What’s Stopping You?

THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR ISSUE 3 RUNS UNTIL MARCH 31, 2020. THE THEME IS REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION: “Come near to God, and He will come near to you . . .” inspired by James 4:8.

What’s stopping you from taking a chance and submitting your work, sharing your life experience, or testimony of grace?

People grow by reading and experiencing the trials and victories of others; we feel connected, understood, and encouraged. The Lost Pen Magazine serves to exhort and strengthen God’s children by providing a means to share and to receive these important and meaningful experiences.

So take a chance and see what God can do with your gifts. Draw near to Him in faith and be amazed at the results.

Check out our Home Page for details as well as to get free copies of our last 2 issues. We accept art, fiction, testimonies, devotionals, poetry, and more. Blessings! https://www.instagram.com/p/B95XLmTFbyf/?igshid=178so41c7c2l2

Short Story: Tina’s Blessing Carol

Christmas story by inspirational writer and author Sandra Fischer.

Tina’s Blessing Carol

By Sandra Fischer

The fake Santa stood by the red pot, ringing the bell in front of the Five and Dime. “Help the needy—share the Christmas spirit!”

Most people responded by pulling coat collars up over their ears and diverting their eyes to the slush below. Many of them were recipients of help from the kettle. The dark clouds of the Great Depression hung over us, obscuring any spirit of Christmas.

Momma dropped my hand long enough to scavenge some coins from her purse and dropped them in the kettle.

“Bless you, ma’am,” Santa said.

I tugged Momma’s sleeve in protest. “Momma! Why are you giving money away? We won’t have enough for our own Christmas.”

Momma stooped down to my ten-year-old stature, her blue eyes riveting mine in that “teachable moment” stare. “Christmas is about blessing, child. God blessed us with the gift of His son and we’re to bless others by sharing what we have that they don’t. Everyone has a blessing to share.”

I tucked the message back in my mind, thinking I would understand it all when I grew up, but Tina Carver was to prove me wrong. Tina was in my class at school and her family was on the charity list. Her father had hopped a freight to parts unknown when he lost his job, leaving her and her mother and two brothers to scrape by any way they could. They lived in an abandoned storefront near the tracks, its shattered windows covered by cardboard.

Some of the kids made fun of Tina. She wore her brother’s hand-me-down coats and trousers to school, while most of us girls wore dresses and leggings. Most times her clothes and hands were smudged with coal dust from picking up pieces along the tracks to feed their potbelly stove.

Momma’s “compassion” lesson began to take root when I donned a pair of my brother’s old pants and wore them to school to support Tina. The kids didn’t laugh, but Tina did. I knew then I’d found a new friend, so I offered to share lunch with her.

“I don’t have anything to give you.”

“Don’t have to. It’s a blessing. God blessed me with extra cornmeal mush so I could share.” But I wondered: What blessing did Tina have to share?

We walked home together and, as I helped Tina pick up coal and tuck the pieces into an old knapsack, I began humming a Christmas carol. Suddenly, the voice of an angel burst forth, singing the words in perfect soprano. I was dumbstruck.

“Tina! Where did you learn to sing like that?”

Tina stopped. “Sorry. Never sung around nobody but my mom. Didn’t mean to hurt your ears.”

“My ears are fine and so is your voice—it’s beautiful! Tina, you must sing in the school Christmas program.”

“Can‘t.”

“Why not?”

“Uh…I don’t have a dress to wear.”

“No problem. I have one I outgrew. It’s just your size.”

The Christmas program was the same every year: classes crowded onto the gym stage sang carols chosen by the music teacher, Miss Morgan. Parents applauded politely to the cacophony of voices until the final carol, “Silent Night,” brought relief. This year, however, was different. Very different.

Miss Morgan showed up with laryngitis, so Principal Hanley introduced the songs and Mr. Shricker, the janitor, left a window open to air out the gym, and cold moisture threw the piano out of tune.

“We’ll just have to sing a cappella,“ Miss Morgan whispered, as she ushered the first class onto the stage.

“I thought we were thinging ‘Away in the Manger’”, Willie Morgan, a first grader, lisped.

“We are, Willie, but we need someone to start us.”

Tina stood beside me behind the curtain as we waited our turn. I pushed her onto the stage. “Go!”

A hush fell over the room as everyone stared.

“Tina?” Miss Morgan rasped in surprise.

Tina fumbled with the lace trim on my hand-me-down dress and looked out over the audience; her eyes met those of a woman who smiled and nodded. Tina took a deep breath. The next sound came straight from heaven. Tina’s melodic voice swept through the gym, singing the carol as we had never heard it sung. “Away in a Manger”, a humble message from a humble messenger in perfect pitch, resonated sweet tones of hope to hungry souls.

Tina’s gift proved Momma right—everyone does have a blessing to share.

 

Book photo promo2About Sandra Fischer:

Sandra Fischer taught high school English and owned a Christian bookstore in Indiana before retiring to Dataw Island, South Carolina. Her writing is devoted to stories gleaned from her experiences growing up in the Midwest and from inspiration as a Dataw Garden Club member. She has been published in several anthologies and is a platinum member of Faithwriters.com. After living in South Carolina for 15 years, Sandra relocated to Southern Pines, North Carolina, where she continues to write inspirational articles and create new stories.

Just in time for the season of giving, discover her inspirational book, Seasons in the Garden, which offers a contemplative look at parallels found in the seasons of nature and human life. Full of poetry, prose and photographs, the book invites readers to journey through the four seasons and consider their counterparts in the life of mankind.  

Follow her at: 

http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=1729

http://fisch-lines.blogspot.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Fischer/e/B00ISC2GA4/

 

Repost: You Are Called to Bring About Flourishing

So much to unpack in this article! I hope you are blessed by it as much as I am. Please let me know your thoughts below.

https://tifwe.org/you-are-called-to-bring-about-flourishing/

Part 1: What’s God Got To Do With It? Finding the Purpose of our Gifts

Why do we create?

Do we create because we are inspired by an inherent urge to make something? Is it to scratch a creative itch that won’t go away until we put pen to paper or our fingers on a guitar’s strings?

Why do we jerk awake in the middle of the night, wiping sleep from our eyes, to frantically jot down lyrics we struggled to put together during the day?

Why do we fantastize about worlds, peoples, and languages that only exhist in our minds until we transcribe them on paper or produce them into a film?

We do this because we were built to create.

 

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Creating isn’t just one thing. A builder creates when he puts form and structure to an architect’s plans. A chef creates, using smell, taste, and skill to whip up incredible and unique dishes. Gardeners create when they sow and tend seeds until they become an array of fragrant, colourful plants and trees. We all create to some extent—I think it’s important to recognize that ‘creating’ comes in many, often unrecognized and undervalued, forms.

On this blog, we usually use the term to refer to artists; people who take their passion, skills, and talents to create some form of art, perfecting our abilities and creations because we feel that it is something we must do—even if we don’t gain recognition or rewards for our efforts.    

The act of creating causes us to feel free, happy, and fuilfilled. There’s a sort of high that comes over us after struggling to bring an idea to life and then holding the result in our hands.

We create because we love it.

And we create because it gives us a sense of purpose.

Think about that for a minute. How do you feel after you complete a story, a book, an article, or a song? How do you express it?

I think God felt similarly at the end of a busy 6 days. He probably felt a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and joy. He looked at the universe, the earth, and everything in it and concluded, ‘it was good’. (Genesis 1:31)

 

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We shouldn’t be surprised by this incredible connection to Him. He made us in His image, after all, and He is the Ultimate and Orginal Creator.

So, if He created us to create, what is the purpose for our creations?

Identity 

In this crazy, busy, noisy world, it’s easy to forget that we were created by God for God.

Colossians 1:16 (NLT)

‘for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see–such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him’.

Not only that, but the world’s mentality caters to pleasing and satisfying the individual and our ego: ‘Do what what feels right to you and to heck with everybody else’. When our world view is focused on the Self, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the world revolves around us, our, wants, our needs, or our purpose.

The truth is the opposite : the world revolves around God. And, guess what? If we claim to be children of God, followers of Christ, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, then our lives and everything we have belong to Him. Stop there and think about that a moment. Maybe repeat it to yourself a few times. Sometimes the truth needs some time to sink in. Then follow it up with this :

Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

Our Lives (and Gifts) Find Purpose in God’s Plan

This is a truth I feel the Lord drilling into my head at the moment, so I share it with all humility and the full knowledge that I haven’t mastered it but am working it out with ‘fear and trembling’ (Phil 2 :12). Just this morning, I was feeling down about my writing career and wondering what good I thought I could do with it, and wondering if it’s all a waste of time. You know, the usual mental attacks that bring us down. But God is faithful. When I decided to turn from my emotions and negative thinking to do what I felt He wanted me to (write this post), I felt my faith being restored, my focus shifting back into place, and joy returning. I guess it’s worth noting that there are times we are called to create even when we don’t want to. But as we will see below, ultimately, we don’t create for ourselves.

Matthew 16:24-26  (ESV) 

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

 

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This is the key verse for this series, so I hope you hold on to it. It’s easy to feel special and excited when God puts the desire to create in our hearts. And we should feel special! God has chosen us to do something incredible! But that’s the point where Self can trick us into believing that the vision/project/venture has anything to do with us.  

Once we choose to follow Jesus, we are His and the Holy Spirit works out the Father’s master plan in our individual lives to accomplish a goal that has global reach. God loves the world and, though the world rejects Him, He still desires to save it. We can take pleasure in the gifts He has given us but we can’t hold on to them. We must submit them to Him so that He can use them. But guess what? By doing that, He is inviting us to participate in His work—his master plan—with Him!

Ephesians 1 :11-12 

11 In Him also we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, 12 that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, should live for the praise of His glory. 

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

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you stick with me as I go through this process. I intend to keep posting as I work through these complex issues of purpose and identity.

Can you relate? Have you had ups and downs in the pursuit of your creative calling? What has helped get you through? Please comment below.

Please see Part 2 here.

–Delia

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