A Form of Love

Form-Love

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

It’s one of those questions that plague me when I fall into the trap of believing I’m not doing enough for the Lord. Have I shown enough love to those around me? After all, it is number one on Jesus’ list of things we must do. Paul calls it “the most excellent way” (1 Cor.12:31), and tells us that without it nothing we do matters.

I was pondering this a while ago in regard to my number one activity, writing. Do I love well enough through my work? Should I be doing something else with my time?

Form-Love

Then I remembered a day in a hospital gift shop some time ago. I was stocking a rack with Christian books. A young woman asked me about the flowers in a nearby display case. Her eyes were hopeful but I had to explain that I did not work there. “I’m just here to stock the book rack,” I said. I pointed to two ladies at a nearby counter. “Maybe they can help.”

She nodded, stared at the flower display and sighed. “I’m not really sure what I want.”

I took note of her dress then – a baseball cap pulled over messy hair; a thin pair of pajama bottoms topped by a hospital issue housecoat wrapped around a frail frame; pull-on terrycloth slippers, two sizes too big.

“My friend is dying,” she said, then turned back to me. “I am too.”

I put my clipboard down and waited. Her story unfolded in simple language, the words slipping from her mouth almost as though rehearsed. She reached into a pocket and pulled out a picture of her seven year old daughter. I could see the resemblance. She smiled when I mentioned it and went on to say there was a surgery that she was hoping for. Highly experimental, there was only one doctor in the country who could do it and he just happened to live in a nearby city. But then her voice fell and I had to lean close to hear. Her friend had had the surgery. She was still dying.

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The conversation turned to the word hope then. She had hope they would agree to do the surgery, hope that, unlike her friend, she would recover, hope that she would live to watch her daughter grow up. She said a pastor came to visit sometimes and “we say our prayers together. They seem small, just words, but maybe not, eh?” Again that hopeful look in her eyes.

I was praying small prayers right then. She’s so young, Lord. Please. Please.

Then she was gone and I resumed stocking the rack. I do it once a month and in that hospital, the rack is usually almost empty by the time I return. As I filled the pockets with books I was acutely aware of their contents. They hold pages about the love and mercy of Jesus, pages filled with stories of courage and faith, pages of hope and redemption.

I knew I was sent there that day to do much more than just stock the book racks. I was sent there to show a little of God’s love to someone desperate for it. But my job, placing these books where they could be read,also seemed important.

My other job, as a writer, suddenly seemed essential, “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all thy wondrous works” (Ps. 26:7, KJV).

And yes, love, by doing it.


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was shortlisted in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

 

Adapting is Not an Option

author faith

author faithby Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Dictionary.com lists two verbs under the word adapt. The first verb is used with an object – such as, ‘I adapt my work to my audience. ’The second verb is used without an object – such as ‘I adapt.’

Sometimes the two go hand in hand.

I was once asked to speak to a group of students in a Christian school, about poetry. The group would include gradesfour to eight. As I plannedI prayed that the Lord would give me words and stories to engage such a big range in age.

When I walked into the classroom the younger students sat in front, older in back. A row of grade eight boys stood along the back wall, all of them with  arms crossed over their chests. I read their body language immediately: “No old woman is going to get me interested in poetry.”

I had intended to end my talk with a story about Irina Ratushinskaya, the Russian dissident imprisoned for her work. But I immediately adapted andbegan with that story.

“You may think poetry has no power.” I spoke directly to those boys in the back. “But let me tell you a story.” They leaned forward as I told them how this brave woman wrote her poetry in soap while in prison, memorizing over 250 poems in the hope that one day they would be read. I told them that Ms.Ratushinskaya was deprived of Russian citizenship. “Why do you think they did that?” I asked those boys. “Because they were afraid – afraid of a poet’s words.”By the end of that class, I had the students writing poetry. Some of the best was written by those older boys.

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When I walked into that classroom I knew that adapting to my audience was a matter of survival. It was crucial to being heard.

Adapting our writing to our audience is the same. The first time I submitted a short storyto a Sunday School publication,the publisher loved the story but it wastoo long for their readers. “Cut it in half,” she advised. I groaned butdid as she asked and it was published. Adapting is a matter of survival.

Adapting to our audience in prayer is the same. We often come before God with a long list of requests. Help this one, do that for that one, give me the desires in my heart. But if we truly come into God’s presence, we find we must adapt ourselves, we must bow humbly before Him, draw close and listen to the One who is our audience.

We must also learn to adapt our lives to His way of acting in the world, His way of seeing the world. As we do so we begin not only to survive as followers of Christ, but to thrive. As the words of Job tell us – “He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness” (Job 33:26).

Adapting is not an option, neither for a writer, nor for a follower of Jesus.


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was shortlisted in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Moving Forward in Faith

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

I’ve never been much of a planner. Yes, that means I’m one of those crazy writers who doesn’t lay out the plot or outline the story before I begin to write. I rarely begin at the beginning since the story comes to me in scenes. I do eventually make a timeline of sorts, once I get into it, but that’s about it. I love the excitement of not knowing where I’m going.

Both in writing and in life, this can have some interesting consequences. Many times I’ve ended up in places I would never have even thought about, let alone planned for. When I was traveling in Portugal many years ago, for instance, I was sitting by a fountain looking at a map when a young man approached and asked what I was looking for. I told him I wanted to go to the Castle of San Jorge. He offered to take me there. Yes, I did hesitate for a moment, but, being a rather naïve university student at the time, I agreed. The young man said he would take me a way that no tourists would normally go. That sounded exciting.

It wasn’t until I found myself in the oldest part of Lisbon, moving through streets so narrow the sun did not reach them, and surrounded by loitering men, dirty, raucous children and old women cooking on open braziers, that I realized perhaps I should have thought more carefully before saying yes. All was well in the end, we ascended a steep stone stairway and emerged into bright sunlight, at the gates of the castle.

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It was only in looking back at that time that I realized what a risk I had taken. And I thank the Lord for His protection. I was of the mindset that I could take such risks because I believed God would protect me. Perhaps I should have remembered an old Irish proverb – “Trust God but don’t dance in a small boat!”

In life, as in writing, it is wise to be at least a little bit prudent in planning the future. Yes, God will lead and direct and we should trust Him but we should also realize that He gave us a mind with which to think, and plan. This doesn’t mean that we make plans and then ask God to bless them, but rather that we open our minds, our eyes and our ears to see and hear what God might be planning for us. If we are attentive, we will discover that He is leading and guiding in all aspects of our lives, confirming the direction in many ways.

So, when I get an idea, in life, or in writing, I let it sit for a while, watch for further direction and advice that might come from other believers, or from the reading of God’s word, or some other reliable source. Then I move forward in faith and confidence and see where He will take me.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

 


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was shortlisted in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

 

Ponder the Word, Ponder the Future

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

We call ourselves writers of faith, and that is a label to wear proudly, but as we head into a new year perhaps it’s worth pondering some of the scriptures in which God refers to us and tells us how much He loves us.This is how He sees those who serve Him–

Galatians 4:7 – So you are no longer a slave, but a son (or daughter) … God has made you also an heir.

Hebrews 2:11 – Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers (and sisters).

John 15:15 – I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

1 Peter 2:5 – You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

John 20:29 – … blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Romans 4:7 – Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Matthew 5:14 – You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

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Isaiah 43:12 – I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, that I am God.

Psalm 1:3 – That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

Isaiah 62:5 – As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

John 16:27 – No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

John 14:20 – On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Deuteronomy 33:12 – … the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.

Jeremiah 31:3 – I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

John 15:9 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

And finally – 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17 – May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

In every good deed and in every good word, may we go boldly into this next year, rejoicing in Him, proclaiming His glory.


One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was shortlisted in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.