Urgent Prayer Request – Arrested in China!

Crumbing China

Urgent Prayer Request-

We just heard that Gabriel Green and Will Reel were picked up by the police about four hours ago in northwestern China. We haven’t heard anything since then. They had been distributing Gospel booklets in Muslim villages. Pray for their quick release, for the protection of the remaining team members, and that the work will go on unhindered by the rest of the team.

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Memories

Today, I’m thankful for memories. For the little ones.

For climbing into a car as the fog clings to my face as the breath leaves my lungs and clasping a cold coat that I forgot in the car to my chest because it’s more convenient than leaving it on the floor where my feet want to be.

I’m thankful for our little tradition that somehow manages to happen every Thanksgiving on the way home as people bounce in their seats, calling out, “Thirty-one!” as we glimpse yet another set of Christmas lights.

I’m thankful for old memories of my older sister’s hair swinging back and forth as she “conducts” the Tran Siberian Orchestra from the first row of our now-gone red car.

I’m also thankful for now, in a different car and at least nine years later, as four of us sat in a row banging our hands first against our kneecaps and then against the books we set upon our laps when our legs started to ache, keeping beat with our hands in time with the same music.

I’m thankful for a moon so bright, hanging low just on the edge of the horizon, lighting up even the world beneath the city lights.

And I’m thankful for crisp air cold enough to pull bits of diamonds from my eyes, displaying them to the stars that shine bright and clear.

For it is the little things that are the stuff of memories.

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In Which Contemplations are Made and Thoughts are Spoken

Note: Warning. You are about to enter a post a little over a thousand words long, written between nine thirty and ten forty at night. My brain died the second time I read it, so it’s hardly edited at all. In summary: I’m sorry I haven’t been around, I’ll try to do better, I have trouble accomplishing things I consider small or easy, and I think that since we’re Christians and representing God, we ought to get all things done, even and perhaps especially the small things, because the small things are hardest sometimes. That, and everything matters as long as we do it to the best of our ability, and if we’re doing it for God. That’s about it.

Nine thirty at night seems to be considered an exceptional time to start blog posts, especially if a person has not gone to bed before at least eleven-something for the past several nights. Though it’s my own fault, as I stared at the starkly white “New Post” page, I knew that now was the right time for a blog post, even if I was tired.

After all, thoughts flow faster, if not clearer, when a person is tired.

This blog has been on my thoughts recently. Most of the times I’ve pushed it away. I haven’t really had the time for it recently, and I’ve been able to ignore how I told myself that I had the complete ability to make the time. I just didn’t want to.

It’s easy to ignore something, especially a mistake. And, as most of you know, I made one with this blog. Some of you know me in person or follow me on other places and so know that I’m still breathing, but the rest of you may see this post and exclaim, “Wow! She wasn’t kidnapped by aliens, after all!”

Then again, you might not, but the sentiment will probably be there.

I’m afraid I failed in my commitment to you, readers. Whoever you are, whether you’ve read that post or not, I made a commitment to post at least twice a month when I posted “What This Blog Is” on December 3rd, 2013. And in that, I failed. When months started passing without posts, it was easier to ignore this blog altogether instead of coming back to it and trying again. And for that, I apologize.

I’m not so conceited as to think that you’ve missed seeing my posts. I just think you deserve better.

I want to have a reputation for trustworthiness. I want to give Him a good representation here on earth. So why do I have so much trouble in a mere two posts a month?

Well. That has a very simple answer.

Two posts a month is a small thing. And I have trouble with small things.

Now, do not misunderstand; I have no trouble with making meals, dutifully writing in my novel, or putting away baskets of laundry.

But meals have to be done on time. There’s no ability to push it into the back of my head; that and the fact that meals must be cooked before we eat, and until we eat, we can’t move on with our day, make me manage to cook when I’m supposed to. I can also see the way I make a difference in the meals I cook. The turkey meat is no longer raw, packaged in plastic, and frozen. An important difference right there. With my novel, I don’t write in small amounts. I write in large chunks when I write at all, and three thousand words are just as likely to come as eight words.

When I put away laundry, I let it conquer the couch first. I push the need to do it away until I can’t ignore it anymore, and then I do it and see significant improvement.

If, at this moment as I write, you asked me where I was going with this, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I’m just letting my thoughts come out through the keyboard, one long pause after the other. If it seems random and disjoint, that’s why.

I like to see progress. I love to be able to check one thing off my list and see how far it’s taken me, and how closer I am to the goal. I like to be able to hear the responses and see that, yes, it’s actually doing good.

Between the fact that I could see no goal set for me to reach in posts here, and the fact that I always thought I could do it later (after all, it was only two posts every month), this blog got neglected. Adding life to the mix, you all haven’t heard from me since the first of March.

Officially, I’m using the computer while I sit next to my littlest sister, Rose, while she falls asleep. I’m sitting by her to make sure that she lays still long enough to fall asleep, and is quiet enough to not keep the other small girls in the room awake. Yet, now that her eyes have been closed for several minutes and her breathing is coming as steadily as a metronome, my presence sitting with her is probably not as necessary anymore.

Bedtime for me, I suppose. The urge to just close this tab, let WordPress save this post as a draft and sometime come back to it later came over me just a moment ago; after all, what couldI do to pull this into a logical, meaningful post right then?

And then I knew. It came from a song my two sisters sang thirty minutes (maybe longer now) ago as they finished up with the dishes in the kitchen.

We are soldiers of the cross.

The song goes on to say that “we’ve been found to reach the lost,” (Soldiers of the Cross, Randy Travis), but that one line echoed in my head.

We are soldiers of the cross. 

We don’t back down. We don’t move away because we consider it to small. We’re soldiers. We’re capable; we have to be, especially when we don’t consider the task worth it.

We do things even when we don’t feel like it, to the best of our ability. Not because we want to, but because we’re soldiers and our Commander told us to do it.

We’re obligated to see this mission through, because we’re serving our King–no matter what the assignment is, no matter what we think of it, no matter how significant or insignificant it seems. Even when we can’t see progress or don’t feel like working on it. Our progress is bringing glory to His Name. Our goal is to see Him glorified.

We’re to honor our commitments, honor our authorities, honor our Lord, because that’s the right thing to do.

We’re ambassadors, representing our King.

And we’re soldiers, and as soldiers, we won’t back down. Whatever we think, whatever we feel, we’ll find a way, especially when we’re led to believe that it’s insignificant. We’ll do it later? No. Sorry. Now is an excellent time to get things done. After all, it’s for the Glory of our King.

I know we could all stand to remember this every now and then.

While I may not know you,
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you,
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Steven Curtis Chapman, Do Everything

 

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Red Lettering – Writing Blog

Writing very rarely directly corresponds with the purpose of this blog. Yet, I am quite certainly, entirely, and irrevocably a writer of Christian fiction.

So I created a new blog, though it’s not quite only for me, but instead, more for writing as a whole.

As always with new blogs, it’s still in the massively-under-construction stage, but I hope to have it regularly moving by next week, and want to establish a schedule of posts about writing or writers.

So for any of you who would like to read a blog about writing, I would be so very pleased if you would check it out. There are no posts on it, but the About page is up.

I will still be posting on A Wayfaring Stranger but hopefully, this will keep things categorized and more tidy.

Red Lettering

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See Through the Lie

God gave us eyelids for two reasons: so we can blink, and so we can close our eyes.

We blink to clean our eyes: to take away the dust and obstructions and keep our eyes clean so they’ll stay healthy, our our sight will stay clear.

We are able to close our eyes to avoid seeing something and to sleep. Sometimes we avoid seeing things because of the trash floating around our world. We want to keep our minds pure.

It’s the same way with our spiritual eyes, but sometimes, we over-use our eyelids. We close them when there’s something we need to see because it needs to be changed.

If there’s something wrong that we’ve heard about often, it’s ridiculously easy to ignore it. It makes us feel uncomfortable if we see it mentioned, but we no longer get the mind-reeling realization of what a person has just done.

I remember once reading a guide to recognizing propaganda. Once someone said to make your enemy sick of an issue if you want to win. Talking about it excessively, putting it wherever you can, making it old news.

And that’s just what people have done when they murder children.

These days, abortion has been so loud, so very present, that it’s not alarming people anymore.  It’s yesterday’s news. People no longer want to vomit when they hear the word. It makes people uneasy, but they turn away.

But there should never be a day when a Christian—any Christian—should be okay with this.

They murder babies. And they lie neatly to cover it up.

They don’t say, “I support murdering babies.” They can’t say, “I think a woman has the right to kill her child.” They can’t. They can’t look someone in the eye and tell the truth. They don’t want to say the harsh, cruel reality because they can’t admit to themselves that they just killed a baby.

Maybe some can, but I think that most cannot.

They say “embryo” or “fetus” because they don’t want to say “baby” or “child.” They rationalize it in their minds by using different words. They make up their own words and call it that so that they don’t have to face the truth. “It’s not killing,” they say, “it’s abortion.

Using different words makes it so easy to side-step things. When the word abortion is used, people don’t have to come face-to-face with what has actually been said.

And we have fallen into the lie.

We say that babies have a right to live, but we use the words of those who murder them. We allow the public to be pacified with words that are just there to veil a deep, evil act.

And we, who say we follow a God of Love and a God of Truth turn away from their lies. We don’t love. We don’t see the truth. We just close our eyes.

Wikipedia estimates that 44 million abortions are done each year. That’s forty four million children who have no name, no chance to laugh. Forty four million children who never got to swing, begging through their laughter for someone to push them higher, spreading their arms and closing their eyes to pretend they’re flying. Forty four million pairs of eyes, forty four million hearts, forty four million lives. Murdered. Every year.

What would their names be? Would the little girl like pink or be a tomboy? Would the little boy like language, or math? Bananas or coconut? Trees or ocean?

We as Christians need to realize that these aren’t embryos or fetus. These are children, boys and girls, men and women. We know that they are, in our heads, but our eyes see other things: strange, scientific words, and we find it hard to care. We find it hard to see what the truth is. We need to get rid of lying vocabulary that veils the truth. We need to speak for these children, and while this wicked thing keeps happening, never stop fighting. 

It is not as if there’s nothing we can do. The Constitution of the United States guarantees us the right to peacefully assemble and the right to petition the government. We can convince citizens of what is right and keep speaking against the murders of these children. We can send e-mails, letters, make phone calls to legislators, representatives, or even directly to the White House. We can organize rallies and marches and all sorts of peaceful gatherings that could be dreamed of.

More important, we have the right to petition the one who created the world. God works. I promise you, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God works. He makes miracles and saves lives, and He hears His children when they call to Him. 

He also calls us to do what we can, because He put us here for a reason.

If we have the ability to save lives, we have the obligation to save lives.

Don’t close your eyes. Don’t veil murder in “abortion.” Speak truth, protect life.

Don’t stop until they stop murdering their children.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work?

Proverbs 24:11-12

 

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Why I Write

Every story has the power to change lives. Hope, pain, fear, death and life all reside in words, in stories. Every word that has ever been read, and every word that will ever be read will make the reader change, if only a little bit. It could make him wince and go on with life, or smile and go on with life. Or it could plunge her into the deepest, darkest hole, which she can’t make her way out of on her own; it could raise her up to where she’ll meet God and find Eternal Life.

Seven or eight years ago, if you asked me why I wrote, I would probably stare at you blankly for a second, and then say, “Because.” Now I like to think that I can formulate an answer better, but perhaps that’s because my reasons have changed drastically.

When I first started writing, I wrote because my sister was doing it. It was a cool thing, to be a writer. It was fun to be able to have my character a). burst into tears, or b). burst into tears (see what an exciting life my characters all had at that point? I have never worried about that particular character being a Mary Sue). But there was no heart to my writing. I did it because the people I admired did it, and because it made me seem like one of “the big kids.”

In those days, I could recite my “novel” from beginning to end. My story idea was an unashamed copy of my favorite novel at the time.

I now write (hopefully) more original story-lines. My characters are my own, and the novels are actually my own ideas. They belong to me; they’re my dear ones, the things that I created from nothing.

Instead of a story maybe a page and a half long (and in the handwriting of one that young!) I’ve spent hours on my stories, giving the pieces of my heart, taking my characters from one point to another. My current work in progress has 63,859 words in it. Adding up the words from my other stories is not something I want to attempt. I give these stories, these characters, a part of who I am. I give time and energy and sacrifices to my novels.

The only question to answer now being: why?

Several weeks ago, that question came up in a conversation I had with someone. Why do I write; or, more specifically, why do I write for publication?

The quite simple answer is: because of love.

Love for characters they created out of nothing are something that keeps many authors writing. Some authors say, when asked which of their characters is their favorite, that the question is like asking people to pick favorites from their children. I think that writers, maybe, get just a glimpse of what God sees when He looks at His creation.

I am directly connected to all of my characters. I see their joys, their trials, their secrets and their scars. No one knows my characters better than I, their creator, know them. I understand them. The ones who have not been saved, I so very desperately want to come to Redemption. From the annoying boy who can’t seem to stop getting in the way, to the evil overlord who has killed thousands. They’re my people, my creations.  They’re presented with a choice of life or death, and I desperately want them to choose life.

So I write because I love my characters. I want to see their stories fulfilled. I want to see the ones who have broken hearts, healed; I want to see the ones who are in danger, get as close to a happily-ever-after as mortal worlds can manage. But it’s not only love for my characters that keep me writing.

I have characters that have yet to be saved, and because of those characters, I can get a glimpse of what it’s like to be living in Darkness. I try and get published because I love the people who need God, even those I haven’t met, and I want to be able to point them in the right direction with my books.

I believe that God gave me the ability to write. I’m not a perfect writer; it’s debatable whether or not I’m even a good writer. But if I can write for God’s glory, and I don’t, what will someone miss out on? If I decided to stop writing good, God-honoring fiction, would someone not become a Christian who otherwise would? Would someone die who might have lived? I write to save lives. I write to heal brokenness. I write to present answers, fill holes, give people hope and show them where to look. For years, writing opportunities have naturally presented themselves. People who I can ask for critiques (and who won’t mind being blunt sometimes), writing tips, writing lessons, short story contests, story ideas that don’t seem to go away–they all show up, just when they’re needed, to keep me writing. I sincerely believe that, though it’s not my main calling in life, God has called me to combat the trash that is in books these days with a message of His love, His glory, His redemption. 

I write in the hopes of someday telling a story that will make someone cry, of stopping the tears of someone who is crying, of giving hope to someone who needs it and showing the way home for someone who doesn’t know where to go. Sometimes I write for me, but sometimes I don’t want to write for myself, I want to write for someone who needs it. Sometimes I write for my characters, but sometimes I write for the real people who are suffering and dying. Sometimes I write for the adventure, but sometimes I write for the adventure of a new Child of God. I don’t want to be published to gain money. I want to be published because God gave me a passion for something, and it’s something that can really make a difference.

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When V is for Villain and B is for Broken

Whenever an artists draws a person, whether real or fictional, the artist has to focus their attention on who the person is: their character, their past, their actions and, of course, their appearance. If the artist does not, they won’t be able to capture who the person really is (though sometimes even with this tactic, they fail), especially if they’re not drawing from a reference.

Recently, I drew for a friend the villain from her novel in progress, a rather wicked woman. And yet, after the first day of working on the drawing (and before I was trying desperately to just make her hair look curly), I couldn’t help but wonder about her. Where did she come from? Who might she have been before she decided to turn to a life of evil? Who lost their daughter? Or did she lose her family first?

Was she, perhaps, once a broken little girl, and is she now, a broken woman?

She was not a good woman. A murderer and worse, she had touched great evil, ruined lives, destroyed hearts. Surely, she is beyond our help, deserving only contempt and hate.

And yet.

Earlier this month, I read Genesis.

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the very beginning of the world, is full of messy situations, confused people, and things that should not have been done. These people—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so many others—were mixed up in things that should not have been touched. They were not good people.

But God took them and made it right. He made them good, and brought them into His covenant. Broken, dirty, messed up people, and God fixed them.

Villains are not hard to find. Throughout history, fiction, and in our own day and time, there are villains, ready to wreak havoc and cause pain. From the kind so pitiable your heart breaks for them (while you run. Fast.), to the ones you would slap but for the fact it would dirty your hand.

And they’re broken, full of holes that they can’t fill on their own, bleeding, dying. They’re frightening, despicable, and desperately pitiable, every last one of them. Their end is already written.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 

Revelations 21:8 – English Standard Version

These are the villains, the broken, the hurting, whose ending has already been determined.  As long as they remain evil, they’re destined to eternal punishment And they’ll stay evil. Unless we do something.

We are here on Earth for a purpose, we’re agents on a mission of the utmost importance: find the broken and the sinners, and lead them to God.

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Isaiah 33:11 – English Standard Version

God is not limited by anything that humans could ever do, think, or say. No one is unable to be redeemed. Our Lord is the great Potter, and he can take a lump of forgotten, evil clay, and shape it into something beautiful. He can lead them to His house, clean and made free of any stain, no matter what terrible things that they’ve done.

So we can’t give up on them. These hopeless creatures have been given hope, just like we were. These people need to be told, just like we were. These people need to be shown love, just like we did. Even if the best that we can do is pray for them and tell them, while keeping our distance; we’re told to love our enemies and the Lord does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

We’re not to give up on them, no matter how bad they are, because God didn’t give up on us. No matter how bad or good they seem, we have to do our very best to bring them to Christ.

And He can take the broken ones, and the villains, and use them for His glory, just like He did all throughout the Bible.

Just like He did with you and I.

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