The Author’s Critique

Cynthia Ruchti headshot 2016My first encounter with the author was brief and interesting. I spent little more than a few minutes mingling with other conferees when Cynthia approached the group. She was warmly greeted and seemed to be known by most. I introduced myself, expecting a cursory nice-to-meet-you. Instead, she was friendly and welcoming; stating how glad she was to meet ‘me’ and how much she looked forward to our time together. It was a far cry from the pseudo-smile this newbie expected to receive.

When she left, one of the writers told me that Cynthia liked my work. I insisted that was ridiculous and that she had no way of knowing that. I was told she wouldn’t have acted that way if she didn’t like me. She would’ve shaken my hand and moved on.

Her Critique

We had 15 minutes scheduled for my critique in a room filled with tables and other critiques. She sought a quiet place where we could review my work privately while I encouraged myself to not cry or take the criticism personally. “Don’t worry about all the red marks” she said. The pages were littered with red marks. More self-talk. “Breathe just breathe.” I expected rejection. As Waters Gone By high res(1)Our 15 minute meeting turned into an hour as she instructed and encouraged me. She showed me what to remove, what corrections to make and how to paint pictures with words.  Cynthia went on to talk of beauty, possibility, potential and what she envisioned for the future. It was amazing.

I began reading her book in my doctor’s office. Though I received her instruction readily, it wasn’t until I read her work that I understood. Her words came to life in the pages of her book. I saw and felt things described but not stated. Reading the book helped me understand the author.

His Critique

Years ago, I heard about a God who loved me. While I believed that He loved everybody I didn’t understand His love to be personal. It couldn’t be. My list of offenses was lengthy and the crimes weighty. His words to me were encouraging and in a quiet place He spoke to me.  Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Knowing myself as I did, I expected the worst from Him…rejection. His vantage point was as far different from mine as were His thoughts. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. I expected rejection. He offered hope and a future.

I later picked up His book. His words were life and wisdom and peace. The more I read, the more I understood myself, the world, and Him. He made sense.

How About You

Have you ever wondered if God really does love you? If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have done what He did for you. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Maybe you have difficulty understanding Him. May I suggest reading His book? It will help you understand The Author.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A special thanks to Cynthia Ruchti for her words of help and encouragement and  the provision of these photos. You can visit her website, Cynthia Ruchti Hemmed in Hope at www.cynthiaruchti.com.

 

 

 

About Those Lemons

pink-lemonade-795029__180 Pixabay Creative Commons CC0Make lemonade. That’s the solution-part of the adage, ‘when life gives you lemons’. Those proverbial lemons refer to life’s trials; bumps that pop up on an otherwise pretty smooth road. Those trials take many forms, i.e. car problems, illness, trials of faith, etc. It could be ‘that one person’ that comes at just the right time with just ‘the wrong’ thing to say that sets your teeth on edge. In any case, the advice is the making of lemonade. In other words, make something good out of a bad situation.

Purposeful Trials

I searched ‘uses for lemons’ and found everything from recipes to remedies. It’s amazing how many wonderful things can come from such bitter fruit. Trials are much the same way. As bitter and uncomfortable as they can be, trials (like lemons) do serve a purpose. In the hand of God, they are as versatile and even needful in the making of a beautiful life as lemons can be in the hands of a culinary artist.

This past year has been a bit problematic for me and walking was not the carefree activity it had always been. I was able to hide the pain for quite a while until a knee injury sealed the deal and left me with a leg brace, crutches, surgery and a rather ‘lovely’ Quasimodo-esque posture and gate. Everything about me cried, “This woman is hurting and needs help.”  Doctor’s orders rendered me unable to drive for six weeks, leaving me completely dependent on other people. That in itself is trying for a self-reliant gal like me.

Knowing that God has a purpose in this and that good will come from it helps. It also helps to know that this is not only purposeful but temporary.  2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Beauty in the PainLemon Wreath Ever Blooming Originals

I wanted so much to keep my struggles to myself. That wasn’t possible. My difficulty, in all its lemony glory, was out there for all to see. While I knew beauty would come sometime after the trial, I didn’t expect to find it in the midst. Help and gestures of kindness came from everywhere; family, friends, co-workers. Even strangers became my benefactors.

I may not know this side of heaven what God has planned for this but I know that He has something and it will beautiful.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  God has not given me the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ in this but He has given me the ‘wow’. I have been surrounded by such love and beauty that, while I can’t count it all fun, I can count it all joy. I’ve also learned that it is not only important to let others see what God brings from our trials, it’s valuable to allow them see what He’s doing in them.

How About You

Are you in the midst of a tough situation? Health failing? Faith tested? Job on the line? God has not forgotten you. Please know that He’s got this, He is doing something and it will be beautiful.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lemonade photo: Pixabay Creative Commons CC0

Wreath Photo used with permission: www.EverBloomingOriginals.com

Weighty Words

20160615_225338 (3)My heart is overflowing with a good theme.” So speaks the psalmist in Psalm 45:1. I was taken with this verse this morning, especially the very last line, My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Between those two lines the psalmist declares his recitation to be his “composition concerning the King.” I’m grateful when the Word gives me pause. Far too often I read through it without giving it due consideration. This time I felt it and was moved.

I often fail to remember that my words are writing messages on the minds and hearts of others. Those messages impact their thoughts about my faith and my God. My tongue is indeed the pen of a ready writer and my life and pen speak with visibility the voice of my heart.

Weighty Words

Words, like bricks can be used either to increase the weight of another man’s burden or help shore up the crumbling walls of his life or faith. We must therefore “Let no corrupt word proceed out of our mouths*, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29.

Amy Carmichael, Irish missionary to India in the 1800s said, “A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly it is jarred.” It behooves me then to pour into my mind and heart only that which is good and will pour out grace and truth to the building up of another.  “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

How About You

Have you sensed a bitterness of your own soul? Do you (like me) find yourself dwelling on negative things? The incessant mud-slinging in the political arena and the dreadful reactions to national tragedies have certainly provided much fodder for negative thought and rumination. We daily live out the consequences of such negativity in our words, attitudes and behaviors. Whatever be the cause, we must choose to think higher. We must choose to think nobler. Why? “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9. We must have the mind of Christ.

The eyes and ire of a watching world are upon us. If they are to judge the validity of our faith and the goodness of our God by what they read in our lives, we must think well, carefully weigh our words and provide them a worthwhile read.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Look At The Fields

DaisiesHow can anyone call them weeds? We were out one evening deciding where to set up the garden and I saw the cutest little daisies. Without hesitation, my husband deemed them weeds. We didn’t agree on the garden location or the ‘flowers’ that evening.

A beautiful morning and some semblance of a plan provided another opportunity to plan out our garden. My breath was taken mid-sentence when I spotted a large patch of daisies. These lovelies, with their puffy yellow centers & slender white petals topping long green stems were a must-have for my kitchen island so hubby went to the shed for the clippers. Happy wife, happy life!

Grabbing a handful of these ‘non-weeds’ he cut them with all the tenderness of a battlefield soldier. When I asked that he be careful of the little ones he turned my attention to the field. In each direction I looked there were patches white with flowers ready to be picked. They wouldn’t be there for long though. Hay cutting time is approaching and all hope for any remaining daisies would soon vanish.

A Greater Harvest

My mind ran to another field. Jesus and His disciples went to Galilee by way of Samaria. The disciples went for food and Jesus remained there, seated by the well. Approaching the well to draw water, the Samaritan woman was shocked that Jesus spoke to her, even commenting that the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. In that day the Jews saw the Samaritans as the off-scouring of the world…like human weeds.  Jesus continued His dialogue with her; revealing her story and talking with her about living water, true worship and the Messiah.

Daisy FieldThe disciples returned and though they said nothing, they too marveled that Jesus spoke with this woman. She ran into the village and told the men all what she heard saying,   John 4:29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Many in that city believed in Him. Jesus told His disciples John 4:35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! Jesus wasn’t referring to fields of flowers or crops. The field is the world and the harvest is people. Jesus broke through cultural barriers and the disciples learned a valuable lesson that would impact their future ministry. Just think, the disciples  could have missed the opportunity.

How About You

Have you allowed prejudice to keep you from being kind, showing compassion or sharing your faith with someone? Have you written someone off because of ‘how’ they were without ever seeing ‘who’ they were? Did you ever forego an opportunity thinking you’d do  it later, only to find that later never came? I can say yes to all of these. Maybe you (like me) need to pray a simple prayer: Lord help me see people as you see them and take the  opportunity to share your love with them.  And for the love of all that’s holy, help me never deem anyone unworthy of grace.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

 Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Marigold Madness

20160422_160215 I bring good news! The marigolds are in. After a season of barren trees, flowerless planters and brown grass, I long to look out my kitchen window and see the cheery colorful blooms of marigolds.  You can imagine my opening the sale paper of our local nursery to find these little lovelies on the front page. My flower-loving heart was overjoyed! Well, it was. My husband once asked if we needed to plant so many marigolds.  In a word…yes!

Marigolds are a wonderful flower.  The bright orange and yellow blooms atop full, green leafy stems add a lovely burst of color to the garden and a bit of cheer to me.  They are a hardy low maintenance flower, easy to grow and can withstand the summer’s heat.  Granted, they are not the sweetest smelling flower in the garden.  Ok, they stink; but they are a beneficial flower that helps protect a variety of vegetables from hungry insects.

Taking Over

One morning while finishing the dishes, I looked out my kitchen window admiring my little garden. The marigolds planted around the cherry tomatoes were big and full and peppered with little red tomatoes just above them.  It was too inviting to just look at so I grabbed my basket and headed to the garden.

20160422_160023 (3)As much as I enjoy the flowers, I really enjoy tomatoes.  I was disappointed to find that there were not very many tomatoes though.  Just behind the flowers, I found a bunch of tiny green tomatoes shaded from the much needed sun.  I realized that something was going to be sacrificed that day and I wasn’t pleased. The solution came with the answer to one simple question, “What are you growing here?”  Since I was growing tomatoes and the marigolds became detrimental to them, the marigolds had to go.  It was that simple.

Marigold-like Madness

This same madness happens in our families, our workplaces and our ministries.  Activities, hobbies and programs once designed to enrich us gradually become so important and all-consuming that they drain the very life out of that which they were meant to enhance. In ministry, the work of man can become so important that it supersedes the will of God; making it necessary to uproot us and cast us aside as detrimental.  God forbid!

How About You

Do you find yourself struggling to keep the main thing the main thing? Have your personal goals or plans become more important than that of your company or ministry? The solution to this dilemma is to have the mind of Christ, who made himself of no reputation taking upon himself the form of a servant and to understand as John the Baptist did that ‘He (*meaning Jesus) must increase but  I must decrease’. John 3:30.  It’s that simple.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*emphasis added

Wonderful Words

Words PicI love words. I always have. English was my favorite subject in school, with Spelling running a close second. I loved adding new words to my vocabulary. I often kept a dictionary nearby when reading and still feel compelled to look up unfamiliar words rather than settle for the gist of the sentence meaning.

My dad, in his very goofy style would often say, “Lay it down so I can…pick it up.” That sentence invokes a smile because I can still picture his gawky motions as he demonstrated his message. He said it once when I was trying out my new spelling words. He followed it with a short discourse on communication. His point being that the essence of communication is getting your message across. He said, “You can use a lot of fancy words but if people don’t understand what you’re saying, you have not communicated.”

Wonder of Words

The wonder of words is that they communicate so much and so well. Words are important. They are powerful. Much is learned about a person by the words they speak. It makes perfect sense that the God of the universe chose words to communicate Himself. He demonstrated His power when He spoke the words “Let there be” and then there was…the world. He inspired the prophets to pen and to speak His word to the world so that we could know Him; His majesty, His justice and His compassion & mercy.

When Words Aren’t Enough

As wonderful as it is to hear great flowery words, sometimes words alone just don’t cut it. We need to see them work. We need them proven. So much has been spoken about the love of God. His word is full of such messages and yet He didn’t just give us words. He demonstrated them. 1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Jesus effectively communicated the incredible love of God by laying down His own life for us. Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What greater love can there be!

How About You

Have you heard a lot of promising words only to find them empty? Can you use some life-giving words? Are you seeking truth, the meaning of life or even life itself? John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. Many people stopped following Jesus because they didn’t like His words. Jesus asked those remaining if they would leave also. John 6:68. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   My dad said, “Lay it down so I can pick it up.”  Jesus did that with His very life.  John 1:12 But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: So, how about you?

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

https://www.biblegateway.com/

 

Defeated Foes

Brass Mousetrap il_570xN_524461584_4w11While watching a movie one evening, I saw something move behind the television. It was a mouse. To say that I was disturbed by this sighting is entirely true. It is also entirely understated. I ran to the kitchen. Standing by the counter talking to my sister, I saw it again creeping out from behind the china hutch. That mouse was running amuck in my house and terrorizing me. I screamed. My sister screamed too, though not just in sympathy for me. My scream startled her and she cut her finger, quite badly. Blood was pouring all over the place due to blood thinners she was taking so she had to get off the phone. Realizing that a shotgun would be overkill and a broom insufficient, I did what any red-blooded American girl raised in the suburbs would do. With tears in my eyes, I grabbed my jacket and purse and went shopping.

Hubby to the Rescue

My husband was home when I returned and laying traps for the furry intruder. My hero had arrived and I could relax, or at least try. The next morning, we found the mouse stuck to the glue board. Running around my house, that mouse seemed gargantuan. So when I saw it, I was surprised that it was so small and pitiful. Though squeaking madly and trying desperately hard to unstick itself from the board, its fate was sealed and he would be destroyed. His reign of terror had ended and the furry, squeaky-voiced marauder would be no more.

Greater Enemy

We have an enemy, the enemy of our souls. He is running amuck in this world and terrorizing whoever he can and by whatever means he can (health, finances, children, ministry, etc.). He is not squeaking though. Our adversary goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. So we must be sober & vigilant and we must utilize the special weapons that we have been given for this fight, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4. While it is good to have people to turn to for help, we must not forget to call on God for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

How About You

Are you struggling with battles of your own? Are you exhausted, worn, fearful that you can’t take much more? Don’t quit, you’re not alone. Consider these words of encouragement “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Remember, though Satan may be running amuck in this world and roaring like crazy, he is a defeated foe. His reign of terror will soon end and the enemy of our God and our souls will be no more. Praise the Lord!

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mousetrap photo compliments of: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StylishPiggy