
I figure after all my silence, I owed you a couple vacation photos. Can anyone guess where we went? Or what our Christmas cards might look like?
I can’t believe summer is nearly over. It’s been a great season, one that highly contrasts last year. And while I hate to see the last carefree days fade, I do look forward to the return of a regular schedule. (You can read that as more consistent posting around here.)
The kids start school in less than two weeks, as do clubs at church, dance classes, piano lessons and Big Word. That gives me about ten days to get everything aligned for that big shift. And it is a big a shift. Z, my naturally nocturnal boy, has grown accustomed to watching every Yankee game to near completion. In other words, his summer bedtime has slipped far closer to 11 than 8. He then sleeps in until his body can resist no longer. Around 8am, he wakes, dresses in full catcher gear and then spends about five hours in the backyard practicing for his turn in the major leagues. And my sweet E has become far too comfortable with procrastination. Her creativity explodes all over my house. (She likely got both traits from her mama.) Routine, while tough to embrace at first, will definitely be a positive force for all of us.
This week is booked with loads of laundry, completing summer assignments, and shopping for school supplies. Next week will probably have final days at the pool, an outing to the zoo and one last trip to Grandma’s.
Your Turn: What has kept you busy lately? How do you ease into fall’s schedule?