Today Was A Fairy Tale

Lake MIOnce upon a time there was a trip to the beach that felt like a glimpse of heaven…

Last weekend I journeyed with a group of seven writer friends to a tiny blue cottage on Lake Michigan.

Throughout our weekend we talked, laughed, cried, prayed, took walks along the lakeshore, rested in the sun, worked on our writing projects and ate lots and lots of delicious food.

Coffee and chocolate were always accessible, and the weather was so perfect, and the water was so blue we couldn’t ask for a better backdrop to our weekend.

This is the first time I’ve ever gone away for a weekend with a group of ladies who love to write as much as I do. It was amazing to share this time with godly women who are in so many ways are just alike and are also in many ways different.

Flip FlopsWe were married and unmarried. Some of us had young children at home and some had children almost grown. Some wrote fiction, some non-fiction. Some of us were city girls and some came straight from the farm.

No matter our differences three common threads remained. We all love to write. We all love the Lord. And we all love each other.

When I got home and unpacked my bags I found my prayer journal tucked away in my writing bag and realized I hadn’t used it all weekend. At first I felt a pang of guilt but then I thought, no.

The entire weekend was a prayer. It was constant worship. It was communion with God.

Coming home from such a great weekend can leave one feeling a little deflated. It’s sad to realize the moment was gone. It’s easy to believe that times like these are few and far between.

Perhaps there’s some truth to that. Life is hard and it has its way of beating all things precious right out of us. But I don’t believe this is what God has for us. I believe He deeply desires for us to access this kind of friendship, this kind of prayer and worship in the midst of our every day lives.

FootprintsEspecially in our every day lives.

And friends, it can be done. A line from an old Garth Brooks songs states,

“Heaven’s not beyond the clouds, it’s for us to find here.(Lyrics from Belleau Wood)

I do believe that Heaven exists beyond this earth, but I also believe we are given glimpses of Heaven to find while we are here.

Kingdom moments are found when friends come together to pray. When loved ones gather round a table. When children laugh silly. When beauty unfurls across land and sky.

They happen when hellos make us burst with excitement. When heart level connections make tears flood our eyes. When joy flows freely from the work you do and beauty is offered to an ugly world.

These moments can be ours in abundance because prayer is not just for quiet time. Worship is not just for church. And communion with friends can be communion with God.

BeachMoments like these…prayer, worship, and communion like this…are for every thing and every day. They are for the extraordinary and the mundane. They are for the weekends spent by the lake and the weekdays spent at the office, at the grocery, at the dinner table.

The glory I experienced during my weekend away does not have to end when I get back to every day life. And the glory of heaven doesn’t have to start when we reach our eternal home.

Every day can fill with God-glory when we seek it with all our hearts.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up this day to fairy tale found in kingdom moments. In laughter that feels like a prayer. In work that feels like worship. In friendships that feel like communion.

In days of heaven upon the earth.

Congratulations to Melanie, Alice, and Robyn  for winning the I Like Giving Giveaway. Your copy of I Like Giving will be on its way soon!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my blog and/or shared a link. Be sure to check back soon for more fun giveaways.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a book I couldn’t put down…

I have a confession to make: Last Wednesday I failed to publish a post to this site and while I’d love to tell you that my missing post was due to something romantic like writer’s block, or a spur-of-the-moment getaway or even a sick child who needed ‘round the clock care the real reason behind my negligence is that I was completely and utterly lost in a book.

Scandoulous, I know.

It gets worse.

Instead of following my confession with a heartfelt apology, after much thought, I have decided I’m not going to apologize for this one. I also refuse to feel guilty.

Don’t get me wrong. I love you, my dear and faithful readers. Your comments and responses to the words I write keep me going when I wonder if it’s worth it. When I doubt that anyone’s reading the words I work so hard to write. When I’m tempted to give up.

But I also know that a huge part of what makes me a writer…perhaps even a decent one…is my reckless abandon and love for books.

My friend Susie says that for writers reading is like flexing your muscles, and I believe she’s right. (If you’ve never stopped by Susie’s blog I highly encourage you to check out a couple of her posts on this topic of reading both here and here.)

When I read several things happen:

1)    Ideas begin to turn: Whether it’s an idea for a blog post, a detail for my book, a plot twist or possible character development, reading keeps my creative juices fresh and flowing.

2)    Inspiration strikes: The novel I’m currently reading, yes, the very one I can’t put down, and others like it don’t just captivate me they make me want to write. At times my fingers literally start twitching to get the keyboard. Whenever I find myself going through a dry spell in my own writing I know it’s a sign that it’s time to start reading. Bottom line, reading and writing go hand in hand and reading always makes me a better writer.

3)    My skills are developed: When I read, whether it’s conscious or subconscious or a combination of both, I am always learning about the art and craft of writing. I learn new words, new techniques. I learn new ways to tell stories and create characters. The lessons I learn from books of all genres are critical and priceless.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that each of these things is vital to my health, my sanity, my existence. It’s the way I’m wired, the way I’m made. Reading helps me function, it helps me learn, grow, and relate to the world around me. For me there is nothing like it.

But there is one more reason why I read, one more thing that happens when I lose myself in a book. When I read, especially when I get sucked into a really good book like the one I’m reading now, I am reminded of the story…of God’s story. Somehow, in someway, I believe all the really good stories and/or books of our time are reflections of the story He has been writing since time began.

I love any chance I get with a book. I live for the thrill of digging through words and mining out gems that harken back to the greatest love story ever told. It’s why I write. It’s why I read. It’s why I will never apologize for getting caught with my nose stuck in a book.

So while I’m sorry I missed out on our weekly get together last Wednesday, I’m not sorry for the time I spent reading. I hope you’ll forgive me but more than that, I hope you’ll follow my lead.

I hope you’ll find a good book, throw caution to the wind, and read with reckless abandon.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the pages of a book. May you get lost in an exquisite post, a moving article, a story that can’t be put down.

May you lose yourself in words that whisper, in pages that echo, again, and again, and again, the greatest story ever told.

Author’s note: In case you’re wondering, the book…or rather the series of books…I’m currently reading are Liz Curtis Higgs’s Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there were kings and queens of Narnia…

For the last four weeks we’ve been taking a journey into the land of Narnia. If you missed parts 1-3 you can read them here, here, and here.

Today’s entry is from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Chapter 17, The Hunting of the White Stag:

“But the next day was more solemn. For then, in the Great Hall of Cair Paravel…in the presence of all their friends and to the sound of trumpets, Aslan solemnly crowned them and led them to the four thrones amid deafening shouts of, “Long Live King Peter! Long Live Queen Susan! Long Live King Edmund! Long Live Queen Lucy!”

“Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!” said Aslan.

So the children sat on their thrones and scepters were put into their hands and they gave rewards and honors to all their friends…And that night there was a great feast in Cair Paravel, and revelry and dancing, and gold flashed and wine flowed, and answering to the music inside, but stranger, sweeter, and more piercing, came the music of the sea people.

These two Kings and two Queens governed Narnia well, and long and happy was their reign.

…And they themselves grew and changed as the years passed over them. And Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior, and he was called King Peter the Magnificent. And Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell almost to her feet and the kings of the countries beyond the sea began to send ambassadors asking for her hand in marriage. And she was called Susan the Gentle. Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment. He was called King Edmund the Just. But as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden-haired, and all princes in those parts desired her to be their Queen, and her own people called her Queen Lucy the Valiant.

So they lived in great joy and if ever they remembered their life in this world it was only as one remembers a dream.” (From the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, pg 199-201)

Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. I love this line. Every time I read it, it reminds me that I, too, am a queen (or princess) because I am a chosen daughter of the King.

And this is truth for all of us. As sons and daughters of the King of Kings we have been given an inheritance. We’ve been given a mission, a purpose, a domain. We’ve been given the task of ruling over His kingdom…not just someday, in heaven, but here on this earth.

Just as Aslan crowned Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy the King has crowned us and trusted us to love and serve His people, His church. He’s charged us to bear His image. He’s given us passions and talents, beauty and courage set deep within our hearts so we may rule our domains (think jobs, homes, callings) with honor, and grace, and glory.

It is the stuff of fairy tales. And it is real. It is true. We are the beloved children of God. Heirs along with Jesus.

Think about it. Let it sink in. Are you living in this truth? Is this your identity?

Who are you? What is your royal name? King ____ the ____? Queen ____the ____? If you don’t know, ask! Let God show you how He sees you. Let Him show you who you are.

A friend recently gave my daughters the most amazing gift: a beautiful wind chime to hang in their rooms. With it came a story of how they are both princesses.

Whenever you hear the wind chime, my friend wrote, remember that you’re a princess.

I can’t imagine a more lovely thought.

I hung the chimes in the center of their rooms. Inevitably, I am constantly walking into them or hitting them with my head. But as I hear the chimes, I remember, and I say it out loud to my daughters, and to myself, “You’re a princess! You’re a princess!”

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the truth of your identity…your identity in Christ. May you know down deep that you are royalty, a child of the King.

Once a king or queen of the King of Kings, always a king or queen.

May you bear it well Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve. May your reign be long and happy.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a world beyond the wardrobe…

For the past few weeks Today Was Fairy Tale has been taking a trip through Narnia and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. If you missed Parts One and Two you can read them here and here.

Today’s entry is found in Chapter Five, Back on this Side of the Door:

 “’But then,” said Susan, and stopped. She had never dreamed that a grown-up would talk like the Professor and didn’t know what to think.

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

Susan looked at him very hard and was quite sure from the expression on his face that he was not making fun of them.

“But how could it be true, sir?” said Peter.

“Why do you say that?” asked the Professor.

“Well, for one thing,” said Peter, “if it was real why doesn’t everyone find this country every time they go to the wardrobe? I mean, there was nothing there when we looked; even Lucy didn’t pretend there was.”

“What has that to do with it?” said the Professor.

“Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time.”

“Are they? Said the Professor; and Peter did not know quite what to say.

“But there was no time,” said Susan. “Lucy had had no time to have gone anywhere, even if there was such a place. She came running after us the very moment we were out of the room. It was less than a minute, and she pretended to have been away for hours.”

“That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true,” said the Professor. “If there really is a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it)—if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at all surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time. On the other hand, I don’t think many girls of her age would invent that idea for themselves. If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story.”

“But do you really mean, sir,” said Peter, “that there could be other worlds—all over the place, just round the corner—like that?”

“Nothing is more probable,” said the Professor, taking off his spectacles and beginning to polish them, while he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”

I love this conversation between Peter, Susan and the Professor. I love the Professor’s wit, his candor and his belief in what’s real. I love how his ideas turn the children on their heads and open their minds to a whole world of possibilities.

A few days ago a friend of mine, who had just returned from a vacation, said to me that come Monday, it was time to return to the real world.

The real world? How often do we, just like the children, slip into a wrong impression of what’s real and what’s not?

When we experience days and/or moments of beauty, adventure, and joy there’s always a let down when it’s time to go back to the regular and ordinary of our every day lives. Without even knowing it we slip into a subtle, yet potent, mindset of resignation and acceptance.

We don’t believe the beauty, the adventure, the joy are lasting. At least not for us, at least for not for now. Those things are for a time…they aren’t what’s real.

And here’s where our thoughts go awry. Here’s where out sense of logic and truth begin to get skewed.

We were made for Heaven. We were made for paradise and Kingdom glory. And the glimpses of these things, the moments of beauty, adventure, and joy we experience are evidence of the truth.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes,

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This “other world,” the beauty, the adventure, the joy, the longing in our hearts, and all the things of God…this is what we’re made for. This is what’s real.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up today to the fairy tale found in the world our hearts were made for. May you be reminded of all that is true, of all that is real. May you live, breathe, and find your bearings in the Kingdom of God.

May you find the real world in Him.

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a mother who held her baby tight…

A few weeks ago I allowed myself to get lost in the television series, Call The Midwife. Based on the true story of midwife, Jenny Lee, and set in the late 1950’s this popular TV show chronicles the life and times of the midwives who served the poorest district of post-war London.

The first episode from season one portrayed the story of Conchita Warren. Conchita and her husband were parents to twenty-four children. (Yes, you read that right…twenty-four children! Move over Duggar family.) When baby number twenty-five was found to be on the way the large family was thrilled.

Sadly, when Conchita experienced a hazardous fall the baby was born extremely premature. As midwife Jenny Lee delivered the baby at the Warren’s home everyone in the room believed he was dead. Placing the baby in a bowl on a nearby dresser, Jenny attended to Conchita’s needs. Several minutes passed, and then, suddenly, a tiny noise followed by a wondrous cry alerted everyone to the fact that the baby was indeed very much alive.

Jenny wrapped the baby in a blanket and tucked him securely in his mother’s arms. A physician was called to the Warren’s home and upon seeing both mother and baby, he determined the only way for the infant to survive was to take him to the hospital immediately.

In the late 1950’s the chances of a premature infant surviving outside of a hospital were slim to none. Even by today’s standards, premature babies are almost always attended under close watch and care in neo-natal units.

But not this baby. Despite both the doctor’s and Jenny Lee’s urgings, Conchita held her baby tight in her arms and defied the world to take him away.

As the midwives left the Warren’s home they discussed Conchita’s decision. “Now all we can do,” Sister Julienne said, “is watch what love will do.”

As a mom of two, I found this scene incredibly moving. A few days after watching this episode, on a Tuesday afternoon, I held my daughter in my arms and rocked her to sleep before naptime. With sleepy eyes she whispered, “I love you, Mommy,” and in that moment I knew I was living a miracle. A miracle of what her love does for me. A miracle of what my love does for her.

As I rocked my daughter I thought of Conchita, how she held that baby fierce, and I saw a picture of how God holds us.

There are so many things in this world that seem to offer something better. Something more nourishing, more efficient. A better way to live, a better way to care for our broken and dying places.

But what God knows, what we must know, is that nothing does for us what God’s love does for us. We are best off, we are right where we need to be, when we are held tight within His love.

Wrapped in His love, fed with His love, until it’s the only thing we know.

God knew this, so with His fierce and defiant love He held us. Like a mother, wild with love, He sent His only Son. And wild with love He held this Son to a cross so we could be held to Him, never to be taken away.

This is what we must know. The miracle of love on a Tuesday…on all our days. We are held tight in His love, and in His love we have all we need to survive.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the fierce and defiant hold of His love.

May this be the place where you find your life and watch what love will do.