A Quick and Simple Task

I have never been an early riser. It was always a
struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning when I was young. My
sluggishness likely had a lot to do with the fact that I hid under the blankets
with a flashlight reading until the wee hours. As the morning sunlight lit my
room my mom would call several times before my toes would finally slip over the
side and touch the floor. Then it took a long time in the shower to really wake
up before heading downstairs for breakfast. And when I got to the kitchen the
refrain was always the same. 
“Did you make your bed?”
I’d groan and trudge back upstairs, knowing there
would be no breakfast until that small task was done. One morning I asked my
mother why she always insisted that I make my bed.
“It’s a good start,” she said. “It means you’re
ready for the day.”
I couldn’t help but think about my mom’s words this
past Sunday as my husband preached on Acts 9 verses 32-43. It was verse 34 that
triggered the memory. Peter had stopped in the town of Lydda where a man named
Aeneas, a paralytic, caught his attention. He stopped long enough to heal the
man, saying, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your
mat.” 
That last sentence made me sit up straight. Why did Peter tell him to
take care of his mat? Was it in the way? Was it unsightly? Or was Peter saying
something more to Aeneas? I wondered if perhaps he was saying, get ready
Aeneas, a new day is beginning, things are about to happen and there’s a
purpose for you in them.
And that made we wonder about the purpose of the
healing, the purpose of the blessing. God does not act randomly or without
reason. His actions, and most especially his blessings, always have purpose.
That made me think of all the blessings I’ve been
given in my life. It’s a long list and the realization that it all has purpose
made me begin to think about what God intends me to do. He’s given me wealth so
I should share it, food and a home to open to others. He’s given me health so I
can do His will on this earth. He’s given me family that I might raise them to
go into the world and bless others. He’s given me the talent of writing so that
I might glorify His name through story. All of his blessings have an outward
slant, none are intended to be hidden or hoarded.
My mother trained me well. Making my bed is still
something I do each morning. It makes me feel that the day has started and I’m
ready for it. This morning, as I did that quick and simple task I wondered what
God had in store for me today. What am I to be ready for? Ready to hear his
voice, ready to move when he says “go,” ready to speak when His Spirit directs.
Yes, all of these things and more. I’m to be ready to receive His blessings and
use them for His purposes.
What about you? Have you made your bed?
****
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 and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been
endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 
Marcia’s
second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary
fiction category of The
Word Awards
. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for
writers can be downloaded here.
Visit Marcia’s website

The Promise of Christmas

Chaos reigned supreme. That’s how it seemed as we rehearsed our Christmas play. The first rehearsal didn’t really happen. The second one was only a bit better, and three quarters of the cast didn’t make it to the third. Those of us who were supposedly “in control” wondered if we were going to have a play at all.

That was nothing new. Every year it seems to happen. Kids run helter-skelter, some don’t show up, some can’t find costumes or those made for them don’t fit. The choir director comes close to tearing her hair out and the stage manager is close to being catatonic. This year seemed a bit more chaotic than usual. But somehow it all came together in the end.

The night of the performance seemed to go well. I say seemed, because I was too busy trying to keep my “cast” quiet and focused, to notice if the play was working. One of the magi discovered he could use one of the shepherd’s headbands as a slingshot to wing the beads off his crown clear across the front of the church. That delighted the kids in the front row who dashed out to pick them up. Mary couldn’t stop squirming because her costume was made of wool, and Joseph kept changing his mind about which robe fit best – right up until he walked out onto the ‘stage.’

I wasn’t sure it had really all come together until the audience stood to applaud at the end. When many congratulated us on a job well done, all I could say was, “It’s a miracle!”

And that’s the promise of Christmas – it all comes together in the end. I’m sure the followers of Jesus, watching the drama of His life and death, felt the same way we ‘directors’ did. To those who thought they were in control, it looked like chaos reigned. From the moment of His birth, He and His parents had to run from those who wanted to kill Him. As He performed miracles, religious leaders plotted against Him. Even the disciples themselves didn’t understand His message. They were disappointed that He didn’t chase the Romans out of the country; He never did set up an earthly kingdom. Then, the cross. It looked like everything they tried to accomplish was doomed to fail. But in the end …

In the end, the stone was rolled away. The baby born in a stable and crucified on a cross was raised glorified, to the glory of His Father.

And there is another promise yet to unfold. As the birth of Christ is overshadowed by the cross, which was blasted away by his resurrection, even that will be outdone by His return. One day, God has told us, “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength’.” (Isaiah 45:23,24)

It will be a miracle and it really will all come together in the end.

As a novelist there have been many times when I tried to take control and wondered if things would ever turn out the way I wanted them to be. Then God would show me that He was in control and everything would indeed all come together the way He wanted them to be.

Are you wondering? Does it all look like chaos? Don’t worry. God is in control. He’s in the business of making miracles happen, even in the publishing world. And it all will come together in the end.
****

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 and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in March, 2012. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia’s website

How to Build a Ship by Marcia Lee Laycock

Antoine de St. Exupery is purported to have said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them task and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

That quote draws me in, puts images in my mind of the vastness of the ocean, the vastness of our world and universe, the infinite vastness of God Himself. This I believe is what we aim for as writers of faith, to delve into that longing in our own being and to express it in ways that will draw others with us.

Think of a book you read that did that for you. It will live in your heart and mind for a very long time because it goes to the root of your being, your longing to be ever in the presence of God, your longing for truth.

The genius and the gift of art is that it can take us there. I remember feeling it in an art history class many years ago as I stared at the slides our instructor flashed on a large screen. “Just take these in,” he said. I did and was never the same. That art changed me, made me more aware, more ready to receive, even though, at that stage in my life, I had no idea what I wanted or needed. Viewing those representations of artwork wrought centuries before took me a step closer to searching for God.

The frustration of every artist is the limitation of his/her own self that blocks the genius, prevents us from reaching into that longing and embracing it. But there is hope. There is Christ, who always beckons, always encourages, always leads us to Truth because He is Truth. Though we are flawed and incapable, He is able to reach through our words and draw the hearts to Him.

I love the quote from Exupery because I imagine the people, my audience – people whose minds and hearts and souls have been touched by art in a way that makes them want to build and launch their own ships, to begin the journey to God that will take them deep into His presence. And I love the journey of my writing craft, because it takes me there too.

“Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 43:3

****

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 and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia’s website

An Exciting Discovery

Marcia Laycock is a pastor’s wife and mother of three grown daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone, and has published two devotional books, Spur of the Moment, and Focused Reflections. Visit her website – http://www.vinemarc.com/

I made an exciting discovery one day. I got so excited about it I called my husband into the office so I could show him. He smiled indulgently but looked like he thought I was overreacting just a bit. I’d been critiquing and editing manuscripts for writers for some time. I would usually do the edits on a hard copy of the manuscript, then transfer them onto the computer and send the finished product to the writer.
The task was laborious since it is important for the writer to see the changes I make and in some cases, understand my reasoning. I used the highlight feature as well as the font color feature on the computer, making the changes as I went, then highlighting and putting comments in red. This required continually clicking buttons and using the mouse.

Then I joined an online critique group. Each person was to submit a story and all the others critique it. As we got started someone asked how to put the changes right into the manuscript. I was about to send a message explaining my method when I read a message from another group member. He explained that all you have to do is hit the Tools button and click on ‘track changes.’ The computer does everything for you! I immediately pulled up an old manuscript and tried it. That’s when I got excited. I knew this little discovery would save me a lot of time and ‘fiddling.’

In my own defense I must explain that I am self-taught on the computer. I have never taken a course, but learned by doing. For the most part that has worked fine, but when I discovered this tracking feature it made me wonder what else I’ve been missing. Maybe it was time I investigated all the features the program designers put into my computer. Maybe it was time I discovered how it’s meant to be used. There were probably a few other things I’d been doing the hard way.

Sometimes we go through life the same way. We are self-made, self-taught and self-focused. Usually, that means we’ve been doing things the hard way. Maybe it’s time we discovered our designer had a different plan. Maybe it’s time we discovered what that plan is. God has provided everything we need to live our lives according to His purposes. The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote to the Philippians – “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Did you notice that last phrase? That’s the important part, the part that can mean the difference between living life the hard way, and living life with abundant joy. In Christ Jesus. Why do things the hard way?