The Blessing of a Song

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash


These days, watching the news or scrolling through social media often leaves me feeling discouraged and drained. The world is chaotic, full of noise. High tensions. Pointing fingers.

But Christians are called to stand firm in the faith, to be rooted in Christ, and to be examples of how to live boldly, and to be examples of how to live righteously in such confusing times.

I want to thank Bruce Nevin Haines for submitting the song “To Raise the Standard,” which reminds us of the importance of laying everything down at the cross for the sake of true peace. Please enjoy this timely and poignant song. I hope you are encouraged today.

—Dyane



Bruce Nevin Haines, singer-songwriter

Maryland-based singer-songwriter Bruce Nevin Haines developed a passion for songwriting at an early age. He has penned over 200 songs, and he strives for each one to resonate with life-changing truth and emotion. His influences are varied, but Haines prefers the acoustic guitar-driven styles of Bruce Cockburn and Dan Fogelberg. He is married to his wife of over 35 years, Carole, and has three adult children. For more, visit him on Soundcloud and YouTube.

Taking Out the Garbage

Excerpt by Deborah Detering

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

My mother-in-law, in the twenty years we lived nearby, never reminded me to empty my garbage pail. When those I love are having trouble with old hurts, new relationships, or addictions, I want to tell them, “Your garbage can is full. It smells. You need to empty it.”

A teenage foster son came to us with one of the most jammed-full-to-over-flowing and stinking garbage cans I’d ever seen. Sixteen years’ worth of “You’re the dumb one, the crazy one, the ugly one . . .” poured out of him. I kept telling him to get rid of that garbage, but he had owned it for sixteen years. He didn’t believe it was garbage. He put up walls around it. When I tried to take him to a professional counsellor, he thought I was trying to get rid of him.

He did allow me to feed him. He allowed me to find him when he ran away. He sometimes forgot to back across the room when I hugged him.

We bargained: He wouldn’t run away and I wouldn’t mention counselling. He’d come in by curfew if I didn’t mention the past. The bargaining kept him out of juvenile court and off the streets, but it didn’t clean out the garbage. Then, when I thought the rotting garbage would destroy him, he chose otherwise.

First, he went to night school, earned his G.E.D., and graduated from the discard pile of “You’re dumb.” Then he joined the army, surviving the hounding of drill sergeants because he’d left behind the baggage of “You’re no good.” The following year, he took his wife to a Christmas party and stood tall and clean in his uniform. I commented, “You’re handsome!” and he cheekily replied, “I know it!” He’d cleaned out “You’re ugly.” Some months later, I found him asleep in a recliner cuddled up with his infant daughter. The lingering mold of “Nobody could ever love you” was being scoured out.

I think of Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t tell him to stop cheating people. He said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19: 5 NIV). I think of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus didn’t scold her. He said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11 NLT). I think of Matthew, a despised tax collector. Jesus didn’t tell him to find a new job. He said, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9 NIV).

Likewise, in the twenty years we lived near my husband’s parents, my mother-in-law never told me to empty my garbage pail, and neither did she barge into my kitchen and take it out for me. Messy kitchen or clean kitchen, she loved me as I was. In the same way, when those I love are struggling with old hurts, new relationships, or addictions, and I want to admonish them with “Your garbage can is full! You need to empty it!” I instead choose mercy because I care about them as a treasured child of God.

Those who know they are loved regardless of their garbage will find the strength to dump it. Those who accept that Jesus cares willingly allow Him to not only remove the garbage but scour the garbage can, too.

*This excerpt is from Detering’s yet-to-be-released novel, Crossroads.

About Deborah Detering

Detering‘s fiction explores family relationships and reflects her experience in foster care and with abandoned teenagers. She is currently finishing a middle grade series of novels. Visit her blog and Facebook page for more.

For more inspirational content, please visit our Spotlight Blog as well as our Magazine Issues page to download your free copy of Lost Pen Magazine.

January 1, 2021 Word of Encouragement

Post by Dyane Forde

Featured Image by Ben White on Unsplash

I just finished reading a YouVersion devotional called “Meeting With God” (see link below). I love Day 6. It talks about prayer and how Christians sometimes try everything except prayer, when they face problems.

An explanation about why this is came to me while I was reading: we don’t pray because we don’t believe God really cares for or hears us, or we fear He won’t answer. Taking the latter point further, maybe we fear that when He answers, we won’t like His response.

During these extremely difficult times, it’s easy to feel defeated, discouraged, even helpless. The world is on edge, and we may be fearful for the future. I have been on vacation from my work as a social worker these last two weeks, but my subconscious has been fighting back waves of stress and worry about going back to work next week. I feel dread and anxious. I’m worried. But deep down, I know that God has me there for a reason, which means I have a purpose there. My struggle is to trust that He will carry me through whatever I will face upon my return. To do that–to grab hold of His strength and to deepen my faith in Him–I must pray.

In truth, regardless of what we think or feel, God is true. He is the Lover of our souls, and He works on our behalf for our good.

I hope these words encourage and support you, if you are struggling with something in your life. Let’s trust God today. As His children, let’s cry out to Him. Let’s pray to Him today.

Blessings!

Poetry: He May Turn and Relent and Leave Behind a Blessing

Poem by Matthew Miller (inspired by Joel 2:12-14)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Last night, thunderstorms combed branches, splashing the mulberries’ face.

Streams of mercy on their dry roots, call for songs of low hush praise.

In last night’s bolts, wayward flashes, my son came downstairs half-awake.

He climbed in bed, in between us, snuggled in our half-smushed praise.

Solitary tick of seconds, opening up to sun’s first rays,

from the pine bush comes new birdsong, orchard rings with wood thrush praise.

In the half light, kettle steaming, I thumb and shuffle a thin page.

Spiraled pour to dampen the grounds, each drip dark with sweet crushed praise.

Midnight moons prick with mosquitoes. We are scorched on sunny days.

Morning jets, silent above us, cross the sky with white-brushed praise.

Waking is the softest hour, with its cool caress of grace.

Wrapped in blankets, gently clicking, all my words are full-flushed praise.

Half sun, half shadow, you have hollowed a compassionate place.

Since it’s quiet, I will whisper, add my voice to the rush of praise.

About Matthew Miller

Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry. He lives beside a dilapidated apple orchard in Indiana and tries to shape the dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been published in Flying Island, Remington Review and is forthcoming in Whale Road Review. For more, visit his website.

For more inspirational content, please visit our Spotlight Blog as well as our Magazine Issues page to download your free copy of Lost Pen Magazine.

Poetry: Between Two Storms

Poem by Lora Harvey

Image by Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Barely adrift

long after the last raging storm has passed.

The beating, scorching sun an equally opposing enemy,

and just as brutal.

Surrounded by taunting waves lapping against my parched skin.

Teasing me with their deceiving nature;

appearing as respite for my intense thirst.

Only to destroy me from the inside out.

Darkening clouds gather on the horizon.

Beckoning me.

Welcoming me.

I cling tightly to this worn buoy.

Too frightened to let go, closing my eyes.

Struggling in the current, the shadow of my

Salvation and Shelter

envelops me.

A vast and steady Rock, always within my reach.

My fingers delicately brush along the Foundation.

I know the power.

Rest for my weariness.

Food for my soul.

The Water to quench all thirst.

I must grab hold of my true anchor and surrender this

damaged

sinking

buoy.

But why can’t I release my desperate grasp?

JUST LET GO! I scream inside.

I struggle to recall

any song

any praise

any prayer

any joyous sound.

A despondent cry escapes my arid lips.

Once again, I feel your gentle breath on my sweaty brow.

Your loving hands cradle my exhausted body.

Let go, You whisper.

I feel my rigid limbs loosen.

My aching bones relax.

You calm my weepy and repentant heart.

These buoys are not real, You remind me.

We turn to face the approaching storm,

together.

Your only survival lies here

with Me,

in Christ alone.

About Lora Harvey

Harvey’s lineage is full of creatives, so the love of reading, writing, and art comes naturally to her. She recently began the path of drafting her first book and is also working with other Christian writers on an anthology of the armor of God. Harvey lives in Arizona with her two young adult children and two dogs. For more, visit her blog, My Lamp and Light.

For more inspirational content, please visit our Spotlight Blog as well as our Magazine Issues page to download your free copy of Lost Pen Magazine.

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