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2 Short Stories from a Wake Up Your Muse prompt


My friend, Joy and I used to have fun speed writing from prompts, then sharing our stories with each other. We hadn't done that in a long time, so today, we picked a prompt from my book, Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers (JUST .99 CENTS FOR THE KINDLE VERSION TODAY) and wrote for about 15 minutes.

The Prompt - "Knee deep in dirty laundry, she wondered why _______________."

Here's my story... (Joy's story follows mine.)
Dirty Laundry Mission Field

I was knee deep in dirty laundry, wondering why or when or how my  life had been reduced to sorting, washing, drying, ironing and putting away twenty loads of laundry a week.  This was not my dream life, but I’m sure I am Tide’s dream customer.

Once, so very long ago, I’d dreamed of being a missionary. Of going to far off lands to teach children about the love of Jesus. To tell them about the heroes of the Bible. To make a difference.

The ringing phone snapped me out of my daydreaming. I jumped over a pile of whites sorted on the floor, then hurdled a load of darks to reach the phone by the third ring so it wouldn’t go to voice mail.

“Hello?”

“Oh, good. I caught you at home. This is Sue.”

“Hi Sue, I was just doing laundry. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you can teach the 3rd grade Sunday School class for the next 4 weeks. Wanda is on vacation.”

I rolled my eyes.  Why would Sue call me? Doesn’t she realize I have 5 kids at home to take care of? “Sure, I’ll teach the class.”

We hung up and tears filled my eyes. I was tired, worn out. I dropped to my knees. “Lord, what happened to my life. You know the dreams I had to be a missionary. My life has turned out so much different than I’d imagined. I really thought that was your calling for me. Why would you call me and then not open the doors for me to be a missionary?

And then I heard that still small voice within me. “I did call you, I did open the door and you have been on the mission field since the birth of your first child. You’ve done such a good job, I’m expanding your mission field with a group of 3rd graders. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I went back to my laundry with renewed vigor…still knee deep in dirty clothes, but seeing it as a ministry, not a drudgery.

 And here's Joy's story...

She was knee deep in dirty laundry and she wondered “why” ….. Caroline looked around. It was grey outside, no sound of the birds singing. The dishes were piled high in BOTH sinks and there were dirty clothes strewn from the entryway to the bedroom. She was tired, just plain tired. Why … ? She wondered why?

Why had she thought that marriage consisted of a white knight carrying her off to his castle? Why had she imagined she would be the “Martha Stewart” of White Creek? Why was there more to do than there was day to do it in?

She sank onto the overstuffed sofa and dropped the bowl of leftover popcorn to the floor. Why … she mused as she settled back to a place of refuge, into her own thoughts. Why was she here? Why wasn’t she out with her girlfriends? Why not going shopping or out to lunch or over to Wonder Nails for a manicure well deserved? Why did her life seem so useless? Why did each dreary day dissolve into night and then repeat itself with utter abandon? Why … as she drifted off to sleep?

She must have been dreaming when the doorbell rang. She woke with a start to hear pounding on the front door. She jumped up and tried to “quick arrange” her disheveled hair and walked to the door with the best composure she could come up with. When she opened the door, the delivery driver had left, but on the front porch table she saw the biggest bouquet of roses she had ever seen in her life in a beautiful crystal vase.

She walked slowly over and plucked out the card. As she read it her eyes started to sparkle with thankful tears. The card read, “Sweet Caroline! I love you soooo……!!! Words can’t always convey what flowers can, so I hope these roses say to you what my heart knows to be true. I love you! I love the way you are so patient with me. I love the way you greet me with a smile every day when I come home from work. I love the way you take care of me, feeding me with delicious, healthy meals, washing my filthy work clothes, cleaning my dirty tub and making my life beautiful with your presence. I know it’s not always easy to love me, but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate all you do in love, just like the Bible says to do “Do everything in love”. Thank you! Your soiled “Knight” Jeremy

Okay, then she started crying. Why had she lost sight of what she was there for? Why had the doubts and disappointments taken over her very life, dragging her down to the pits.

Up went her hands praising the Lord! Thank you Lord for dirty dishes. You provide so much for us! Thank you Lord for a husband who loves me and works hard to take such good care of us! Thank you Lord for loving me in the middle of the puddle of my self-pity. Thank you Lord for being God! Thank you Lord!!!

So, what do you think? What would you write from that prompt? Feel free to share your story or story idea in the comments.

If you like to write fiction, pick up a copy of my book - just .99 cents for the Kindle version TODAY!

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Feeling a bit wilted?


 "...whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

 Wouldn't you love to be refreshed right now?

Sometimes life can get so tedious. Get up, go to work, clean the house, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, running the kids around, doctor appointments....it's the same routine day after day after day.

photo courtesy tekla (Traute Klasser), rgbstock.com


A weekend, or even a day away from the ordinary plodding of life can work wonders toward refreshing our spirits, but what if you can't get away? What if you can't afford a vacation or even a weekend get-away? What if the responsibilities of your life won't let you take even a day for yourself? What then? How do you get that much needed refreshing?

The secret's in the sauce.  Just kidding. The secret's right there in our verse for today - Proverbs 11:25...

"whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."

There's something about refreshing others - blessing others - encouraging others that brings a refreshing to our own souls.  It's God's principle of sowing and reaping in action. When we give to others, God honors our generosity and we will reap exactly what we sow.  After all, a farmer doesn't get spinach when he sows corn seeds, does he?

So, if you need a little refreshing, go out there and intentionally refresh others. Share a smile, a helping hand, a word of encouragement and God will see to it that you are refreshed, yourself.

I pray that this blog - Refreshed by the Word - will be one source of renewal for you. Please, God - let it be so.

What brings a refreshing to your spirit? Share that with us in your comment.

Blessings,
Jan

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Lord, Show Us Your Glory

What is the glory of God?

 “Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” Exodus 33:18 (NASB)


This is the first mention in the Bible of the glory of God. Moses praying to see God. What believer doesn’t want to see the beauty, majesty and splendor of God in all his radiance and brilliance?

The Old Testament word for glory can be translated as a unique beauty, majesty or splendor that sets a person or object apart from all others. The New Testament word for glory signifies a radiance or brilliance. The glory of God is not an outward appearance, but the beauty, the radiance of His Spirit – the splendor of who He is and what He has done.

God could not, however, fully grant Moses’ request, for no man can see God and live, so He led Moses to a cleft in a rock and there placed His hand over Moses as His glory passed by.

After this encounter with the glory of God, Moses glowed so brilliantly that he had to wear a veil over his face when in the presence of others. The glory of God is not an outward beauty, it’s His greatness and His goodness and it can only be found in His presence. The more time we spend with God, the more we will reflect His glory.

~~~

Prayer: Father, Like Moses, we long to see you in all your glory. As you reveal yourself to us, may our spirits reflect you to the world around us.

Dig Deeper:  Read Exodus 33 & 34

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Face-time with the Mirror

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living.
Let’s return to the Lord.
Lamentations 3:40 (nirv)

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When the New Year rolls around, our tendency is to review the past and set goals for the future. There's nothing wrong with that, but what about the here and now?  After all, we don't live in the past or the future.  If we do, that's a great topic for a different post, but today I want to look at the present.

Our focus verse in Lamentations says "Let's take a good look at the way we're (we are) living..."  right now.  In this moment, today, does our behavior and our thoughts reflect someone who is dedicated to living life for the Lord? Or does it more closely resemble living for ourselves or in sync with the way the world lives?

It's easy to fool those around us...to live one way before them and live an entirely different way when we're alone and no one is watching.  It's even easy to fool ourselves sometimes, but the Lord is watching 24/7. He knows our hearts, our attitudes, our thoughts and our coverups. We're not fooling him.

So, this is a perfect time to take a good look at the way we're living.  A little honest face-time in the mirror is in order. Some self-examination, some contemplative knee-time before the Lord, asking His opinion.  But don't just do this at the change of the calendar year. Do it on a continual basis, asking ourselves if the way we're living is leading us closer to the Lord or further away from Him. And if the answer is the latter, then the last part of our focus verse comes into play. "Let's return to the Lord."

Make this an ongoing practice in 2014 and you'll find that you don't stray too far before the Holy Spirit reminds you to turn around and head back to your First Love.

Have a Blessed New Year!


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2014 - Fear or Faith?


"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

It's New Year's Eve. One of my personal traditions at this time is to take stock of the previous years, counting my many blessings, reviewing my choices, confessing any sin and looking forward with excitement to the coming New Year.

For me the New Year smacks of potential, adventure and opportunities. A sense of anticipation stirs in my spirit. I feel like a runner waiting for the starting gun to go off, but I know that for others, the New Year brings feelings of apprehension, anxiety and fear.  Many are facing financial crisis, a terrifying diagnosis or an uncertain future for whatever reason.

My heart aches for them. Especially those who don't have a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Where do they find their strength? Where do they turn for help? How do they face the future without His peace in their heart and the assurance that He will uphold them through all of life's troubles.

I tried it...going life alone. It wasn't fun. I messed it all up. Then the Father called out to me, gently drawing me to Himself. I surrendered and He filled me with the most incredible sense of well-being. It was His peace that surpassed all understanding. My life did not become a bed of roses. All my problems did not disappear, but I no longer have to go it alone. He has been with us every step of the way and He will do the same for you, my friend.

Just reach out to Him. This would be the perfect time to do that. Invite Him into your life and step into 2014 in faith, not fear, knowing that He is upholding you with His mighty right hand.

God bless you and Happy New Year!


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I've got a secret!

I woke up this morning and opened my eyes to find the Presence of God filling my room. It was as if He'd been sitting there, waiting for me to wake up so we could spend some time together and talk about what's been on our hearts. We did that and then He sent me on my way to face whatever the day might hold, with the assurance that He will be right here beside me all the way.

What a wonderful way to start the day!  It reminded me of a song from long ago, The Secret, which was actually a musical version of a poem by Ralph Cushman. Here's the poem...



"I met God in the morning"
 
I met God in the morning
when the day was at its best,
And His Presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O'er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them,
Brought to me a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the presence left behind.
So, I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day!

That's the secret, my friend - You must seek Him in the morning, if you want Him through the day.

Does that mean that if you miss your time with Him in the morning that He won't be with you throughout the day? No, He promises us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and that He will always be with you (Matthew 28:20). 

The problem is that when we rush into our day without spending time with Him, we go through the day forgetting that He is with us. We struggle, needlessly through the day on our own.

So, do yourself a favor - start the day right by seeking Him in the morning. When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, just know that He has been waiting for you. Talk with Him.

Q. Have you ever spent a morning with God where His Presence was so real you could feel it?
Q. Have you ever rushed into the day and found yourself totally stressed out before you remembered to talk with God?


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Are You Missing the Point of Prayer?


 Prayer changes things us!

photo credit: mendhak via photopin cc
Prayer changes us on the inside, alters the way we think about things, what we think about and our attitudes toward things. The point of prayer is not to get things from God, but to open ourselves up to Him - to get to know Him - to allow Him to change those things in us that hinder our spiritual walk with Him.

Point to Ponder: Do I spend way more time in prayer trying to get God to change my circumstances or allowing Him change my character?

 
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