Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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Love Story

Boy meets girl. Boy disgusts girl sometimes. Girl annoys boy often. Then something changes. A brokenness settles in. Surrender and vulnerability. Regardless of the subplots and driving situations, this is often the gist of romance. Continue reading


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No Special Day Required

I have down on my blogging schedule that I share inspirational articles on Thursdays. But it’s occurred to me that the Lord is part of my life every day. And I often include Him in my routine posts whether the article is labeled “inspiration” or not. Continue reading


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From Perfectionism to Peace

I’m so honored to host an amazing debut author, Keli Gwyn on my blog today. Hopefully by the time you read this I will have actually gotten to hug her neck! And even though I’m officially at the national conference for the American Christian Fiction Writers, I’ll be checking in to chat with those of you who stop by and say hi!

Guest Post by Keli Gwyn

Does perfectionism plague you? Continue reading


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God of the Impossible

At choir tonight, we sang a new song by this title. It defined the situations in which I find myself.

The first part spoke of how the worst storm that would ever rage against me is nothing but a raindrop to the Lord. How the most difficult mountain I climb is a prairie. Continue reading


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The Fallacy of Productivity

Are you busy with a hectic schedule like Martha or can you be still and listen like Mary?I have the hardest time going to a movie theater. Seriously, the last two movies I went to were Brave and the Avengers this summer, but before that it had been at least three or four years. Why? It’s simple. It gets too dark for me to do anything. At home with a DVD, I can scrap book, do social media, plan meals, crochet, and I like the feeling of being productive.

There are times to put aside busy-ness and get quiet enough to listen to God. Click to Tweet This!

Like Mary and Martha from Luke 10:39. The two sisters entertained Christ in their home. Martha planned and fussed and struggled to prepare something to give honor to the Lord. Mary, on the other hand, sat at Jesus’s feet focused on the instruction and encouragement that He gave.

Martha had good motivation, but missed the big picture. She also missed the amazing lessons that He shared that day in her own home. Mary truly gave Him honor by giving Him her full attention. She ended up being commended for her choice. Despite the fact that she looked lazy, she delighted in everything that came from the Lord’s mouth.

But what a conundrum this presents. Life is a busy place and we want to do our best to earn and show respect to family, friends, bosses. We want to give our best to the Lord, too; practiced, primped, without flaw.

Whoa. Wait a minute. This use of the word flaw reminds me of a Bible verse – Ephesians 5:25 – where Paul is describing the love of a man for his wife and comparing it to the Lord’s love for His church.

Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

This makes it clear that Christ is the one Who makes us flawless, even with all of our practice and dedication. So should we even try to extend our best to God? Yes, and spend time in practice and prayer to do so, but we can’t impress Him. And while He inhabits our offering of praise, whatever that sacrifice might be, we delight Him when we stay in a teachable position ready to learn from Him.

Your turn: Which do you lean toward, the Mary or the Martha? Or have you found a balance?


Seasons of Life

All artwork in this post by digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday I posted about a significant change in my writing life, but my major adjustment barely scratched the surface of all the other changes that went on around me last week.

The first week of August 2012 will go down forever in my memory as amazing. Two dear friends of mine, former members of my children’s choir held the most romantic wedding I’ve ever seen. As I watched them and their families and friends dance across the floor during the reception, I realized this group would not rejoice together again until we meet in heaven. The bride and groom moved away. The groom’s parents, some of mine and my sweet hubby’s best friends, moved several hundred miles away only two days after the event to a new ministry. Of those left behind, all meeting and growing close through the fellowship of a local church, only a few couples still attend. Most of us are spread in churches across the metroplex and seldom meet.

While the bride and groom say goodbye with their eyes to the future, building a new life together, the groom’s family does the same as they begin a new foundational chapter. Earlier in the day, Sweet Hubby visited another good friend in the last stages of cancer, a totally different type of season. And just before the wedding, one of my besties called weeping, with unexpected news that her mom had passed away. So many dramatic changes, I felt my head shaking and not to the beat of the music at the wedding reception.

Just like this hot summer will fade, changing the landscape, fashions, and the very aroma of the world around us, the fabric of our lives changes. Think of your own life. Unless you’re very young, you can likely identify with some of the changes I’ve mentioned and am about to mention. I think there are three main types of seasons in our lives. I could get creative here, like Starbucks, but I see them simply large, medium, and small.

The medium seasons are the ones we notice changes in most and are often related to the way we define ourselves – our jobs, careers, or aspirations. I’ve been a teacher for public school, a cooperative teacher, a children’s music ministry director, a consultant for a scrap-booking company, and a writer. Doubtless, even if you’ve done the same type of job for many years, you can see how the seasons of that position changed.

During the medium seasons are all of the small episodes. More akin to actual seasons, they complicate and offer variety to our lives. You know what I mean: soccer or volleyball season, prom season, school year, musical season, holiday season, vacation time, etc.

Then there are the large waves of life that span basic seasons. These would include the years we have babies in the house, or school children, supporting aging family members, relocating, watching our friends go home before us. These massive changes are the ones where the Lord really works in our lives, supporting and strengthening us through huge directional adjustments. These seasons leave us both vulnerable and malleable. When we’re broken and humble before God, He can use us to do the work He needs. Usually times like these offer intensive patience training and require the willingness to fully rest on Him and learn to wait for His leading.

I think contentment comes when we’re able to look at our season of life and know that it doesn’t conquer us. Embracing it along with the giddiness or pain, we can throw back our heads and smile at God knowing full well He holds us close and will give us whatever we need to accomplish His work. He’s never too early in his supply for those needs, but He’s also never too late.


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Childlike

My 12-year-old daughter inspired me this evening. “Mom, I think I’d like to go visit a poor area and set up some play times like a Vacation Bible School. Can we go next summer?”

At first I chuckled at her innocence. Me the much more mature totally missed the point. God had touched her heart, lighting a fire of compassion for children less fortunate than she and igniting a deep desire to tell others about Christ.

That’s the essence of faith like a child.

So first I slapped myself upside the head for thinking I had anything on her. Then I encouraged her to learn as much about God as she could. “Having feet shod with the PREPARATION for the Gospel of peace.” I reminded her that we didn’t really know when God might open a door, so we had to study His Word and be ready to share when He needs us to.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me again that You are the one who does the work and can use anyone, anytime for Your purposes.


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Hope is Found

I’m so thankful to share a guest post today. A devotional by Katie Ganshert, author of Wildflowers from Winter.

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Desert

He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.

-Deuteronomy 8:15

I met a woman once who lived in Kibera, the biggest slum in sub-Sahara Africa. She slept in a tiny shack with six kids, three of whom weren’t her own. Her husband had left. She was sick with AIDS. Yet she was lit from within, beaming with the hope of Christ.

If I close my eyes right now, I can see her. And most likely, six years later, she’s no longer sick. She’s no longer living in a shack. She’s rejoicing with the One who gave her that hope.

I have a friend who struggled for years with infertility. She and her husband were faithful and obedient to the Lord. So why wouldn’t He give them the child they yearned for? They had no idea God was using that time to lead them down a different path. A path toward adoption. A path toward their daughter.

When I think of that African woman, when I think about my friend, I picture wildflowers.

Did you know the snowiest winters produce some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the spring?

I love when truth reveals itself in nature.

Because this is truth.

God uses what the human eye sees as cold and harsh and lifeless to bring about beautiful things. Breathtaking things.

Like a once-snowy field bursting with wildflowers.

Like an infertile woman who realizes she doesn’t have to get pregnant to be a mother.

Like a woman riddled with sickness, steeped in poverty, beaming with hope.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being a God who can redeem the most barren times in our lives. Thank you for being a God who brings beauty from pain. Help us to trust You, no matter our circumstance or season. Help us to trust that You are faithful and You are good.

Are you trusting God to bring water from the hard rocks in your life?

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Tears filling my eyes. I can’t tell you how much I needed this word today! What circumstances lay on your shoulders like bags of rocks? Have you seen God use them before? You will again. Maybe not the way you expect, but He draws all of your circumstances together for His good purpose for you.

I am so glad Katie shared today! Her book, Wildflowers from Winter, is exceptional and available right now.

What Katie says about herself:

I’m a slightly-frazzled, ever-inquisitive Midwest gal who’s passionate about Jesus, my family, writing, and all things romance, which is exactly what I write. Stories about flawed, broken characters who find faith and fall in love. When I’m not plotting ways to get my hero and heroine to cross paths, I enjoy watching movies with my hunk of a husband, playing make-believe with my wild-child of a son, hanging out with the crazy but lovable junior high students at my church, and chatting with my girlfriends at Panera®. I could talk books all day and am often spotted around town pushing a stroller, walking my dog, and reading—all at the same time.


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Roller Coaster Christianity

Roller CoastersDo you ever feel like your faith ebbs and flows? I liken it to one of my favorite things at Six Flags – roller coasters. There are times when my relationship with the Lord is so intense. I’m resting on Him. Desperately needing Him. Delighting in His presence.

Those are the ups. The hills, some higher than others.

Other times, to my shame, I’m not inviting Him to be part of my daily living. I resist reading His Word. I always pray, but I’m not as conscious of His presence.

Those are the downs.

For roller coasters, the ride just wouldn’t be the same with out them. But for my Christian walk, I wonder if it is dangerous to allow myself to be up and down like that. Am I setting myself up for apathy as I get older? Or cynicism?

And is it just a product of my personality? I’m a creative type. Up and down are norms for me in most areas of my life, though they don’t go too far either way. Does the fact that my faith follows the same type of path just connect with the way I am? Or is that just an excuse?

Paul deals a little bit with the up and down. In Romans 7:19 he says, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Then in 24, he hits bottom. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Turning back to the uphill climb. 25: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I think Paul understood the ride. I think it frustrated him as much as it frustrates me—probably more. My goal then is not to stay at the top of my hill, but to battle against the natural way of a coaster and try to flatten it out entirely. A steady incline.

That’s the plan.


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Christian Fiction

Katie Ganshert is a debut author whose novel premieres in May 2012

Is this term an oxymoron? Christianity itself has the Truth as it’s ultimate foundation. Fiction, by it’s definition means the opposite of truth. Why would anyone want to make Fiction about Christianity?

Ephesians 5 urges us to “make the most of every opportunity.” Not surprising that our God is a Master at that, and fiction writing is no exception.

I am typical for most women my age in that I love to read novels. (Particularly romance and especially a good mystery.) I learn about different types of people and enjoy the way they deal and rise above their circumstances. I know the stories aren’t true, but they draw me in because something within them relates. Whether the main character reminds me of myself in some fashion or the situation in which she finds herself captures my attention, her story becomes real because it could be.

Keli Gwyn is a debut author whose novel premieres in July 2012.

And inviting God to have a place in that story brings the similarities all the more clear. I’m fallen, but redeemed and made holy by His Grace and Christ’s sacrifice. I relish experiencing that sensation again and again while I empathize with the heroines of the books I read as, broken, they reach for an adoring Father who has been there all along just waiting for the chance to show them the depth of his love.

That’s what I want my writing to do as well. Inspire readers to the realization of God’s adoration. Those that understand all that He has done for us need reminding – I know I do – and encouragement in the truth. Those that haven’t experienced that kind of relationship don’t need me to preach at them. But if they can see a real submission to the Father’s love from a book character in which they see themselves, maybe they can also be aware of that same love that wraps around them everyday.

Faith-Driven; that’s my kind of Fiction.

Your turn: What’s your favorite book or which author has your attention at this point – and why???