Stories that Shine on an Awesome God

Archive for the ‘Good’ Category

Writing Prompt

Oranges…  I see. I feel. I taste….

Oranges as a creative writing prompt?

I could turn this into a blog. I’ve needed to blog for months. Fallen way behind, doing other writing and editing and living. Blogs are important for writers to keep up. Mine is particularly important, because I’ve dedicated it to sharing God, in little “penpoints” of light.

Why not?Oranges

I was nine, just home from school, and ready to play. The garden patch with its tangle of dried plants and weeds beckoned my little brother and I into a game of Hide-and-seek.

Run and disappear into the weeds. Wait for footsteps. Jump up. Run. Repeat. Laugh a lot.

Trip. Fall down. Scream. Leap up. Scream some more. Swat at yellow jackets angry that you landed on their home. Dash to yours.

Mom met me at the door, stripped off my clothes, and prepared a tub of water and Epson salts. As she sponged the healing potion over my seventeen stings, my tears subsided.

“You stay here and soak,” she cooed. “I will bring you something to help you relax.”

Enter oranges.

A plate of orange wedges placed, eye level, on the edge of my tub. A whole plate of expensive and therefore, scarce and carefully doled out fruit, all to myself. To be savored in private. One at a time. Each section glistened with succulent promise. Mom smiled, turned, and closed the door.

oranges 3

My nose touched the plate. I sniffed the tangy, citrus burst, then closed my eyes and took time to inhale the smell of comfort.

The surface of the wedge of orange between my fingers pressed firm yet pliable, smooth yet dimpled. Most of the wedges included the globular flesh of the orange’s navel. I would tug them off to savor their peculiar texture and their enhanced sweetness. Under the skin, a layer of white cushioned the juice. Perfect. The pith of a navel orange would extend the pleasure.

I sank back into my very first luxury soak, and brought the orange to my lips. As the elixir slipped between my teeth and over my tongue, the stings on my body receded. I sucked the wedge dry and reached for another. And another. Life was again worth a game of Hide-and-seek.

As my friend, Grand Andrew wrote and sings, I was “living in the luxury of the little things.” (Check out his music, here. Grant Andrew Music )

To this day when I’m in pain, and if I’ll remember, there is comfort in the little things. There is luxury and solace in the smell, the taste, the feel of the oranges in my life.

 “The [orange] trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.” – Psalms 104:16

If I take the time to relax and enjoy God’s simple gifts, so are my days.

Local Disturbance

Two weekends ago the weather was good for flying. Not perfect. A layer of haze, hot and moist, hung in the late summer sky, but visibility was good. My husband, Bruce, eager to get behind the controls, began his pre-flight check. I stepped onto the wing, slid into my seat, and let out a deep sigh. I was ready for the break.

Plane Open

Since spring, lessons on the craft of writing have consumed me. While they have morphed my work into a better read, they have slowed its progress. This blog has been neglected entirely.

God, it’s your book, your blog. Help me stay true to your priorities.

I snapped on my seat belt.

Kids and grandkids, free from school, have also provided happy stretches of summer diversion.

God, our children are yours too. Help me stay true especially to them.

I snugged on my headphones and adjusted the mic.

Rita with Headphones

Most recently, a volley of written attacks lobbed against a loved one had thrown me temporarily off course. The vicious nature of the attacks had shocked all of us.

Father God, despite the lies, help me to stay as true to duty as the needle is to the pole, just like my husband reminds me. And thanks for this get-a-way.

Bruce climbed into the pilot’s seat and pulled down the cockpit’s glass hatch. He completed the final check and taxied onto the runway. He communicated our intent to take off. We would turn left and go north. With flaps adjusted and engine at full throttle, he lifted us smoothly into the air.

The ground below became a patchwork of homes, rivers, and fields.

Earth from air

“See.” He pointed to the top of the controls. “There’s the magnetic compass we’ve been talking about. Even with my high tech, Garman G1000 panel, there is still a magnetic compass.”

I nodded.

“So tell me again,” I said. “What makes a compass not work well?”

“Deviation. Variation. Local Disturbance. To name three. You have to take those into consideration to stay on course and for the needle to stay true to the pole.

“Sounds complicated.”

“It is. Just like life,” he spoke the truth through his mic. “Deviation is a magnetic disturbance that is fairly constant and located near the compass. Deviation is caused by something like iron in the plane’s engine. If you navigated by compass, you would have to take that into consideration.”

“Deviation is kind of like making adjustments for life’s regular challenges?”

“Right.” Bruce reached his goal of three-thousand feet altitude and pushed on the auto pilot. “Variation is also fairly constant, caused by a band of iron in northern Canada and around the globe. When you fly, you still have to adjust your degrees so that you head true north and not just magnetic north.”

“And that’s like?” I asked.

“It’s called variation because the needle changes depending on where you are at over the earth’s surface. It changes with time.”

“So we might vary from our duty by where we are at in our own personal journey?”


He scanned the sky around us. I opened a book.

Pilot Bruce

“Local disturbances are the hardest,” he continued. “Significant iron deposits are scattered over the earth and can cause a local disturbance. To be prepared, you have to know where they are. If you are over a local disturbance, you ignore the magnetic compass because it can do crazy things.”

“Yeah, wow. Just like personal attacks. We get distracted while our life’s needle swings crazily, away from our pole of duty. But God allows for that, don’t you think?”

“For sure he does. At least the God I know does. He helps to keep us on course, as long as we watch and listen.”

I turned to my book. My headphones muffled the whoosh of the wind and the engine’s steady roar.

“Traffic ahead. One o’clock.” The airplane’s automatic alert system sounded its robot voice. “One mile. Same altitude.”

I grabbed the top of the control panel and peered in the one o’clock direction toward the haze.

“Where is it? I can’t see it!”

“Right there!” Bruce threw the plane into manual control and nose-dived. “Look up.”

A small plane passed overhead. It flew straight on.

“Whew! Maybe three-hundred feet to spare.” Bruce leveled our plane. “I don’t think he even saw us.”

“He probably doesn’t have an alert system,” I said. “Either that or he got distracted.” I settled back in my seat. “Woah.”

“That will make your heart race.” Bruce shook his head.

Thank you, Father. Thank you for guiding us through yet another local disturbance.

Land Under Plane Wing

Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. Matthew 26:41

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

How has God guided you through the deviations, variations, or local disturbances in your life?  Please share!

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A God with a Purpose

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

It had been a long seven years for Bobbi, but she never looked back. Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Age Related Dementia, Dysphagia, C.O.P.D, and Congestive Heart Failure were just a few of the challenges she had faced while caring, in her home, for her father-in-law. Feelings of inadequacy and imperfection had surfaced as the years stretched on. Every time they raised their ugly head, she cried out to God for his strength and comfort. Every time he assured her that he was near and that taking care of family was her highest calling.

Rodger 2


Now, the man who had consumed every ounce of her energy was gone. Flowers faded on his grave. Her house breathed stillness. Blessed quiet. Time to write, grieve, and recover. And her book was born.

Several states away, Bobbi’s sister had experienced her own care-giving challenges: A mother in law with Alzheimer’s, two teenagers, two pre-teens, plus a daughter who moved in with her baby girl. Bobbi and she had often chuckled about her “girls in diapers.” Her sister belonged, as full-fledged member, to the Sandwich Generation. Like Bobbi, she took care of family.

Bobbi dreamed of writing a series on care-giving. She called her sister.

“Hey, Sis. I’ve been thinking about a book, one we could write together. Your story needs to be told. I’m done with my book. What do you say?”


Had Bobbi offended her? Did her sister want to write the book alone?


A sniffle from across the miles traveled straight into Bobbi’s heart.

“Oh, Bobbi.” Her sister gained composure. “You have no idea what this means. I’ve been offered a promotion at work and I’ve been praying, praying, praying. I’ve been impressed that my purpose in life is not a fancy job. It’s service to others. And now, right now, when I need it most, my sister phones and answers my prayer. You have just reaffirmed my calling.”

Today, two women are engrossed in a collective, creative work because they love God and are called according to his purpose.



Are you called according to his purpose? How do you know?

What IS his purpose?

He answers that question in Romans 8:26-39. There we can begin to understand what kind of purpose motivates our God and Lord. It’s the same kind of purpose to which he calls you.

His purpose is to:

Help us in our weakness (vs 26)
Intercede for us (vs 27)
Work things together for good (vs. 28)
Conform us to the image of his Son (vs 29)
Call, justify, and glorify us (vs 30)
Be FOR us (vs 31)
Graciously give us all things (vs 32)
Make us more than conquerors through all trials (vs 35-37)
Allow nothing to separate us from his love (vs 35 -27)

Whenever you are uncertain of your calling, review those verses.

Then ask yourself. Does my passion include helping others in their weakness?

Does it include

Working things out for others good?
Conforming to Christ’s image?
Accepting God’s call, justification, and glorification?
Being FOR other humans?
Conquering trials?
Clinging by faith to his love?

If your answer is YES, then indeed your calling, no matter how insignificant it appears, is according to his purpose. Follow that calling with full assurance and never look back.

Bobbi’s book, Confessions of the Imperfect Caregiver, can be purchased on Amazon. Click here.  Visit her blog by clicking here.


The Giver of Cherries

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:16 & 17

image of Bowl of Cherries

A mound of cherries still warm from the orchard waited in a bowl on Grandma’s table. Glossy and dark they tempted my teeth to pop their taut skins so that their sweet juice could fill my mouth.

“You’ll have to wait until everyone comes to the table.” Grandma said. That meant I had to share them. I could have eaten the whole bowl. It would have been the perfect gift.

Today, some fifty-five plus years later, I could still eat the whole bowl. In fact, I often do. Now, instead of fresh from the orchard, I buy my cherries at Costco. Or Giant. Or Farmer Johns. I’m not picky as long as I can get my cherry fix. Often they never make it home. No joke. This has gotten serious.

My husband is not much better. Together our cherry consumption has reached, well . . . . . I haven’t added all the receipts. I have plenty of grocery money. It’s my personal first world problem, and if I calculated the cost I would be coming out of denial. That’s never fun. Besides, after all, cherries are a good gift from God.

It’s not just cherries. Today, in town for one short errand, I got ambushed. Flat out ambushed at the sales rack in Kohls. A sale! Yep, another good gift.

Young children are climbing over fences so they can be fed while the cost of my perfect cherry gift from God adds up. Fellow human beings in a far off country  fight a plague while I indulge. Hungry neighbors in a housing development wait for their Social Security check while I rifle through a dress rack.

image of cherry stems in heart

In case this is beginning to sound like some well-healed, old woman’s guilt trip, l want to quickly add that my monthly budget includes charity. It does. I just write the check and send it off. Another personal first world problem. But if I did without a cherry’s succulent flavor for a few months, now that would be a sacrifice — close up and personal — an addiction not easy to break.

I wonder, just maybe, if I went cold turkey and stopped eating cherries, who I might benefit. What would happen if one by one, like a society slowly learning to recycle, we would all choose just one thing, especially one addictive thing, to do without and give its equivalent value to someone in need?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” But what is “poor in spirit”? I’ve been unsure for many years. This week in his podcast, (Here’s the link.) Herb Montgomery answered my question:

“The poor in Jesus’ day were one of the groups who were considered to be living contrary to the Torah and who were therefore being punished by God. The poor were oppressed and marginalized by the rich. Rather than feeling compassion for the poor, those who were better off simply felt morally superior. Why else would God be blessing them economically while withholding blessing from others? To be poor in spirit simply meant to stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor, those who were economically oppressed.”

Do I stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor?

Even though God’s gifts are good and perfect it doesn’t mean I get to hoard them. It means I get to share them.

I’m going to try to get on the wagon. I think I’ll start with cherries.

image of sharing a bowl of cherries

The Father’s Good Pleasure

“Fear not, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 12:32)

Image of Dad & Daugher Dance

Once upon a time, living somewhere between the Kingdom of Competition and the Kingdom of Compassion, there was a five-year old, brown-eyed girl who had an eight year old brown-eyed sister. Both little girls were pretty little girls, as little girls go, but the five-year old girl had it stuck in her brain that she might be just a teensy, weensy bit prettier than her older sister. Perhaps a careless adult, dropping a casual comment had influenced her thinking. Regardless of how or by whom this idea came to her, people called older sister a skinny tomboy. People called little sister pleasingly plump. A complement indeed, little sister decided, what with the word “pleasingly” and all.

Older sister rode with Daddy on his tractor all over their forty-acre farm. Little sister much preferred to stay indoors telling stories to her dollies. Older sister never worried much about clothes. Little sister, on the other hand, absolutely adored frilly dresses with lots of lace. Not that she had any, mind you. Most of her dresses were hand-me-downs from older sister or practical dresses that Momma sewed.

image of pink lacy dressThere came a day, however, when both sisters needed new dresses. Summer had come and last year’s dresses just wouldn’t do. Older sister was sick in bed. Momma was too busy to shop, but Daddy had time, at the end of his work, to take little sister to town. Thrilled to the core of her pleasingly plump, prissy soul, she rode off with Daddy.

As they entered the store, Daddy took her hand. “Now, honey, pick any dress you want.” His voice sounded happy and eager to please. She could scarcely believe her good fortune.

A pink dress hung in the window. It had puffed sleeves and a satin sash. It was covered in lace.

“Oh, that one, Daddy. That one!”

Delighted, Daddy asked. “And which one do you think your sister would like?”

Image of Bibbed dressHurriedly skimming over the rest of the dresses, little sister pointed to a plain blue dress with an ugly white bib and not one piece of lace.

“Do you think she will like it?”

“Yes, let’s get her that one.” Her smug little smile came deep from within the Kingdom of Competition.

Needless to say, older sister, tomboy though she was, cried in dismay when she saw her choice.

“I’m sick and couldn’t go shopping. It’s no fair! You wanted to be prettier, so you got me the ugly dress.”

Little sister knew it was true. She now owned a frilly dress that gave her no joy.

Little sister did not realize that there exists an entire world of brothers and sisters who cannot believe that their Father’s kingdom has enough of his favor to go around. They can’t believe that there is abundant love for siblings of every nationality and religion. Like herself, they want all the kingdom’s goods, all the pretty dresses, for themselves. So they spurn and hate the marginalized, the older sisters sick in bed. Driven with fear, greed, and anxiety they accumulate until they will kill to protect their territory. Sibling rivalry keeps them from the Kingdom of Compassion.

Fortunately, little sister found freedom. She began to seek first her Father’s kingdom. It took years for her to understand that the Kingdom of Compassion has no scarcity. Her Father only wants to pour out love, without measure. She is still amazed that it truly is his good pleasure to give this kingdom to her and to all her brothers and sisters. Now, because of his good pleasure, she lives happily ever after.

image of Dad & Daughter on seashore

For deeper contemplation of this concept, little sister invites you to take a few minutes to listen to this podcast.

If you have a story of how you have experienced the Father’s pleasure in giving you the kingdom, please share here.

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