Tag Archives: Jesus

The Generous Girl: Part 5 in a Seven-Week Bible Study For Women

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this seven-week Bible study based on Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. We’ll be studying the lives of seven incredible New Testament women. It’s the perfect way to journey through Lent together.

The Widow’s Mite: The Generous Girl

Read: Mark 12: 41-44

Raise your hand if you like people watching. I do.

There’s something fascinating about people. Jesus liked people watching too. And that’s where we find him in this story… sitting quietly in the wings, watching people as they dropped their offerings into the temple treasury box. In particular, he’s watching a rich man, who gave some of his money, and a poor widow, who gave all of it.

 

Now if Jesus was watching me as I dropped my offering in the church plate, I’m pretty sure it would make me dig deeper into my purse. Actually, if the Son of God was perched on the pew opposite, it would make me empty my purse too. But here’s the difference… Continue reading

Martha: The Busy Girl. Part 4 in a Seven-Week Bible Study for Women

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this seven-week Bible study based on Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. We’ll be studying the lives of seven incredible New Testament women. It’s the perfect way to journey through Lent together.

Martha: The Busy Girl

Read: Luke 10: 38-42

I have a confession to make… I’m a terrible host. I’ve never liked cooking that much, and when we have more than two people to entertain, I’m a nervous wreck. I cannot imagine how Martha must have felt as she busied herself for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples. It’s my idea of the ultimate nightmare.

I mean, Jesus is coming to dinner. For me, that would be like entertaining the Queen of England. Wouldn’t you want your place to be perfect and your baking top-notch if the Son of God was coming to your eat at your house? Hospitality was an important social requirement of the times. No-one can blame Martha for wanting everything to be perfect.  Just imagine all the jobs she’d already done in preparation…

And then, the big moment arrives.

Slip into Martha’s sandals for a moment and put yourself in her position…

Continue reading

What To Do When Jesus is Buried

During the month of December, a jolly light up Santa would always stand proudly on our front porch. He was there, smiling to the world, ready to herald the arrival of Christmas. But a few years ago, we decided to upgrade to the Holy Family.

We arranged Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus on the front lawn, tracked down our extension leads, and plugged them in. Beautiful!  The baby Jesus brought light to our neighborhood, which of course, is what Jesus always does.

My husband and I watched from the window as the children who lived in the street came to admire the display. It gave us a good feeling to advertise the true meaning of Christmas.

But one week, when the heavy snows came to Michigan, Continue reading

The Final Christmas Love Letters from God Giveaway!

The countdown to Christmas is in full swing. with just twenty days left and little lights twinkling everywhere.

My Facebook feed is full of folks sharing their newly decorated Christmas trees, and just to add to the magic of the season, it started snowing yesterday, at least here in Michigan. I woke up to this wonderful world of white right outside my window.

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Christmas is coming. Jesus is coming. That little baby, hope of the whole world, light of all life.. He is coming.

Christmas is simply the best time to begin making memories and establishing family traditions with our children.

At my final blog stop in the Christmas Love Letters from God tour, I’m sharing ideas for seven meaningful, memorable family activities to enjoy around the Christmas tree. Be sure to check out number seven… that’s my favorite one!

You’ll also be able to download your cute, cut-out Nativity scene, straight from the book, and, of course, enter the final Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway

If you live in the Grand Rapids area and you’d like any one of my six titles signed for a Christmas gift, please come to my Children’s Story-time at Baker Books on Thursday 15th Dec. 10.30-noon.

And here’s my favorite story from Christmas Love Letters from God!

Happy Christmas! (that’s what we say in England!)

Christmas Love Letters from God Blog Hop…and Eight Giveaways!

Here we go friends…. beginning this week I’m embarking on a virtual tour with my newest book, Christmas Love Letters from God.

glenys-with-christmas-ll-bookEach week leading up to Christmas, I’ll be featured on eight different blogs where I’ll be taking part in author interviews, sharing ideas for creating Christmas traditions, and hosting a book giveaway at every stop.

There’ll be book reviews, a chance for you to download your own DIY nativity cutout scene, and ideas for using Christmas Love Letters from God as an Advent or Christmas devotional.

I hope you’ll join us at our first stop today with Vanessa Myers, a United Methodist Children’s Ministry Director, who shares some surprising thoughts about the book.

Here’s the entire blog hop schedule:

OCTOBER

17th: Vanessa MyersChildren’s Ministry Director

24th: Denette FretzChildren’s Book Author

31st:  Christina Embree: Children and Family Ministries Director

NOVEMBER

7th:   Kelly AnnMom Blogger

14th: Laura SassiChildren’s Book Author

21st:  Jenn PorscheHomeschooling Mom

28th:  Traci Smith: Pastor

DECEMBER

5th: Noelle KirchnerPastor

Now head on over to Vanessa Myers…. you don’t want to miss reading what her young daughter wrote in her love letter to Jesus.. it is so precious! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway there too!

The Church in the Middle of the Cornfield

It’s Sunday. l’m in the car early on this October morning. I leave the city and all the traffic behind and pretty soon I’m by myself on country roads, heading to this little church where I’ve been invited to share in a special Children’s Sunday. I’m happy to do it… children’s ministry is my passion.

I don’t really know what to expect when I get there, but I’m thinking that that this place won’t be packed. There probably won’t be many kids. But that’s okay, I remind myself. After all, some of Jesus’ most powerful conversations that would result in transformed lives were shared one on one, rather than in the crowd.

I keep driving, and driving, past peach farms and fruit trees, and nothing else, until I arrive at the railway tracks that have no lights. I obediently stop and as I do, I see a faithful little sign beyond, trying its best to stick up importantly out of the grass. It bears a cross and flame. I know that logo.

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Chapel Hill United Methodist Church 1/4 Mile that faithful sign announces, with a little arrow to guide me just in case I get lost. After all, the road I’m on does seem to stretch into nowhere.

But I’m on the right path. And exactly one-quarter of a mile down that road, I get my first glimpse of the church. It’s little. And cute. It looks welcoming. It’s in the middle of a cornfield.

As I pull into the parking lot, I note that there’s even parking spaces ‘reserved for visitors.’ I try not to think about just how many visitors might come here. But the point is, this church is prepared.

It’s just that I’m not… I’m not quite prepared for what I experience that morning…

because inside those doors, something is happening, fueled by the undeniable and inextinguishable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Every pew is full. And there are children… lots of them. The worship is high energy as we gather to celebrate the launch of the re-envisioned Kidz Konnection. And I have to admit this is just not what I was expecting.

So much work, and thought, and planning, and prayer, and preparation has gone into this that I am overwhelmed… and so proud of this little church and all it is achieving.

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And when we make our way up to the altar rail for communion, I get the biggest piece of bread I have ever seen, because, as the pastor says: who wants a little bit of Jesus? Don’t we all want a big hunk of Jesus?

Yes, yes, yes! This little church in the middle of the cornfield is offering a big hunk of Jesus to all who step though its doors. And that is a wonderful thing.

And I guess it doesn’t matter what size our church, whether we’re in the city or the country, as long as we’re preaching the Gospel and welcoming children as Jesus did.

As long as little children return from the communion rail grinning from ear to ear clutching a piece of bread so sodden in juice that it has turned pink, while others kneel at the communion rail, their eyes closed and their hands held high in prayer.

And when I leave that morning, I look out, beyond the cross, over to the cornfield and I watch the giant stalks blowing in the wind.

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I think about that huge field of corn, and all the work and preparation that went into it. Of how a farmer must have planted those seeds, and nurtured them, and fed them, and proudly watched them grow, all the while anticipating a harvest.

And that’s just what this little village church is doing… planting seeds, and nurturing them, and faithfully fulfilling its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

There will be a harvest.

Our Ridiculous God

It was this time last year, when the sun shone hot over the water and the family of geese floated by. That’s when it happened.. something so ridiculous that only God could have done it.

We’re standing in the back yard, my husband and I. We’re not alone. There are others here too, perusing the papers passed to them by the realtor. They’re doing what we’re doing – trying to imagine themselves living in this home, this little home on the lake. But it is little. Cute… but would we have room for our family when they come to visit from England?

I blame the Fletters. It was that family, among others, who made us fall in love with the ridiculous idea of lake-living when we came to live in the United States. Fifteen long years ago it was when they took us to that lovely lake home where we were first introduced to the fun of tubing, and the crazy idea of swimming in a lake.

No-one in England swims in a lake. I can remember saying incredulously. They’re freezing!

But not in Michigan. In Michigan they are warm, and welcoming. And people live on them.

But not us. I remember thinking. We’ll never live on a lake, because we live in parsonages. We go where God sends, and that means a home I’ll never get to choose myself.

But who knows what God has in store? Not me.

So this time last year, the unimaginable is about to happen. And we’re thinking about this little home. We’re standing on the grass that looks and feels like a luxurious sponge, and we’re looking out over the water to where kayakers float effortlessly and two white swans drift by. And my husband turns around to look at the neighbor’s house. It’s much bigger. It has a lovely deck. And a cute little beach. And for some ridiculous reason, there’s an ‘Open House’ sign hanging there too.

Now that’s a lake home Glenys. He says. Look at next door! Look at that lovely deck! That’s a home big enough to share with our family from England. Let’s go and peek inside.

I remember saying it clearly:

Don’t be ridiculous. 

And twelve months later, when those same white swans are drifting by, and the sun is sinking in a pool of red over the lake, that lovely deck is the one from which I write. That lovely home is the one we’re sharing right now with our family from England.

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And all the thanks and praise goes to God, who whispers crazy things like:

Just hold your staff over the water Moses, and see what happens. 

(Can’t you just hear Moses saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

Or: Just march around those massive walls Joshua, and see what happens. 

(Can’t you just hear Joshua saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

Or: Just wait three days Mary …you will see me again.

(Can’t you just hear Mary saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

But that’s our ridiculous God… who does the impossible, who whispers the incredible, who resurrects fifteen year old dreams and breathes them back to life.

Yes God is good: in earth and sky,

From ocean’s depth and spreading wood,

Ten thousand voices seem to cry,

God made us all, and God is good.

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When You See Your Book Published in Korean…

A wonderful surprise plopped onto my doorstep recently. It was four copies of Love Letters from God….in Korean.

Korean Love Letters

I tore away the packaging and eagerly opened the book. Of course, I couldn’t understand a word. But on the other hand, I knew everything it said.

My Korean translator is called JongRak Hong. He diligently pored over this book and spent hours translating it into his native language.

Last year, I got an email from him. It was very polite. It went like this:

May I ask you a question? Don’t worry. It’s a very simple question.

In Acknowledgments, you say thanks to your brother Trevor.

Is he your elder brother or younger brother?

Because In Korean, there are different words for calling elder/younger brother and sister.

His message made me smile. Here was I, thinking that a computer would be translating my book, when all the while, JongRak was poring over its pages, working diligently to make sure every single word was translated correctly.

Trevor is my older brother, I told him.  (The one who first saw the potential in the pages of this book, the one who is a wonderful writer himself….but I didn’t tell JongRak that.)

It was several months later when that amazing package arrived at my door. I tried to find the name of my brother, Trevor. It’s hard, but I know it’s somewhere near the top of this page:

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My name looks like this:

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And this is the name of God:

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And while I’m turning the pages in the USA, struggling to make sense of the words, I know there’s someone on the other side of the world, perhaps a mom, or a dad, or a grandma, or a grandpa, cuddling their little Korean child on their lap, who’s also turning these pages and smiling as they read God’s love letters to them.  And every word makes complete sense.

Go into all the world, Jesus told his disciples, and preach the good news to all nations. Wow…perhaps I’m a tiny part of that, and so is JongRak Hong.

That Quiet Cave…

Jesus was dead.

Joseph and Nicodemus were sad. They carefully took his body down from the cross. They cleaned him. They made him smell nice. They wrapped his body in strips of white linen and carried him to a quiet cave on the hillside. They laid Jesus down inside the cave. Then they said goodbye. And before they left, they rolled a big stone over the entrance.

Jesus was dead.

Outside the cave, two guards kept watch. The big heavy stone was sealed in place. Around the cave, leaves fluttered silently in the wind. Above the cave, the skies were gray. Rain fell softly from heaven and pitter-pattered on the hillside. And for three whole days, all was still.

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But inside that quiet cave something was happening.

God was working.

God was doing a new thing.

If you tried to peep inside, you couldn’t see anything. No eye could see it.

If you stood outside and put your ear to the big stone, you couldn’t hear anything. No ear could hear it.

If you tried to imagine what was happening, you couldn’t. No mind could imagine it.

But inside, God was doing something new—something utterly amazing. Something only God could do.

Jesus waited.

And the world held its breath and waited with him.

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

The Trouble with Holy Week

I will not buy a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. I will not. Even though I know how delicious it is, and I really do want one. I turn away from this tempting stall even though I can smell its juicy, ripe fruit from here, and try to focus.

I’m standing in one of Jerusalem’s tiny, fascinating, cobbled streets. This route is called the Via Dolorosa. I’m one of a group, trying to listen to our tour guide as we follow in the last footsteps of Jesus. The triumphal procession and celebration of Palm Sunday is long gone for Jesus. What lies ahead is horrific, and unbelievable, and unimaginably cruel.

These are the very streets through which Jesus dragged his heavy cross, stumbling under its weight, bleeding onto the cobbles, while people watched and laughed and cheered.

We’ve just emerged from the darkness of an underground room, the place where Pilate condemned Jesus to death. We’re ready to go where Jesus went. I’m behind my sister-in-law and I hear her whisper to my brother, as she slips her hand in his:

Let’s follow the footsteps of Jesus.

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I’m already feeling emotional as I really think about where his footsteps would take him.

But as soon as we emerge on to those busy Jerusalem streets, that’s when I see the pomegranates, and the scarves, and smell the coffee. And that’s when I lose my focus.

The narrow, winding alleys are simply filled with life, and color, and busyness, and sound. Everywhere I look there are stalls filled with things I want….

I see that fruit and suddenly, instead of thinking about the sour vinegar- the last drink that Jesus would have-  I’m thinking about that freshly squeezed pomegranate juice I could have.

I see a myriad of colorful scarves, blowing in the wind, and suddenly, I’m not thinking about the crown of thorns that Jesus wore- I’m thinking about the pretty blue scarf  I could wear.

I see the little Israeli coffee stall and suddenly, I’m not thinking about the smell of blood and sweat as Jesus fell to the cobbles under the weight of his cross- I’m thinking about the delicious aroma of freshly ground coffee mixed with cardamom seeds.

Let’s follow in the footsteps of Jesus, she said.

But I’m terrible at it.

It’s so very hard… to walk with Jesus through this Holy Week, to truly contemplate the meaning of Maundy Thursday, and to experience the grief of Good Friday. But for Jesus, it was the only way, the only way, to that empty tomb, to Resurrection Sunday.

And if I wanted to, I could skip right through Holy Week. I could jump straight from Palm Sunday to Easter morning. I don’t have to go through any of it… because Jesus did it for me.

Help me, God, amidst the busyness and distractions of Holy Week, to try to remember that.