By the Book

where a love of God and good books meet

Author: Heather Greer (page 2 of 26)

What I’m Reading: Red Rose Bouquet

Tall. Apparently it’s how people describe me. Don’t worry if you’ve mentioned my height in conversation. I’m used to it, and it doesn’t offend me. At a hair below six feet without shoes on, I know I’m tall for a woman.

So when I met a couple fellow Mantle Rock Publishing authors at a conference recently and I learned they were told to look for “the really tall one”, I understood completely. It probably is the trait you would lead with because it’s the one that people will see first.

My height used to bother me. I was taller than a lot of guys, and it was one in a long list of things I was self-conscious about. I’ve grown out of that. When I’m told people of my height shouldn’t wear heels, I shrug and do it anyway. I like wedge sandals, boots, and other wedge heeled shoes. If they’re cute, I don’t care that they make me even taller. I own the “tall one” label.

Not all labels are as easily accepted. Often we allow the mistakes of the past to become our label. When we do, we let those events or traits or mistakes dictate our futures. Just ask Cheryl Thompson from Red Rose Bouquet by Jennifer Rodewald. Cheryl’s been going through life with one fling after another. She’s a successful in her profession, but her personal life is a wreck.

When her brother calls her back home, Cheryl is not prepared for the memories she has to face there. And she definitely isn’t ready for Brock Kelly, her brother’s best friend. He doesn’t fall easily into the love him and leave him place Cheryl has reserved for the men in her life. He challenges her and awakens hope for something better in her life. But he doesn’t know about the one big secret, the huge regret in her life that Cheryl has used to label herself for more than ten years. If Brock knew who she really was, he would never look at her the same way again and he definitely wouldn’t be offering hope.

When the truth comes out, the relationship between Cheryl and Brock is stretched to the limit. It becomes obvious that Brock’s love and acceptance is never going to be enough. Cheryl needs to understand the way God sees her and the decision from her past if she’s ever going to heal.

Some labels are pretty painless, like being “the tall one”. Ones like Cheryl’s are devastating. Cheryl made a sinful decision, and it haunted her for years. Whether it’s sinful or simply a horrible choice one regrets, we tattoo the labels they create onto our hearts. Failure, loser, worthless, or worse names than these become the thing we see when we look in the mirror each day. But they don’t have to be.

When we give our sins and failures over to God, we allow Him to bring something beautiful out of the mess we’ve created. God promises if we confess our sinful choices to Him, if we turn from them, He will forgive us. We may still face physical consequences of our choices, but we are forgiven. He’s not keeping tally in heaven to hold over us later.

And more than forgiven (and that’s a huge thing), we’re wanted. We’re loved. We’re children of God. We’re redeemed. We belong. We have purpose. We are chosen by the Creator of the universe. We are His. Forever.

When we allow God’s forgiveness it’s work in our lives and turn away from our sins, our old labels are erased. We may face the pain from our choices in the future, but we don’t have to let it define us and tell us we are less than. We don’t have to be trapped by regret. We are forgiven. When the past tries to close in on us and move us into a cycle of continuing bad choices, we can say no. We can remind ourselves of our new labels. These are labels given to us by God and found in His word. They are for all who have accepted God’s gift of redemption for themselves. They are labels that allow us to move forward in confidence and peace. They are labels that help us move beyond our past failures and hurts. And they are labels that no man can ever erase.

Right Stuff Wednesday: Grief and Love

Hobbit Home“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring

It doesn’t seem right, but I think there is a lot of truth in this quote. On the surface it seems like a great quote to encourage keeping perspective. There is bad, but there is good too. Let’s look to the good. But the quote is more than an attitude adjustment.

Love is mingled with grief. We see it more each day. I’m not going to argue whether or not it’s really worse. The argument could be made that it’s been bad all along, but our ability to broadcast it to the four corners of the globe have made it more noticeable. It doesn’t matter which it is or even if it’s a combination of both. What matters is that love and grief are walking side by side in this life.

Some of the grief in our lives is self-made. Sinful and simply bad decisions bring consequences that we didn’t think would ever happen to us. Our lives aren’t immune to the results of other people’s actions either. Sometimes nature takes center stage in hurling grief onto our paths. Natural or self-made, grief is grief. It would be easy to focus on it and let ourselves be sucked further under into our grief. It’s easy to play the victim and cry “woe is me” and determine there is no way out of the hurtful place we find ourselves.

Please understand, I’m in no way diminishing the pain or disappointment or loss anyone has faced. These griefs are real and cutting. I know. I’ve faced them too. The problem comes when we choose to continue living in them, letting them paint the landscape of our lives. I believe there is more for us than the darkest times in our lives. It’s in the most painful times of our lives when true love (and I don’t mean the romantic kind) becomes the sweetest.

Little acts of kindness, unearned and unexpected, bring light into the darkness grief tries to shroud us in. When done in godly love, they can bring peace, hope, and moments of joy one can cling to as they work to rise above the darkness. They can remind us we are not alone. We are not fighting alone. We are not hurting alone. It’s why Romans 12:15 instructs us to share in each other’s joys and hurts.

Reaching out to others in active, godly love is also a great reminder to us that we have another who understands what we’re going through. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. He understands our temptations and hurts. Jesus knows disappointment. He understands betrayal. He has felt what it’s like to be utterly alone. In our griefs, it is the love of God shown through others that brings the comfort of knowing know matter how we may feel, we are not alone.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes the grief to move us to compassion. Think about the days following true tragedies. Many can remember 9/11. It was a horrible time of loss for so many. Fear was rampant. But so was love. People gave of themselves and their resources to be there for those in need. Families spent more time together. It didn’t take away the pain for those who suffered loss, but they knew they didn’t stand alone.

It happens every time there is a natural disaster. The people around are mobilized to help. Our sense of what it means to be human and compassion move us to help in any way we can. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to someone’s grief. Other times it involves taking action.

When we get into step with those walking through times of grief, God’s love shines a little brighter in their lives. Their grief may remain, but for a moment it may not hang so dark and heavy over them. How great would it be if it didn’t take the times of grief for our love to sweeten someone’s day?

Eustace Clarence Scrubb

dawn treader“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

Wow. Could there be a better opening line and character description? Immediately readers, even the children for whom the story is meant, will be able to identify the Eustace’s in their lives. With one sentence the “nails on the chalkboard” existence of Eustace is firmly planted in our minds.

C.S. Lewis draws us in with the first pages of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and he continues to lead us through the misadventures of Eustace. We can understand the sentiments of Lucy and Edmond as they deal with his attitude of superiority, and we find it too easy to give in to the idea that he gets what he deserves as things fail to go in his favor. He tries our patience just as he does the same to every creature on the Dawn Treader.

When an author so completely gives us an image of his or her characters, it’s easy for them to become real to us. Suspending our disbelief to accept Narnia and Aslan and dragons as real is only natural. But a great description is only the beginning.

In a well-told story, readers get to know the characters. They get to see beyond the actions and outward appearances to who the characters are at their core. C.S. Lewis describes this occurrence in another quote from Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

“‘In our world,’ said Eustace, ‘a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.’

‘Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.'”

There is more to a star than what is is made of. There is more to a character than their looks and behaviors. It is an author’s job to give their characters souls. In doing so, readers are able to enjoy a fully formed person as complex as the ones sitting beside them while they read.

But in a well-told story the characters evolve through their failures and triumphs. This is not to say they become perfect versions of themselves. Readers don’t want perfection. They want a better understanding of reality. Even in fantasy, there has to be something for the reader to connect to. If readers see themselves in the characters then they also need to see attainable hope. We won’t reach perfection, and I find it frustrating to read about someone who always does the right thing. I want to see the one who tries and fails and gets up to try again. It makes a character work. It made Eustace Clarence Scrubb work.

“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that ‘from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.’ To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”

It had begun. It was not finished. And we can appreciate this in the characters we read about. Sometimes it is more difficult to appreciate in the real world with the people affecting our day to day lives. We sit in church and judge the one who tried and failed or the one who is traveling at a snail’s pace in their journey of faith. We place people on a pedestal of perfection that no man since Jesus has been able to attain. We hold them to this impossible standard and crucify them when they fall. Just like we did with Eustace at the beginning of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we fight pleasure at their circumstances when they seem to get what they deserve.

But often we fail to let ourselves relate to them. We color over our own failures. In Jesus’ words, we “look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye”. (Matthew 7:3) When we realize we are all Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and we almost deserve it, we find patience we didn’t know we possessed. We find empathy that desires to see those we previously rooted against become the people God created them to be. We learn how to come along beside our brothers and sisters to encourage each other to continue to grow in faith. We stop taking note of every failure and choose to look at God’s cure in them that has already begun.

What I'm Reading – Justice Delayed

When I’m under pressure I have the bad habit of procrastinating. As my deadline looms ever closer, I find myself rebelling against the clock. I have plenty of excuses for what I’m doing. I’m tired after a long day at work. I need to make dinner. There’s a new Hallmark movie starting soon. And if the procrastination is to its highest levels, I need to wash the dishes.
I’m ashamed to say the excuses win out in the fight for my attention. And they are all true and some even good things. My husband is thrilled to come home to a clean kitchen despite the fact that it’s simply a way to further my procrastination. I’m not sure why I do it. I know I shouldn’t do it. I want the pressure to end, but the pressure is what pushes me into procrastination mode. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s one only I can break.
Andi Hollister from Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley understands excuses all too well. For years, she has worked to put her sisters murder behind her. Days before the murder’s execution is to take place, circumstances bring to light the possibility that the wrong man is about to die. Andi is hesitant to accept this. Her excuses range from a confession and subsequent conviction to simply not having the strength to face the pain of losing her sister all over again.
Andi is a go-getter when it comes to her job as a reporter. She doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to get her story. When her attitude leads her into trouble and friends and family tell her she needs to slow down and let God lead her in her actions, Andi has excuses at the ready. The stories need told. Why should she ask for help when she can do it herself? Why should she wait on a God that took her sister from her?
While Andi is searching for the truth about her sister’s murder, she becomes a target herself. Tracking down answers to questions that should have been asked during the first investigation puts Andi in harms way and aggravates an old back injury. It’s this injury that give birth to Andi’s most devastating excuses.
To deal with her physical pain, Andi was prescribed a pain medication. While she knows in her head that pain medication can be dangerous, she has convinced herself that she is immune to becoming addicted. Even as her drug use causes issues for her in her quest for the truth, Andi continues to make excuses. She’s too busy to have the surgery that will correct the back problem. She was prescribed the medication. She’s too smart and capable to fall into the pit of addiction. She is only using when she has pain. Even when she begins to see a problem developing in her use, Andi convinces herself one more dose can’t hurt anything. Besides, she needs it to finish the job.
Some excuses, like the ones I use to justify procrastination, don’t have a great potential for causing harm in my life. They need put in their proper place and dealt with, but missing deadlines and sleepless nights cramming to get the job done are more than likely the worst results I’ll face. Excuses like those Andi uses to justify her drug use are far more deadly. Continuing drug use could cause her to lose her job, her health, and endanger herself and others. The ripples of those choices can keep going forever.
Andi’s excuses to misuse her prescriptions may sound horrible to us, but we need to consider how often we make those types of excuses in our own lives. It may not be for drug use, but how often do we excuse sinful behaviors that come between us and God? How often do we excuse a lie with the idea that it’s only “a little lie”? How often do we gossip about others excusing it because “it’s true”? How often do we ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit because “we must not have heard Him correctly”? The list could go on and on. We sin in our anger and call it justified. We choose to say or do things we know are not godly because of what others will think of us if we don’t.
We excuse our behaviors as being necessary and not harming anyone, and we can’t honestly say that. And just as bad are the times when we acknowledge our sin and laugh it off because “everyone does it” and “God will forgive it because He knows I’m human”.
It doesn’t matter what excuse we use. Sin is sin, and it puts a wall between us and our heavenly Father. It’s time to rid ourselves of the excuses, acknowledge our sins, and turn away from them. Only when we get rid of the excuses can God work in us to make us more like Christ.

What I’m Reading – Justice Delayed

When I’m under pressure I have the bad habit of procrastinating. As my deadline looms ever closer, I find myself rebelling against the clock. I have plenty of excuses for what I’m doing. I’m tired after a long day at work. I need to make dinner. There’s a new Hallmark movie starting soon. And if the procrastination is to its highest levels, I need to wash the dishes.

I’m ashamed to say the excuses win out in the fight for my attention. And they are all true and some even good things. My husband is thrilled to come home to a clean kitchen despite the fact that it’s simply a way to further my procrastination. I’m not sure why I do it. I know I shouldn’t do it. I want the pressure to end, but the pressure is what pushes me into procrastination mode. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s one only I can break.

Andi Hollister from Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley understands excuses all too well. For years, she has worked to put her sisters murder behind her. Days before the murder’s execution is to take place, circumstances bring to light the possibility that the wrong man is about to die. Andi is hesitant to accept this. Her excuses range from a confession and subsequent conviction to simply not having the strength to face the pain of losing her sister all over again.

Andi is a go-getter when it comes to her job as a reporter. She doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to get her story. When her attitude leads her into trouble and friends and family tell her she needs to slow down and let God lead her in her actions, Andi has excuses at the ready. The stories need told. Why should she ask for help when she can do it herself? Why should she wait on a God that took her sister from her?

While Andi is searching for the truth about her sister’s murder, she becomes a target herself. Tracking down answers to questions that should have been asked during the first investigation puts Andi in harms way and aggravates an old back injury. It’s this injury that give birth to Andi’s most devastating excuses.

To deal with her physical pain, Andi was prescribed a pain medication. While she knows in her head that pain medication can be dangerous, she has convinced herself that she is immune to becoming addicted. Even as her drug use causes issues for her in her quest for the truth, Andi continues to make excuses. She’s too busy to have the surgery that will correct the back problem. She was prescribed the medication. She’s too smart and capable to fall into the pit of addiction. She is only using when she has pain. Even when she begins to see a problem developing in her use, Andi convinces herself one more dose can’t hurt anything. Besides, she needs it to finish the job.

Some excuses, like the ones I use to justify procrastination, don’t have a great potential for causing harm in my life. They need put in their proper place and dealt with, but missing deadlines and sleepless nights cramming to get the job done are more than likely the worst results I’ll face. Excuses like those Andi uses to justify her drug use are far more deadly. Continuing drug use could cause her to lose her job, her health, and endanger herself and others. The ripples of those choices can keep going forever.

Andi’s excuses to misuse her prescriptions may sound horrible to us, but we need to consider how often we make those types of excuses in our own lives. It may not be for drug use, but how often do we excuse sinful behaviors that come between us and God? How often do we excuse a lie with the idea that it’s only “a little lie”? How often do we gossip about others excusing it because “it’s true”? How often do we ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit because “we must not have heard Him correctly”? The list could go on and on. We sin in our anger and call it justified. We choose to say or do things we know are not godly because of what others will think of us if we don’t.

We excuse our behaviors as being necessary and not harming anyone, and we can’t honestly say that. And just as bad are the times when we acknowledge our sin and laugh it off because “everyone does it” and “God will forgive it because He knows I’m human”.

It doesn’t matter what excuse we use. Sin is sin, and it puts a wall between us and our heavenly Father. It’s time to rid ourselves of the excuses, acknowledge our sins, and turn away from them. Only when we get rid of the excuses can God work in us to make us more like Christ.

My People

Calendar Board with Business Cards.jpgWe were created for community. We were created for relationships and interaction. It seems strange to say that as a card-carrying introvert. More than many, I value my time alone. I use time without the pressures of social interaction to recharge my batteries. But as much as I need my quiet time, I cannot deny the need to connect with people on a personal level.

My love language (and if you’ve not read the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you really should) is quality time. Sitting in front of the television together doesn’t count. I need to really connect with those I love, and that same principle carries over into my friendships. I’m happiest in social interactions when I can share something I love with others. And I don’t think I’m that different from everyone else.

As believers, God has given us the church to fill this need. Scriptures throughout the New Testament reinforce the idea that believers need each other. In Acts, the first church sold their worldly possessions to join resources with the other believers. They relied on each other for everything. In Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians we’re told that believers are all one body made up of many parts working together for the good of everyone and the glory of God. And Hebrews tells us not to avoid coming together in worship and support of each other. We are supposed to “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep”. (Romans 12:15).

First and foremost, I am a believer. However, it goes beyond that. I said the body is made of many members. Some of us are teachers through writing. Whether non-fiction or fiction, there is a message God has placed in our hearts to share with others. It doesn’t matter if the message is one of challenge, correction, or encouragement. It’s a message God has entrusted with us to share with other believers in a way we are passionate about. He has given us the ministry of writing to come alongside others in their journey of faith. These Christian writers are my people.

I had the opportunity to spend last week with my people, and I have never felt more at home. I wish it could’ve continued indefinitely. There were over 500 people who understood my struggles, my hopes, and my successes. They’ve faced the same frustrations and celebrated the same accomplishments. We worshiped together, learned together, and shared fellowship all week. It was an amazing time, and I don’t want to forget it.

More than the experience, I don’t want to forget the connections. God put each person I came in contact with at the conference in my life for a reason. We do understand each other, and with that shared understanding comes a responsibility. It is the same responsibility I have to the believers in my life at home. It is the call to share in each other’s successes and sorrows. It is the call to lift each one up in prayer.

I left the conference with several business cards. A lot of them have pictures on them, and, as an introvert who isn’t given to remembering names, I’m thankful for that. I’ve tacked several to the calendar boards in my office. I want to keep them handy for business needs, but it is more than that. I want to keep them in front of myself daily. I want the gentle reminder to pray for these people who have the same faith I do and the passion for sharing it through the written word. These are my people, and I need to remember to lift them up to God just as I hope they are doing for me.

By the Book: Think about the body of believers God has placed in your life. What similarities knit you together? What can you do to remind yourself to pray for them each day?

If I Only Had the Nerve

cowardly lion.jpg“‘But how about my courage?’ asked the Lion, anxiously.
‘You have plenty of courage, I am sure,’ answered Oz. ‘All you need is confidence in yourself.'”  – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum

I realize this is a Write or Right Stuff Wednesday type post, but seeing as it’s Saturday, I didn’t think it would be proper to name it as such. And since I’ve just returned from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I haven’t read anything new this week. I’m under a pretty tight deadline right now on book three, but I hope to return to the usual blog format in the next week or so. Forgive me for the lack of consistency!

This week was amazing. I met a lot of writers. Some are just starting out and others have written for years with many published books under their belts. We came from different areas of the world with different genres of interest and different home churches, but we were able to gather each day for worship. Then, we spent the day learning more about ourselves as writers, the craft of writing, and how to market. We encouraged each other as companions on the writing journey instead of competitors. We prayed with and for each other. We shared favorite writing tools and apps. We exchanged business cards to keep in touch. As I said, it was amazing, and I didn’t want to leave.

Thursday came and, ignoring my desires, the conference ended. I came home with a new excitement about all aspects of writing and ideas of how to find improvement in each one.

Riding that wave of excitement while browsing the aisles at Wal-Mart may not have been my best option. I needed ink. That’s all I needed. Yet the electronics aisle sent out a siren song that could not be ignored. My cart found its way there of its own volition, and I stood face to face with the smart phone accessories.

As I looked at the tripods available, I tried to tell myself they didn’t have the one I needed. The one the presenter used was more professional and versatile. This one was a tiny one that didn’t adjust in height. On the other hand, my budget is more of a non-adjusting budget and much less than a professional budget. Maybe it would work for what I needed. It did come with a blue-tooth remote to start and stop video or take pictures. That’s pretty important, right?

I picked it up.

But it’s only an idea. What if no one is interested in mini book review videos to pair with the written reviews on my website? It would be a total waste.

I put it back.

Of course, how will I know unless I try? It could be fun.

I picked it up again.

Fun? I don’t like having my picture taken, and my voice sounds so strange when recorded. Why would an introvert such as myself even be considering this foray into the videoed world? Honestly, nothing sounds more horrifying.

I put it back.

But didn’t I just spend the week reaching outside my comfort zone and interacting with strangers? Didn’t I just make myself say “hi” to them even before they said it to me? Didn’t I just spend the week learning all these great things to put into practice? And isn’t my tagline “where a love of God and good books meet”? And isn’t the message of God’s love for us and us loving Him back one I want to get into as many homes as possible? And wasn’t I considering that very thing when this idea struck?

I picked it up again. I made my way to the checkout line, and I completed my purchase before I could second (or third or fourth) guess myself. Excited for the possibilities, I put it together and tried it out. Success! The tripod holds the camera, and the remote starts and stops the video as it was designed to do. I texted a couple people who gave me the green light on the idea. Confidence boosted.

Now, the tripod sits on the shelf across from me waiting patiently for the first video. Or maybe it’s silently judging me from across the room for not having started my video review series yet. It’s hard to tell from this distance. Maybe it’s reserving judgment until a time when it can accurately determine if I’m ever going to work up the nerve for the first video. Of course, more than likely, it is an inanimate object and doesn’t have an opinion one way or the other.

I suppose I could be putting my own feelings onto the tripod. It is a rather small one to carry such heavy thoughts. I want to pursue the things I know to pursue in effort to live out the purpose God has for my life. I don’t want a lack of confidence to keep me from making the most of the things He has brought into my life. But going against my introverted nature is a significant task.

I can avoid this particular activity without fear of falling into disobedience. I don’t think God actually instructed me to take this path. I don’t feel His hand pushing me to do it. I believe it is simply one more way I can take, if I so desire, to broaden the avenue where His message can be heard. But the idea is there, and it will not let me go. I know the idea will not make or break anything in my life. God has given me a ministry, and He is the one who will bring the results. It is my job to keep moving forward. And like the cowardly lion, I hope I find the courage is already inside me and I have the confidence I need to free it to move forward. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Writing on the Road

My posts this week are coming to you from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina! This is my first opportunity to attend Blue Ridge, and I am LOVING it. The area is beautiful, the atmosphere is encouraging and God-filled, and the workshops and speakers are wonderful. Plus, I came with three ladies from home, and the time getting to share our passion for writing with each other is a blessing.

If you are a writer, I encourage you to not only find a local group for support and encouragement but also to keep learning. There is so much information available to help writers improve their craft and the business side of writing.

Conferences are not mandatory, but in my opinion they are necessary. Conferences put you in contact with other writers who are dealing with the same struggles and successes you are. There is power in that connection. But their benefit doesn’t stop there.

Agents and publishers are often available for meetings. Ideas can be pitched and brains can be picked at this meetings. Yesterday I met with a wonderful woman who I simply spoke with about my successes and failures at social media use. I left feeling much better about where I am at in the process. Tomorrow, I’m going to speak with an agent about the feasibility of finding a publisher for an idea I’m toying with. If you want to meet with a well-known author to tell them you admire their work, that’s good too.

In addition to meeting authors, agents, and publishers, conferences are a treasure trove of information. Some workshops are better than others, but I can only think of one time I left a workshop (at a different conference) without getting anything from it. This conference has had amazing presenters on all aspects of the writing journey. Most of my classes are focusing on the business side of writing. I chose them that way. Others in my group are going for craft related workshops. Your conference time can be tailored to your specific needs.

All of these things are wonderful benefits of conferences, but there is one more very important benefit. When you leave the conference, you will go home with a renewed fire to get back to your laptop and get your story (or article or book) finished.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a workshop to get to!

What I'm Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!
I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.
I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.
These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.
It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.
Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.
Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.
The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

What I’m Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!

I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.

I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.

These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.

It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.

Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.

Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.

The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

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