I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Times When Science Finally Agreed with the Bible

We all remember studying when folks thought that the earth was flat. Sailors were afraid to sail too far away from land for fear of falling off the edge of the earth. But the Book of Isaiah, written way back in 740 BC, spoke of the One who "sits on the sphere" of the earth. (Check the Hebrew meaning of that word "sphere", since some translations render it differently.) In any case, scientific discoveries have since proved that the world is indeed a sphere, just like the Bible said.

The book of Job, written in approximately 1440 BC, describes a Behemoth that many first thought referred to an elephant. There was one problem with that though. Job says it's tail is "like a cedar", hardly the tail of an elephant. Finally Paleontologists have studied the discoveries of the dinosaurs fossils that did indeed have huge tails. Hmm, the Bible was accurate after all.

In Psalm 8:8, David wrote about "the paths of the seas". Then in 1855, Matthew Maury published a book about ocean currents. Once again, scientific discoveries caught up with the Word of God.

For a long time men even thought that the earth sat on the back of a giant turtle or elephant. But Job wrote long ago that God "hangs the earth on nothing." (Job 26:7)

Shipbuilders now say the ideal dimensions for ship stability is a length 6 times the width. When God told Noah the size for the Ark, it just happens that He told him to make it 300 cubits by 50 cubits--the perfect dimension for stability!

Hebrews 11:3 states that the worlds were made out of things not visible. Sounds like electrons, neutrons, and protons, doesn't it?

And a world-wide flood sounded like fiction until scientists discovered evidence of rapidly deposited sediment layers and fossils of sea creatures high above sea level.

Folks always agreed that on a clear night, lots of stars are visible, but for the Bible to say they could not be counted? Really! Oh, until more powerful telescopes were invented. Now we know there are too many to count because we just keep finding more and more.

It has taken men centuries, but science keeps ticking away, making more discoveries, and at the end--finally agreeing with the Bible.

Can you think of more instances?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


So, have you ever had one of those experiences where you were so sure you could see where God was taking you? Like you just knew what He was doing because it was just so obvious…and then He did something completely different?

Yep, me too. Often.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to read God’s mind. As it turns out, I’m not very good at it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent 2014 working on a story about a car accident that changed my life. Back in December, I entered my book in the Tyndale Re:Write Ragged Edge Writing Contest. The prize was a publishing deal with Tyndale and the option of representation by the Fedd Literary Agency. When I made it into the top ten finalists, I was thrilled. We had a month to raise the funds to make the trip to Austin, Texas for the Re:Write Conference in February. God, as always, was faithful to provide through some amazing friends and family, and on February 25, my husband and I boarded a plane bound for Austin.

Considering the way things had unfolded to this point, it seemed like God was lining things up to take this book to publication. Everything fell right into place, and I allowed myself to think I might actually win the contest. And even if I didn’t win, I was going to a writing conference…I would have a chance to pitch the book—a contest finalist—to editors and agents. Either way, I could see the perfect path God seemed to by laying out before me.

As soon as I stepped into the conference, I knew it was going to be different. Instead of moving through various tracks of classes, all the attendees were in the same room, taking part in the same classes. And when I found out there were no agent/editor appointments, I had a small moment of panic. This was not at all what I expected.

At the end of the first night, I attended the conference banquet where they announced the winner of the contest. It wasn’t me.

I was so sure I knew what God was going to do at this conference. It made perfect sense to me. But He didn’t do any of it the way I thought He should. I was disappointed and confused. I wasn’t going to have an opportunity to pitch my book, and I hadn’t won the contest. Craig took a week of vacation and we spent so much money getting to this conference…and for nothing?

Here’s the thing: too often we look to the future and we see certain doors open, and we assume that God is going to do the obvious. So we walk through those doors with preconceived ideas about what’s behind them…and we are disappointed when we find something completely different. Sometimes we even feel a little betrayed by what we find.

But let’s be honest. God’s Way is ALWAYS the best way. His timing is ALWAYS perfect. His plan is ALWAYS so much better than anything we could come up with. We just have to be willing to let go of our own plans, trust He knows what He’s doing, and then wait for Him to be awesome.

Did this conference turn out the way I wanted? Nope. 

Was this conference EXACTLY what I needed? Absolutely.

Although the Re:Write Conference was very different than any I've been to before, it was perfect. Writers of fiction and nonfiction, writers of every level, all sat together while speakers like Ted Dekker, Mark Batterson, Mary DeMuth, Susan May Warren, George Barna, and Sandi Krakowski stood in front of us and shared their messages. And their messages were beautiful. It was almost like a church service...for writers.

In addition, no pitching made for a much more relaxed atmosphere. I could actually focus on what the speakers were saying rather than worrying about my pitch. In addition, God sent precious encouragement through friendships. I enjoyed a mini Ponderer reunion with Alena and Susie May, and their hugs were much-needed. I got to see my friend Kim for the first time since we met at my very first conference in 2009. And I met another finalist who lives only about 20 minutes from my house, so I even found a non-fiction writing partner.

Most importantly, I discovered that my book was not ready for publication, because it wasn’t written the way GOD wanted it written. Without planning it, nearly every speaker  expressed a similar message: if we hope to move our readers, we have to be willing to dig deep to that raw, vulnerable, dark place no one wants to go and then bleed our words onto the page. By the end of the conference, I realized that despite convincing myself I’d written from that place, I'd written my chapters from a safer, more superficial place. I knew that although my story was powerful, my writing was not. And I knew I was going to have to go home and Re:Write.

In addition, all the speakers shared something extremely challenging: if God is calling us to write a specific story or a specific genre or in a specific timeframe and we do not, we are disobedient. And as we all know, disobedience to God is SIN. Ouch!! Sin? Just because I didn’t sit down and write when I knew I was supposed to? Just because I thought I could write what I wanted rather than what God wanted? Just because I didn’t want to dig up all of my pain and write from a place of total brokenness? Just because I thought God would settle for my good rather than my best?

Yes. Just because ALL of the above.

I didn’t win the contest and I didn’t sign an agent; in fact, very little of what happened that weekend was what I expected. But I came home a winner, with a new purpose and a desire to worship God with what I write.

(Because I know you’re all curious, the guy who did win has a DYNAMO of a book called 41 Will Come. It was an honor to lose to him! I can’t wait to read his book and see what God does with it...it is going to bless and encourage a LOT of people!)

Is there something God has called you to do, but you’ve hesitated to move forward? Do you agree that not using your talents—even for creative purposes—constitutes sin?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Murdered My Story

By Jennie Atkins
One day I sat at my desk, staring at my computer, and cried. I couldn’t put one coherent sentence together. It went far beyond what authors refer to as writers block. It was a total brain stop.
I had taken time from writing to learn more about the craft. I listened to and read books, blogs, and websites from great authors such as James Scott Bell, Randy Ingermanson, and of course our own Susan May Warren. I had underlined, circled, highlighted and copied text all in an effort to improve my writing, but as a result I got so caught up in the mechanics that I couldn’t put two words in print without questioning if it was right.
With each word of the story I asked myself:  Had I followed the rules? Did I omit the dreaded was? Did I outline enough? Do I have enough conflict to keep my readers drawn to the next page? Did I build in enough story world.
Before I had a paragraph done I had been its judge, jury and executioner. With one resounding slam of the gavel (or should I say the lid of my computer) I sentenced my story to death.
I’d type, delete, revise and type some more. Some would call it my internal editor.  Believe me, this went f-a-r beyond normal editing. I second guessed my word usage, my grammar, my mechanics, and I questioned if my writing met the standards of the plethora of guidance books I had read.
Can anyone say obsessive perfectionist???
As a result, I had lost my joy of writing. My characters lay sprawled across the floor of my office in a bloody heap like something out of a horror film.
My will to learn as much as possible about the craft had left me incapacitated when it came to writing a novel.
Then one day a fellow Ponderer encouraged me to write just to be writing.  Write a blog, a gardening post, a letter—anything to keep the flow moving forward.  Don’t look down at what was written, don’t ask myself if this would fit in with anything I learned, don’t second guess what I was doing…just write.
I did and I’m trying.
What I had to learn was, God gave me the ability to write using MY ideas, MY experiences, and MY style.  There is no right or wrong in writing. It’s all about getting words down on paper.  I don’t have to be James Scott Bell or Susan May Warren.  I have to be ME and use what God has given ME.  
Also, it sure doesn’t have to be “perfect”, because I know full well there are plenty of books on the library shelves that are far from perfect. Therefore, I shouldn’t beat myself up over it.
Will the ideas from the craft books help?  Absolutely.  But, first I have to stop murdering my story and my characters and get the words down on paper. MY words. MY story.
Have you ever had this problem?  How did you solve it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Source of Inspiration

Delores E. Topliff

Caedmon Audio is an imprint of Harper Collins audiobooks. Its name changed from Caedmon Records when it stopped making classical recordings to produce CDs only. Caedmon’s Call is a contemporary Christian band fusing traditional folk with world music and alternative rock.  

Both are named for one of my heroes, a 7th-century stable-hand at Whitby Monastery, England. Anglo-Saxons loved singing. Men gathered evenings to share stories through song with everyone expected to contribute. Caedmon returned to the stable to tend the animals because he couldn’t read or write and had no tale to sing.

After he fell asleep, a man spoke to him in a vision, "Caedmon, sing me something." Caedmon replied that he could not sing—that 's why he was in the stable, not the hall.
"Yet you could sing," the man said, suggesting Caedmon sing “the beginning of all things." Still in his dream, Caedmon began singing his Hymn of Creation:

Now let us praise the Guardian of the heavenly kingdom,
The power of the Creator
And the counsel of His mind
The works of the Father of glory,
How he, the eternal Lord, originated every marvel.

When Caedmon awoke, he remembered the verses and sang them perfectly. The monks recognized his divine gift and persuaded him to become a monk.

He still didn’t learn to read or write, but heard other monks tell Bible stories and sang them as beautifully metered Anglo-Saxon poetry that the common folk loved and understood. Others followed Caedmon’s example, and through that means Bible teaching reached the hearts of England’s people in their own language for the first time.

All recognized Caedmon’s inspiration was from God, but ours is no different. Whether we’re hard at work writing, or pursuing crystal-clear spoken communication, the ideas, imagery, and the words to express them are inspired by God. Our part is to listen, and like Caedmon, partner with God to bring more of His beauty into this world.

Share the last time God gave you ideas and words to express them and you know He helped you do it? Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Tips When You Find it Hard to Forgive

All of us need help in forgiving someone in our life. If we’re honest, it’s probably fairly often.

I have two things that help me when I need to forgive someone. One is a sign that was posted in a room in my mother-in-law’s home.

It said: “When forgiving someone is so very hard to do, just remember how much has been forgiven you.”

Yes, there’s quite a lot that I need to remember! I think it softens our hearts to contemplate the depth of our own need of mercy and grace. I don't deserve the forgiveness of Jesus, so why should I hold a grudge?

Then it helps me if I remind myself of my complete, infallible list of all the people in the world who have never sinned. It includes all the religious leaders of the world, all the famous social workers, and all the incredible philanthropists who ever lived. It is my exhaustive list of everyone who has never failed.

Ready for the list?

Here it is:


That’s it. He’s the only one.

If you find it hard to forgiven someone, even if they don’t deserve it, I hope these two things might help you too. But please share with our readers how you are able to forgive!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Internet Fast

Hey, Heidi here. Remember me? Okay, so I’ve been away for a while—away on what you might call an “Internet Fast.” In September, 2013, I attended the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. It was a great conference, but I came home a little bit discouraged. I was frustrated with my writing—or more specifically, my seeming lack of discipline regarding my writing. It was a struggle to focus on anything, and the fact that I was working on my BA in English made it that much more difficult to get anything done as all my “writing energy” went into papers and other projects. I lost hours to the Internet. I would check in on Facebook, and then suddenly, two or three hours were gone, either to mindless scrolling through my feed or to crafting “politically correct” posts and responses to avoid offending anyone. (It is impossible, by the way…no matter what you post, SOMEONE will find a reason to be offended!)

At the same time, my husband encouraged (read: nagged) me to write a book about our accident and subsequent journey. I didn’t want to write a book about it…it was hard enough to write blog posts here and there, but to dig it ALL up and put it on paper? Forget it! Then he told me he believed that God wanted me to write it, and until I did, He wasn’t going to let me write anything else. Now let me be clear: my husband does NOT throw around the “God told me to tell you” card often. So when he does, I’ve discovered it’s in my best interest (and his) to listen. So I decided to put aside my fiction projects and work on telling our story. Initially it was very slow-going because of my attention span. Due to the head injury I sustained in the accident, my attention span is ridiculously short, so sitting down to focus on writing is a chore. I feel so bad for kids with ADD or ADHD who have to sit in a classroom all day; it’s torture!

So, I prayed. And I felt God pointing to the amount of time I could sit still to focus on Facebook or Pinterest, and I knew what needed to be done. So, I sent out a mass email to let my friends know that I was going to take some time away from the Internet and Social Media to concentrate on finishing my degree and getting my story on paper. It is interesting to note that one of my last blogs before my "fast" was about my inability to avoid Internet Time Thieves, so it was obvious I needed to do something drastic.

I ended up taking all of 2014 almost completely free of the World Wide Web. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was required to be online for my college courses, but I had the majority of my materials printed out and I worked mostly offline.) At first it was agonizing to not know every last detail about my 675 Facebook friends. And it took a few months before my brain cleared the Facebook Fog. I had no idea, but it turns out, I was addicted to Facebook! “Hi, my name is Heidi Geis and I’m a Facebook Junkie.” That’s kind of scary!!

Sometimes, in those first few months, I would peer over my husband’s shoulder as he scrolled through his feed, and I made him tag me in many of the photos he posted. But after a while, I didn’t care. I mean, obviously I still cared about my friends, just not so much about their food or pets, their reactions to sporting events, or their political/religious opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve posted a ton of food/pet pictures, and I can be fairly opinionated, but in the grand scheme of things, none of it really matters. And whether we want to admit it or not, we spend so much time "like-ing" the status and photos of people we barely know or haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years or who we’ve never even actually met in person, while neglecting the people next door or at our church or right under our roof.

So, am I saying that we should all leave Facebook and never look back? Absolutely not! Facebook can be a valuable tool. It’s been fun to get back in touch with high school and college friends and to thank my favorite teacher for her encouragement in 9th grade English. It’s a pleasure to follow my writing friends and their newest projects and then share them with some of my other friends who might not otherwise know about them. I love that my husband’s family 1100 miles away can see what we’re up to at the click of a mouse (and vice versa) and that Facebook made it possible for Grandma and Grandpa to watch our boys grow into men over the past seven years of posts and pictures.

What I am saying is that Facebook cannot take the place of class reunions, writing conferences, and family vacations. As Facebook’s own video declares, “some friends you have to tag in person.” We absolutely must strive to make real human connections whenever possible. And, if you’re like me, learn to use Facebook in moderation.

Your turn: Could you take a year away from the Internet? Would you even want to?

Image from blogs.constantcontact.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

You Know You Want Me: Sin and the Serious Disciple

From the time I was a teen until I was roughly twenty-eight years old, I had a cynical view of salvation. 

Here I was a Spirit-filled Christian yet I could not understand the importance of being one. At least, not being one at such a young age. After all, hasn't many a person gone through life, doing their own thing and come to Christ in his later years and ended just fine?

Oh I knew that being a Christian was important. You didn't want to go to Hell, And since you didn't know when you were going to die, you'd better be ready. But, I still did not understand the reason for being a Christian so young. 

It’s not that I wanted to live a sin-filled life either. I just didn't understand the reason to be so diligent at such a young age.

Then one day my faith got challenged. 

I had only been married for about seven years when I looked out my upstairs window to see a handsome man cutting his grass. Out of nowhere a terrible thought came over me. It was something dark that, in a moment, a flash, had gotten a hold of me. 

I wanted to get his attention, have him look up at me. I wanted to be with him and I wanted him to want me. Kind of like David and Bathsheba. The urge was so overpowering, so overwhelming that I could barely breathe. 

Seconds past and I began to think of my husband and our little boys. Then I stepped away from the window, caught my breath and asked myself, "Why?"

Hours later as I was reading my Bible, I came across James 1:12

Jas 1:12  Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Cool! I had resisted temptation even though I didn't know why that was important. But then James continues to address the why:

Jas 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
Jas 1:14  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
Jas 1:15  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Now I didn't understand those verses completely, but I knew by them that it was greatly important for me to resist temptation. So asking God to help me I never went back to my window again. 

Moving forward from that day, I had not become a better person per se, but I had become more seasoned.

Stay with me, I have a life-changing point.

It was not until after walking with God several years that the answer to my lifelong question came to me.

A woman that I knew and loved came to me one day with a problem that was too big for the both of us. Her teenager had gotten into grave danger. This mother who had known God and walked with Him in her earlier years had been drawn away by so many other things and instead of her faith being strengthened through the years, it had waned and came under disrepair. As I prayed for the situation both with her and in intercessory prayer alone, God answered and the child was brought out of danger. 

I realized then that walking with the Lord all these years and learning to trust Him had made all that possible. I'm not saying God will not hear you otherwise, I'm just saying, it's a whole lot easier to believe and trust someone you KNOW then someone you don't. And having tried the Lord, I knew when He said that He would bring the child out of danger, that He meant it. She, on the other hand, did not and so had no faith to stand.

Our walk is not simply about us, it is about others especially our legacy. 

The Bible tells a story about Two men who built their houses on different materials. One on sand and the other on solid rock. When the storms of life came, the man who built his life on sand (temporary pleasures, wants etc) lost his house. For you parents out there, that means your children. The Bible says his loss was great. 

Like David who first slew the bear and the lion and because of this was able to slay Goliath, or like Joseph who learned to run a household, then a jail before he ever ran a kingdom, you will have to submit to the exercising of both your faith and trust in the Lord. 

Do not think for one moment that it will always be easy but I tell you this: Before you can be a father or mother in the Church, you must first be a child in the Church and submit your life to God and to other fathers and mothers. That’s hard to do when your fathers and mothers are flawed humans, but it’s Biblical and you will never grow in God the way you were intended too if you don’t.

The man who built his house on the Solid Rock, (that's Jesus and faith in Him) when the storms came, his entire house was saved. 

Let me put it another way:

Before you can run a marathon you must first condition, and that takes discipline, time, diligence and perseverance. So start running. Others are depending on us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Communication Power

Delores Topliff

By mid-February, my three so far TripAdvisor online travel evaluations have been read by 1878 people and won a deserving bed and breakfast in Arad, Israel, a star rating. Two thousand copies of my first children’s book, Whoosh, are out there—not a huge number but it’s gratifying to have that many readers. Five of my true stories published in three Guideposts compilation books have a broader circulation still.

There is power in the written word. Like citizenship, it provides opportunities—and responsibility.

What do we say? And why do we say it? What impact and meaning do we give readers who only know us through the written page? What do they learn of life? What do they see and retain of the God we serve? I don’t want them entertained but detoured by my idiosyncrasies and foibles without considering my underlying life purpose.

Tones of voice and facial expressions are musical accompaniment to our words, creating a multi-dimensional song and dance for our lives. I’ve heard kind words said in clipped anger and felt the underlying knife. I’ve heard awkward but heartfelt words expressed through a voice as rough as homespun—and felt its caress. For me, touch is often the final indicator. You can’t fake the communication of touch. Its communication doesn’t lie.

Is it any wonder that God sent His son as the Word to make Himself known? And lived out redeeming love without self-regard? The Message says, "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood." Instead of loss and ending, that kind of life grows in leaps and bounds and extends forever.

Writer Brandy Valance posted: “To write means more than putting pretty words on a page; the act of writing is to share a part of your soul with the world.” On her recent blog, author friend Beth K. Vogt shared a post so honest, vulnerable, and powerful, it took my breath away but brought freedom. Words carry that kind of power.

So go ahead, speak, write, and love. Please comment how you will share your uniquely valuable life and show your heart to others today. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Wedding in our Family!

When your only daughter begins to plan her wedding, you tend to have all things bridal on your mind! We're thinking about cakes, flowers, venues, invitations, showers, registries...oh my! And then big one--the dress. We did have fun with that one. (I'll be back someday with a picture!)

Then there's wishes, dreams, and ever so many decisions. So many choices, in fact, that the wedding planner warned my daughter to stay off of Pinterest for two months before the wedding!

But I keep thinking of the more important issues. How Christian counselors remind us of things like "love is a verb" and "communicate your feelings to your spouse". How can my daughter and her fiancé keep their romance alive?

And I've contemplated weddings in the Bible: the touching stories of Abraham and Sarah,  Isaac and Rebecca, Boaz and Ruth and many more. I even wondered once if so many wedding plans were Biblical...but, of course, they are. Revelation speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb and how "the wife has made herself ready".  I like to think that the Lord is smiling down upon the preparations.

I can't reveal much yet, but my daughter, Sarah, doesn't just do everything the traditional way...at least not to this old-fashion mother of hers! And I'm thankful for that. She's grown into a strong woman who knows what she wants and what she doesn't. It's helped her make choices like saying "yes" to the young man who proposed to her in front of a house full of relatives!

How about you? Have you seen some non-traditional ideas at weddings recently? Or maybe you've read a great book lately about romance or a wedding. Tell me about them!