Poetry: Caterpillar

Poem by Ruth Long

Image by  Krysten Merriman on Unsplash

I am a caterpillar 

Perched upon God’s hand.

The more I learn His fingerprints,

The more I trust His plans.

Though I am small and not full grown,

His steady hold will stay. 

And let me walk along His hand,

And carry me all the way.

About Ruth Long

Long is a home-educated student born in Cheshire, UK. Her current abode is a large Québécois brick house. Her hobby is writing whimsical and thought-provoking literary works. She studies apologetics and loves talking with neighbours from everywhere. Long penned “Caterpillar” while on a walk and hopes it encourages anyone who reads it. 

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Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond 

by Faith Rogers

photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

During this difficult season, many people have been launching their brands, starting a business, investing, studying for exams, writing books, or just growing in God. All of those ventures are wonderful. However, fighting to get back up when you feel discouraged is difficult. Many people look at the results of their efforts and begin to rethink their choices. Some begin the task and then fear convinces them they will fail. If that is you, trust me, you are not alone.

Keep Moving Forward

There are times when the past looks more appealing than the effort of moving forward. New ventures are not for the faint of heart. There are times when hopelessness creeps in. However, remembering that what we are called to do is bigger than us and that we are not just working–our work will be a blessing to others. There is an audience waiting for you.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV.

Discouraged but Don’t Quit

There are many successful individuals who have struggled to achieve their goal. The emotions of being discouraged or the thoughts of quitting crossed their mind, too. However, when God births an idea within, he will provide the means that will lead to prosperity. When you are following him, trust his plan because he will never leave nor forsake you. It’s not always easy but that’s why communicating with him is important. If you are battling with whether to give up, talk to God first and follow his leading.

Below are some ideas that may help you if you feel discouraged:

  • Meditate on God’s promises
  • Don’t forget why you decided to make that particular
  • Put on worship music, and rest in God’s presence
  • Share what you’re feeling or experiencing with those you trust
  • Wait for God to guide your footsteps 
  • Ask God to lead you to Godly mentors
  • Know that it’s ok to feel what you feel

Reasons to keep going

When we do all these things, God gives peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that He will give clarity and guidance to you about what to do next. You may not see the results you want but keep going in order to glorify God. I also pray that He gives you strategies and resources. Trust the process and know that the results will grow. 

Another important point is that we have to put in the work to become knowledgeable about our God-given assignments. When we commit our plans to the Lord they will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). He never said when, but He said they would bear fruit. He is with you and has already gone before you. God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change His mind. God always keeps his promises (Numbers 23:19 CEV).

About Faith Rogers

Faith Rogers is an assistant teacher who loves working with kids. She is a lifestyle blogger and aspiring author. Rogers is the youngest of three children in a family of five. She loves spending time with her family and sharing God’s Word to enrich the lives of others. Visit her website for more.

The Naked Beauty of Winter Trees: When Words Won’t Come

Here in Durban, South Africa, we don’t really have a winter. Temperatures drop no lower than 9 or 10 degrees Celsius (48 or so Fahrenheit) and the trees, many of which are tropical succulents, remain green all year round. 

In contrast, when visiting the UK over Christmas at the end of last year, where temperatures are cooler and winter is real, I was struck afresh by a landscape punctuated by the skeletal outlines of bare trunks and twisted branches. Shapes, textures, and patterns usually lost under the finery of foliage were now revealed in all their naked beauty.

And that got me thinking. How often do I allow myself to be stripped of all that covers and hides? To let fall all the things that I think identify and define me? Do I persist in trying to be an evergreen succulent when, in fact, I am created deciduous, required every now and then to be stripped back to the bare essentials of who God says I amHis forgiven creature, His blood-bought child, His redeemed Beloved?  

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found it increasingly hard to sit down and write, to unearth the concepts that need words for their expression. I’ve struggled to find the right phrases, to paint the pictures I normally so enjoy creating. In fact, I’ve found it hard to even find the images that need to be painted. Each day, I set myself a goal or task, only to find myself unable to complete what I start. The sense of frustration and the nagging feeling that I’m not doing enough has been nibbling away at me.

So, yesterday, I decided simply to stop. To do something else, to take the day off, to tell myself I wasn’t even going to think about my to-do list. I slept in a little later than normal, ate what I felt like when I felt like it, watched a bit of TV, and read a novel. The weather, which has been so dry for weeks, took a turn towards the wet, and I revelled in the sound of the rain falling, watched as the ground grew soggy, and delighted in the damp smell of a refreshed garden.

By the middle of the day, I was ready to pause, sit, and reflect. My thoughts, inevitably, turned to my writing. I began to wonder why my next book, which I am impatient to get started on and yet seem unable to develop beyond the first few pages, was proving so elusive. I began to ask God for answers and for a stirring that would renew my focus and unlock my imagination. And He started— very gently—to remind me of what He has spoken in the past: “Write what you see in a book.” This was His very specific command to me a couple of years ago. And I’ve done that. My first book was published in May of this year. But then I’ve added to that marketing, social media posts, newsletters, speaking engagements, and fundraisers. All beautiful signs of summer, like green leaves of health and life, but not the solidity of the trunk and its branches.

Have I the courage to let the leaves fall, to stand naked in the simplicity of God’s call, silhouetted for all to see? To trust that God will do with me what He chooses when He chooses? Do I believe that growth is determined by how deep my roots are rather than the lushness of my leaves? 

Funnily enough, after our “conversation” and being shaken a little by the wind of the Spirit, ideas began to form and coalesce, planning became a poem. And words appeared.

 

About Anna Jensen

image002I am a British ex-pat who has lived in South Africa for nearly as long as in England. I have exchanged squirrels in the garden for monkeys; the caw of crows with the terrified-seeming cry of the hadeda ibis. I swelter under a hot summer sun, rather than shiver in the freezing rain.

And it is here, under a wide-open sky, that I have begun to write in response to a call from Jesus to ‘write what I see in a book.’  My first book, The Outskirts of His Glory was published in May of this year.

I trust the eyes of your heart will be opened as you read the words I’m privileged to put on pages.

Contact Jensen at:

Website

Facebook:   @annaloujensen

Twitter:       @annalouj

Instagram:  @annaloujens

 

Be Still My Worried Heart

Guest post by Anne Perreault

There are days when I can’t get my mind around my own problems. I mull them over and over, allowing them to steal my joy. I permit myself these moments because I believe I’m entitled to them. After all, I’m very good at pity parties.

For me as a writer, I have had a lot of experience fussing and worrying about the publishing/writing process. After I finally submitted myself to God’s urging to write down the stories in my head, I found that the publishing process was filled with pitfalls and difficulties. It began when a “publisher” contacted me and told me that my story was great and that they wanted it. As you can imagine, I was over-the-moon excited. I hadn’t even inquired and yet they wanted me.

I grew a little chip on my shoulder until I realized that it was a bit of a scam. Publishing my book would cost me more than I would ever make back. I deflated! My husband suggested I look into self-publishing, and I . . . well, I wasn’t very gracious about it. I told him that I had no idea how to go about it, that it was too much work, that it wasn’t proper. Just like homeschooling, how could I publish my own work?

When I talked to another vanity publisher, I began to doubt:  

Did God really ask me to write?

Was I meant to do this?

What’s the point anyway? My books aren’t ever going to be out there.

In a relatively short time, I had forgotten that God Himself had commissioned me to write. Worry replaced His personal word to me as well as the joy and excitement I should have experienced. I became so angry after the second publisher tried to swindle me out of my hard-earned money that I went for a walk in our “back 10” (that’s 10 acres, if you aren’t up on the lingo lol) and ranted at God.

Do you see how quickly one can go from praise to discouragement? I was so angry I wanted to throw something and have the satisfaction of it breaking. So I picked up a pebble. It makes perfect sense that a pebble would break on impact. When it didn’t, I really became mad and threw another, which also failed to give me the satisfaction of breaking.

How dare God! He was totally playing me! He had put me on THIS path and I, being the obedient servant, only wanted to please Him!

On and on it went. When I finally threw a clump of dirt that looked an awful lot like a rock, and it shattered, I felt vindicated. But I really wasn’t. I was still worried and anxious. I’d relied on me. God had to show me that He was with me in this process and that He would provide EVERYTHING. And I mean everything, from submitting to self-publishing, to not one but two editors, and the cover designer. It all fell into place when I finally released my worry and my thoughts of how the whole process was going to go.

God is there. His beauty is not in His commandments but in the mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love that are available through Jesus Christ.

Someone said recently that women need to feel safe and secure. Mmm . . . I’m like that. I worry about everything. On a scale of one to ten, I’m probably a seven on the worry meter. How about you? For me, it has to be a conscious decision NOT to worry and to remember:

I am loved.
He’s enough.
He’s my Savior, I’m not.
The circumstances don’t matter.
I am good enough for Him.
He chose me.
He’s given me the ability to face my giants.
He will see it done.

When worry threatens to overwhelm, I can KNOW that He is Lord of the Universe who has me in the palm of his hand.

For the worries of your life, be encouraged. He knows what you are going through. He’s got YOU in the palm of HIS hands. You are His. He’ll make a way.

So, have I learned this lesson?

Ask me that when I go to publish. What usually happens is that the enemy starts to tug on the threads of worry and insecurity. The Deceiver does what he does best: deceives. And I have fallen into his trap numerous times. I’m up to ten published books now, and, every time, something big tries to derail the final process. It has taken me a long time to learn this because the devil is sneaky. He comes at me from different angles, attacking where I’m weak, and where I allow worry or fear to rule instead of resting in the One True God.

I was able to release my worry the last few times when the unrest started. I realized what was happening and took a step back, prayed, and asked for prayer. The problems didn’t disappear, but the worry and fear did. The last book I published was released and I wasn’t even aware of it! I had missed the 72 hours Amazon needed to review the files, and it went live without my fussing and hovering. So easy, so peaceful! Perfect. Because I didn’t have a chance to worry.

If we allow Christ to work through us, and if we place our worry in His hands, things change. I always wondered how Steven could stand amongst his accusers while they were stoning him and see Jesus. Or how Paul could shake off the dust after he was stoned and thrown out of a city and then walk right back in to preach again. I mean . . . HOW, Lord?

John 15:15 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” In one sentence, we have the answer to all our worries, our fears, our difficulties. My books will not miraculously find themselves on the New York Times bestseller list, my children will not spontaneously have a brilliant career, amazing spouses, and happy, productive lives. My poor husband’s health won’t change overnight (not that it can’t, but God is working something out in him too).

But I don’t need to worry about all that stuff. He’s the vine. I’m the branch. All I have to do is rest in that.

Be blessed. You are loved. You are beautiful.

You. Are. Enough.

 

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Learn more about Anne Perreault and her books at Into the Light Fiction.

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