Friday, November 26, 2010

Lines and Longing




Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 niv

I’m sitting in my warm, cozy home in front of my beautifully decorated Christmas tree – one of several trees scattered throughout my house. I’m afraid I go a bit overboard with the Christmas décor. The weather outside is truly frightful, as it has snowed since the wee hours of this morning. Since I work at home, I don’t have to venture out into this mess, and for that, I’m thankful.

The meteorologists started warning us about the storm headed our way yesterday morning. Every few minutes, they proclaimed the importance of being ready. They changed the forecast from ‘winter storm watch’ to ‘warning’ as the storm organized itself and seemed bent on making this area its target.

In anticipation of this storm, I power-shopped yesterday. Scowls and angry attitudes abounded. Long lines and a short amount of time to get everything done make even the most serene person ready to snap. For every “Happy Holiday” I responded with “Merry Christmas” – my own way of bringing Christ back into the celebration. But I’m still not completely ready.

Watching the news last night, the forecasters reminded me of preachers I heard as a little girl. “The Lord is coming,” they proclaimed. “You must be ready for His return!”

I’d lie in my bed at night, peering into the darkness. Would He come tonight? Was I ready? A great sense of anticipation and a good dose of fear filled my heart as I tuned my ears for a trumpet blast.

Even now, my heart beats faster when I think of the magnificence of Jesus Christ’s return. How wonderful! How amazing!



In the craziness of shopping, baking, and planning family get-togethers, I forget sometimes that not only did Jesus come as a baby, but died as a young man, and rose as my Savior. One day, He will return for His children, and whether I’m eight or eighty, I’m a child in His eyes. His child. And I’m ready when He is to go Home. I long to be with the One who loves me so.

Now don’t get me wrong – I want to stick around for a while, doing what I can to tell others of God’s love, but I’m prepared to meet Him. Are you ready, or do you cringe at the thought of where you’ll spend eternity?

As you wrap gifts, think of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. When you see the Christmas lights, associate their brightness with the Light of the World. And as you stress over being ready for the holiday, ponder whether you’re ready for the Reason for the holiday – the birth, death, resurrection, and soon-coming return of Christ our King. I hope you’ve accepted the free gift from God sent to you - the gift of His Son.

I hope the snow lets up soon, too. I still have some shopping to do.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to remember why I celebrate on the 25th of December each year. I thank You for Your love. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

*Originally posted on 12-22-04.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun Poem for Thanksgiving

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanks!



I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. - Psalm 69:30

On this blessed day when we stop to thank God for all He's done for us, I want to say thank you. I'm so grateful Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I'm grateful for my family and for all the bountiful blessings the Lord has given to me. The Lord is better to me than anyone else. Oh, wait a minute. So you think that, too, huh?

I posted the first devotional on this website in the latter part of May 2004. I'm thankful the Lord has continued to inspire and gracious to give me words to write. My greatest desire is to praise God and draw closer to Him daily through prayer and studying His Word.

I'd also like to thank YOU. You've been supportive and encouraging. It's a blessing to know the words the Lord inspires have touched your heart or caused you to meditate on God and His mighty ways.

I pray the Lord allows me to continue writing and uses my limited ability to bring honor to our infinite God.

May you have a blessed thanksgiving with your family and friends.

With joy - Donna

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giving Thanks in Gatlinburg


Gatlinburg Department of Tourism Photo
Posted by Hello

It’s nice to get away from our daily routine. In autumn, a drive through the mountains enjoying the spectacular range of color the Lord has created can be restorative.

Recently I made a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with family. The weather cooperated with temperatures in the seventies and a slight breeze. Just right.

It looked as if everyone who goes to Gatlinburg came that weekend. You couldn’t move your car down the main street more than a few feet at a time, or edge more than two feet through a store without running into someone or something- usually someone’s stroller. Ouch!

To add insult to the injury (from the strollers!) we were charged double the going rate for our motel simply because of the demand. We checked in and after shopping, we came back to find we had no place to park.

Although I remained thankful the Lord gave us a safe trip and the means to go, what was supposed to be relaxing became an exercise in patience. It would have been easy to forget about thankfulness and become as impatient and rude as some of the travelers.

Thankfulness is an attitude. The American Heritage Dictionary says thankfulness is “to be aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful and to be expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile.” Isn’t it better to smile at someone than frown? It is better to speak kinds words than lash out in anger.

When we have to wait in line to pay for something, rather than be impatient, why not use that time to thank God for our money? When we have to wait a whopping twenty minutes to be seated in a restaurant, let’s breathe a prayer of thanks that God provides us with another meal. We are so blessed we forget there are millions of people in the world who have no idea where their next meal will come from.

Psalm 69:30 says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

We sing a chorus, ‘Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart’. When our hearts are grateful, we make up our minds to be thankful- no matter what the circumstances. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I’m thankful my heels have healed up. Those strollers hurt!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the beauty of this world, and for Your many blessings. I pray I'll be grateful in spite of and in the midst of life's circumstances. You're so good to me. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

"Giving Thanks in Gatlinburg" won third place in a writing contest sponsored by AFFA Communications. Thank-you!
*Gatlinburg Department of Tourism Photo
**Originally posted November 19, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No "Minor" Rescue

"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" – 2 Corinthians 5:21 nlt

Every Thursday on my Facebook Fan Page, I post a 'Thursday Thanks.' Today I am rejoicing that rescuers saved 33 miners trapped for 69 days one-half mile down into the earth in Chile. The men are being called national heroes.

While I thank God for the miners' safety, I keep thinking about the drilling experts at Center Rock, Inc. who worked day and night to make an escape for those men – and way ahead of schedule, too.

But most of all, I cannot stop thinking about the first rescuer, Manuel Alejandro González Pavez, who got into a 900-pound capsule, not knowing for sure that it would work properly, and descended into that cave. The trapped men never made the choice to be there. Manuel did. A hero indeed.

And I can't help but think of Someone else who descended to earth to save me. Jesus Christ did not descend a half mile, but descended from Heaven, laid down His life on the cross, died and rose again to rescue me from the penalty of sin. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:21). Sin brought death and condemnation, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God.

The heroic rescue of the miners was broadcast live and watched by millions around the world. Jesus spoke of a day when He will return. He said, "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory" (Mark 13:24-26). John says in the first book of Revelation that every eye shall see Him.

I watched each miner come to the surface to reunite with family and friends. Tears of joy streamed down faces as each one thanked his rescuers. I, too, have been rescued. I can hardly wait to see Jesus face to face to thank Him for saving me!

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your Love and grace and that You view me as worthy to redeem. Thank You that Jesus came to rescue me. I praise you for my salvation!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Greater Harvest Workshops - A Day for Writers - July 17, 2010


Our next Day for Writers is Saturday, July 17, 2010 with an all-new lineup, additional speakers, and a reduced fee. 

If you're in the Cincinnati-Dayton area, mark your calendars. We have classes on writing for children, illustrating for children's books, determining if self-publishing is a viable option for you, how to write a novel, and yes, more! We're very excited about this jam-packed Saturday.

Registration Fee: $29


Have you always wanted to write but haven’t known where to start?
Is it your desire to write articles and devotionals for magazines and books?
Have you written a book, or would like to, but have no idea what step to take next?
Have you started to write, but need to be inspired to keep the momentum going?



Greater Harvest Workshops are designed to move you closer to your goal of becoming a working writer and published author. Taught by authors and speakers, Donna J. Shepherd and Linore Rose Burkard along with our guest presenters, these workshops, along with hands-on training, will motivate you to step up to the next level!

For more information and to register, visit http://www.greaterharvestworkshops.com

Friday, April 16, 2010

For Mother's Day



I wrote a poem called Mom's Retreat and I'm certain I'm not the only mother who's ever escaped to this special place. To read it on CWAHM.com, click HERE and leave a comment there or here on this blog. Thanks!

Happy Mother's Day. - Donna


*************

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mother's Day - New Mother Syndrome


I received an e-mail from a friend, its content riddled with errors. These weren’t small mistakes, but glaring oversights. A few moments later, I received a second message apologizing for the first e-mail. “Please forgive me. I must be suffering from New Mother Syndrome. All I can think of is the baby.”

What mother hasn’t felt that way when she brings home a newborn? What is this syndrome, and how does it affect us?

The New Mother Syndrome affects our thoughts. When I had my daughter, I obsessed over her. I could think of nothing else. Was she too hot or too cold? Was she hungry? Did she need a diaper change?

The Syndrome affects our sight. We develop tunnel vision. In a room full of people, we see only our precious tiny baby.

And it affects our heart. At times, I felt my heart would burst, as it seemed to expand with the love I held within for my firstborn. I couldn’t imagine my heart having the capacity to love another child as much. That is, until I had another. My heart grew – again.

Every new mother discovers the capacity for a new kind of love similar to God's agape love. Agape love is unlimited, as is a mother's love, regardless of the number of children she bears.

In Psalm 139, we read that God knew each of us before we were born, and he thinks of us. “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

My son used to play soccer. When he put on his uniform and ran out onto the field, it became difficult to distinguish him from his teammates. But it only took a moment for this mom’s eyes to discern which child belonged to me. My ears became tuned like antennae to his voice. If he cried out in distress, I’d run right to him, much to the dismay of the coach.

Just as our eyes and hearts focus on our children, God’s eyes and His heart focuses on His children. Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”

Isn’t it reassuring to know the Lord’s eyes are upon us, and His ears are open to our cries? I imagine that the heart of God swells with each person who accepts Jesus as Lord.

So if you’ve been hit with the New Mother Syndrome, can you expect to recover? Never! It’s a chronic condition, lasting a lifetime.

If you can’t think straight in the newborn stage, wait until the toddler years! Then from about the age of five to twelve, the racket in the house is deafening and not conducive to rational thought. And the teen years? With many parents, it's back to obsession and worry.

Our vision remains fixed. From ball games and recitals, to graduation and marriage ceremonies, our eyes stay focused on our children.

Does the heart recover? Not really. It flutters with every child’s cry, breaks with every fallen tear, and periodically swells with pride.

Motherhood is a privilege and a gift from God. Immeasurable joy fills my days as I do my best to be an example of godly love.

Yes, New Mother Syndrome may be acute and chronic, but I thank God every day for the blessings associated with this affliction!

(If you'd like to use this column in your newspaper, blog, magazine, or any other format, please email me by clicking on 'Write Donna' in the right-hand column of this page. I'm getting a lot of requests for baby showers. I'm happy to email a .pdf. Thanks! - D.)

*Websites where you can find New Mother Syndrome include:
Christian Work at Home Moms.
Christian Mommies.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

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