Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Losing Control

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NIV

Recently, during a writers’ ministry retreat, a few artists taught art journaling. With blank canvasses, paint and a plastic Wal-Mart gift card before us, we squeezed three colorful blobs onto our pristine white canvasses. Hesitantly, we swirled those colors around with the Wal-Mart gift card. My beautiful blues, pinks and yellows turned murky green and I felt discouraged. Couldn’t we just clean off those gift cards and go shopping?

Since shopping wasn’t an option, I dropped a few more paint blobs on the canvass until more appealing shades appeared. Surprisingly, with a few controlled swishes, a pretty pink orchid blossomed, center canvass. I was so proud until the artists wanted us to encircle the center of our creations with black paint! I couldn’t do it. Truly, I couldn’t. Fear froze me there—eyes brimming with tears—staring at that beautiful-to-me orchid.

“Help me!” I sniffled, reaching behind me for my artist friend. She embraced me from behind and placed her hand over mine. “Give me control,” she said, “and when I say ‘squeeze’, squeeze that paint.” Feeling my hesitation, she gently circled my hand above that canvas and spoke truth. “You’re afraid of making a mistake. Now let go and squeeze when I say so.”

Yes, I was afraid of making a mistake, but I mostly feared losing control—risking what was sure, like my pretty pink orchid.

We can’t create when fear rules because fear freezes our potential and creativity. When we give God control and trust that He’s in the risk He’s set before us, our true creativity and beauty thrives. When we set aside fear and partner with the Holy Spirit then God’s Kingdom reigns here on earth as it is in heaven.

 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear... 1 John 4:18 NIV

Giving up control, black encircled the pink orchid, hiding its blooming beauty. With a bit more coaching and the addition of some contrasting colors and gift-card technique, a crown of thorns appeared. A most precious reminder, that Jesus is there in the midst of fear, creativity, and risks.

Are there risks that God’s set before you? Is fear squelching your creativity and freezing your feet in place? Trust God’s plan. Know that no matter the risk, Jesus is right there beside you, ready to help you create something beautiful.

Abba, it’s so easy to want to control our circumstances, to believe in what we can see as the best we have to offer. Help us to step out in faith, to take risks so that you might show us the potential and beauty that lies before us when we allow you to control the outcome. Father, may we truly desire that your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Faith Training is Like Potty Training

Potty Training by Joe Chang
CC BY-ND 4.0
If you're joining us here from Christian Children's Author's blog, Welcome!

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

My two-year-old granddaughter has a new fascination…the potty. Yep. It’s started—that glorious time in a mother’s life when diaper changing days may soon be in the least for one child. If you’ve ever nurtured a little one, you know the signs when they’re “ready” to receive instruction. The toilet becomes their “toy”, they proudly announce their bodily functions, they wiggle uncontrollably during playtime hoping to eke out another few minutes of uninterrupted play, or they hide in a corner—uncharacteristically quiet—until the “job” is done.  Although the child may be acutely aware of their body and the potty, a parent must still offer training—a routine of trial and error and repeated instruction—before the child can master the “art”.

While not so graphic, we should also offer such fervor in training up our children in the Lord. Yes, living our faith is most important, but we cannot assume, with the world blasting negative, anti-Christian messages at them 24:7, that our child will just assimilate what they witness at home without deliberate training.

It was God’s plan since the time of Moses that parents should take an active role in training their children in their faith. Deuteronomy 6: 6, 7 says:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

In other words, impress God’s ways upon their hearts as often as possible in our everyday, ordinary life experiences. Why? So that, “when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6b). That’s not to say our children will never sway or question their faith, but at least they will have a firm foundation to rely upon in making those most important life decisions.

So, what does faith-training look like? It varies, of course, based upon your family dynamics, but here are some suggestions:

·         Talk about your faith openly in front of your children
·         LIVE your faith inside and outside your home
·         Read Bible stories daily (so many resources, especially on this site)
·         Worship & pray together at home and at church
·         Enroll them in age-appropriate Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible Schools, or preschools
·         Engage them in discussion about their Sunday School lessons (take-home papers)
·         Take advantage of teachable moments throughout the day

As parents, we want to give our children the best opportunities to become a successful, healthy adult—that includes training and patience in ALL areas of their life, especially their faith.

If you have any favorite resources or helpful suggestions, let’s help one another out and share in the comments below.

Blessings and happy training!

Dawn Aldrich

Author, Blogger

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Taking Risks by Imelda
CC BY-ND 4.0
I tell you the truth; whoever believes in me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things because I will return to be with the Father. John 14:12 (The Voice)

“Take more risks,” he wrote, thanking me for sharing my testimony and obeying the Holy Spirit’s lead. His words glaringly dared me.

I’m not unwilling to risk, it simply scares me. Partly, because I fear losing control, making mistakes or being misunderstood. Words wield powerfully through a person’s core—either to encourage and empower or to tear down and wound—like a double edged sword. What if my words come out all wrong? What if I inadvertently wound or present myself a fool? It’s one thing to publish a faceless article, but to bare those words publicly? That’s risky business.

Jesus risked. He risked everything, including His life and He asked His disciples to do the same. Did they doubt? Sure. Did they fear? Absolutely. But Jesus reassured them:

I tell you the truth; whoever believes in me will be able to do what I have done…John 14:12a (The Voice)

A good teacher will never ask his students to do what he cannot or will not attempt to do himself. Jesus was a good student. He watched his Father, listened to him, and then did what the Father was doing.

...the Son does nothing on his own; all these actions are led by the Father. The Son watches the Father closely and then mimics the work of the Father. John 5:19 (The Voice)

 Jesus was a good teacher. He showed his disciples God’s heart to restore relationship with mankind and all of creation—through His sacrifice on the cross and many miracles. Just as Jesus was a good student and a good teacher, He commissioned His disciples to be the same. Before he returned to His Father, Jesus said:

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:17-20 (NIV)

We—followers of Jesus—are called to do what He did; to watch what the Father is doing and mimic him. That’s risky, yes! But did you catch what Jesus said? “And surely I am with you always…” Jesus returned to His Father so that the Holy Spirit could come and reside in us, with us and among us. That’s not only comforting but empowering!

…they will do even greater things because I will return to be with the Father. John 14:12b
(The Voice)

Jesus did not commission us to hide anonymously in our comfortable solitude, but rather he called us to go! He’s called us share our stories of how he rescued us and is restoring our lives to become all he created us to be. Everyone has a story—everyone—and it needs telling. Why? Because when we speak aloud our personal victories through Jesus, we defeat Satan and his destructive work here on earth.

By the blood of the Lamb and the word of their witnesses, they have become victorious over him, for they did not hold onto their lives even under the threat of death. Revelation 12:11 (The Voice)

Are you willing to take more risks? Are you willing to share your Jesus story and bare the truth beyond your own door? If we say we’re followers of Jesus, then we must risk everything—even our comfort and reputation—to go where the Father leads and do what the Father is doing. But be assured, we are not alone. Jesus is with us. Emmanuel. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Everyone Loves a Good Story

He taught by using stories, many stories. Mark 4:2b  (The Message)

"Tell me a story, Grams" she begs, snuggled beneath cozy covers. So I begin to spin my yarn from the beginning and just when I whisper, "the end," her eyes open wide begging for another.

In wakeful hours, I find this little, animated storyteller herself, "reading" amongst piles of picture books. Her insatiable craving for story fosters learning through imagination that trickles down mastered skills, life lessons, and truths. 

Knowledge disguised as entertainment, story is a powerful tool that offers us freedom to ponder, imagine and voluntarily apply the hidden lesson to our own experience.  A good story teaches on two levels: first, it's entertaining to the immature audience, and secondly, it teaches a lesson. Children's authors write for both children and adult audiences. Successful story entertains a child's imagination through relateable characters and experiences but also grabs the adult reader's attention through life lessons.

Jesus was a fan of story, too. He was a master storyteller teaching primarily through parables (short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson). His stories left the immature listener entertained--sometimes scratching their heads. But mature listeners--the ones pricked by the Holy Spirit, made ready to receive truth--chewed on Jesus' hidden morsels of soul food-- turned his words over in their minds, questioned him further, pressed him for more depth.

Jesus' storytelling, recorded in the four gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), revealed his true followers--those ready to accept and apply Kingdom truths to their lives. Age, education and societal rank did not presume maturity. Rather, Jesus spoke of wisdom as a gift from God:

"I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Luke 10:21

As we read Jesus' stories today, let's ask the Holy Spirit to prick our ears to hear, our eyes to see, our minds to understand and our hearts to accept God's truth. Jesus' words, like all of Scripture, were God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, training, and equipping us to live righteously.

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." Luke 10:23

Lord, thank you the freedom to receive your truth through stories. Thank you for creative imagination partnered with your gift of wisdom that teaches us your truth through the written and spoken word. May we search and find all your hidden morsels.