Faith is…Putting Your Boots On

My family and I are big fans of The Chronicles of Narnia. The book series is a powerful set of stories with one bigger theme from the first book to the last, but there’s something extra-magical about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We are introduced to the Pevensies and Tumnus, the story of Narnia, The White Witch, and, of course, Aslan.

tom-skarbek-wazynski-226342-unsplash (1).jpgWhen the movie adaptation of this book came out, my family was excited and a wee bit skeptical. Would the movie-makers be able to capture the magic in C.S. Lewis’s classic? So many times, movies just don’t match the novels as clear representations.

Well, I feel this first installment of the beloved series was well-done, even capturing a few things the books didn’t show, such as Peter’s protective nature toward his sisters, particularly Lucy. That was so SWEET!!

Tilda Swinson was BOSS as the White Witch and I think all four of the Pevensie kids were fabulous. AND how can you go wrong with using Lian Neeson’s voice for Aslan? Really? 😊

While watching it again last night with my kids, there is a teeny tiny moment in the movie that always hits me with such power. Don’t get me wrong, there are sooooo many amazing moments that I love in that movie, but this specific one stood out to me last night.

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After Lucy has already gone to Narnia once, and no one believes her, she wakes up in the middle of the night. She swings her legs around the side of the bed and there are two pairs of shoes there, her slippers and some wellies/boots.

She doesn’t even hesitate in her choice. She chooses the boots.

What does that say about Lucy? She’s certain that Narnia is so real and it’s going to be there for her again, that she doesn’t even think about slippers. She needs her boots for the snow of Narnia. Even when they checked the wardrobe earlier and only saw the back of a wooden container filled with coats, Lucy believes in something she hasn’t seen – that Narnia will be there THIS time.

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Faith.

Certain of what we cannot see.

There are lots of things we ‘see’ in this world which could really shatter our hope, but faith sees through the spiritual lens of God’s Word.

We haven’t seen God’s plans for our future.

We haven’t glimpsed Heaven.

Faith isn’t wishful thinking – it’s a spiritual change of perspective based on a real act of God..pngWe haven’t fully experienced the complete redemption of our souls.

But…we put on our boots because we believe God’s promises.

Faith isn’t wishful thinking – it’s a spiritual change of perspective based on a real act of God.

We once were blind but now we SEE what hope really looks like.

Life is hard.

Don’t forget to put your boots on 😊

pepper (1)

Your Days Are Numbered

Your days are numbered.

Did you know that?

As in:

1

45

16,782

Numbered.

And not ONE of them is worthless or unimportant.

Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Whoa. So, how do we number our days? Well, the first few verses in that chapter give us some clues. It’s basically this:

Realizing who WE are and what We’ve done in the light of realizing who GOD is and what HE’S done.

Moses starts the Psalm by talking about the greatness and eternality of God.

v. 2 – “Before the mountains were born
   or you brought forth the whole world,
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

So, basically – we must try to see our lives from God’s perspective, since He’s been around a bit longer than we have, and knows a whole lot more than we ever could.

To make sure we get the point, Moses goes on to describe our humanness and mortality.

v. 5 – Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
   they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
   but by evening it is dry and withered.

Or

v. 9-10 – All our days pass away under your wrath;
   we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
   or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
   for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Pretty gloomy sounding, isn’t it?

Almost in one breath – life is here, then it’s gone.

Does it matter to us?

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with being my own god.

By living my life as if it is going to go on forever, and forgetting why I was created.

I forget that by original design, this world is not my home and the things of it are as frail as a snowflake.

I live my life as if I am the author of my future, the keeper of my past, and the conqueror of my present, but I deceive myself.

The eternal Time Keeper sees the big picture of my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly- and weaves them all together to make me into a child fit for Heaven.

The troubles, the trials, the heartache, and pain, serve a grander purpose. Moses’ words help us put grief and trials in their proper place:

See verses 14-17, particularly verse 15:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
   establish the work of our hands for us—
   yes, establish the work of our hands.

It’s really all about seeing things from the right perspective. Who we are and who He is.

If his ‘unfailing love’ truly satisfies us, then whatever the ‘affliction’ or ‘trouble’, we can ‘sing for joy’ and ‘be glad all our days’, because we recognize the extravagance of the Father’s love.

When we are satisfied with His ‘unfailing love’ – then everything else falls into its proper place. Our deeds and our ‘works’ no longer control us but are controlled by the Holy Spirit in us.

The number of our days no longer matter – it’s how we fill each one of those days that begins to shape our points of view.

I don’t know about you, but I really need to get my mind off of me – and onto Jesus!

Blessings,

pepper (1)

God and “Ships” in Lego Batman

people-3281583_1920If you haven’t seen The Lego Batman Movie, it’s certainly a movie worth your time. It’s so funny and gives all sorts of nostalgic/clever hints back to Batman movies from days-gone-by.

All of your Batman favorites come out to play – Joker, Harley Quinn, Alfred, Robin, Barbara Gordon and even Tom Cruise…. oh wait, he’s not a usual feature in Batman…but yep, he shows up.

Along with the typical silliness and humor that Lego movies have brought in the past, this one also adds an important storyline. The main story problem – well, Batman tells Joker within the first few minutes.

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Batman works alone. He doesn’t ‘need’ anyone His focus and identity is in the fact that he can make it on his own, doesn’t have to share the glory of his successes, but more than any of those things, he doesn’t have to become vulnerable.

Throughout the movie, we get to watch circumstances force Batman into being…gasp…introspective. He begins to see (and fight against) the value of building relationships with a variety of people, including his comical nemesis, the Joker.

james-baldwin-276255-unsplash.jpgLiving in community with others makes his life complete.

Relationships are important in making Batman a better…Batman.

The Bible is a beautiful story of relationship.

First its God’s relationship within the trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit, but from the Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells of story of God’s relationship with his people. Scene upon scene shows his pursuing, faithful design to mend a broken relationship between him and his people.

He totally does ‘ships’ – so much so, that he pursues people who are as indifferent to him as Batman is to little Robin in the movie.

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We’re probably even worse!

Yet, because of God’s love, the relationship that once was irrevocably severed has been restored through the faithfulness and obedience of Jesus Christ.

The only way for true relationship is in Christ.

He completes us.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen   Hebrews 13:20-21

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The Things We Leave Behind

I think most people’s lives are full of little secrets, don’t you? I can’t think of too many people who don’t have a few – who are completely authentic.

I started thinking about this when my grandmother passed away a few years ago. Over the months following her death, my mom and aunts cleaned through Granny’s room, digging in places only Granny had been. The dresser drawers, the boxes in corners, and the ‘off limits’ closet at the end of the hallway. Boxes and envelopes and pages upon pages of history, notes, pictures, receipts…. anything we’d ever want to know about Granny.

You know what?

After going through all of those personal, and sometimes intimately personal things, they didn’t find ONE ITEM that shed a negative light on her. No journal entry of frustration. No receipt of a questionable purchase. No love letters from anyone except her husband. No brow-raising books.

Nothing.

Only a plethora of pictures, notes sent to her from her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, and Bible verses written on scrap paper.

All the ‘secrets’ that were unearthed about her after her death, weren’t secrets at all. They only confirmed that she was EXACTLY who she always seemed to be.

It doesn’t mean she didn’t sin or fail. She needed Jesus just like the rest of us – but she lived life in the real.

If people went through our ‘secret’ things, would the find what they expected? Would the pages of your journal or the corners of your drawers only prove to confirm who you seemed to be?

No matter how much we may try to hide the truth, God’s known us to our cores – all the way to our thoughts. He’s searched through the layers of our feelings, the shadows of our memories, and even sifted through our darkest thoughts. He’s not surprised – and although He might find things we’ve tried to hide, He loves us anyway. An AMAZING sort of love.

Resurrection Day – 2018

1My oldest son has always been a picky eater.

I remember this one time when he was about eight years old and we were all sitting around the table having spaghetti. He despises tomatoes and did not want to eat the tomato sauce but, knowing the family rule, he anticipated having to eat what was on his plate. With a deep sigh, he put his hand to his ear as if he held a phone to it, and calmly said “Get my agent on the phone. I want out of this movie.”

Oh yes! What a torturous life! Spaghetti sauce!

But in all honesty, who hasn’t felt that way? Not necessarily about eating spaghetti sauce, but the desire to escape.

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When life gets tough or something happens that we really don’t like, wouldn’t it be so much easier to disappear from the situation? Who wants to struggle anyway? Who wants to push through the hard times? It would be so much easier if life was just a piece of cake.

Sometimes we try to escape or run away or ignore. With the pretension of keeping the peace, we ignore problems or attempt to ‘avoid conflict’. It’s a lot easier to stay away from things we really don’t like. Who wants to ruffle feathers? Who wants to get in the middle of messes? Who wants to hurt?

Well, one person stepped into the middle of a mess when he could’ve easily gotten out of it, and he stayed to see the problem through to the end.

The story of humanity was broken with the fall of Adam. Lives were shattered, the harmonious relationship between God and man was devastated, and the only way to bridge the brokenness was if the son of God would come into the messed-up tale of history and stay in the story.

Even when it got hard. Even if it meant his death.

Yeshua, Lamb of God.
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It’s mind-blowing! We are the ones who caused the mess, who shattered the relationship. We are the ones who rebelled. But out of love and compassion and a desire to please the father he adored, Jesus left the perfect harmony of heaven and stepped into our story. Not only did he step into it, he stayed in it until the end. That’s the important part to remember.

 

You see, the journey became painful. Betrayal. Abandonment. Loneliness.

The tale became torturous. Nails, thorns, lashes.

But he stayed.

I am in awe and wonder at the love of our Savior that he, the very author of the story, didn’t just pen the pages and allow the crazy characters to destroy themselves. No, he became a character, himself. Journeyed with his creations through the pain and the choices, finishing the story with us.

Jesus Lives! He rose on the 3rd day breaking the bonds of death so that we can all be resurrected someday as well. If that isn't LOVE, I don't know what is! #EasterHatsForWomen
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And the cross isn’t the end of the story, because if that was the end, it would not be the happily-ever-after ending that God promised. Nope. The real ending of the story is what we’re celebrating this Sunday. Christ’s resurrection. The rest of the journey is the glorious epilogue because everything that Adam broke in the garden was made right when Jesus rose from the dead.

 

If you’re broken, hurting, wandering, don’t forget, there is Someone who is in this story with you to the end.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Pepper

Kisses & Band-Aids

I’m determined to believe there is something magical about ‘Mommy kisses’ and ‘band-aids’.
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They are like small, daily miracles God gives moms to make the little traumas of life a bit easier to bear. It’s an amazing thing to watch a crying child with a ‘boo boo’ suddenly smile after one brief kiss to the ‘wounded area’ and a quick slap of a band-aid.

Whether you choose a colorful Dora or Cars band-aid or just the plain tan kind, either seem to do the trick with the same amount of powerful healing abilities :-)  Why do you think that is? I know there is nothing particularly miraculous about “Plastic comfort-flex bandages”, but a kiss….? Isn’t a ‘kiss just a kiss’?

 

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It seems to me, these little ‘miracles’ fix the minor problems because the child realizes somebody cares about her. That brief moment of love, shared in the tangible form of a kiss, soothes the temporary ache or shock of pain.

 

So often I forget that God’s little kisses and band-aids come on a daily basis too. Through ‘touches’ from others around me. His hands and feet are made evident in the smiles, hugs, words of encouragement, and laughter of friends and family – to help soothe away the daily cares of life.
Whether it’s a surprise offer of a neighbor to watch your child, an unexpected hug, a listening ear, a call at just the right time…they’re not accidental – those are little bits of Heaven on Earth. God’s ‘handiwork’ in action.

 

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I’m increasingly humbled by His beautiful love made evident through the love of others – His Body. I’m reminded that He’s always with me…ready to give me His band-aids and kisses through the comfort and love of His hands and feet on this earth.
Pepper

The Big Picture of God’s Story & Giveaway

In the beginning was…

The story

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It’s true. If you start with Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) history, “Genesis” even means ‘an origin, creation, or beginning’.

The Genesis of God’s story was creation.

But we can really sum up the entire Bible into one sentence.

What is the Bible about?

God rescuing His people.

A Father rescuing His children.

Pure and simple.

The BIG picture of the Bible isn’t about mighty men and women of God overcoming massive obstacles – although (with God’s strength) some of them do.

priscilla-du-preez-172593.jpgIt’s not about amazing historical (and miraculous) events – although there are many.

At the heart of the Bible – it’s all about RESCUE! Rescue and love!

As a Christian, this should encourage you (and me).

Even if this last year wasn’t a year of celebration, or amazing things, in the grand scheme of things, it’s another piece to God’s BIG puzzle of rescue. His giant story of finding His lost children and bringing them back home.

There’s a great deal of comfort in the truth that All things work together for them who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

We see our lives like this:

We’re looking through the lens of a camera. All we can see is the small square of site through the lens.  And what we see may look like a barren, deserted, wasteland…

Until we step back from the lens and see the ‘big picture’ to realize we’re staring at a small piece of the Grand Canyon.

*I’ve included several examples of this concept in my pics for the post. If you only see a part of the picture, you’re interpretation is skewed – until you see the FULL picture. THEN you can understand how that small piece you saw through the lens, fits into the BIG picture

We only see a piece of our lives, but God sees the whole span of eternity.

And our rescue is a part of His Master plan.

Because He loves us THAT much.

I want to leave you with these FABULOUS verses from I Corinthians 13, as paraphrased from The Message.

12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

May you trust God to the Big Picture of your life and Rest in His LOVE.

For more on ‘beginnings and writing’, check out my post on The Writers Alley. It’s all about the ‘beginning of stories’.

Pepper

Giveaway!

I am hosting a giveaway for my NEW SUBSCRIBERS! If you don’t receive my newsletter yet…You can sign up HERE. Your name will automatically be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! YAY! Spread the word! Giveaway will close 2/11/18 at 11:59pm EST.

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Knowing Who Loves You

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I love it when God gives you one of those brief moments of clarity.

Of what it really feels like to be loved.

Sometimes, we have to go through our days reminding ourselves of God’s truths in the Bible. Forcing our logic to overcome our feelings.

_...in that moment, we feel his freedom._But occasionally, we’ll have those moments where what we know meets a moment where we ‘get it’ – the glimpse of God’s amazing love through Christ. And in that moment, we feel his freedom.

We know it. We have faith in it – but because God loves us so well and so much, He will give us moments where His love becomes clear – and it’s beautiful.

It’s the reminder that the trial is temporary. That the pain won’t last forever. That no matter how hard, how long, how difficult, how shaken, battered, or scarred – we are completely free in His love.

And it helps us see the bigger picture.

For just a moment.

But…thank the good Lord – that’s enough…

Pepper

To the Unassuming Superheroes

batman-1070422_1920This week fellow author Melissa Tagg shared some wonderful news about her brother-in-law and nephew, Chip and Ollie Reece. Chip, dad to Ollie, wrote a book for his son with Down syndrome about a super hero with…you guessed it, Down syndrome.

Evidently, Ollie LOVES superheroes and I bet Ollie already knows he’s living with one 😊

You see, in my twenty years of working with children who have special needs, I’ve met real-life super heroes. People who do extraordinary feats on a daily basis.

People who learn to think super creatively to help their child transition from the car into Walmart

People who are scared of next week but draw on super-human courage to step into tomorrow

superheroes-2People who have to wake up throughout the night well beyond the ‘baby’ days to help their kid out and STILL get up to face the next day.

People who cry themselves to sleep at night because they felt weak, but somehow garner strength to hope in tomorrow.

People who love tirelessly, provide boundaries so their kids learn how to be responsible adults, give with seemingly endless reserves, laugh even when they’re hurting, dream bigger than circumstances, take the stings of reality and bathe them with the balm of possibility.

Superheroes lives among us.

I’ve met them.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing more than one.

They’re parents of little superheroes like Ollie.

Like the ones I’ve had the honor to know throughout my career as a speech-language pathologist and Autism expert.

Many of them found hope and strength in their faith.

Most of them found courage and optimism from their communities.

And they walk among us. Loving their kids. Living their lives. Sacrificing in ways we can’t even imagine to unassumingly inspire. Yes.

I’ve met super heroes.

They’re those people who are helping their children feel like heroes too.

And I’m honored to live and work among them 🙂

Magic Eraser and the Desperate Leper

Magic Eraser.pngAs a parent, I’m sure you can commiserate with me. Permanent marker is not a 3 year old’s friend, and especially not a mother’s. In less time than in takes for my seventy pound dog to eat his breakfast, a 3 year old can make quick artwork on any item within a home. Permanent.
If you can guess, I’ve had it happen – except, it was on my wall in my office at work. Worse. Much worse. The only thing scarier than permanent marker at work is getting it on the in-laws walls. Yikes!

So, besides freaking out and melting into a embarrassing state of hysteria, I searched for every possible cleaning agent known to man. Greased Lightening (which can take off paint, but not permanent marker), Bleach (yeah, crazy), even The Magic Eraser. Nothing worked.

So the only thing to be done was…repaint the wall. After that, I got rid of all my permanent markers.

MarkerThe wall looked perfect – the evidence removed. Only memory kept the marks clear in my head.

There’s a story in the Bible that reminds me of this. It takes place in Matthew 8 and revolves around some of the most ostracized people in the world. Lepers. The diagnosis of leprosy was catastrophic. It meant the person was removed from his family, friends, and all ‘polite’ society, so to speak, and had to live outside the camp of God’s people. It was humiliating to the point that anytime someone came close to them, they had to yell out “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn the approaching people. Even touching a person with leprosy made the uninfected person ‘unclean’ for a while.

A few amazing things about this story…

1. Jesus TOUCHED the leper. Now, did Jesus need to touch him to heal him? No, but he did this to prove to the doubters and others that he would take the uncleanness of this outcast on himself (as He would do on the cross).
2. Jesus did it ALL. The leper could do nothing to clean himself – no Magic Eraser could take the sores and scars away, but the Great Physician wiped him clean with one touch. Jesus willingly took on the ‘stigma’ of unclean by touching the leper. He was…and is willing. We can never keep the law in any way that completely satisfies God’s requirements. We MUST have grace. Our healing is all about Jesus.
3. We all have a type of leprosy. We are lepers of the heart. Our hearts are infected by the debilitating, corrosive evil of sin. With such an infectious heart, we cannot do good or even ‘see’ clearly. No amount of praying, working, boasting, giving, helping, singing, or learning will clean our hearts. It takes Jesus. For our impure, leprous hearts, he gives the ultimate cleaning. His grace. His sacrifice. His love. As with the leper from Matthew, he looks at us with an ageless, eternal love and says, “I am willing. Be clean.”
Pepper