Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's NEW? A Book Giveaway!

by Cathy Baker

Today,  I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Lori Roeleveld. She's incredibly talented, downright inspiring, and a witty disturber of Hobbits. 

Lori's NEW book, Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus) was released in December 2014. 

Frankly, it's unlike any book I've read. Brief essays, if you will, that take aim at the soul, penetrating the heart on its way with truth through beautifully told stories. I've yet to sit down and be content to read just one. I double dare you to try! And I'm in good company. Check out what Jerry B. Jenkins had to say about Running from a Crazy Man:

You’ll find yourself saying as I did: just one more chapter. And one more. And one more. ~ Jerry B. Jenkins

I'm sharing Lori's book not only because it's relatively NEW on the market but because of her voice—her fresh Gospel-driven perspective. One moment you're giggling like a girl and in the next, your soul is dropping to its knees in recognition of Who is truly speaking to you through these shared adventures.  

I highly recommend this book (as well as Lori's blog) for all the serious travelers of Christ out there. In fact, I'd like to share a copy with you. Simply leave a comment on this blog sharing ONE thing that stood out to you in her story, Are You Stuck in the Wrong Story?, below. I'll draw a name via Random Name Picker on February 1st and announce it that week. If you would like it signed, I can mail it to you at the end of May (I see her at the conference mid-May.)

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt -- and don't forget to leave a comment on the blog for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy! 

Lori Roeleveld

Are You Stuck in the Wrong Story?
Following Jesus When Life Is No Fairy Tale
Cinderella knew the truth. She was intended for greater things than sweeping ashes from the hearth.

Are you sometimes haunted by the notion that you were meant for more? You should examine that idea. It may be from God.

My daughter got me interested in a Sunday night television show called Once Upon a Time. It’s the story of a town inhabited by storybook characters trying to find their way back into the world in which they really belong.

But really, it’s the gospel.

That’s probably not what the writers intended, but Jesus, in an effort to reach His people, will even inject Himself into the primetime lineup of network television.

In the first season, Once Upon a Time was all about the characters awakening and remembering that they were once part of a glorious land. It features one child who still believes in their story and is willing to take drastic measures to remind everyone else of their former glory. Because of him, they are awake. Now, they remember they’re not just librarians or shopkeepers or waitresses, but they have “once upon a time” bloodlines with ancient stories full of magic and adventure.

Even though they’re awake, they are not yet back home in The Enchanted Forest. They remain trapped in a foreign place hostile to their former way of life. Dark forces oppose them. An enemy works against their return, trying to keep them in bondage to their everyday, ordinary, lesser selves—to rob them of their redemption.

It’s the gospel, don’t you see? Can you acknowledge the playfulness of our amazing Creator as He inserts His homecoming beacon into our modern culture and cries out for us to remember who we were designed to be?

Doesn’t your heart cry out after a long Monday, or in the face of another Tuesday, to be part of a greater story? Isn’t there within you a longing for a home you don’t remember ever knowing? Don’t you sometimes feel trapped in a minor role when all your dreams and passions create a force that threatens to destroy you if you don’t find the role you were born to play?

Jesus created everything. His story is in His Word, yes, but He roams, unconfined, across genres. He appears in the music we write, the movies we make, the art we create, and the stories we tell.

He is calling to us—calling to us from every medium—to remember who we are.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8)

Feel stuck inside a lesser role than you were intended to play? Wake up. Like Sleeping Beauty, you need the kiss of true love. There is a High King and He will free you if you come to Him. There is a rider on a White Horse coming. Can you hear His hoofbeats?

Wake up, loved ones! You have a part in the greater story. Everything your heart whispers to you in the night is true. There is more, and you were meant to be part of it.

Once upon a time, there was a King who shed His blood to ransom His people back from the grave. It is the greatest and truest story ever told.

And it is the place where you belong.

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored a disturbing blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Lori’s blog has a modest but faithful daily readership and yet, in the past year, one post was viewed over 1.7 million times and another was shared over 275,000 times on Facebook. Lori has published newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, and plays. Her novels, short stories, and Bible studies have won several awards. Besides degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori earned her Masters in Motherhood homeschooling her two children through graduation. Now, she draws energy from helping writers find their voice and see God’s vision for their work. In her day job, Lori writes the stories of real families in crisis so others see their strengths and values, not just their problems. You’ll find Lori at her website or on her front porch writing. If not, know she’s somewhere slaying dragons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What's New? You, As Well As Others

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17

These words breathed NEW life into my barren soul as a twice divorced woman of 27. How could this be? How could a woman so fraught with sin and despair become a new creation? As our pastors at Summit Church often saythe Gospel changes everything—and so it does. 

Even now, all these years later, I sometimes have to remind myself that I am a new creature, no longer led by a sinful nature but rather, the Spirit of God. Just as often, though, I have to remind myself that others deserve that same life-giving, God-speaking freedom I claim for myself. 

Years ago, while in a disagreement with Brian, I brought up something from his past, a time before he knew Christ. It didn't take long for the Holy Spirit to remind me that the Brian before Christ was gone. 

How could someone who no longer exists be held to the standards of the NEW man he had become? He couldn't, nor should he be.

Do you know someone who could use a 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminder today? Could it be you? If so, rest assured you're not alone. The good news is we also share in a fresh opportunity for mercy as we claim this truth for ourselves, as well as others. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's NEW? Our Perspective

by Cathy Baker

Have you found yourself staring at a blank wall in your home wondering what in the world to do with it?

We have several like that, but one wall in particular left us perplexed for ten years. The wall begins at the stairs and stretches to the top of the second floor ceiling. In a hundred year-old house there's always something to keep its owners busy so filling that expansive wall fell far from the top of our to-do list. 

That is, until we realized that Brian's metal sign collection, many of them original, were sitting unused, scattered in the storage building, attic, and back porch. Our 8' Gulf porcelain sign that once leaned on our storage building was swiped one Sunday while we were at church. Funny how the loss of one thing makes you appreciate the rest of the lot a little more. We wanted to use them, but with no garage to speak of, where would the signs fit? 


Brian's sign collection
This picture cuts off the height of the ceilings but you get the idea. The point is, sometimes we need to take a step back to get a NEW perspective on a trouble spot, be it relational, physical, or spiritual. 

For years we were too close to the situation to see that we already possessed what we needed to make our blank space a completed one. We simply needed fresh eyes to make it a win-win situation.

Is there a blank place in your home—or lifetoday that could use a NEW perspective? 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What's New? How I Deal With Silly Blunders

by Cathy Baker

While giving a book review on Twyla Tharp's, The Creative Habit, at this month's writers' meeting, I pronounced creatively as if it was a five syllable word: cre-a-tiv-e-ly. I caught it before it left my tongue but by then it was too late. Let's just say the review quickly morphed into comic relief. I'm still getting emails from group members saying how much they enjoyed it. As comedian Mark Lowery used to say, "I just wanna be a blessing!"

Not so long ago, questions like, What kind of writer mispronounces such a common word? Will my peers think I'm stupid? would've pummeled by conscience for days. Truth is, I've been creating "new" words, sharing Southernisms (common words for Southerners, not so common to others), unintentionally reversing the order of well-known phrases, and mispronouncing your favorite words for years. (Brian has kept a running tab of my new, funky and mispronounced word choices for the past twenty-five years, just for the fun of it.)

A number of touch-points in recent months, however, have given me a NEW way of approaching my silly blunders, and that is to ask myself the question: So what? 

Do I care what others think? Of course I do, but it's when I become overly concerned that the hissing of self-judgment slithers its way to my heart, leaving it vulnerable to the enemy of lies. 

Bottom line, if God isn't offended by my blunders, I shouldn't be either. Oh the joy that comes in knowing that the Hard-Wirer of my soul loves me, my quirks, my endless blunders—and dare I say, my comic relief?

Your turn! When your words or actions fumble are you quick to recover? Please say you do these things. :)

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's New? Your One Word

by Cathy Baker

So everybody is talking about their ONE word for the year. You know, the one word that sums up your NEW focus for the approaching year. 

Many have forsaken the New Year resolutions for the One Word movement. At least one book on the subject has been written, multiple blogs have been launched, and it's the buzz on social media these days. 

Have you chosen your one word for the year? If you've not chosen a word yet, and you're interested in doing so, consider these few ideas to get you moving in the right direction:
  • Is there a word or phrase that keeps popping up in your recent conversations?
  • Do you sense God moving you in a particular direction for your life or ministry? 
  • How do you want to become more like Jesus in 2015? What will it take on your end to move towards this goal? (For instance, if you want to become a better giver, what specific changes need to take place to accomplish this desire?)
Being a list maker, I still enjoy writing out my goals for a new year but I also appreciate the simplicity of the One Word idea. This year, I wrote out my goals but summed them up in one word: Intentionality. [intentional: done on purpose, conscious, preplanned.]

  • Intentional about the Word and making sure its priority is secure in my daily life. 
  • Intentional about seeking Him, the Person of Jesus Christ, and His kingdom first, trusting that all other things will fall into place.  
  • Intentional about who I'm becoming more than what I'm doing
Your turn! Do you have your one word to share? If not, do you plan to choose one?  

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What's NEW? Your Future

Remember not the former things...behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43 

God wanted the Israelites focused on the NEW work He would do. After all, how could they possibly go forward if they remained stuck in the muck of their past failures and sins? 

When energy is focused on past failures it's easy to miss the NEW thing God is doing in our lives.
It's interesting that in the verses prior to those above, the Israelites are told to look to the past to remember the great things God had done for them at the Red Sea. 

Recalling—and resting—in God's past work on our behalf is a catalyst for walking in freedom today. The opposite occurs when I choose to dwell on my past sins. The focus on self extinguishes joy, clarity of mind, and a sensitivity to God's leading. 

Do you perceive a NEW thing God may be doing (or wanting to do) in your life or ministry? 

There's no need to worry about the details or detours. When God guides He is also faithful to provide. His resources are boundless, as is His love for you. 

I can't imagine a better way to begin this NEW year than in prayer. Is there a specific way I can be praying for you this week? Feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me privately (click the purple envelope button in the top right-hand side bar.) 

Thank you for joining me on this NEW journey!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

NEW Series! The Fragrance of All Things New

by Cathy Baker

Welcome to the January series All Things New!

Each Tuesday and Thursday, you'll find a pithy post highlighting something new. 

After all, January is the quintessential month for fresh starts and new beginnings. A turn of the calendar, freshly fallen snow, new habits stomping out old ones. 

Because I'm a creature of habit (how about you?) I often find myself eating at the same restaurants, pouring the same creamer, driving the same routes, and following the same routines—but I'm ready to shake things up a bit. How about you? 

Let's face it. Trying new things is always more fun when others join in so I hope you'll make plans to come along on this January journey with me. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Creative inspiration: Lori Roeleveld and Lynn Blackburn