Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

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The View from Down Here

Perspective is a funny thing. Sometimes the Lord helps us put on the skids and forces us to look at life from a different point of view than we were expecting. Like last month when my big brother shared that he might have cancer. Devastating!

My brother and I have been best friends since college. His wife was even my college roommate. Our kids consider each other siblings more than cousins and we still look forward to opportunities to get together or just chat on the phone.

But with this call, I wasn’t the kid-sister. I was the first call to help him sort through his emotions before he had to tell his wife and his son. I sucked up every tear and kept my voice even and low, remaining objective so he could sort through his thoughts and emotions without having to deal with mine.

In the days that followed, I kept him in constant prayer, reminding God that my brother, His servant, wasn’t finished yet. Minor insecurities, annoyances, and irritations disappeared. Weighing against the reality of our temporary lives, very little seemed important. God’s big picture became the forefront of my mind. Such is the case when what I think is “life” comes skidding to a halt in the face of something that could profoundly alter it.

Then there are the times when the Lord eases us into a new perspective over the course of time and experience. I also had that “aha” this month.

I didn’t realize that the last time I chatted with you was a year and a half ago! I mean, I expected to back off blogging a little bit because I’d been doing so many for so long, but an eighteen-month silence is not just a back-off!

 

I’m thinking I had a little bit of goldfish-memory syndrome.

That’s a running joke in my family.
Goldfish in a bowl:
I have a castle…
Oh, my gosh, there’s a castle over there…
Wow, I can see a castle…
What’s that big building over there?
Wait, is that a castle?

And so on. Such was the case with me planning to do another blog post. I had every good intention, but time and memory shot them down.

Doing this blog now helps me realize just how much has changed in this eighteen months. At the time of my last post, my goal was to churn out two dozen books during 2018. And I did, but I wasn’t happy with the tradeoff – very little time apart from work, no writing time of my own, and errors in a couple of the books that could have been avoided if I hadn’t been so rushed.

My perspective has changed about my business. We’re now focusing on launching books – making the most of each of them and doing the best we can for them. We’re publishing fewer of them, but hoping that each will do exponentially better as it hits the market.

My perspective has also changed about the Lord. I look forward to spending time with Him in the mornings, sometimes spending hours in Scripture reading, study, and prayer. That’s beyond my expectations in a huge way! I also love working with the youth at our church and encouraging them to make their faith their own and not miss the opportunity to have a real relationship with the Creator of the universe.

So all-in-all, as I say in my bio, I’m pretty content with where the Lord has me and what He has me doing. Especially since my big-bro was declared cancer-free! Yep! After preparing myself for the worst so I could encourage him, he let that news fly, and I bawled like a baby! Right there in front of my nephew and my girls. And I’m not even ashamed! I’m happy to bawl about news like that any day!

What about you? Are you getting a fresh perspective abruptly or over the course of time? Or maybe not at all? Maybe the Lord has worked you through some perspective training already? Care to share? I’d love to hear about your journey with the Lord with this issue.


Inspired by Green

Green is the color of life, of new beginnings. Like a fresh breeze, it draws us out into the world, enticing us to take a stroll and enjoy it’s brilliance. Continue reading


Top Ten Christmas Memories

Dear Boy and His Uncle Bubba

10 The memory that I penned for Write Integrity Press about the year just before Sweet Hubby and I got married. We traveled through four states that year and Christmased in three of them! You can read the article HERE!

9 One year my brother and I got my mom an antique piano and on Christmas day, we did a scavenger hunt for her all over East Texas to help her find her gift.

8 And then there was the year that I got my brother a rubber chicken with Christmas ornaments hanging out of its ears. (Do chickens even have ears?) That one event established a tradition for every year. I work at finding a goofy gift to go with my brother’s personality. Last year it was a dancing snowman and they year before that, I found a Santa that shouted “Smelly Christmas” and then tooted Jingle Bells. Perfect for his humor! Ha!

Two From Galilee - The First Noel7 This year’s production of Two From Galilee was an amazing event. This year will definitely go high in my memory archives.

6 One of the craziest memories of a Christmas was the year we got my dog, Marcie, from “Santa.” A sweet, almost three-year-old beagle, she didn’t seem tall enough to get to my table. Until I found her nose deep in my cheesecake ball after our lunch.

5 I loved the year that I announced the birth of my twins, of course, I didn’t know they were twins at that point. I gave my dad a package with a diaper (yes, clean) inside. Then sat there and snapped pictures while the truth dawned on him.

4 That reminds me of the Christmas party when I told my mom about that pregnancy. At the party, we had the waiter bring her a baby bottle as all the other drinks were being delivered.

Frosty at the Gaylord Texan3 Then there was the Christmas when my son got his bicycle and my daughter got skates. Sweet hubby, nephew, and I all got skates as well, so we all walked out to the park behind our house and spent the afternoon rolling around, falling, and laughing.

2 Jelly jars! My sweet hubby’s most embarrassing Christmas came when my mom invited one of her friends to our celebration. Sweet Hubby spent a couple of weeks perfecting homemade jam and even picked out cute Christmas glasses to give them in. (He’s a farmboy married to a city girl. What can I say?) So when our guest opened her gift, he explained that he hadn’t wanted to use boring jelly jars for the gift. The next thing he opened … can you guess? Yes, our guest had also made jam, but in “boring jelly jars.”

1 And our guest didn’t let Sweet Hubby forget it! My number 1 memory came the next year when she celebrated with us again. She made a point to leave notes on all of her gift containers like, “Nothing boring about a PopTart box!” My Sweet Hubby’s ears reddened both years!


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Top 10 Lessons from a Summer with Teenage Girls.

Life with Twins became more interesting now that they are teenagers.Today’s blog comprises the top ten things my teen girls taught me this summer.

  • Never lose the ability to laugh at yourself and never laugh too hard at others.
  • Wanna go to the mall? Do you really have to ask?
  • Since it’s Happy Hour and there’s a Sonic right there, why don’t we stop?
  • Everything, even chores, gets better with music.
  • When all else fails, put it in a ponytail.
  • Eggs really can cook on the dashboard of a car.
  • You’re never too busy to play – oh wait, that’s a lesson that I learned from my dog.Teenagers are making my life so colorful.
  • Always keep a dog around to blame.
  • Laughter is best when shared.
  • The drivers of the other cars can’t hear you, Mom.

Your turn: What have you learned this summer? From whom or what did you learn it?

 

 


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Proverbs 31

alarm clockI just finished doing a Bible Study with Good Morning Girls, going through Proverbs 31. And I have to tell you, reading about this amazing woman and all that she does made me incredibly …

Tired.

I’m ashamed to say after about the 3rd verse of the section – the one where it talks about her getting up early in the morning? – I rebelled a little bit and stopped the study. Why try? I can never be that woman. I wasn’t anything like her when I was young and I’ll sure not get there now that I’m older.

I stood toe to toe with wonder woman and only came up to her knee. No I don’t often get up  early. I don’t always have a clean house when people come over. I don’t even make my bed every day (my own personal skeleton from the closet). My cooking consists of short cut meals. Scratch is something you do to a mosquito bite!

I really gave it to myself and dog-paddled around the pity pool for a several days before I snapped out of it. I may never be the Proverbs 31 woman, but inside me is a desire to try. Not so I can please my husband. He loves me – miraculously – like the Lord does, in spite of myself. And also not so I can impress my friends of extended family. I want to build the type of God-focused spirit that she had.

Something else I realized is that this gal didn’t do all this at once. She had different seasons of her life just like I have. I’ve had a scrap-booking season where I not only chronicled memories for my kids, but I brought in money to help purchase our curriculum. I’ve had a teaching season and a sewing one. I’ve had home mom seasons and am still in the home schooling mom season. I’m also in a writing season, though I hope this one will last for some time.

That does make things considerably better. While I’ve never been just really awesome at cleaning, I have done a type of all of the other things mentioned.

So I went back to the study and doubled up on the lessons. I found that I’m not so far off the the Proverbs 31 woman except for my housekeeping skills. So that’s where I’m working to improve. But the end of the chapter, oh so cool. At the end of the chapter, her kids call her blessed. Mine do that. (No not the “bless me out” type of blessings. Lol!) My precious girls, and even my dear boy, have such Spirit consciousnesses. They are transparent and open with their praise and fuss at me when I feel unworthy.

And the best part, her husband praises her. What woman doesn’t want the admiration of her husband. I love it when mine tells me he’s proud of me. There’s no better moment, and no better way to end this book.

I think the Proverbs 31 woman (the ideal for that mom and obviously important enough for the Lord to include her in His Word) is someone to aspire to, but not a reason to criticize myself or others.

Your turn: What part of the Proverbs 31 woman makes you cringe? What part do you feel you have or can accomplish?


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K is for KIDS

Last week, I shared my plans for the weekend, St. Patrick’s day greenness.

Not ALL of my ideas got shared, but I posted some decidedly un-green photos that had inspired me, so today I thought I’d share the real thing. Some of the most unappetizing-looking food items I’ve ever put into my mouth. Yet my kids were delighted. Dinky Twinkies kept hugging me. “Mom, you are the best!” (Music to my ears!) And Precious Redhead gave her own kind of teenage compliment when she posted about our silly string fight on Facebook saying, “I did not think my mom was so random as that.”

Doing for my kids made me think of how I am to the Lord. There’s a reason why He calls us His children. Jesus even said as much in Mark 10:14 when He declares that the kingdom of heaven is “such” as these. In Mark 10:15 He goes further saying, “Truly I say to you that whoever does not receive the kingdom of heaven like a child will not enter it.”

Kids are naturally trusting. I saw that when I pulled out the silly string and decorated all three girls before they could react. (I probably shouldn’t have stopped to take the pictures, though. That’s when they ganged up on me and stole my can!) But kids will react with trust  to those who have shown them love and kindness. (Oh I should feel so bad!) The point is, my trusting of the Lord should be with my whole heart. Eyes wide. Arms open.

Kids are full of wonder. Even my teenagers still sparkle when something stirs them, but when they were toddlers. Oh my. Think of a bright Christmas tree with all of the colors, movement, and lights and packed with presents underneath. Unsure at first, their mouths would drop open and they would clap their hands. Sometimes even give a little hop. We’re supposed to be that way with the amazing blessings God rains down on us every day.

Kids are so grateful. Along with that wonder often comes big hugs and laughter. Sometimes “thank you” sneaks out, but the true gratefulness is the rapture that fills their faces. Our lives are supposed to be big-time thank-yous right back to God for all He has done for us. We deserve none of His gifts, especially our redemption. The airs of entitlement disperse, our attitude should remain entirely focused on gratitude.

I know the pictures are a little goofy – and some of the food made me GAG! But this weekend not only blessed me with my family, it reminded me of who and whose I am.