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

Superman – The Salvation of a Vulnerable Hero

ImageMy oldest kids and I watched Man of Steel this weekend – and it produced a whole slew of thoughts in my head. I won’t get too crazy in all the Christian themes I saw waving around in it, (from the “remarkable” birth to the 33 years to the ‘giving himself’ up for the world’s good) but one of the key themes hits at a core of our humanity.

Vulnerability.

A key heroic quality is making oneself vulnerable for the good of someone else. It’s an act of love – and a soul-marker of honor.

No one likes to be vulnerable. In fact, when I’m writing stories, the one thing my characters cling to like the ring of power is their shield against vulnerability. Their personal vulnerability. That’s why true love is so beautiful. We become vulnerable to someone else and trust them to take care of that tender piece of ourselves that few others know about. Our ‘kryptonite’, so to speak.

In Man of Steel, it is very clear that Superman’s greatest vulnerability (even stated outright by the bad guys) is his compassion for the humans. His love for them. He became vulnerable to his enemies by getting on the enemy spaceship for the good of humans. He became vulnerable to death….

Get my drift?

Jesus never wore a red cape or fist-slammed General Zod. In fact, Jesus didn’t fight back….he gave himself up! Became vulnerable to death, the Bible says, ‘Even death on a cross’ (which was beyond-horrible and carried a nasty stigma along with it)

The God-man who walked among us, otherworldly, still felt the barbs, stings, and rejection as any human. He knew loss, deception, agony, fear…everything that makes us vulnerable.

Yet, his sheer act of love turned the tables on Death and the grave.

Image
http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2013/06/should-you-use-superman-movie-in-your.html

The power in that love crushed the head of the Devil.

And once the time is right, the eternal potency in that love will complete its purpose of sending death, hell, and the devil into a “black hole” for all eternity.

Puts a whole new spin on Philippians 2:4-11, doesn’t it?

 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men.

 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Because of HIS love, we are rescued. Because he ‘saved the world’, we are made right with God.

sWe are no longer vulnerable to God’s wrath toward sin, because Christ’s love (through his perfect life and selfless death) smashed the kryptonite!

Living with the knowledge of being loved like this gives power to our lives and hope (the ‘S’, if you’re a kryptonian) to our futures.

We are loved!

In a super-human kind of way 🙂

Sizzling First Encounters with Julie Lessman

Okay, it’s time to ramp up the temperature about 80 degrees.

Everybody ready?

Summer’s here. We know it’s hot outside. But I think today’s guest has a way of moving WAY beyond a sizzle. She tends to stay at…oh…scorching.

Please welcome one of my favorite authors, and so pleased to call her my friend, Julie Lessman. She writes with a Passion Most Pure filled with purely passion 🙂 And not just the loosen-your-collar-and-grab-a-fan type of passion, but the kind that leads you into deeper contemplation about the goodness and mercy of God.

The first book in her newest series is coming out this fall and in celebration of that fact, JULIE IS GIVING AWAY A BOOK. 

READER’S CHOICE. You may choose one of her Daughter’s of Boston series, or…her newest novel, A Hope Undaunted. (which you get a teeny peek at the main characters for that book today- and not just ANY peek, but a deleted scene. Woohoo!)

If you want to peruse the choices and learn more about this wonderful lady, you can check out her website or visit Seekerville (she’s a frequent contributor).

Okay…okay – get on with it you say 🙂

Welcome Jules,

1.)  What is one element of great romantic tension?

 Well, since I’m a drama queen, I like anything with LOTS of head-butting tension, be it anger (my fav!), surprise, sarcasm or just sheer annoyance, which is what I used in this scene from A Passion Denied when Cluny McGee and Katie O’Connor (the hero and heroine of my next release, A Hope Undaunted) have their first “sizzling” encounter.

 Now keep in mind they are kids at the time (Cluny is 14, Katie 11), so “sizzling” is not exactly the right word, but it is their very first “romantic” encounter in which I wanted to sow the seeds of attraction for the next book. But because they were so young, my editor requested I alter this scene to delete “the kiss” and any indication of attraction, which I did in the final book. But I have to tell you that I loved the original SO much (and have fond memories of my own innocent “first kiss” in kindergarten with Johnny Huels in the coatroom), that I wanted to share this scene today since no one has ever read it before as originally written.

 This scene is in Katie O’Connor’s point of view and takes place outside of a hospital waiting room where Cluny McGee has promised to buy her Life Savers. Incidentally, this Life Saver scene also plays a part in the grownup Cluny and Katie’s romance in A Hope Undaunted.

 Cluny nodded to the guard before depositing his money into the machine. He gave Katie a sideways glance. “Life Savers or gum?”

“Did you hear me say anything about gum?”

He grinned and yanked on the lever. “You’re a pistol, Katie Rose. Life Savers it is.” A roll thudded into the open slot while change clinked into the coin return. He retrieved the candy and dropped it in her waiting hand.

She arched a brow, hand still extended. “I believe you said five.”

He pulled his change from the return and tossed in the air. “Nope, said I’d buy you one, but had enough for five.”

She jiggled the roll in her hand. “I want five.”

He grinned. “Kind of hoping you’d say that.”

“You were.”

“Yes, ma’am, I was. And I would dearly love to give you five.”

“You would.”

“For a price.”

“A price?”

“What, are you a parrot?” He redeposited his money and repeated the procedure until five rolls of gold and blue candy gleamed in his palm. She reached and he jerked them away, slipping them into his pocket with an annoying grin. “Yes, ma’am, a price. Kind of an experiment.”

She folded her arms, her eyes slits as he opened a roll and popped one in his mouth. He held another in the air, taunting. “Mmmm … minty.”

She stared, jaws clamped tight, the little white circle an inch from her nose. She could smell the sweet scent of peppermint as he gently prodded it against the tight crack of her lips. Seconds seemed like an eternity before she finally snatched it with her teeth, almost taking his finger in the process. He jerked away.

She smiled. “A bit twitchy, are we?”

“No more than usual when you’re around.” He sucked on his finger as if she’d bitten clean through. “Do we have a deal?”

“What kind of experiment?”

He took her hand and pulled her down the darkened hall, stopping just short of where light shafted through the windows of the waiting-room double doors. Producing four additional rolls of Life Savers, he bounced them in his hand and grinned. “A kissin’ experiment.”

She tried to leave, but he blocked her with a hand to the wall. “One measly, ol’ kiss, Katie Rose, and if Life Savers were money, you’d be a wealthy woman.”

She studied him with a critical eye, deciding for the hundredth time that Cluny McGee was a cocky little brat that grated on her nerves. He had way too much confidence for a boy with a sunken chest and arms no bigger than a willow twig, and enough freckles to make you lose your train of thought. Sweet saints, she hated freckles! Her eyes shifted to the glittering treasure in his hands, shimmering like gold as he rolled them in his palm. Her gaze flicked up to the piercing blue eyes that glinted as if they could read her mind. She firmed her stance and lifted her chin, determined that the blush she felt rising would not reach her cheeks.

“One-measly-kiss,” she enunciated through clenched teeth, “Quick, clean and absolutely no lingering. And for pity’s sake, keep your mouth closed.”

A slow grin traveled his lips. He pocketed the candy with the same unwavering confidence that always got on her nerves. He shot a quick glance down the hall, then pulled her to him with a grip surprisingly strong. “Close your eyes, Katie Rose, the glare is blinding me.”

She broke her own rules and did exactly as he said, although she didn’t really know why. It seemed like he was always giving her ord—

A soft gasp rose in her throat when his mouth moved against hers. Lips that seemed anything but soft when he always yakked her ear off, suddenly felt as silky as the petal of a rose with the fragrance of Pep-o-mint. She had warned him not to linger, but he did, and she found herself shocked that she didn’t care. He stroked the curve of her jaw before he finally pulled away, leaving her lips strangely bereft. She opened her eyes and noted she’d forgotten to breathe.

“That settles it, Katie,” he whispered, his high-pitched voice no longer that of little-boy pest. “You’re the girl I’m gonna marry.”

Her mouth fell open, allowing for shallow breathing that now fluttered in her chest. He took her hand and placed the rolls firmly inside, then pressed her fingers closed. She’d once told Collin she’d never let some sap boy steal her heart. He’d told her she would eat her words. She swallowed hard, the taste of those words—and Cluny’s kiss—still burning her tongue.

 Well Jules, that’s it. I’m going to daydream about Cluny today. After reading a few of the other scenes with him – especially the clips from A Hope Undaunted, I’ve decided my little hero crush might transfer from Collin to Cluny.

Thank you so much for sharing this today. And good luck to all of you who enter the drawing. You CANNOT lose with any of Julie’s books. I have all of the Daughters of Boston and plan to purchase anymore this lady wants to pen.

Inspirational First Encounter

He couldn’t see the faces of the people around him. Had never seen their faces, or anything else. But voices pushed and shoved him through the streets, hands leading him or knocking him away.

Dust, hot and harsh, ground into the holes of his worn out sandals, irritating the sores rubbing against the threadbare leather straps.  There was nothing a poor, blind man could do to earn money for new ones, except beg and wait. But begging felt humiliating and waiting? Well, he’d been waiting for something to happen almost his entire life.

Blind. Yes. Blind from birth. And dependent on the kindness of others.

The swell of voices around him warned him of an incoming crowd. Certainly not a safe place for someone like him. Besides, everyone else seemed as blind to him as he was to them.

A voice, warm as fresh goat’s milk, smoothed through the clamor of voices. What? They were talking about him?

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Someone spat, then all grew silent, except for whir of a sea of whispers.

“Jesus.” They said. Jesus? The very name stirred the embers of hope in his heart. Jesus? The healer from God?

Suddenly, something warm and damp touched his eyes.

“Go,” the voice spoke, as if to the deepest hurt in his heart. “Wash in the pool of Siloam.”

The man half-stumbled and half-ran to the pool, feeling his way around baskets of bread and resting animals. Every step, every fall, increased his faith that this moment would change his life forever.

He nearly fell into the pool, the water washing over him in waves from his splash. It soaked through his clothes, up to his shoulders, and with one deep breath he plunged his face underneath.

The air cooled his face as he pulled his heavy body up from the water and wiped a dripping sleeve across his face. Light poured through his closed eyelids. Light. He blinked. Colors, blurs, movement. He blinked again. The blurs slowly cleared and faces came into view. Faces. Eyes. Smiles.

He could see for the first time in his life. He could see – not only with his eyes, but with his heart. Jesus had made him whole.

Stop by tomorrow and find out who’s visiting next week. Still two more weeks to go of these Sizzling First Encounters, so find out what’s in store.

Blessings

If I Really Knew You

If I Really Knew Youjesus_storms

I was at a writer’s conference once and started chatting with the person in line behind me. No surprise there. My dad says I could carry on a conversation with a block wall. It’s a family trait 🙂

Anyway, this lady and I had a pleasant conversation about life, family, her writing, my writing. Nothing spectacular. I didn’t think anything more of it than a friendly moment in time.

I finished getting my food and sat at a table when one of the other guests touched my arm.
“You looked like you were having a pretty good conversation with Angie Hunt.”
Angie Hunt? Angela Hunt! Award winning author of over one-hundred books!!
(To read more about Angie Hunt, see my post two days ago)
So the pleasant little conversation suddenly changed to one of those shocked moments that you write down in your journal to share with all of your posterity and even devote a blog-post to it 🙂
Knowing WHO she was, changed the way I saw the situation.It wasn’t just a sweet little moment in my day. It was momentous. Knowing WHO she was made a BIG difference on my perspective.
There’s a familiar story in the Bible about Jesus calming the sea. (And though Angela Hunt loves Jesus, knowing her and knowing HIM are two very different things 😉
To paraphrase the Gospels, here we go:
The disciples follow Jesus onto a boat and they head out onto the sea. A big storm whips up out of nowhere, so dangerous that the disciples start to freak out. They start crying out for help, and where is Jesus? In the middle of the howling wind, crashing waves, and pelting rain…sleeping!!
The disciples wake him up and say something like, “Don’t you care that we’re all going to die?”So…Jesus tells the storm to hush up. And it does. Then he looks at his disciples and says, “Oh you of little faith. Why are you so afraid?”
Now some Gospels put Jesus’ rebuke before the calming of the storm and some after. Just imagine Jesus waking from his nap to the hurricane-like conditions and screaming through the wind at the disciples. “Why are you afraid?”
I can only imagine the disciples giving him a look like Jesus, have you seen the size of those waves? This is NOT a dream. We’re going to DIE!
When Jesus calms the storm with his words, the disciples start to freak out in a very different way, because they suddenly were struck with the truth about WHO Jesus really was. The external storm on the water suddenly flew inside their hearts. Whoa! Jesus’ words brought calm to the chaos, as God- The Creator’s- words brought order to the chaos of the universe. Proving that he truly was, who he’d said he was. Spectacular.
So, in one respect, Jesus is saying: If you guys really knew who I was, you’d be able to sleep through a storm too.
There are a few poignant truths in this story.
1. The storm wasn’t a shock to Jesus. He knew it was going to happen and went to sleep anyway.
2. Knowing who Jesus really is, helps us see the storms of life from a new perspective.
Jesus leads us into storms sometimes to refine our faith. So the question is, how do we respond in the middle of the storm? It’s easy to view in hindsight, or predict your response in foresight, but what about in the very middle when the hurt, fear, worry, and grief are the greatest?
This was convicting to me, because if I really know Him, worry becomes obsolete and fear melts into a minor obstacle. His peace settles a heart during the most frightening storm or by streams of living water and green pastures. My heart should find rest in either/or.
The great thing is – he wants us to get to know him better, because he wants us to rest in him.
Psalm 62:1 reads: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.”
Psalm 119:1: Blessed are they that keep his statutes and seek him with all their hearts.”
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
When we know WHO holds us, who loves us, who guides us through the storm – then our perspective on the power of the storm changes and our security in the Maker of the storm overcomes our fear.
May we take this verse to heart and find rest in His promises:
Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”