While at my sink doing the dishes today (that’s where I do my best thinking) something occurred to me. My thoughts were prompted by a blog-conversation with Phillip Mullins
Writing is a lot like raising kids.
My husband and I have six kids. Their ages range from the oldest being old enough to get married this year and the youngest in middle school. When we adopted three of our kids about five years ago, we realized that having raised teenagers once was coming in handy. We are not as easily hoodwinked the second time around.
It has also been helpful that we don’t compare ourselves to other parents and their children as we did many years ago. We have realized that success in our children (and in parenting) is not what the world says it is and know that each child, adopted and biological, was given to us by God. Each person is an individual with unique gifts and tough challenges. Each person has been set in our family on purpose.
It has never occurred to me to question the place of my kids in our family. When looking at other parents who have been “more successful”, it has never crossed my mind to send my kids to live with them in hopes that they would be better off there (ok, maybe once or twice).
As writers we have been given unique creative power and individual stories, which are not better off with someone else. They are ours to “raise” and to bring to light, make known to a world that needs them. When God called the writer to write the story that He put there, He made provisions for that story to reach whomever He needed to reach.
Maybe our kids won’t become celebrities who are known by millions. Maybe they won’t be the next president of a huge company. But maybe they will change lives and be an encouragement to someone who has lost hope. Maybe they will be in the right place at the right time to bring a smile and hope to a hurting heart. Maybe they introduce others to Jesus.
So, don’t get rid of your stories because others are better at telling theirs. Tell them the way you know how … and please … try not to get rid of your kids either.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
God spoke Himself into the dark,
Formed part of Him from Him apart.
While in His work His love made known,
What wasn’t God’s would soon be shown.
The suff’ring fields began to grow,
For Evil came at night to sow.
Among the grains of love and care
Now grew a pois’nous plant, a tare.
As suffering filled all of man
All-loving God all man became.
He walked the earthen, saddened sod
Loved, so we would know a suff’ring God.
He climbed a cross – our pain to own –
Up there felt hearts and nature groan.
Made sin (which lured man’s heart to stray)
His own – so man would choose His Way.
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.”
(poetry and pictures by Heidi Viars, 2019 … Scriptures taken from the ESV)
Humans were not the first ones to string lights.
It was the Maker Himself.
Before man was able to see and feel God’s love, He decorated the heavens and sent glimpses of His creativity into the World.
Ethereal, eternal truths – God brought them to earth.
He thought man worthy to consider heaven.
But darkness captured the heart and mind of man,
Turned original intent upside down.
The darkness lied to man –
and man believed.
So the Light Himself came into the world.
Light considered man’s darkness.
If man didn’t want to consider light and life …
Then God would consider darkness and death.
The Light overcame death and darkness.
He gave those who believed in His Light the right to become children of the Light.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.”
John 1:1-14 ESV
(Pictures and prose Heidi Viars, 2019)
Last week my niece made a gift for her single friend. Because the single friend has been wanting a good man, my niece got busy and made her a perfect guy – from cookie dough. At least that’s what he was before he got baked.
Every Christmas we are told that we can crank out our wishes and dreams and that during this “magical” season – with just enough hope and wishful thinking – we can make it all come true. We tell our kids to make their lists. We check them twice only to find ourselves crawling out from under a crumpled heap of shiny, non-recyclable disappointments.
How different the first Christmas was. Any wish for comfort, such as a warm bed in a heated place, was nixed by the Maker of the Universe. Instead, the Savior of the World came to take His first breath in a dusty stable among animals and ordinary people only to live a short life and die a cruel death.
Imperfect circumstances became a perfect opportunity. The ordinary became the holy. A mundane day became the beginning of a new era and the marker in history nobody can ignore.
If you are disappointed with what this world has served you, please know that there is ONE who came into every disappointment. He is not a magical solution to our problems; He Himself is Everything we could ever want. He came to show us that imperfect people were worthy of the Perfect Man – God with us, Emmanuel.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
(Picture bottom and devotional, Heidi Viars 2019, picture top, Moni and Hannah)
“Don’t bother!” Says the small voice in my head.
“It’s just a drop in the ocean!”
“The suffering in this world’s too great!”
“Don’t waste your time and emotions!”
What if the pain of the many don’t add?
But what if great need comes in ONE?
Wouldn’t we make ONE entirely glad
With whatever for ONE is done?
“Lord, teach me to help the ONE next to me –
Ease ONE’s load – take care of his pain
Despite this whole world of sadness still see,
The whole world of ONE can be changed.”
“And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to me.”
(Poem and pictures Heidi Viars, 2019)
I picked up the pen and hesitated for a split second before signing the petition to reduce the speed limit in our neighborhood. I am not against reduced speed – not at all- but have an extremely heavy foot.
When a while ago blue and read lights lit up behind me, I knew it wasn’t because I had accidentally hit my neighbor’s Christmas tree. I was incredibly grateful for the dark, since I was only several hundred feet from home. I am sure a few curtains parted and my neighbors were glad that the kind officer was finally catching the offenders. I fumbled for the registration and my license with my head hiding behind the dash. I felt like such a hypocrite.
Sometimes our hypocrisy can be seen for miles. Our two faces can be obvious to those around us and embarrassingly clear, even to ourselves. However, sometimes hypocrisy hides in the darkness of pretentiousness and selfishness.
Hypocrisy becomes most evident when we ignore the law, actually, when we ignore the intentions of the law. I sped because I didn’t care about my neighbors at that moment; I thought that the reason for my hurry was more important than the reason for the law, namely to keep kids safe.
Jesus told us that the most important law is to love God and love our neighbor(s). He said that loving God and others was the entire reason for the law. Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.
Unfortunately, I need the law. I need the reminder of my own shortcomings and hypocrisy. I also need the One who paid my fines and continues to give me grace – like that kind officer who gave me a warning … “this time!”. I wonder if he knew I had signed a petition?
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor”