Monday, February 28, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Author Danielle Thorne Writes Uplifting Devotional





WELCOME SWEET ROMANCE AUTHOR DANIELLE THORNE


DISCUSSING HER BELIEFS ABOUT ATONEMENT


Finding Peace Through Self-Forgiveness

Consider this anecdote:
The Devil & the Duck

Once there was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner. As he was walking back he saw his grandma's pet duck. Out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it. How he was shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching.

Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen." Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?" So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally just smiled and said, "Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help." She whispered again, "Remember the duck?" So Sally went fishing, and Johnny stayed to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He went to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, "Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you..."

This month, with Easter just around the corner, I'd like to thank Gail for allowing me to share my feelings about the Atonement, that great sacrifice that Christ undertook in Golgotha. We're taught that He died that we may live again and also so we could return to our Heavenly Father clean and without sin. It is beyond the scope of my comprehension to imagine even a half-mortal man taking upon himself all of the pain, suffering, mistakes, and dark sins committed by everyone who lives upon the Earth. It brings to mind some of the lines from one of my favorite hymns, "I Stand All Amazed": I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me;I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died. O it is wonderful that He should care for me Enough to die for me!O it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/289#ixzz1EtdJrr57

Hear an arrangement of this hymn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D-tGqIWMU8

As we all strive to forgive others and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, I often contemplate on how hard we are on our own selves. We forgive others, sometimes easily, and far more often than we forgive and forget the mistakes we make ourselves. If the Great Creator died so that we may live, who suffered and paid the prices for our sins, who are we to not accept that sacrifice and forgive ourselves?

As I have gotten older I've learned to accept the Atonement in new ways. First, I understand now that He didn't just suffer for sin, but experienced all of the hurt, pain and agony that we do. When we suffer physical pain or our hearts are breaking, He is one who has been there and knows what we are going through. We can be comforted by someone who truly can emphasize.
Second, I've learned to let go of the mistakes that I have made. Forgiving myself, especially the weight of regret, is hard to do. Through understanding the Atonement, I've learned that by not forgiving myself, I make a mockery of the greatest gift that will ever be given to me. It insults His sacrifice and in essence, wastes what He endured to provide us with an eternal gift.
Our Father in Heaven wants us to be happy. He sent His Only Begotten to provide a way to make that possible. By embracing the Atonement (and ignoring the whispers of Satan who would have us carry the burden of our own sins to drag us down), I believe that we can be more productive, more faithful and in our lives, find more joy.
~Danielle Thorne
You can find out more about my faith at http://www.lds.org/
You can find out more about me at http://www.daniellethorne.com/

Monday, February 21, 2011

Looking In the Window: My Mysterious Rose


I immediately added clean water and the preservative that came with my flower to the rose my husband gave me on Valentine’s Day. But the next day, February 15th, the stem drooped an inch below its bloom. That afternoon the sun shone through the sliding glass door the brightest I’d seen since early December. But the rose sat there, it’s pretty head tilted down toward the table.

Wednesday morning I walked in the kitchen to find the rose straight again. Not quite believing it, I leaned down and studied the flower. I checked it later that afternoon. And another time early in the evening. It wasn’t my imagination. It’s five days later, and the rose stands straight on its stem, its petals just beginning to age a tiny bit on the edge, otherwise intact.

I’d never seen a flower do that, but I’m no horticulturist, so I thought maybe some varieties of roses perk up once the recipient adds the preservative. Even so, that wouldn’t explain why it wilted the day after I added it. My curiosity wouldn’t rest, so I asked several friends who are more knowledgeable about flowers than I am. They couldn’t explain it. Finally I called Carithers Flowers, a well known, popular florist in Georgia, and spoke with Ashley. She could see no reason why the rose rallied either. She’s never had anyone else call and tell her of such an incidence.

Maybe I wasn’t meant to understand the rose, but simply to enjoy it.

Sometimes I feel like the sagging rose looked until I see someone who says something that makes me laugh, or gives me a friendly smile that warms my heart. God’s love shining through them the way the sun filtered through my blinds lifts my spirits and makes me stand up straight.
John 13: 34-35, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Looking Out the Window: A Special Valentine's Day Devotional by Inspirational Writer Jennifer Slattery





LOVE LETTERS




One day, while cleaning out our closet, I found a shoe box tucked behind a bunch of clutter on my husband’s side. Curiosity bid me, and I pulled it down and sifted through the items. There were rusted railroad nails, an antique pocket watch attached to a chain, old baseball game stubs and numerous other creased, rusted, or slightly tarnished items. My heart was touched to see the softer side of my husband displayed in the saving of each item. I’m certain every stub and nail told a story, perhaps of the first game he attended alone or the watch given to him by his grandfather who has since passed. But what touched me most were the numerous slips of paper and cards I found buried beneath it all, my young, immature writing scrawled across them.


I had to giggle at my immaturity. I love you, heart, heart, dot the exclamation point with a large heart. Those letters had touched my husband deeply, so much so that he had saved them all these years. I paused, remembering the first written love letter he wrote me. He’s not much of a talker, and even less of a writer. My daughter and I often laugh at how sparse his words are. He’s notorious for the one word email. Or, the blank email, with everything I need to know written in the subject heading. It’s not that he’s uncaring, he’s just not a writer.


But on this day, he was Casanova with a pen. It was our first marriage retreat. We went to the retreat with scarred, yet healing hearts, and a bit of baggage. One of the first assignments we were given was to write a love letter to our spouses.


My husband and I found a quiet corner in a far back hotel hallway and set to writing what was in our hearts. We wouldn’t write about what was bothering us. It wasn’t time to resolve past hurts. It was time to love, and to tell each other what we cherished most about one another and our marriage.


Honestly, I was expecting a two, maybe three sentence letter: I love you. I’m glad I married you. Love Steve. From the corner of my eye, I watched my husband hunched over his paper, pen in hand. He wrote, and wrote and wrote. I write fast, so I finished and set mine aside. He continued to write. If only I had saved that first letter. I have no idea where it went, but it touched me so deeply, tears poured from my eyes as I read it.


There is nothing like reading, in a letter or card, how much someone loves you. I’m not sure why, but seeing it on paper deepens the sentiment somehow. Never underestimate the power of a written “I love you.” It has the power to heal, to soothe, to defuse and to unite.


(Proverbs 15:1, NIV) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”


Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day to day, we forget to tell our spouses how much we love them. Often, we forget to think about our love for them. I’ve said before, if you dwell on the negative, you’ll find it every time. But, if you seek out the lovely, good and pure, you’ll find it’s been there all along.



BIO:


Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, freelance writer, and biblical studies major at Calvary Bible College. In 2009 she won the HACWN writing contest in the book category, and was just recently acknowledged as the second place winner of the 2010 Dixie Kane writing contest in the inspirational category and placed fourth in the 2010 Golden Pen. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, reviews for Novel Reviews and has written articles, devotions and devotional stories for numerous other publications. She is also the marketing representative for the literary website, Clash of the Titles.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looking Out the Window: A Michelle Massaro Devotional for the Here and Now




Not A Dress Rehearsal
My pastor on Sunday used this phrase, "It's not a dress rehearsal", referring to life. Whatever it is we want to do for Christ, we have one life to do it.

I really held onto that. There's no do-overs, there's no practice. This is it. My husband, my children, my ministries, my role in these relationships- it's all a now-or-never/ do-or-die kind of thing. And time is ever slipping away. So I've been pondering this the last few days...

The difference between a dress rehearsal and the real show is that the real show brings a sense of urgency; a sense of intensity, concentration, and focus. THIS IS IT, DON'T BLOW IT. So these words bring with them the call to action- to not put off those things you talk about wanting to do, like daily devotions, weekly family times, volunteering, studying the Bible more deeply, or having a heart-to-heart talk with your kids/spouse/loved one about Christ. Don't say "some day I'd like to do this". Do it now. The heat is on.

But you know what else is different between the show and the rehearsal? Yes, there is more pressure during the show. But there's another awesome difference. During the live performance, the show must go on! If you flub a line, hit a wrong note, or miss a cue, you don't cry or walk off the stage or even break character- you keep going. You don't have the option of wallowing in self-pity over your mistakes- you're in the middle of a show! Someone is watching! In rehearsals you might stop and examine the mistakes and even berate yourself or others to getting it right next time, but when Opening Night arrives there is no time for that. It's part of the rush of excitement that is experienced by performers. There's urgency, focus, on what is coming, and freedom in forgetting, what is past. It's the only way to make it through a show.

It's the only way to live for Christ. What a freeing concept! Yes, I only have one shot to live this life the way I aspire to. But sweating my mistakes along the way will only hinder me. Focus. Then forget. Focus. Then forget. Repeat as necessary!"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."~Philipians 3:13

BIO

Michelle Massaro is the Assistant Editor for the literary website Clash of the Titles and an aspiring novelist. She resides in sunny So Cal with her husband of 15 years and their four children ranging in age from 21 months to 15 years. She is an active member of her church, singing on the worship team and periodically teaching origins science to the Jr. High students. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end. Get to know Michelle better at her blog, Adventures in Writing , or on facebook.