Seeds that Move and Seeds that Root

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
    release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the Lord
    and a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn;
to place on those who mourn in Zion
    a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of justice,
    the planting of the Lord to show his glory. Isaiah 61: 1-3
NABRE

Some seeds take root in the ground. Some travel by air or water. They morph from seed to sprout to stem and grow leaves, then fruit.

A letter from a missionary family arrived a couple of weeks ago. It provided updates with lists of praises and prayer requests. It was one in a series of such letters over decades that tells the story of a family. The letters reveal the heart of their composer: a wife and mother–herself a seed who traveled on the wind and brought forth much fruit.

This missionary mom is a rare poetic spirit–walking us through the triumph of seeing souls come to Christ–and the tragedies of her two lost babes–one miscarriage and one newborn who lived about a day–and the more recent loss of a teenage son due to cancer.

She’s had her own physical ailments, yet her faith stands strong. She has no regrets. She and her family invested their lives planting seeds of faith.

The remnant of this traveling family–now a couple with their living, now grown children spread like seeds around the world–have come home. Planting not just seeds but also roots yet holding the earth around them loosely.

A young couple I met recently has two young children and are preparing for a life of seed cultivation on the other side of the planet. They hold the earth around them loosely. Sitting in their living room a few months ago, their plans unfolded for a simple Christmas and then the big move.

Christmas for the little ones involved only a few items that would travel easily. Like the older missionary family, they live holding onto little here.

The seed that is me grew in the soil under my feet. Having lived in the same house since 1977, my roots reached deep in this place. My leaves are the colors of autumn, no longer the green of spring. The seeds I produced sprouted in nearby ground.

In her letter, the elder missionary mother spoke of the offerings she will lay before God someday–the fruit of her life.

What we lay before Him cannot be what we’ve held tightly.

We’ll have only the fruit from seeds planted in loose soil. Seeds we pray the Lord will grow into mighty oaks of justice–His plantings. For His glory.

So let it be.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Hospitality Overcomes Hostility

It was 2017. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. The president’s bad behavior of the past frustrated many women. They decided to march on Washington in protest. But pro-life women were not welcome.

This event was exclusive to a particular mindset–one that viewed the sanctity of human life stance with hostility.

But not all the women shared hostility for all things pro-life.

And that some women learned more about the pro-life perspective that day may simply be due to an aversion to the porta-potty.

if you’ve ever marched in Washington, you are either acquainted with the porta-potty, aka porta-john, or you strategically plan your bathroom breaks. If you are marching in the cold of January, you work harder at the strategic plan of finding bathroom facilities.

In Building the Benedict Option, Leah Libresco tells the story of the Dominican friars of Washington, DC, who welcomed pro-choice protesters to use their bathroom facilities in 2017. They opened their doors to women protesting the election of Donald Trump–protesting the rise to office of a president whose past behavior had been unsavory–a president who claimed to be pro-life.

At first, it was only 12 women seeking to use the facilities; then it became more than 100. Libresco quotes the account of Brother Martin Davis:

“The peculiar situation of some people wearing ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’ next to men wearing rosaries on their belts did not stop many [of the women] from inquiring into what brings us to live lives dedicated to Christ” (105-06).

Libresco explains that the friars answered the women’s questions about their work and their beliefs about abortion and unborn life, among other topics. The grateful women then passed a hat collecting over $100 for the church.

They warned Brother Martin to avoid reading the text on the hat they passed.

It was an unlikely encounter and yet a profound one. The friars may have found the march discouraging. They might have withdrawn and stayed behind closed doors. They might have lost hope.

Libresco: “To be a Christian means to believe that hopelessness is always a misapprehension at best, and, at worst, a form of spiritual attack” (158).

More than 100 women saw the beauty of Christ that day and heard the message of life. The march’s organizers tried to shut out that message. But a simple act of hospitality on a cold day shut the door against hostility. And it didn’t take much.

From Libresco: “[T]he friars weren’t engaging in traditional witness. They weren’t preaching or participating in a street prayer vigil” (106-07).

They were just being hospitable Christians. They obeyed a calling from God and opened a door where minds and hearts had been closed.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Review of Restoring the Shattered

I’m thankful to fellow blogger Boma Somiari for this review of Restoring the Shattered.

by Boma

(Restoring the shattered: illustrating Christ’s love through the church in one accord by Nancy E. Head)

Brokenness can happen before you even realize it. Nancy learned this many years ago as a young woman doing her best to see her family thrive.

All was fine and going well (on the surface, at least) until suddenly, it wasn’t.

Without much notice, she was thrown into separation, divorce, single motherhood and poverty.

Her family would never remain the same. They were broken, but what kind of broken?

As Nancy tells it –

There are two ways to break glass. One is to simply shatter it. The other is to score it, guide the break, and shape the glass for beauty and function – Restoring the shattered. Pg. 21 

When her family experienced brokenness, the Church was there to help them through that time. Now Nancy tells the story of today’s Church through the lens of this personal experience.

Written in a way that’s easy to follow, the book explores subjects like brokenness, suffering, joy, grace and the Church’s response to the present state of this world.

The Church truly does have a place in all of this because –

God’s hands reshape shattered hearts and rebuild broken lives for placement in His story. Being broken can hurt. But God can use our brokenness to glorify Himself – Restoring the shattered. Pg. 21 

And –

Joy is to have His grace wash over me and splash onto you. To have His grace soak us both through. And stain us forever with His love  – Restoring the shattered. Pg. 41 

If you want to lend a hand and do your part in making someone else’s experience of life somewhat easier, this book is full of simple, yet practical ideas to help you do that.

If you want to learn a bit more about the history of the Church; the similarities and differences that exist within, Nancy sheds light in a way that’s easy to follow.

Plus, did you know toothpaste is the way to go if you need to get crayon markings off your mother-in-law’s wallpaper quickly? True story!


Nancy E. Head attends the non-denominational First Church of Christ. Nancy is a lifelong resident of Blair County in central Pennsylvania, dwelling for most of her years in Altoona―with a brief interval in Logan Township. She is a graduate of Penn State and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She teaches Advanced Placement English at Great Commission Schools and composition classes at Penn State Altoona. Nancy is a United States Armed Forces Mother and a member of the Blair County Republican Committee and Toastmasters. Nancy worked in both radio and print journalism before becoming a high school and college-level teacher. She blogs about Church and social issues twice weekly, and CBN.com has published several of her devotionals. Her experiences as a single mother raising five young children showed her how poverty alleviation is an issue for the church and an issue requiring a Church in accord.

Restoring the shattered is available for purchase on Amazon. 

*****

Disclosure

I [Boma] received this book free from the author for this review.

The Four Gifts of the King: A Review

“Instruct these young warriors in the battle that lies ahead of them. Teach them how to fight using the truth as their weapon. Show them how to see the real kingdom, how to recognize the great distortion, and where to launch their campaign against the evil that has befallen this land. Teach them, Steward.” From The Four Gifts of the King~

Imagine having a message for your grown children who’ve gone astray. But you need some way to help them be willing to hear it. 

That’s the premise of a story within a story in the fabulous novel by R. Scott Rodin–The Four Gifts of the King.  

It’s part allegory, part fantasy, and part contemporary novel. A novel piece of work, if you will. 

Sam Roberts receives a windfall that he never saw coming. And when he finds out that his time is short, he ponders how to pass along the gift to his four grown children who have strayed from the path of Christian faith.

After Sam’s death, his lawyer explains to Sam’s four children the terms of his will. Sam has written a book and the children must read it before they can claim their inheritance. Sam’s two daughters and two sons take turns reading the story aloud to each other.

Rodin deftly weaves the two stories together and is not preachy in the application of Sam’s story to the lives of his children.

In Sam’s story, an army of evil Phaedra plan a final battle against the army of the good king. And Steward, the hero on a quest to this strange land, must convince the deluded people of the kingdom to follow their true king.

Themes of meaning, love, faith, compassion, obedience, service, and forgiveness abound in this tightly woven story of good versus evil–the foundation of all mythology.

Rodin’s fantasy world is captivating. His hero’s quest is believable. In his places–Aiden Glen, Seudomartis, Pitcairn Moor, Marikonia, Petitzaros, and Ascendia, Rodin builds a world where the Phaedra deceive people into building false ramps to nowhere and looking into reflectors that reveal only lies about those seeking their true selves.

Serving, giving, healing, seeking, and finding, and most importantly, trusting the King–that’s what this book is about. The read is a ride worth taking.

And along the way, you too may come to know the King’s deep peace.

The Four Gifts of the King is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Four-Gifts-King-Scott-Rodin/dp/1683509323.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A New Season

We’re on the cusp of a new season.

It’s taken a long time this year for fall to arrive. In fact, the temperatures of autumn are not settling in until tomorrow. 

Most of the leaves are still green. A few are red or yellow. When the cold air finally hits, the colors should become vibrant and plentiful–unless we get wind and rain from the hurricanes.

If that happens, most leaves will just fall off in their green state. We may be moving from the balmy temperatures of summer to the grayness of winter without the beauty in between.

As cooler weather settles upon us, my husband will achieve his final day of employment before he retires to a small business venture. So it’s more like he’s switching jobs than finishing his career. 

Yet, it’s a new season. One we expect to hold shorter commutes, less travel, and more sleep. Certainly, it’s a season of change.

Sometimes change is scary. Sometimes it lacks color. Sometimes the colors are beyond our remembering. Always the God who turns our paths walks with us whatever the new way may bring. 

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Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord now available in e-version on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Cross of Waiting

“It’s the waiting, the not knowing, that’s driving me crazy.”

“The waiting is the cross,” [Mother] answered.” Colleen Carroll Campbell from My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir~

Sometimes it feels like we’ve been waiting for something all our lives. I remember as a teen waiting for my father to pick me up from school and wondering how many hours I’d spent waiting for him in my life. But he always came. I always knew he would, and he did.

Having to wait through the unknown is its own cross–sometimes the heaviest. The test or surgery results, the diagnosis. We dwell on the outcome. The thing that will determine how the rest of our lives plays out.

Colleen Carroll Campbell waited for God to send her a child. She endured the agony of the wait, medical treatments and the monthly realization of yet another failure to conceive.

What weighed most heavily on her was not knowing whether she would ever be a mother.

She and her husband asked God again and again to send them a baby. Yet years of striving and never achieving had convinced her that her dream would never materialize. And in one way it never did. (Spoiler ahead!)

(Spoiler ahead!)

He didn’t send them a baby. He sent them two.

But they had to wait. And in the time of waiting, they grew closer to God and closer to each other.

God says, rest. Wait. Trust me.

We sense we are standing still in that time. But we are not. And God is not still either. He works through our times of waiting. He works in us. 

Rest. Wait. Trust. And watch for the outcome. 

It will be worth the wait.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NASB~

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the authors.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Beyond a Path of Suffering

“God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.” ― Charles Haddon SpurgeonGrace God’s Unmerited Favor*


Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Something bad happens. And the landscape of our story changes completely. We have a new perspective, a new direction. A bad thing works for good that we did not foresee.


I have a friend who worked in an ice cream truck when he was 17 years old. That seems like a job that would have few challenges. But one day, he was robbed and beaten. The event changed the trajectory of his life.


He became a career prosecutor. He devotes his life’s work to pursuing justice for those who are robbed, beaten, cheated, or worse.


A neighbor’s grandchild was born with serious handicaps. He and his parents faced challenges most of us cannot imagine. But two of his aunts found inspiration and, because of him, became therapists.


A former student’s younger sibling was born with a genetic disorder. This student is in medical school studying to become a geneticist. She may change the life trajectory of others who suffer from similar conditions.
 
We Christians love to quote Romans 8:28–“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


But we sometimes neglect the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are creations still in the shaping process–being conformed to the image of Christ.


Most of us can look back and clearly see our turning points. We can realize now that we found our path because life changed one day. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Even unpleasant and painful.


But never without purpose.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Finding the Way

He stops me in the hallway at work–my former teacher, now a colleague. He’s been studying Greek because, he says, teachers should always remember how hard it is to learn something difficult.


“Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”?


“John 14, I think.”


He is especially interested in the word way, not sure if the English translation comes from methodos or hodos. The conversation sparks my own investigation. I’m glad the terms I look up are easy to understand (always a plus when dealing with Greek).


Methodos means a way of searching–inquiry. That meaning is secondary, but it’s the one my colleague mentioned. Methodos also means scheming, craftiness, and deceit. Strong’s Concordance finds it twice in Ephesians (4:14 and 6:11). Scriptures that warn us first of the cunning craftiness of men, then to beware the wiles of the devil.


But Jesus does not use methodos in John 14:6. He uses hodos.

Like methodoshodos has different connotations. “It can mean not only a road, a path, but also a practice.” So it is not only the way to go, the direction we take, it is also how we walk, how we encounter God and others through our lives.


Jesus is not a means of inquiry. He is the way to God. And He gives direction for our lives.


Before His followers were called Christians (Act 11:26), they were called the people of the Way. In Acts 9:2, the people “belonging to the Way”–hodos–were those Saul hoped to persecute as he made his way along the road to Damascus. Being called a follower of the Way was descriptive. Being called a Christian was an insult.


They stood out among the crowd. Some didn’t like that.


My colleague also wondered about the root of the word Methodism. Methodism’s founder John Wesley was well versed in Greek. Had Wesley intended to associate his view of the Christian life with methodos–a way of inquiry?


We were both surprised by what he discovered.


The name Methodism came in derision–just as the name Christian had in the early Church. John and Charles Wesley’s fellow students at Oxford called them Methodists because they were methodical in their spiritual discipline and their ministry efforts.


They stood out among the crowd.


John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”


Wesley knew that to follow the Way was not the easy way

.
Wesley, like Luther before him, did not set out to establish a new church. Luther wanted to reform Catholicism. Wesley wanted to reform the Church of England. In fact, Methodism did not even become its own denomination until it arrived in America.


In England and America, Methodism planted churches and encouraged moral living, literacy, and philanthropy. Wesley encouraged William Wilberforce in the fight against slavery. Wesley advocated prison reform. He urged Christians not to simply collect and send goods to relieve the misery of the poor, but to go to the poor individually, each Christian engaging in personal ministry.
 
When He walked this earth, Jesus invited people to follow him. Wesley didn’t invite people to follow Methodism. He invited people to follow Christ.


Strong’s Concordance renders truth (aletheia) in John 14:6 as reality. It renders life (zoe) as life that includes both the “physical (present) and . . . spiritual (particularly future) existence.”


The Way, Truth, and Life invites us to a path that leads to reality for eternity.


And there is no other hodos.


Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Revised and reposed from April 2016

Tilling Good Ground

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college-level class.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different. Continue reading “Tilling Good Ground”

Transfiguring Grace

Paradox:

To see my own sin—my own failings and imperfections—

To overlook yours.

Joy:

To have His grace wash over me and splash onto you,

To have His grace soak us both through,

And stain us forever with His love.

———————–

Excerpted from Restoring the Shattered, Coming to Amazon in October

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”