Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

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Day #23 – 30 Day Challenge

c22Today’s article in Thirty Days of Devotion isn’t always an easy one to swallow, but these waves of life will be around whether we want them or not.

Just like we are in a spiritual season, we have waves in our lives. Relationships, our identities, personalities, and responsibilities all change over time and we have to adjust to the ebb and flow of the waves.

NOTE: We have to adjust. The waves aren’t going to adjust to us.

The picture here really connects with me. The deep recesses of my nature change so slowly that I scarcely notice it. Though over time, I can look back and see where I was as compared to where I am. For the the good or bad of it.

The hats I wear and responsibilities I enjoy can change much more frequently. The stress from their changes affects me and causes me to redirect my efforts, but their effect gets absorbed after a short time.

The circumstances of daily can certainly batter me. Or they can give me the ride of my life, depending on my attitude. But the effect of these waves doesn’t last unless a storm hits.

And it’s those storms, the tumult, that brings the deep waves crashing onto the shore. Storms change everything. The shoreline, the wave motion. They make those jarring alterations that set new life courses complete with endless adaptations. (Or at least they seem endless.)

But they also offer new beginnings. New opportunities to see what we’re made of, what we’re capable of. And how God can use even the most devastating of storms to say, “Yeah, I know. I’ve been there,” in hopes of helping some other struggling sailor.

Your Turn: How have your storms directly affected others in a positive way? How have they made a positive impact on your life?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of our final season! Wow! We’re almost there! Come back and see what this last season in Thirty Days of Devotion has to offer!

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Day #22 – 30 Day Challenge

c21After the last few days of focusing on the passions that the Lord has for us, it seems a good time to remember that being His handmaiden doesn’t imply constant busyness.

It especially doesn’t mean that I don’t spend time with Him in prayer or reading His Word.

That’s what this 30-day challenge has all been about. I decided that I needed a strong habit of scripture study and prayer time. That begins with a simple devotion. If I’m so stressed out that I can’t be still for a few minutes before the Lord, then I’m way too busy.

That’s when the layers of what I must do separate from what I need to do, should do, and want to do.

And let me tell you, spending some time before the King every day is a must do, not a need to do.

That concept had to really take root. Before, when I would attempt to get up early for prayer and Bible study, I’d think “I should do that.” But that should-thinking is usually reserved for the tasks that I’ll do when I find time.

Guess what. Time’s not something we can find. I just is. What we have to find is a way to live within it’s limitations. Took me almost fifty years to figure that out.

But now I realize that I must put those things that are priorities in my life, like my relationship with the Lord, into first position. Those are the must-doos that will get done, right along with taking my girls to their next volleyball game, getting gas for my car and groceries for my family, and letting my dog out.

It must be that important in order to become the life-style habit that I want to develop.

Your turn: Are there any items in your should-do or need-to-do categories that you need to move to your must-do pile? Are there things mired in the must-do that aren’t really must-doos?

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow when we shift gears a little and discuss the “Waves of Life” article from Thirty Days of Devotion.


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Day #21 – 30 Day Challenge

c20Today’s section from Thirty Days of Devotion is the final one about passions: identifying them, using them, and deciphering between what is God-given and what is corrupted either from personal agendas or unholy desires.

In particular, this article piggy-backs the one about saying “no” to opportunities and requests to which God is not leading. I find saying no so much more difficult than saying yes!

The story shared in today’s entry in Thirty Days of Devotion is an example of a time when I didn’t say “no.” And from the beginning, my work was a struggle. So unlike the God-directed ministries with which I’d been working. (Not that this new project wasn’t God-directed. I wasn’t being directed there by the Lord.)

I don’t regret my mistake, though. I learned so much from it. Probably my biggest lesson was what life looks like when I don’t follow well.

  • I had no “intuition” about what to do. Usually I could jump right in and fix things, but with this I had to be assigned.
  • I failed at some of the tasks I had. Not because I didn’t do them well, but because I didn’t anticipate how they needed to be done for the purpose.
  • New tasks popped up for me that I wasn’t good at. I’d been great at spread sheets and organizing things, but contacting hundreds of people to ask for volunteers was not my forte. AT ALL!
  • I started dreading every email that came through.
  • Anytime I was asked about the project, I had to paint a smile and fake enthusiasm. That’s just not me.
  • Being in a position of leadership, I had to see a lot of ugliness from folks calling themselves Christians.
  • At the point of fruition, the stress levels were so high, I had trouble enjoying a moment of the big night.

I’m so glad I had that lesson with that particular group of ladies. So full of grace and urging me to follow the Lord’s leading! And I’m pleased that they didn’t get a whiff of the frustration I’d been feeling until we started planning for the next year. But still, I can’t help but wonder at how things would have been so much smoother had the right person been in the position.

Saying “yes” to the wrong project – even a ministry – can be such a trap. Whether the pressure comes from misplaced guilt, friends, or personal agendas, if the leading doesn’t come from the Lord, the answer needs to be “no.”

Your Turn: I know not all of you reading deal with this type of issue. But everyone has a path that they are following. What are you doing at this point in your life that you can tell the Lord is blessing? Maybe educating your kids or making meals for neighbors? Doesn’t have to be a long term project. Maybe God’s been tapping you on the shoulder to try something new?

Tomorrow, we’ll be refocusing on our plan here. Just another week or so to go! Join us for the chat on “I Think I Can, I Think I Can” from Thirty Days of Devotion.

I love the song for today’s section! This song was one of my solos when I sang with a group in college. The sincerity of the message still affects me!


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Day #20 – 30 Day Challenge

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Yesterday, I was discussing how to say no to the ministries for which you don’t have a passion. It occurred to me that talent and skill also play a role with that.

Have you ever felt like you “needed” to do something you neither wanted to do nor felt you were qualified to do?

My kids were Continue reading


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Day #19 – 30 Day Challenge

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Continuing the topic of passions that we started yesterday, we’re further exploring them through an article, from the book Thirty Days of Devotion, entitled “Passions Used.”

This section is so key in finding God’s will/your path. I’ve encountered so many wonderful ladies who are burdened because they don’t know what God’s will for their lives is. (And I’ve so been there!)

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I know Who does. 😉

The scripture that highlighted today’s article perfectly Continue reading


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Day #18 – 30 Day Challenge

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Today we’re discussing how to discover your passions in Thirty Days of Devotion. Whether you’ve been with us from the start or are just stopping by, share your thoughts.

I was on a radio program yesterday with Lena Nelson Dooley, love her! She asked me to tell a little about myself. I froze. And I’m mortified to say Continue reading


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Day #17 – 30 Day Challenge

c16This is the first entry for this new section, a particularly difficult season! If you’re following along in Thirty Days of Devotion, we’ve entered the 3 main section of the book.

The crux of this section lies at the end of the article. Nothing that happens is a surprise to God.

My son had a number of his college classmates ask him how he could follow a god so heartless as to not care about the pain and death around the world.

Tough question.

And in the face of it, my answer seems rather naive and callous.

Of course God cares! He feels our pain. Those of you who experience it regularly can chime in better than I can, but I know He hurts on your behalf. Whether the pain is to bring someone to Him, to strengthen someone with experiences they will need later, or simply to glorify Himself is not our right or ability to question.

Job showed us that example.

But God does care and He carries us through the summer just as He does at any other time we need Him.

As for death, that’s another issue. God cares about those who die without Him. It’s not His will that any should perish. (Matthew 18:14) To that end, I believe He shows Himself, in some way, to everyone. But when a believer dies, he or she is just coming home to Him.

He cares about that, too, but in a happy way.

My sons friends, both atheists and agnostics alike, don’t have the Spirit inside to confirm or deny the truth of God. They don’t get it.

Your Turn: Like I mentioned, I know some of you have much more to say on the subject of pain than I can offer. Please correct me if I’ve spoken in error. But share how God has expressed His presence and His care for you.

Tomorrow we’ll begin working through our passions in Thirty Days of Devotion. I hope you will join us again!