Monday, April 27, 2015

What Scent Remains in Your Wake and April's Giveaway!

by Cathy Baker

Why can't perfume be banned?

It's the question I ponder when my temples balloon to planetary proportions thanks to those who bathe in their perfume instead of spritzing it. I'll skip entire aisles at the grocery store to avoid their sillage. (Hey, there's a new word!)

I recently learned that in the perfume industry the word sillage is used when referring to the trail left by a perfume in the wake of its wearer. I immediately thought of Fragrant Ink as the very premise of this blog is to encourage and challenge myself, along with others, to leave a Christ-infused sillage wherever we go.

No sense remains in the memory like scent. There is nothing we remember more strongly than pleasant smells, except perhaps unpleasant smells. "Thus the apostle wished that his life might be a sweet perfume, floating on the air, reminding me, and above all reminding God, of Christ." (Meyer)

As this month's theme on joy comes to a close this week, I can't help but ask myself:

What scent remains in my wake? 
The sweet aroma of Christ or the stench of flesh? 
For nothing is more joyful or eternal 
than the fragrance of Christ. 

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April Giveaway! Speaking of senses, this month's gift from me to you is a Signature Soy candle with the fragrance of Lavender Fields? Simply leave a comment and your name will be included in the random drawing set for Monday, May 4th. The winner will be announced on the blog! (US winners only, please.)


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Fragrance of a Faithful Walk

by Cathy Baker

A mother whose teenage son is battling cancer but relentlessly clings to her faith, giving God glory in all things.

A US pastor, Saeed Abedini, has now been in an Iranian prison for two-and-a-half -years. He suffers from prolonged internal injuries from beatings and recently witnessed his six fellow inmates be executed, and yet he holds fast to his Christian faith. (Click here to sign the petition for his release.)

Weary parents of four who recently had a baby and welcomed another in need to their home, volunteer to help watch a room full of restless children so other parents can celebrate Good Friday services. 

When I see Christ followers living out what they believe on a consistent basis, joy takes hold of my soul like spring tendrils clinging to worn wood. This 3 John 1 kind of joy can't help but refresh and revive us!

It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.  
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:3,4

Consider the last time a fellow Christ follower's consistency in living out truth made you rejoice. What if we all contacted the person who just came to mind and shared why the simple mention of their name evokes such joy within us?

And finally, the hard question...

Is my walk consistent with truth (albeit not perfect) to the point that it would cause someone else to rejoice? 



Monday, April 20, 2015

True Joy: Guest Blogger, Edie Melson

by Cathy Baker

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Edie Melson as my guest blogger today. She's a prolific writer who has poured herself into numerous writers, such as myself. But more importantly, Edie is a woman of prayer. 

If you know or love someone serving our country, you'll especially resonate with Edie's story. Welcome, my friend. 





http://www.whilemysoldierserves.com/
Sowing Faith in the Hard Times Brings a Harvest of Joy

There are times when life is lived in the dark. The days are long and hard, and the rewards nonexistent. Everywhere we turn—inside and out—the landscape is bleak and barren. It’s times like these that only faith will get us through. There’s no proof we’re on the right path, no confirmation that God is at work. Often, even God Himself seems distant and unreachable. 

I’ve been through those times—and come out on the other side. My time of darkness came when our oldest son was deployed to Iraq as a front-line infantry Marine. We don’t come from a military family, so everything about his choice to enlist was an opportunity for growth. Every step in his journey was a time of stretching for our family. Oh, don’t make the mistake of thinking we were disappointed in his choice. We were button-busting proud of our son’s willingness to serve. 

But as his mother, I didn’t want to face the prospect of my son going off to war. 

I’d always assumed I’d have a grace period between childhood and adulthood, a time of transition. College would have fit the bill, instead, he graduated high school and immediately entered the Marines.

Marine Corps boot camp doesn’t provide that grace period either. One minute I was hugging goodbye to my child, my oldest son. The next time I saw him, he was a fully formed man—still a son, but without any trace of the child I’d said goodbye to. 

And before that year was out, he’d be half a world away, fighting an enemy whose main focus was on killing him. It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him. I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I could not. So I did the one thing I could do. It became my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength. 

I prayed. 

And I prayed. 

And I prayed some more. 

I learned to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. Often times they weren’t even words. They truly were the groanings we read about it Romans 8:26-27. 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew was just beyond the darkness. 

Then my course of last resort became my strength, and the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself. 

The final harvest of that time of darkness is coming to fruition May 12, just after Mother’s Day. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. How I longed for just such a book during my dark time. Now God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war. 

Never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now. Lean into him. Cry out to him. And know that the light is coming.
  
Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands. 

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love. 

As the mother of a front-line infantry Marine, Edie Melson lived this book before she wrote it. Edie understands what it is to face adversity and come out triumphant on the other side. Her years as a wife, mother, and ministry leader have given her a unique perspective to reach out
 to others facing the same struggles.
 She's the Military Family Blogger for Guideposts.org, social media director for several writing websites, and a popular ministry and conference speaker. Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When Music and Joy Mingle

by Cathy Baker

Few things have profoundly affected my life more than music, especially as a Christ follower. 

Its power comes as no surprise. Music was present at the time of creation (Job 38:7) and it will be present once again when every creature sings to the Lamb who was slain. (Rev. 5:13)

One musician, Michael Card, has left an indelible mark on my life, as well as many who've participated in Bible classes I've led over the years. He's sometimes referred to as "a thinking man's musician." If you know his music, this comes as no surprise. 
Michael Card

One particular stanza in the song, "Joy in the Journey" has never failed to move me to tears. Not once. Perhaps it's because I chased after happiness for years but captured only heartache. 

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost?


It's only when we can recall the hopelessness of our life without Christ that we can we truly rejoice. 



When joy rises to the surface and mingles with the music on our lips, a divinely infused fragrance of Christ invades the soul and cannot be contained. 


Joy in the Journey
-Michael Card

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it, shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born of the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity, stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost?

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey
And freedom for those who obey

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jesus, the Forever Fragrance

by Cathy Baker

That Jesus is way too joyful.

I'll never forget the first time we viewed The Gospel of Matthew over fifteen years ago. The joy with which Bruce Marchiano portrayed Jesus seemed almost, well, sacrilegious. 

After all, I'd grown up watching Jesus of Nazareth. For years, I subconsciously carried Robert Powell's somber portrayal of Jesus in the back of my mind.  


Bruce Marchiano, The Gospel of Matthew
Bruce Marchiano's portrayal made me realize how I'd underestimated the emotional side of Jesus. Yes, He was on a mission, walking earth with intentionality, but Scripture also reveals Jesus to be full of joy. So why did Bruce's outbursts of laughter catch me off guard? A smile, okay -- but a belly laugh? No! How silly and naive of me!

Robert Powell, Jesus of Nazareth
One need only look to the Word to see that Jesus defines joy. 

It was with joy that He chose to leave His place in heaven and take ours here on earth. (Luke 10:21,22)

It was with joy that He dwelt among us, loving the unlovely, and holding children close. (Mt. 13:15-19)

It was with joy that Jesus endured the cross. (Heb. 12:2)

The Word gives us all we could ever hope to know about Jesus, but seeing the biblical versions played out on screen helped me visualize the emotions He experienced as the One who was clothed in flesh—and full of joy. 

How about you? Have you always imagined Jesus to be joyful? And who, in your opinion, has best portrayed Jesus in a film? 


My personal favorite, Brian Deacon's portrayal of Jesus in the JESUS film project.
 
"I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." — Jesus



***Congratulations to Vonda Skelton, winner of the teacup and saucer. Watch for April's giveaway later this month!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When Joy's Fragrance is Most Potent

by Cathy Baker

Last year I had the privilege of leading a writer's workshop for a retreat focused on caring for mothers who've lost a child of any age. I marveled at their strength, faith, and joy, despite the heartbreaking circumstances facing them every waking day.

Someone who knows much about this kind of pain is Dee Dee Parker, an extraordinary friend of mine, who lost her 34 year-old daughter to cancer several years ago. It's because of the forever fragrance released through Dee Dee's life that I asked her to share how joy is possible even on the darkest of days. 



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Brooke's death was imminent. 

I remember gazing into her eyes, memorizing her face. I longed to gather her frail body in my arms, a mother's arms, designed to protect and run away to where pain could no longer ravish, and death could not steal her life's breath. 
I remember thinking how our hearts have always beaten in tandem, when her heart stops, so will mine.

Truth:  

I could not whisk her away. She was heaven-bound. Death did come; I was left behind. Brooke's heart stopped beating. My heart continued beating, but not my will. 

In the wee hours of morning under an ink-stained sky, I crumbled to my knees. 

Yes, I paint a harsh picture, but that's because so many of you find yourselves in a place so black, so painful, and appearing void of joy. 

Since Brooke's home going, I've been asked numerous times, "How have you continued on? How have you found joy?"

Truth is, I didn't have to find my joy. My joy is in the Lord therefore it is constant, strong, and eternal. Happiness, on the other hand, like the fickle thing it is, had flown. I wasn't happy seeing my daughter suffering or knowing I'd never hear her say mother again on this side of heaven. 

Brooke was a believer; therefore, according to scripture, she is with her Savior and Lord. She no longer is paralyzed from cancer's tentacles. Praise the Lord she has a glorified body, she dances in stardust. Brooke lives, and I will be with her again. I have reason to rejoice!

I pray that you know Christ, the foundation of joy; it comes by establishing an intimate relationship with Him. I don't know your names, can't see your faces, but I can pray for you in your time of heart-rending hurt. I will fling the words of Romans 15:13 to the very courts of heaven on your behalf: 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   

Precious readers, I wish you all joy unspeakable.  

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Thank you, Dee Dee, for bringing difficult but powerful words to the surface for the benefit of others. 

Friends, Dee Dee welcomes the opportunity to pray for you. She also wants to make herself available to those who've experienced the loss of a child or grandchild by lending a welcoming ear. If you would like to contact her, please email me or leave a comment. She can also be found on Facebook. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4


Don't forget! There are only three more days left to put your name in the drawing for the teacup and saucer from my personal collection. Visit this post and leave a comment to register. A name will be randomly drawn on Friday, April 10th.
 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Who Says God Wants You to Be Happy?

by Cathy Baker

God wants me to be happy. 

Six words - a belief system, if you will - that, at one point, plunged my life into the  proverbial place known as rock bottom. 

In the moment, it was blissful. Believing this lie—that God was more interested in my happiness than His holiness—eased my conscience, leading to sinful choices that continue to affect my family twenty-six years later. 

So, although this month's series is on joy, today is also about happiness because many, such as myself, have at some point in life confused the two. And the end result is often costly: 

I'm leaving my spouse. He/she just doesn't make me happy anymore. And, of course, God wants me to be happy.

Truth is: God designed marriage. God defined marriage. Our completeness is only achieved through a relationship with Him, not another person. That kind of burden will crush the other because they were never designed to carry it. However, when our purpose, our fulfillment, is grounded in Christ, joy feeds hope and hope gives flight to "all things possible." God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16) Thankfully, He loves those of us who've experienced it but He hates the act, especially when He's used as the excuse to do so.

I would be happier if I had a bigger house, a better car, {fill in the blank}. After all, God wants me to be happy. 

Truth is: There's nothing wrong with a bigger, better house, car, or whatever -- as long as we're consumed by the Gospel rather than stuff. Joy, the eternal fragrance of Christ, will never linger upon temporal trinkets that simply rust and decay. "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Col.3:2 

I wish I'd not fallen for the six-worded lie all those years ago. I wish I'd known Christ and His truth, but I didn't. It was, however, through this rock-hard place in life that I came to experience the tenderness of God's holiness and the joy of my salvation. The kind of joy that scales the most jagged of all circumstances and soars for an eternity.  

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9






Made in Japan, from my collection.

Today was the original date set for the teacup drawing mentioned in last Monday's post but due to Spring Break (something this empty nester failed to remember!) I'm extending the drawing until Friday, April 10th. If you would like to be included in the drawing, please leave a comment here. Best of luck to you!