Archive for the ‘God’ Tag

Turning In the Keys   Leave a comment

We are moving. And for the first time since I was a kid and had no control over these things, it’s not just across town. We’re moving to a new town. And the whole thing is confusing and everchanging and immediate and confusing (did I say confusing?). I have lived in this town for all of my life, give or take a year or two when I was a kid. My family is here. My husband’s family is here. We have quite possibly the best library in the world. It’s so supportive of writers and provides such excellent programming for children. I love it. And I will miss it and all the wonderful people who work there that have gotten to know me and my kids (at least by face, if not by name). We have gone to the same church since before we got married. We’ve only ever gone elsewhere once or twice while traveling.

Overall, it’s scary, even if it’s also really exciting. We’re not moving ridiculously far away. Only about an hour away to the Kansas City area. Close enough that we can still come back here for a somewhat weekly tabletop game with my brother and friends. Close enough that we won’t have to miss holidays with family. Close enough that they can come visit us fairly often. But just far enough away that if the car breaks down, I’ll think twice before calling up my mom to come get me. Just far enough away to feel like another world on days when I’m lonely.

Originally, we were moving in another direction. South, to a smaller town, and we were supposed to be moving down there around this time. So I “turned in my notice” as a Sunday School teacher and prepared myself to beginning looking for a new church home. As much as our church has been home for over a decade, we barely make it on time when we live 20 minutes away. There’s no way I’d get us to church if we were driving an hour to do it. So our last Sunday came. And I decided that I could see a little bit of what was going on in Topeka before we left, to sort of get me ready for visiting new churches. So we spent a couple Sundays at other churches. But today was Thanksgiving dinner at our home church. And a special musical key-1546278program. So back we went. And somewhere in the middle of the service, it dawned on me that I still had a set of keys to the church.

I was tempted to just keep them. We haven’t yet found a new church, so we’re still members there. I plan to continue sending our tithe there until we find a new home. So why not just keep the keys? But we won’t typically be going there. We won’t have responsibilities that require us to go there when others aren’t there already. So why not give them back? In the end, I gave them back, turning them in after the service was over. But it felt like such a final thing. After a couple Sundays elsewhere, I thought I was doing okay with this whole moving thing. Now, I realize I’ve still been holding onto things that make it seem unreal. And that’s no way to cope.

So I’ve turned in the keys. And now I’ll get back to work finding us a new home. And packing. And preparing us for our new life in a new city. Even if I’m a little terrified.

Posted November 15, 2015 by Maidenfine in Church, God, Randomness

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The Real Problem   2 comments

I had an epiphany.

I’ve had this project I wanted to work on, for over a year. But every time I had a chunk of space, I couldn’t get into it. And not even just couldn’t get into it. I mean I had this feeling like I shouldn’t even be thinking about it even though it’s a project that I love and can get fired up about and can be turned into a vehicle to get more of my writing out there. All of the positives of this project meant nothing, when the feeling came up to make me feel bad about the project. Now, some people might say “That’s God telling you not to do it.” Those people would be wrong. In fact, I’ve very clearly received a kick in the pants from God on this very issue. It surprised me, because I hadn’t realized until that moment that God had anything to do with it. The writing didn’t seem particularly godly, and the person I’d be working closely with is not a Christian, so it never dawned on me that it was of interest to God beyond the principle that all things should be done as if for the Lord.

So it wasn’t God holding me back. What was it? It would seem like something God wanted me to do, once I knew was something He wanted, would be pretty high up in the priorities, right? But still that feeling nagged at me. And finally, I figured out what it was. And once I really truly figured out what it was, I was able to unpack it and examine it and put it away. But just in case it should plague other Christian writers, I wanted to speak about it here.

BookshelfI was a writer before I was a Christian. Whether you count from my childhood decision to follow Christ or from my adult decision that led me back to God, the fact remains that I was a writer first. I learned to read, so that I could write. I have a vivid memory of being about five and I was writing something, but I didn’t know a lot of words, so I had to ask my mother how to spell just about every single word that I wanted to write. How she was so patient, I will never know. What I was writing, I have no idea. But I remember the incident very clearly.

All that to say that many of the stories locked in my head are not “Christian” stories. I would estimate that about 90% of my characters are not Christian. Do I love Christian fiction? As long as it’s good, yes. I have a great appreciation for Christian romance novels because I feel like I’m getting two love stories for the price of one. There’s the love story between the two individuals and the love story between God and Man. They are often very beautifully written and I love the way the chosen Scriptures speak to the conflict. But I cannot write Christian romance. I have tried. It is not what God has gifted me with. It is not inside me to produce. And that is the real problem I’ve been having.

Several years ago, a member of our church was asking about my writing and asked if all my stories had the Gospel in them. I said no, because that’s the truth and their response was to ask “Why not?” And the unspoken part of that question, the part that I heard, though it wasn’t said, was what kind of Christian writes stories that don’t contain the Gospel? What kind of Christian writes stories where the express purpose isn’t to convert the masses? What is the point of writing, as a Christian, if it’s not to bring others into a greater understanding of God’s desire to be in their lives?

And all of that unspoken junk has kept me from really seriously writing since then. I was in a lull at the time and even when I’ve attempted to break from that lull, that sense of shame, of not measuring up, has pulled me back. So, here, for others who may struggle with this, or for me, if I should need to hear it again in the future, I answer those questions.

All of Heaven and Earth proclaim the glory of God to those who have ears to hear. Everything beautiful points to God. He does not have to sign his name at the bottom of the painting for us to know the strokes of the Master who created it. I do not have to shout to those around me for them to see Him at work in my life. In fact, many won’t listen unless you speak softly. Christian literature is for Christians. Atheists and agnostics do not purchase the latest Love Inspired titles. They do not read Karen Kingsbury books. Christians do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for those works.

There is also a place for the works of Christians that do not keep to those tight restrictions of content. There is a place for works by Christians that are relatable for non-Christians. There is a place for Middle Earth and Narnia, worlds where perhaps the Gospel is there, but it isn’t obvious and it doesn’t beat you about the head. That place is where my foul-mouthed, gypsy-cursed Hungarians belong. That is the place where my timid, pyrokinetic redhead belongs. That is the place where my genetically-altered government assassin belongs. That is where my writing belongs. It belongs on a shelf not labeled Christian, where someone might pick it up, and believe that it is beautiful and be interested in the soul that it came from. And when they go looking for that soul, they will find this place. This little spot on the internet where I have poured out my heart about what God is doing in my life. And I have been vulnerable and imperfect and I’ve shown a true face to the world. And maybe, on that day, they’ll believe.

And maybe they won’t.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that all things beautiful show God’s face to the world. And I want to write beautiful things. And no matter what I think a Christian should be writing doesn’t matter. Because a Christian should be writing what is inside them to be written. Especially when God tells them to.

Posted February 18, 2015 by Maidenfine in God, Writing

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Found Mommy, Following God   Leave a comment

This has been a hard post to make myself sit down and write. Not because the subject matter is difficult, but just because the very nature of what I’m going to say doesn’t lend itself well to being written. But, if I’m going to continue on this blogging journey in any form, this post has to come first. Because the last thing I posted was talking about making a decision about whether or not to continue blogging. And that question needs to be answered.

When I changed my blog from Maidenfine’s Musings to Finding Mommy, Finding God, I had a mission. My mission was to explore who I am and who God wanted me to be, while also trying to strike a balance between being a mother and wife and my writing. And while I could continue to write here, I can’t really continue on that mission. Because I feel like I’ve found the path that God has for me. And I feel like I’m living the life he wants. And I feel like I’m not just someone’s mom or someone’s wife. I’ve found my own identity again.

My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.
My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.

 

So what do you write about after you’ve reached the goal you set out to achieve?

I suppose the answer to that is. . . whatever I want. But I’m not wanting to hold myself accountable to some posting schedule that a social media expert said is the minimum for blog growth. I don’t want to force myself to produce, even if it means producing junk. So I’m going to keep going. But I have a few other things that I want to do that don’t necessarily fit here. And I don’t want to sacrifice those things for maintaining a writing schedule here.

So, I’ve set up a MailChimp mailing list. I’ll still write here as the Spirit directs. But I’m working on other things. Things that will require a hefty chunk of my time. And I don’t want anyone who’s interested to miss my posts here. So if you want to keep reading as I’m inspired, sign up. It’s not likely to be a lot of emails, but there will be some.

Posted February 1, 2013 by Maidenfine in God

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Mommy Monday: God Calling   Leave a comment

Apparently, God thought my blog needed a new look. After an update, my theme no longer worked properly and since I like my header, rather than a bunch of error messages, I had to go looking for another. Hopefully, it works for people.

Moving on.

Our church’s annual meeting is at the end of August. Which means we’re gearing up for church council nominations and all that stuff. And my husband and I have been praying about a couple things since April. One of them, I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out because we’re feeling led to do something that someone else is already doing, and seems to be intent to continue doing. But the other is something that I know came from God, because I would never pick it. And I would never pick to quit being Church Clerk.

I like being Church Clerk. I like paperwork and making the bulletins and taking minutes. I enjoy that work. But apparently, that’s not what God has called me to. Instead, he put me in a position to go to the Heart of a Child conference in April, and that prepared me for taking on Children’s ministry. Even though I’m not really a fan of other people’s kids.

Somehow, even though I don’t really like children, God has given me a heart for showing them Jesus (and feeding them, but that’s a different post). He’s also given me an excitement for looking at children’s curricula. And a vision for the things we could do with our children’s ministry if we could get enough volunteers. So I’m nominating myself to be our Children’s director. And we’ll see how it goes. I’m always a little nervous to step out and follow God’s plan when I don’t know where it leads.

God Dreams Bigger   Leave a comment

When I was in high school I did a project: Where will you be in ten years? In mine, I expected to be in Seattle, preferably somewhere near the Wizards of the Coast building. I would have a Masters in English and I would be teaching, whenever I wasn’t busy writing my science fiction and fantasy novels. I would not be married, or have kids. In my scenario, I probably wouldn’t even be dating. I always figured I’d turn into a cat lady.

Now, it’s been 12 years and I can say, I wasn’t even close. I still live in Topeka. I never finished college at all, much less with a Masters. And I write, but I definitely haven’t made a career of it yet. But I think God was dreaming way bigger than I was. Because I have two amazing, adorable children, and a husband that I love beyond reason and I feel a purpose in my life that wouldn’t have been there if I’d ended up on the West coast all alone.

I wouldn’t have my amazing family. Or the friends that feel so much like family. Or the in-laws that feel like friends. And I might have achieved my writing dream, but maybe not. I didn’t make much progress on finishing a novel before I got married. So I probably would have been a teacher, wishing I could write.

And how much of a drag would that have been? Instead of the awesome life, full of blessings, that God gave me instead.

Posted October 3, 2011 by Maidenfine in God

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Song Study: Strong Enough   Leave a comment

As promised, I have finally finished my first Song Study. This is the first bible study of any kind that I’ve written, so be gentle. But any comments and suggestions are welcome. I try to improve myself every day and that doesn’t change for this. So if there’s something that doesn’t work, let me know.

On the flip-side, if there’s something you love about it, also let me know that. Positive feedback always makes people feel good. Plus, I’d hate to change something that everyone loves.

The song I chose is Strong Enough by Matthew West. You can find it on iTunes* and Amazon MP3. I almost didn’t pick this one because I don’t have a link to anywhere you can (legally) get it free. But freegal.com doesn’t have any music by Matthew West, so even though most of my music comes from there, you can’t get this one.You can, however, watch the video over and over for free on YouTube.

I wanted to do this song first for several reasons. First, the verses were easy for me to find. Some songs, I know there’s a verse to go with it, but I haven’t found it yet. Second, I feel like this song has been instrumental to me finally getting one of thse done. I really feel as though I’m not prepared to be doing this. But I don’t need to be. And this song has helped me to push beyond just knowing it in my mind, to knowing it in my heart. Without this song, I quite possibly would not have ever done this.

You can get the PDF file here.

* I have no idea how to get a link to something on iTunes. It’s on there and easy to find in a search. If you’re not particular about getting things from iTunes, though, it’s cheaper on Amazon.

$ The Amazon link is my referral link. If you are opposed to using it, you can search “Matthew West Strong Enough” after going to Amazon directly.

My Testimony   Leave a comment

I’ve had this blog for 3 years. In that time, I’ve talked about a lot of stuff. But I’ve never shared my testimony. Today, I’m going to correct that.

For me, being saved was a logical thing. I was the “angel” child, but I knew there were bad things I’d done. I just hadn’t gotten in trouble for them. Usually, my brothers got in trouble for them, or no one ever found out about them for anyone to get in trouble. So when I started going to the Kids Night programs at the church across the street when I was ten, I didn’t really need them to tell me that I was a sinner. I knew it, even at that age. And it made sense to me that since God was the opposite of sin, there would have to be some sort of something drastic to bridge the gap between us. Basically, Jesus made sense to me.

I couldn’t tell you when exactly I was saved. I do know that we watched a video about bees at the Kids Night that month, but that’s about it. I have a terrible memory for time, so I couldn’t even tell you the season of the year. And apparently, I didn’t realize what an important occasion it was, because I didn’t write it down anywhere. Apparently, accepting Christ as a logical decision with very little emotion involved made it seem less momentous. I don’t know.

Nonetheless, I was saved and I continued to get up every Sunday and walk across the street for Sunday School. I only ever went to church once because the lady who ran it for my age group  had had a stroke or something and part of her face was paralyzed, I think. Whatever was going on with her face, as a kid, she scared me, so I stuck with Sunday School and the guy that I was familiar with. I remember being extra fond of my teacher because he had the same name as my dad, so that apparently made him awesome.

My terrible memory for time comes in here, but I think we moved in November or so. Not completely sure, really, but I remember having a part in the Christmas pageant and being incredibly unprepared because I no longer lived across the street and couldn’t always get a ride to the church for practices. I could be way off. It could have been the Easter program, but either way, moving made it very difficult for me. For those living in Topeka, we moved from Oakland to Highland Park, so it just wasn’t a convenient trip to get to the church. And I’d been the only one in my family going.

After the program, I basically couldn’t get anymore rides to church. Despite that, I maintained my faith, though I didn’t do the things that many would consider necessary for Christians. I attempted to read my Bible but it never captured me. Probably because I was a preteen trying to read a King James version. Definitely not a version I would recommend for a young child trying to understand the Bible. I also wouldn’t recommend trying to start at the beginning and read straight through at that age. The Books of Law are difficult to get through as an adult sometimes. They’re torture for a kid, and therefore led to my inability to actually read any significant portions of my Bible.

I didn’t know about a Christian radio station at that time in my life, so I wasn’t listening to Christian music. I didn’t really have any Christian friends (at least not active Christians). Basically, I knew I believed in God. I knew that Jesus had died for my sins. And I knew that I’d accepted his amazing gift of salvation. But I didn’t have a clue how to live that out.

When I was twelve, I was molested. Which for some, would be an easy thing to lead to a loss of faith, but my faith actually got me through it. That year, I listened to Joy 88 every night as I went to bed and one night, they talked about a radio program coming up that was for victims of rape and abuse. I wrote down the date and I made sure I listened. And I don’t think I’d be half as normal and stable as I am if not for that program. The year that I turned twelve was probably the worst in my life, but my faith was strong and I got through it. The next year was tough, but not nearly as bad.

In 8th grade, everything would change for me. I started reading Piers Anthony books, which I loved, and I loved the Notes from the Author at the back even more. Until then, I had somehow never really thought about the fact that books were written by people. I’d been wanting to be a teacher since I was young, but this realization changed that. I wanted to be a writer. I was also intrigued by his mentions of agnosticism and his discussion of religion. By this time, I had very little religious identity. I didn’t really know what the Bible taught or what I was supposed to be doing as a Christian. And I was getting to be old enough to see the hypocrisy of the world around me. “Do as I say, not as I do” is the sort of attitude that has always pissed me off, and it wasn’t any different when it was Christians speaking that to the world. So I wavered. Eventually, I proclaimed agnosticism and then by the time I was a junior in high school, I’d moved on to being Wiccan. There was no one in my life to steer me any other way.

Until I met my future husband.

For a long time, I didn’t even really know that he was a Christian. Not that it surprised me when I found out, it just wasn’t really something I talked to people about. Especially given the reactions I usually got when people figured out that I was Wiccan (it ranged anywhere from thinking I was weird to being afraid of me to being downright hostile). When I was about 21, he started going back to church on a regular basis and I’d downgraded from the Wicca thing to being agnostic again.

And then a prayer was answered. Not mine. My future husband had prayed that something bad would happen to lead me to God. And it did. Through a series of miscommunications, I ended up working 40 hours at a job with the state, while also going to school full-time and tutoring. Because I had to get my hours done between 7am and 6pm, I was getting up at 5am to go to work. Leaving in the middle of the day for school, then coming back and working until 6pm. After dinner, I would attempt to get some homework done, but by 9pm I was usually too braindead for anything other than sleep. The weekends, despite my best intentions, were usually spent sleeping. I was on my way to a nervous breakdown if something didn’t change.

The day that I decided I needed help, I was at work and I went to the bathroom. The problem was that I was so stressed out and tired, I had a moment sitting there when I wasn’t sure if I was awake or asleep. If I went to the bathroom, would I actually be peeing all over my bed? At that moment, I realized that I was in a bad situation and I needed to see someone. So I called the state employee mental health hotline and got an appointment. She opened my eyes to the possibility of taking time away from work, and when I got home from speaking with her, my future husband asked if I would read a book if he bought it for me.

I figured he was talking about a Bible, so I almost said no. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything so I agreed. We went shopping and he didn’t just buy me a Bible. He also bought me a copy of The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. I read it in no time and it blew my mind. All the questions I’d had back in middle school and high school and a bunch I never even thought of . . . they were all answered. I went to church with him that weekend, wondering if the salvation I’d asked for when I was so young still counted.

And God spoke to me.

That day, the pastor was preaching from John 10:28-29 and how, once we belong to God, nothing can take us away from him. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and if I hadn’t believed in God before then, that probably would have been enough to convince me. There’s nothing quite like going to church and hearing God speak straight to you.

After that day, I knew exactly where I needed to be and I didn’t have any more questions or doubts. I promised myself that I’d never lose my faith again. And even though I did go through a long span of not going to church, I’ve stuck to that promise.

Disclosure: I just recently became an affiliate at Amazon. If you click the link in this post and buy something, I make a little money. Don’t even really know how much. Like I said. Recently.