Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a lion named Aslan…

Last week in A Journey Through Narnia: Part 1 I shared a passage from the The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe about the start of spring. (Recap here)

This week’s passage from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is found in Chapter 7, A Day With the Beavers:

“’They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps already landed.”

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.” (pg 74)

A few weeks ago I got a call from my best friend, Beth. She had news, incredibly exciting news.

My friend Beth lives in China and for the past six years I’ve been forced to be satisfied with seeing her only once a year. But Beth had a surprise.

The organization she works for in China had selected her to travel to the United States to work with a group of American-Chinese students by attending the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI.

Grand Rapids, MI!

Instead of being half a world away, my best friend was coming to Michigan. To Grand Rapids. To a conference I was already registered to attend myself.

It felt like a dream.

The day after receiving this wonderful news I called Beth and read her this passage from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We pinched ourselves and laughed with anticipation at the thought of seeing each other, running into each other’s arms, and holding each other so tight we would be sure to cause a scene. (And yes, this did happen.)

I’m sharing this story because it was an experience in which I got to feel, very acutely, what the children in Narnia felt upon hearing the name “Aslan” for the first time.

The sense of being in a dream.

The reverence.

The courage.

The joy.

The delight.

Isn’t this the same sort of feeling you and I should have whenever we hear or see the name “Jesus.”Aren’t these the things that He, too, invokes? These things plus so much more.

Sometimes, when I read my Bible the many names that describe Jesus catch my attention and I’ll feel what the children felt in Narnia. But other times, I’m sad to admit, the name (or names) of Jesus doesn’t capture my heart the way it should. I allow it to become mundane. I forget how magnificent it is.

Sweet friends, let’s not forget.

Jesus…

His name is worthy of reverence.

Jesus…

His name breeds courage, and joy, and delight.

Jesus…

His goodness is like a dream…the loveliest of dreams.

Jesus…

His love is like Christmas morning, the first day of summer, your best friend’s embrace.

Brave Prince, lovely Princess may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the name of Jesus. May you be filled with a new wonder for His name. My you find it to be as pure and lovely as the sweetest of dreams…

The dreams you remember all your life…

The dreams you long to fall into.

When All You Want is the Blessing…

On Easter morning my girls woke up early and rushed downstairs. The Easter bunny, (AKA: Mommy), had done it’s work and two brightly colored bags full of blue and yellow tissue sat gleaming in our living room.

Chris and I followed, eager to watch their excitement. “Hold on,” I said. “I forgot my camera.”

As I ran back upstairs in search of my phone, Tenley, my two-year-old, continued to plow through the tissue that filled her bag.

“Stop, Tenley, just wait a minute,” Chris said.

Failing to understand the simplicity behind her daddy’s instruction, Tenley burst into tears and proceeded to throw a temper tantrum. (The classic, two-year-old kind.)

“Tenley…” Chris said again.

But Tenley wasn’t having it. She wanted that present. She wanted to tear through that tissue. She didn’t understand that if she would just stop and wait for a minute the blessing would soon be hers.

“Got it,” I said with my camera in hand. Seeing Tenley’s tears I asked what happened.

By this time Tenley had stopped crying and was sitting on the couch next to Chris. “Instead of opening her present,” Chris said, “Tenley is sitting here with me until she is willing to calm down and talk to about the tantrum she threw.

“Tenley,” he said. “Are you ready to talk to daddy?”

“Nope,” Tenley said with a shake of her head that was equal parts cute and defiant.

“Okay,” Chris said. “No present until you’re ready to talk to daddy.”

Aletheia, my five-year-old opened her present. Tenley watched and eventually moved from her spot on the couch to her sister’s side.

“Tenley,” Chris said again. “Are you ready to talk to daddy.”

“Nope.”

We went about our morning routine. The girls played. I fixed breakfast. Chris took a shower. Eventually timecame for the girls to get dressed. As I ushered them upstairs Chris offered Tenley one last chance to open her present before our family left for church.

“Tenley,” he said. “Are you ready to talk to daddy?” This time her response was different. Nodding her head she ran with open arms and climbed onto his lap. Chris held her tight and explained why he had asked her to stop opening her present. Tenley said she was sorry for throwing a temper tantrum and peace was restored between them.

“You may open your present now,” Chris said as Aletheia brought Tenley her bag. I grabbed my camera and we all watched as Tenley, tore open her present. Squeals of delight echoed through the living room as she reveled in the joy of her surprise, in the excitement of opening her gift, in the blessing that was all for her.

Later as I thought about the morning’s events I realized that Tenley’s behavior over her Easter basket was not unlike my own.

How many times has God asked me to experience relationship with Him before receiving a blessing?

How many times has God set aside a blessing for me yet asked me to wait?

Every day, blessings I don’t even realize are sitting there, waiting for me, if I would just come to my Father, curl up in His lap and talk to Him…be with Him…center my life on Him.

Peace

Joy

Adventure

Beauty

Romance

Wisdom

Forgiveness

Freedom

They can all be mine, and more besides, if I would but come and tie my heart to Him.

Other times the blessing I desire is obvious but for whatever reason, God says, “Wait.”

“But I don’t want to wait,” I say as I reach for the brightly colored tissue paper. As I throw my own temper tantrum. (The classic, grown-up, thirty-two-year-old kind.)

“You want to talk about it?” God says.

“Nope.”

“Are you ready to obey, to do what I’ve asked you to do in order to receive your blessing?”

“Nope.”

“Okay then, we’ll wait. When you’re ready, I’ll be here and so will your blessing.”

As a parent I want my children to be happy. But even more than that I want them to be healthy and whole both inside and out. I know that happiness without wholeness is really not happiness but a temporary coping device that will eventually result in a heart that is empty and longing for something real and lasting.

If I can see this in my children as an earthly parent how much more can God see this in us? Yes, God wants us to be happy but what He wants even more is for us to be transformed. He wants to refine us so we can experience His goodness to the fullest extent. He wants our hearts to be whole and healthy so that whatever happiness we experience can begin and end with Him.

He longs to bless us. Sometimes His blessings come freely, and sometimes they come through a process of waiting, of trial, of obedience. Either way, they always come, first and foremost, through relationship with Him.

Is there a blessing in your life that you long for? Are you willing to wait? Obey? Curl into His lap and talk?

Are there daily blessings you’re missing simply because you won’t slow down, because you won’t make time to come and sit with the Father?

The blessing is there. It’s waiting for you and so is your heavenly Dad.

Talk to Him. Spend time with Him. Let Him be your prize.

And all manner of blessing will follow.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a season called springtime…

For the past few weeks my daughters and I have been inching our way through The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

I adore this book and while I’ve read it a handful of times, I’ve never read it out loud and I’ve never read it to them. As I read through this book with my daughters, I am discovering that there is a wonderful sort of magic about this story that simply must be shared.

Because Narnia, it is a fairy tale. And Aslan, he is a hero. And Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund are just like you and me. They are chosen. They are children, dearly loved. They are warriors in battle and with Aslan by their side there is nothing they can’t do. Together they fight for beauty, goodness, and the restoration of a kingdom marred by evil, a world gone terribly wrong.

NarniaFor the next few weeks I invite you to journey with me into the world of C.S. Lewis and the land of Narnia.

Meet me at the lamppost?

Are you ready?

Let’s go!

The first passage I’d like to share is from Chapter 11, titled Aslan is Nearer…

And now the snow was really melting in earnest and patches of green grass were beginning to appear in every direction. Unless you have looked at the world of snow as long as Edmund had been looking at it, you will hardly be able to imagine what a relief those green patches were after the endless white. Then the sledge stopped again.

“It’s no good, your Majesty,” said the dwarf. “We can’t sledge in this thaw.”

“Then we must walk,” said the Witch.

[…] Every moment the patches of green grew bigger and the patches of snow grew smaller. Every moment more and more of the trees shook off their robes of snow. Soon, wherever you looked, instead of white shapes you saw the dark green of firs or the black prickly branches of bare oaks and breeches and elms. Then the mist turned from white to gold and presently cleared away altogether. Shafts of delicious sunlight struck down onto the forest floor and overhead you could see a blue sky between the treetops.

Soon there were more wonderful things happening. Coming suddenly round a corner into a glade of silver birch trees Edmund saw the ground covered in all directions with little yellow flowers– celandines.

The noise of the water grew louder. Presently they actually crossed a stream. Beyond it they found snowdrops growing.

“Mind your own business!” said the dwarf when he saw that Edmund had turned his head to look at them; and he gave the rope a vicious jerk.

But of course this didn’t prevent Edmund from seeing. Only five minutes later he noticed a dozen crocuses growing round the foot of an old tree—gold and purple and white. Then came a sound even more delicious than the sound of water. Close beside the path they were following a bird suddenly chirped from the branch of a tree. It was answered by the chuckle of another bird a little further off. And then, as if that had been signal, there was chattering and chirruping in every direction, and then a moment of full song, and within five minutes the whole wood was ringing with birds’ music, and wherever Edmund’s eyes turned he saw birds alighting on branches, or sailing overhead or chasing one another or having their little quarrels or tidying up their feathers with their beaks.

“Faster! Faster!” said the Witch.

There was no trace of the fog now. The sky became bluer and bluer, and now there were white clouds hurrying across it from time to time. In the wide glades there were primroses. A light breeze sprang up which scattered drops of moisture from the swaying branches and carried cool, delicious scents against the faces of the travelers. The trees began to come fully alive. The larches and birches were covered with green, the laburnums with gold. Soon the beech trees had put forth their delicate, transparent leaves. As the travelers walked under them the light also became green. A bee buzzed across their path.

“This is no thaw,” said the dwarf, suddenly stopping. “This is Spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan’s doing.”

“If either of you mentions that name again,” said the Witch, “he shall instantly be killed.”” (pg. 130-133)

This is Spring! When I read this passage I can’t help but feel the warmth of spring stirring my soul. But there’s more. As winter fades a little more each day, here in Michigan, these words bring hope. Not just for the coming spring, but for the Savior who is coming for me.

Life can be as harsh and biting as any winter wind, and there are times when we all feel as though we are living in an endless season of bitter truth. We long for the spell to be broken. We long for the warmth of spring.

This is Spring! No matter what feels and looks like winter in your world, take heart. Spring is coming! Our Savior, He came and died on the cross, He comes for us each day, and someday He will come breaking once and for all the spell. He will come with the breath of heaven and the relief of springtime.

Breath deep. Take it all in. The truth that winter is temporary. The spell will be broken and spring will reign eternal.

Brave Prince, lovely Princess may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the first days of spring. In blue skies, warm breezes, and delicate blades of green that radiate truth and hope. May you know that this is spring!

Spring that melts the cold of winter and declares the delicious truth of a Savior who breaks every spell.

Of a Savior who makes all things new.

What the Story of Doubting Thomas Means for You This Easter…

As this year’s Easter holiday draws near my thoughts keep turning to the story of Doubting Thomas. Thomas, the infamous disciple who couldn’t believe that Christ had risen from the dead until he touched the scars in his savior’s hands, leads me to consider my own struggle with fear and doubt.

A few weeks ago, one of the pastors at my church said something I’ve never heard before. He said that fear is counterfeit vision. Similarly, I think that doubt is counterfeit faith.

Sometimes, it’s so easy to believe in what we see. But Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that faith is about believing in what we can’t see.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

While I’m sure Thomas’ heart wanted to believe so badly that Christ was indeed alive, he placed his faith in the death he witnessed just three days ago, in logic, in the laws of nature, in everything that seemed to be true.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Thomas, and his encounter with Jesus, reminds us that our faith is in a risen Savior. Though our lives may not always make sense, though we may not always be able to see, our hearts need not be troubled. Christ is the source of our faith; Christ is our reason for hope.

When fear strikes at our hearts, when we’re tempted to put our faith in what seems to be true, the best thing we can do is look and see God. By giving our doubts and our fears to Him we can find assurance in God and His promises. Just like Doubting Thomas, we can look to our Savior and place our faith in the palm of His hands.

No matter what appears to be true in your life today, no matter what you see that may be scary, discouraging, or cause for doubt, don’t be overcome by counterfeit faith.

Remember Doubting Thomas. Remember the hands. Remember the scars.

Remember the Savior who died on the cross, the Savior who rose from the dead so that we can be sure of what we hope for. So we can be certain of what we do not see.

~An Excerpt from the Archives

I’d like to send a special wish of congratulations to Jessie H. for winning the Loving and Listing Giveaway!!! I am planning more giveaways to come soon so stay posted.

Happy Easter! I hope your day is both beautiful and blessed.

Why The Work You Do Really Does Matter

Last week I wrote about the guilt I sometimes feel when I decide to take time away from my family to pursue my love for writing.

A few days after I posted this blog, I received the following comment from a friend of mine:

“Thanks for writing, Jennifer. Many thoughts were stirred tonight as I read a lot of your writings. I haven’t allowed myself to dream in a really long time…still not quite there but it is more positive than it has been in a long time.”

I’m new to the world of blogging, and this comment and the encouragement it brought me spoke volumes to my heart.

There are so many days in which I question whether or not what I’m doing with my writing really matters at all. In addition to the guilt I sometimes feel, this question is yet another way that Satan plagues me and whispers lies.

When I think of my friend and the kind words she sent in response to my post, I think of her story. I can’t claim to know all that she has been through, but I know her road has been long and hard, and I can understand why it’s been difficult to dream and pursue the things that make her heart sing.

Knowing that God has used me and my writing to stir her heart means the world to me. It affirms what my heart knows to be true, that my work matters. Even when the lies and questions try hard to convince otherwise, my writing matters. It matters to me, it matters to God, and it matters to others as well.

A few months ago I read the The Shack by William P. Young. One of my favorite quotes from this story is “Love always leaves a significant mark.”

This quote has stayed with me. I remember it at times when love comes hard, when I don’t feel like doing the loving thing. I remember it too, when the love I give isn’t received, when hearts are stubborn and loving hurts. And I remember it when I write, when the work I do for me and for God doesn’t seem to make sense or have any value at all.

If love is in my writing, it will make a mark. A significant one.

Sometimes I have the pleasure of knowing the ways in which my writing has left a mark on the heart of someone else. Other times I’m left to wonder, but always I trust.

If God has given me the will to write and I am faithful to obey His call, love will seep through the words and pages and leave a mark of its own.

The same is true for you. Whatever it is you do, if love is at the heart of it, it will leave a significant mark. And what are these marks really, but the fingerprints of God?

…A Message from the Achieves

Wow! I don’t know about you but I needed these words this week. I hope they encouraged your heart the way they encouraged mine. I am currently getting ready to head to Grand Rapids, MI this week for the Festival of Faith in Writing. (Think, Spring Break for Writers.) I will be back soon with fresh posts for you.

In the meantime, be sure to visit Wednesday’s post for a chance to enter my Loving and Listing Giveaway. You won’t want to miss it. A winner will be announced when I return.