When We Questions God’s Leading

When life becomes hard, the road ahead uncertain or steep, it’s tempting to pull back and begin searching for an easy, perhaps “guaranteed” route. But no matter where our steps lead, our heart will be most fulfilled when they are aligned with those of our Savior. He truly does have our best in mind, always, and no matter what we face today, we can trust that God’s plans are best.

When We Question God’s Leading in Our Lives
By Jarm Del Boccio

Have you ever followed a course of action you thought God had approved, only to experience opposition? Did you question His voice? As an author, my desire is to bring God glory, yet I have questioned many closed doors along the way. But with God’s guidance, I’ve persevered.

An Old Testament account, written centuries ago, became a source of inspiration for me. Nehemiah, the Persian king’s trusted servant was on a mission from God: to leave the king’s faithful service and rebuild the broken-down walls of Jerusalem to protect the Jewish inhabitants.

What did he do first? He prayed for guidance.

“Let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant that I now pray before You day and night for the people of Israel your servants . . .” (Nehemiah 1:6a, ESV).

Miraculously the king gave Nehemiah permission to go and build, granting him safe passage and a supply of timber for the task ahead.

Did everything go smoothly? No. He faced enemies along the way. Immediately, foreign rulers gave resistance to the plan. But Nehemiah had his priorities straight. He prayed again and carried on, even with opposition. In the end, Nehemiah accomplished his task.

So, what does this have to do with a lowly debut author?

I was convinced the Lord was leading me into the secular publishing market where I had made many wonderful friends and connections. But after submitting my middle-grade historical novel to agents and editors, there was silence. The publishing world is changing, and what I had to offer wasn’t on their wishlist. My desire was a godly one—to be a Christian influence in the mainstream market. So why wasn’t God listening to my prayers?

Nonetheless, I persevered. And the answer came.

Last spring, through a #FaithPitch event, a MG Biblical fiction I hadn’t considered for submission was requested by Ambassador International. To make a circuitous journey short, I signed a contract for The Heart Changer, which debuts April 26th. As I made connections with my book’s soulmates and their adults—home educators, Christian grandparents, teachers and librarians–I realized there was a great need to bring back traditional stories from a biblical world view. My debut novel was filling that need.

My confusion and disappointment disappeared as I saw the purpose of God’s re-direction. The Heart Changer, based on an Old Testament account, would encourage my young readers to persevere under trial — the times when God’s ear seemed shut to their prayers. 
Maybe in the future, the Lord will re-direct me to secular publishing. I’m waiting with open hands and heart. I’ve grown to love all my kid-lit friends there. But for now, I will rest in God’s present plan for me.

What is God calling you to do? Do you feel opposition? Do you question His leading? Be a Nehemiah. Pray first. Listen to God’s voice, and trust Him for direction, even though there are no open doors at the moment. If all seems clear, and you’ve received wise spiritual counsel, move ahead. Pick up your tools and continue on in His great work, but most importantly remember, regardless of the outcome, so long as you’re obedient to Him, you can count your efforts successful.

Let’s talk about this! What is one thing you can do today to focus on God and His will with diligence and perseverance?

Get to know Jarm!

Jarm's author photoJarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm taught elementary and high school students, and served seven years as school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she was a missionary teacher in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine.

Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

“Making History Come Alive: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future.”

Visit her online at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.

Check out her debut novel, The Heart Changer:

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?Cover image for The Heart Changer

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with bitterness.  Little does she know the Heart Changer is preparing her for a greater mission — far beyond what she could imagine.

Buy it HERE.

 

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The Faithfulness of God in the Middle of Our Uncertainty

I know fear. I know uncertainty. I know the desire to cling to and remain in my comfort zone, and I’ve seen what happens when I follow God and step out, whether that means walking across the street to engage with a neighbor, joining a ministry, maybe galavanting across the nation–as I happen to be doing right now. 😉

If you were in the audience this past Monday, you learned I can easily allow fear to hinder my obedience. But I’m learning not only how futile many of my fears are, but where I need to place them–in Christ’s hands.

I thought of this, and my self-protecting tendency, when left on my own, as I read Laura Hilton’s post below. If you find yourself clinging to safety nets and searching for comfort zones, may you be encouraged, inspired–and challenged–by Laura’s devotion.

The Faithfulness of God in the Middle of Our Uncertainty

by Laura Hilton

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV). 

I am a coward. There is no other way to put it.

My son was graduating from A school with the Coast Guard. This is a school where Coasties are sent to learn the job they would be doing in the Coast Guard. My son is a DC rating and his job is “Firefighter” but firefighting is only a small part of what he does.

Basically, he is a “Damage Controlman” and does it all. Construction. Plumbing. Welding. Firefighting. And so much more.

So, my Coastie really wanted us to come to his graduation. This is a big moment for them. This, and when they graduate from bootcamp.

But I’m looking at the map from the northern part of Arkansas to Newport News, Virginia and thinking, “Um, we have to drive through Nashville, Tennessee.”

Terror strikes. I get freaked out driving through Little Rock, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri. Memphis, Tennessee is a nightmare. And Nashville will only be worse.

Thankfully, my husband loves me. We loaded up the car with three of the five kids (one was in college and couldn’t come) and headed toward Virginia. And he googled the trip so we could take a bypass around Nashville.

But then there was Knoxville. He hadn’t googled to find a bypass for Knoxville and we hit it at five o’clock rush hour. Five lanes of traffic, going one way, all at a complete stop.

I was praying, shaking, but trying so hard not to freak out and scare the girls, because they were scared enough. Like me, they were used to rural Arkansas traffic where five cars on the road is considered a traffic jam.

But God came through. We survived Knoxville. And the Great Smokies and Appalachian Mountains we saw were absolutely gorgeous. Some of God’s best handiwork. I was able to stand on the Appalachian Trail (an item on my bucket list) and my children actually hiked a portion. And standing on the trail I knew why people hiked it to find God. There is just a tangible peace around that place.

And I saw the ocean. For the very first time. In real life. I handled it. In my hands. Another item on my bucket list.

Even though I was ripped out of my comfort zone, the trip was worth it. For more than one reason. I got to meet some Coast Guard Moms I’d become internet friends with. I planned to meet some reader friends (but that didn’t work out.) I met courageous young men my son talked about as they were in his classes in A school. I saw my son. And I checked two items off my bucket list.

God came through. And even though I’ll probably panic when facing a long trip through major cities again, I learned that God is able to protect us in rush hour in unfamiliar cities. And He has some pleasant surprises along the way.

***

Let’s talk about this! When have you felt fearful, uncomfortable, or insecure about something but chose to do it anyway? What was the result? Would you do it again, if given the choice? Did you learn anything about God during those times? About yourself?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

And while we’re talking about encouragement … I’ll be releasing the next edition of my quarterly newsletter this month! Are you a subscriber yet? If not, how come? You’re missing out on some fun and inspiring free content: short stories, recipes, devotions, and of course, info on where I’m at or what’s next for me. Plus, in the very near future, I’ll be hosting regular fun give-aways available only to subscribers. Want to sign up? You can do so HERE.

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Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas. Visit her online at

her blog,  follow her on Twitter @laura_V_Hilton, and connect with her on Facebook.

Second Chance Brides:

Hope for Happy Endings Is Renewed in Nine Historical Romances

Meet nine women from history spanning from 1776 to 1944 feel the sting of having lost out on love. Can their hope for experiencing romance again be renewed?

Love in the Crossfire by Lauralee Bliss – Trenton, New Jersey, 1776
Gretchen Hanson watched her beau go off to war and never return. She soon falls for an enemy scout who stumbles upon her farm. If Jake is discovered, it could mean death for them all. Will Gretchen let go of love or stand strong?

Daughter of Orion by Ramona K. Cecil – New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1859
Whaling widow, Matilda Daggett, vows to never again give her heart to a seaman. But when debt drives her to masquerade as a cabin boy on a whaling ship, a young harpooner threatens both her vow and her heart.

The Substitute Husband and the Unexpected Bride by Pamela Griffin – Washington Territory, 1864
Cecily McGiver, a mail-order bride, arrives in the rugged Washington Territory shocked to find herself without a husband—that is until Garrett, a widower, offers to take the position. Can the challenges that face them lead to love?

The Prickly Pear Bride by Pam Hillman – Little Prickly Pear Creek, Montana Territory, 1884
Shepherdess Evelyn Arnold left her intended at the altar so he could marry the woman he really loved. Dubbed Miss Prickly Pear, Evelyn is resigned to a loveless life and the ridicule of her neighbors. When Cole Rawlins sweeps her out of a raging river, she realizes even a prickly pear can find love.

The Widow of St. Charles Avenue by Grace Hitchcock – New Orleans, 1895
Colette Olivier, a young widow who married out of obligation, finds herself at the end of her mourning period and besieged with suitors out for her inheritance. With her pick of any man, she is drawn to an unlikely choice.

Married by Mistake by Laura V. Hilton – Mackinac Island, 1902
When a plan to pose for advertising goes awry, Thomas Hale and Bessie O’Hara find themselves legally married. Now Bessie and Thomas must decide whether to continue the charade or walk away. Either choice could ruin them if the truth gets out.

Fanned Embers by Angela Breidenbach – Bitterroot Mountains, Montana/Idaho border, 1910
Stranded in the treacherous railroad camp after her husband’s murder, Juliana Hayes has no desire to marry a ruffian like Lukas Filips. Can she release prejudice to love again? Or will they even survive the fiery Pacific Northwest disaster to find out?

From a Distance by Amber Stockton – Breckenridge, Colorado, 1925
Financial Manager Trevor Fox sets out to find a lady to love him and not his money, then meets and falls for an average girl only to discover she’d deceived him to protect her heart after he unknowingly rejects her.
Buy it HERE.  

 

God Opens Doors

God Opens Doors by Sarah Foust

God opens doors. Sometimes I don’t feel like walking through them, but He makes them available. A few years ago, my husband and I felt called to become foster parents. It was a tough process. Scary. More like terrifying. But, God presented us with an opportunity and we chose to follow. I’m so glad we did. It led to personal growth, parental growth, and to adopting our fourth daughter and first son. What a blessing they’ve been in our lives.

If we’d chosen to ignore God’s prompting, we wouldn’t have these two beautiful children. And, I wouldn’t be writing yet. It was through the process of becoming foster parents to our son that I realized I could no longer work full-time. When my job as a medical transcriptionist disappeared the week he arrived in our home, I knew it was time to pursue my dream career.

Through this, we stepped through another door, and I chose to write. I love writing. I’ve dreamed of it since I was in second grade. I remember sitting in the desk, zoning out while the teacher talked as I pictured crafting a real, long, tons-of-words novel.

I put that dream off for a long time because I feared I would fail. What if I pursued this career and fell on my face? What then? My dream would be dead and I’d have nothing to hope for my future career. But God gently nudged me forward, and I am so glad He did.

On November 4th, my first real, long, tons-of-words novel comes out. It’s an idea that originally popped into my head in high school (a few years ago). But with prayer for direction, it has become so much more than that initial spark. I poured my heart and soul into my book baby and it is about to arrive! I cannot wait to hold it in my hands and read my name—my name!—on the cover. I’ll probably cry. No joke.

I don’t know what the next door God will present me with will be, but I plan to step through it. I know that He only wants good for me and that He has a plan. If I’m to do my part, I need to be obedient, brave, and trusting. Who better to place blind trust in than God? If I were to encourage you to do any one thing, it would be to step through the door God has placed before you. He won’t let you fall, or if He does, He will pick you up. He’s waiting on the other side. Waiting to take you where you’re supposed to go. Waiting to lead you to who you are supposed to be.

Let’s talk about this! Do you have a dream career you’ve never pursued because of fear? Is God presenting you with a door of opportunity? Do you plan to walk through it?

***

Speaking of living your dreams, or living out your identity in Christ and who He created you to be, as I like to put it, if you’re in the Omaha Metro area, I encourage you to come to Wholly Loved’s Bold and Brave conference. Our first one will be held at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Papillion, NE on February 11th; our second one will be held at Good Shepherd Presbyterian in Lincoln, NE on June 24th. Mark your calendars, and follow us on Facebook for more information. And if you’re a writer living in the Seattle, WA area, I invite you to join me in October at the NCWA monthly meeting where I’ll be talking about overcoming the fear that hinders us from fully living out our calling and the freedom, creativity, and power that comes from surrender. And on the 28th, again for those in the Omaha area, I’ll be speaking at the local Wordsowers meeting on developing a mind of success. Find out more HERE. Because successful people think differently than unsuccessful people do, and science is discovering more and more, our success (in pursuit of our dreams) is much more dependent on our grit than our talent.

You might also enjoy:

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith

***

Sara Foust writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Her debut novel Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest. Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit www.saralfoust.com. And make sure to connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Collum’s Compass:

Kat Williams’s brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

Ryan Jenkins’s fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.

Available soon! Find information at www.saralfoust.com under the books tab

***

Want more great content, sent straight to your inbox? Then make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter. With each edition, you’ll receive a fun short story, devotion, recipe, and more! You can sign up HERE!

Are You Trying to Market God?

megaphone-1381104_1920Sharing our faith is tough. We want to be sensitive to our listener, and more than anything, we long to see them experience the deep love of Christ. But so often, our efforts are filtered through a heavy lens of self. This can result in an effort to market God and to love others on an agenda. Today, fellow ACFW member Emilie Hendrix

Are You Trying to Market God? 

by Emilie Hendryx

In today’s media-saturated culture we are in tune with marketing in a way that no one has been before. It’s everywhere we look, whether we’re at the grocery store, mall, bookstore, fitness center, or just driving down the road. We market pretty much everything from objects, food, thought processes, books, people, and faith.

But has this marketing-centric culture negatively affected us as Christians? I think it has, and I’d like point out three things that we can fall prey to when we try to “market God”.

Marketing tells you why “they” think you need it

At first glance this could sound like a good thing. And I agree, we do need to tell others about God! But, how we go about doing that is what’s important here. When we try to “market God” to those around us we can often pinpoint an “issue” (maybe this is an obvious sin etc.) and then make it our job to make sure that person knows why they need God.

The issue here isn’t in the sharing (that’s the good part) it’s in the heart of those who share and how they share. Do we share the gospel from a heart that overflows with love for others? Or a heart that shares in arrogance and condemnation?

Marketing tells why the “product” is the best, but leaves things out

I believe that a relationship with Christ is the only way to heaven. Sharing that is easy and personal. But, part of the difficulty when we try to “market God”, is that we can be tempted to leave out the hard parts. Sometimes it’s hard to stand up for what you believe in, especially in today’s culture. I know there are things I believe that set me apart from others. The temptation here is to gloss over, ignore, or not address these things when talking about the gospel.

Jesus is the perfect example of what to do in order to resist the temptation to “market God”. He took no effort to hide His affiliation with those who were considered unloved, forgotten, despised, or labeled as sinners in His day. But what did He do while he spent time with them? He spoke the truth. Just like when He had a conversation with the woman at the well (John 4). He told her to “go and sin no more” – so, to walk away from her sinful lifestyle – but He didn’t ignore her.

In our culture, it’s almost assured that we’ll be faced with someone challenging our beliefs. Don’t give in to the temptation to “market God” to make Him look “better” or “more accepting” or less “judgmental” just because you’re afraid you’ll make Him look bad (or afraid you’ll look bad). If your faith and understanding is rooted in Biblical truth and you’re speaking from a place of love and peace, then His truth will be conveyed.

Marketing is incentivized

 In our current culture it is almost a guarantee that any major brand you see worn by a celebrity is most likely due to the fact they got it in exchange to talk about/show real-estate-agents-1537461_1920off/or represent that product. I run an Etsy shop and have a Society6 shop where I create bookish products to sell and I choose “Reps” for my brand. These are people who pledge to represent my brand and my products on their Instagram accounts. I don’t pay them to say nice things about my products, but they choose to Rep for me because they like my products and believe in them. This is not the case all the time however. There are many companies who pay people to Rep for them in addition to giving them products for free.

I can’t help but feel a little cheated when I see a celebrity talking about something they “love” only to find out they are getting paid to say those things. Doesn’t it make it seem as if all of their kind words, though probably drawn from real experiences with the product, are tainted?

I think the same can happen with Christians who “market God”. This comes to the heart of it all. To the why of sharing the gospel with others. Are we trying to “market God” because we a) think He needs our help b) think its “the right thing to do” c) feel pressure or guilt to do it d) like the attention we get when we look smart in front of others or e) another answer I haven’t thought of…?

The reasons we should share the gospel (and not market it) come from His commands to us to go and spread the gospel (Matthew 28:16-20, Acts1:8) paired with a heart that overflows with love for our Savior and the overwhelming realization that we cannot keep this Good News to ourselves.

I don’t know you (most likely), so what I say here is largely taken from what I see myself falling prey to. In March on my blog I focus on Marketing and Social Media for writers and authors and, as I contemplated what I wanted this post to be about, I realized that I may do a good job at marketing products and books, but I cannot let that negatively affect my faith.

west-826947_1920I can’t expect to go out “into the world” and arrogantly tell others why they are wrong and need the Lord, but I can share my personal experiences with them and pray for the Holy Spirits conviction in their hearts. I can’t try and make Christianity look “better” or gloss over the heavy issues because I serve a Big God who handles the tough questions. And I can’t have any other motivations aside from desiring to share the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15) with those around me.

Have you struggled with trying to “market God”? Which of these three things can you relate with most? What other things (positive or negative) do you see that have been influenced by this “marketing society” we live in?

***

Emilie is a freelance writer and photographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She’s a member of ACFW and writes romantic square-mesuspense while dreaming up YA Sci-Fi worlds on the side. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time you can find her designing fun bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, and visit her online at her blog, Thinking Thoughts.

 

 

 

Reaching the Next Generation

You might remember my post a while back about doing what we love, whatever that is, for the glory of God. There are countless ways we can do that, but today I want to highlight an author who’s reaching an audience near and dear to my heart–teenagers. This morning Shellie Neumeier, author of Driven, sent an email through the ACFW writer’s loop and I asked her if I could share it here. (And if you know anything about author royalties, you’ll understand that a dollar per book is a hefty chunk! Way to go, Shellie!)

Young Adult Novel Driven Helps Fund the Edge

Shellie: I love Sunday mornings, but before I dive into mine, I wanted to let you know about a special place that’s near and dear to my heart. A few years ago, a small church decided to ask their community how they could serve them. This community had been hit hard by the economy. So hard, that the busing to the local high school had been stopped and many of the lower grades were left without busing, too. BUT in many cases both parents needed to work, so how were parents to pick up their children from school (the ones who were too old for daycare)? What were the teens to do for the hours before their parents came home?

In answer to that need, Wellspring Community Church decided to open a teen center. The Edge soon found itself filled to the brim and within two years, serves to feed and provide for more than 100 teens every afternoon (yup, that’s 100 teens every day…imagine the amount of food they go through:D). Volunteers come to serve the snack bar, mix with the kids, and just love on them. Most volunteers are local youth leaders, some are fantastic parents, and others just have some time to spare and want to serve. There are small groups and classes. I get to  teach a writing class there once a week and these kids are so grateful! I wish I could do more. That’s when it hit me…

During the next two months (until Jan. 31, 2012), for every paperback copy of DRIVEN sold $1 will be given to The Edge so they can continue to support and serve these kids. DRIVEN can be found on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. com (those are probably the easiest sites to pick it up at). At amazon, the PB is only $6.01. If you decide to pick up a copy as a gift for a teen or just for yourself, first Thank You! and second, please send me a note letting me know where you picked up the book, the price it sold for, and when it was purchased (so I can keep track of the monies to be sent to The Edge).

Pretty Little Weeds

Yesterday we woke to our first dusting of snow. Although it was pretty, standing on our porch shivering I found myself longing for spring. Today’s post was written by author Delia Latham after a long winter. As we head toward blizzard season (in MO, anyway) take a moment to remember those first rose buds, leaf sprigs, and yes…weeds.

Pretty Little Weeds by Delia Latham

Spring brings with it such incredible beauty! Every year, I’m amazed all over again by the stunning gift of nature God gives us so freely, and which we rarely take time to fully appreciate.

Yesterday, I also discovered a lesson hiding in some of that beauty. Is it a new thing? No…I tend to agree with King Solomon: There is nothing new under the sun. But sometimes we need a reminder of things we already know, don’t you think?

My family had gathered out on the front deck, enjoying the sunshine and welcome warmth after a cold, harsh Winter that seemed endless. Most of the trees around us are donning their dress-up gowns in various shades of green for the new season. Across the way, Mr. Nichols’ redbud tree is a picture of fuschia-colored glory. Bright yellow forsythia blooms in several yards down the road.

Even the lawns have greened up and are taking part in the joyous song of nature, which always seems to me at this time of year to be praising God for another chance to shine.

Our front lawn needs to be mowed. It’s so beautiful right now, though, that I told my husband I hated to see the lawn mower come out of the garage. The grass is covered in a beautiful carpet of some kind of pale purple wildflower, just tall enough to blow and sway with every breeze. From where I was sitting, it looked like a sea of heather, stirred by gentle waves.

Of course, that’s just me being fanciful. Those pretty blooms aren’t even wildflowers, according to my husband. They’re weeds, and must be mown down—and the sooner the better, to prevent them choking out the grass. My daughter-in-law told me their lawn is covered in something similar, but it’s pretty little white flowers, which are also, unfortunately, just some kind of weed.

As I sat there and studied those pretty weeds, God impressed on me how similar they are to things that often crop up in our lives—things that need to be weeded out, but which we steer the metaphorical lawnmower around because we like them:

• Habits that threaten our health and shorten our lifespan. We not only “allow” them to remain in our lives, we embrace them, nourish them, cling to them, because they fulfill something within us. (Smoking, drinking, overeating, caffeine, OTC drugs, for instance.)

• Pastimes that probably shouldn’t be a part of the life of a Christian . They usually contain some element of attractiveness—that’s how Satan convinces us to take part in them. Simple things like books and movies that contain an over-abundance of R (or higher)-rated language, violence, sex, etc. Places we go that fall outside the auspices of acceptability for a Christian. Even the company we keep can fall into the category of a weed that, if allowed to flourish within our own lives, can choke out the healthy, godly growth that we should be nourishing.

Most of us, if we call ourselves Christians, do a fine job of holding at bay what we consider “big” sins. Think about it. Satan couldn’t convince us to rob a bank, sleep with our neighbor’s wife or husband, get high on cocaine, or molest a child if he tried from now until the end of the world. We know that…and so does he. His best chance of worming his evil way into our lives is through the little things: the pretty weeds on the lawn.

Song of Solomon 2:15 attributes the spoiling of the vine to “the little foxes.” Not a big lion or bear, not some frightening beast that’s difficult to bring down. No, it’s the cute little foxes. The things we barely notice, and if we do, they hold a certain amount of attraction for us. Baby foxes are adorable to look at…but when they’re grown, they become troublesome creatures that are not often welcome on one’s property.

When referring to anything with the potential to escalate into an unpleasant or troublesome situation, my Daddy (the earthly one) used to say, “Best nip it in the bud!” In other words, handle it before it becomes a problem. Pull the weeds before they choke out the garden. (In his case, a lot of times it meant replacing the spark plugs under the engine before they led to a more serious mechanical failure.)

Maybe this lesson was intended only for me. Sometimes God does that, I know—just drops an idea in my head because I need a reminder for whatever reason. That could be why he opened my eyes to those beautiful purple weeds on my lawn…and is it just coincidence that purple happens to be my favorite color?

Sometimes, however, the little spiritual nudges our Father sends to one of us can also be a blessing or a help in some way to another of His kids. So I thought I’d share with you the lesson He shared with me this week.

I pray it blesses you, and helps you nip something in the bud…

Originally posted on Living the Write Life

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website or e-mail delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Delia writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

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