Hope Remembers Jewel

We met as volunteers at a pregnancy crisis center – she with a desire to publish her books, I with the time and expertise to help her.praying woman silhouette

As writers, we both understood the calling and the passion of words – of using written tools to communicate God’s love.

We shared a room at a writers conference. I helped her publish another book.

Then our paths separated as I moved away. Yet somehow the connection endured, mainly because of her persistence in prayer.

She handwrote long letters, wanting to know what I was writing, where I was submitting my work.

And I knew, as surely as I knew her name – Jewel was persisting in prayer for my words.

Every consecutive letter – always snail mail as computers were not her love language – ended with “How are your writings? I am praying.”

And for every new book I published, I sent her a copy inscribed with “Thank you for praying these words into being.”

The years passed and I read of her progressive health issues, the struggle of car problems so frustrating for this dedicated widow, how to pay the rising taxes so she could stay in her home. The tales of grandchildren and the support of her family added color to her missives.

She asked about my son and always – always ended with, “How are your writings? I am praying.”

Then came that horrible day when the Easter card I had sent her was returned. A note from her beloved children, “Mom passed away – peacefully.”

No more letters from my Jewel. No more questions about my writing. Our connection now separated by the boundary of eternity.

This week, as I readied my office to become a true writer’s study, I thought about Jewel. Now that I am transitioning into the place I’ve always wanted to be, I knew she would find pleasure in the journey.

Is Jewel asking God about my writings? Is she reminding him of all the packets of prayer stored up on behalf of my passion?

Since God treasures all our tears and keeps them in a heavenly flask, does he also store prayers in a special file labeled for our destinies?

Do the prayers of a lifetime, from a faithful warrior, still affect the present?

I believe they do.

I live in the hope that our prayers for our children will continue to storm the throne of God – even when we are gone.

And God will listen because he cares. He will act, because we care.

Even now, I believe my writings are covered with Jewel’s prayers. The words will make an eternal difference, because one woman cared. And one woman prayed.

©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of “Sometimes They Forget” and the Reverend G Trilogy

 

 

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Hope Wonders When

I will readily admit – patience is not one of my virtues. Yet it seems God often requires me to learn more about patience in his school of waiting.as-we-wait

After two years living in limbo land, I am still waiting and wondering…when will the answers come?

How much longer do I need to wait? What is the deciding factor that is keeping me in this place of limbo?

Is there a deeper purpose than even the waiting – a reasoning God wants me to grasp, a circumstance someone else needs to piece together – something that affects both of us?

On a larger scale than just my small life, when will our communities learn that diversity is a good thing – that we can add to each other’s lives by embracing our differences as much as we do our commonalities? When?

A Facebook friend has watched her little boy endure countless surgeries. He’s lived in the hospital longer than he’s lived at home. When will their endless waiting end? When?

The 36-hour day team-tags caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients. The body refuses to die even as the brain deteriorates. When will endurance result in release? The only way to end the Alzheimer’s journey is to hold the hand of a loved one as she is ushered into eternity.

Writers wait to hear from publishers who hold their words hostage within committee meetings. The words scream to be heard and passed on. When will the answer come?

In their workbook, “Living Into the Answers,” authors Isenhower and Todd write, “If we leave ourselves open to God’s leading, even in the midst of asking the questions, often God sends us into areas we have not considered.”

New areas we have not previously considered…or possibly…God will lead us into a spiritual haven where we can reframe our questions.

How can we find hope while we wait? How can we best live in our waiting rooms without giving way to the frustrations of impatience?

When, God, when?

I wonder what it must have felt like in the 400-year silence between the Old and New Testaments. For centuries, one decade after another, the people waited for their Messiah.

Generations died out. Saints did not receive the promise, yet somehow hope lived on.

Grandfathers continued to share the stories of a miracle-working God. Mothers tucked their children into bed and whispered, “Maybe tomorrow Messiah will come.”

Yet the tomorrows stretched into the next year and the next.

Then – when he did come – he was so radical and so unlike the Messiah they expected – they didn’t recognize the wait was finally over.

Instead of rejoicing, they rejected him and killed him. Now, 2000 years later, they still wait because they haven’t recognized what happened.

As we seek the end of limbo land, maybe we are looking in the wrong location. Maybe the happy ending already happened in a manger in Bethlehem, a hillside sermon, an empty tomb outside the city of Jerusalem.

As I wait for my limbo land to end, I wonder…has it come and gone and passed me by? Did I somehow miss the answer and if so, how do I retrieve it?

Perhaps our When questions are wrapped in the discontent of our days. We can’t truly find the resolve because God’s When is not controlled by time.

Maybe the eternal one who longs for us to trust him plants the answers in the everyday-ness of life and then waits for us to locate him.

Yet as we wait, God sustains and holds us in the palm of his mighty hand.

Instead of waiting and longing and yearning for a change, perhaps we need to just accept today and find the joy in whatever positives surround us.

All the answers will someday be given by the One who is wisdom itself.

Maybe the restlessness of my spirit is merely my heart’s cry for a deeper intimacy with the One who provides the answer in Himself.

At least with Him beside me, I can imagine Hope.

©2016 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G trilogy

Hope Follows

followDuring my visit to another church, the pastor gave a sermon titled, “Following Implies Leaving.”

When Peter followed Jesus, he left his nets and the fish flopping around in them. When American missionaries follow the call to serve in a foreign land, they leave the U.S. and their families. When we follow God’s leading for new jobs, we leave our current positions.

Although following God often involves leaving our comfort zones and the safe ruts we have created, in the leaving and the following we find direction, guidance and sometimes – a new life.

I wrote nonfiction articles and books for years. It was easy for me to complete research, create an outline and fill in the blanks with sentences and paragraphs.

Then one day, God planted Reverend G in my mind, and I started writing her story. To follow the Spirit’s direction, I had to leave my place of contented writing, recording facts and personal experiences.

Was it easy to leave? Definitely not.

I had to study fiction techniques, step out in risk to sell the book and re-invent myself as a novelist. It was not easy, but in the process, I discovered something fascinating.

Although I had to leave my comfort zone, the result of following the divine whisper was a trilogy about this gutsy minister, Reverend G. And I found a new passion, the heartbeat of story.


Fiction surprised me. As I dug into it and learned more, I listened to my characters speak and direct the process. I started having fun.


Now, I am nurturing several ideas for other novels even while I continue to work on another nonfiction book. My foray into fiction merges into nonfiction so that even facts, research and personal experience become a fascinating study of the craft.

When we follow God’s leading, don’t we often end up in a better place? Although it may in some respects be harder, it is still better.

Peter followed Christ. It was hard. He failed often and struggled to learn how to accept this radical Jesus.

But Peter ended up as the leader of the Jerusalem church, thrust into the role of speaker, shoving aside his fear and his guilt of denying Christ. Eventually, Peter marched into martyrdom and eternity with his beloved Lord.

I believe as I leave one church and follow the Spirit toward another, God has something better in mind.

Will it be hard?

It already is hard – and lonely. Yet I am determined to follow.

I believe that wherever I land, it will be a better place for me to serve, to use my giftings and to glorify God as I worship with other followers.

Following implies leaving, but even in the leaving, we discover hope.

©2016 RJ Thesman  ̶  Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Confesses

1 peter 2-23It felt ugly and sent me into several days of discouragement. A verbal attack – probably not intentional – but to be my authentic self, I must admit it hurt.

The words questioned my blogging skills, criticized word count and focus, suggested that another direction would be more effective, violated several of the blogging rules I espouse.

Constructive criticism? Possibly. But spoken without any encouragement or positive phrases. The confrontive words “you need to” at the beginning of each sentence.

Worse – the attack was not written where I could ponder each word and form my response. But verbal and quick so I had no time to recover and respond, not even a chance to defend myself.

I wanted to run away, to find some solace in people who love me and believe in my words. But that seemed the coward’s path, and I had responsibilities to fulfill.

Instead, I texted my son, “Pray for me. I need a hug.”

His reply almost immediate, “Certainly.”

We ate at Cracker Barrel that evening because I needed some fried apples and a hashbrown casserole for comfort. I reviewed what had happened that day. Sometimes just verbalizing an experience helps us work through it – to find some point of learning in the criticism, some intent in the phrasing.

And some sense of what to do about the situation.

Then I spent an hour with my journal, writing it out, because that is how I process the experiences of my life – in the written word – the same format that brought about the attack.

Two more days passed as I processed what had been said, thought more about it, prayed for wisdom in how to respond, how to learn from it. Nothing I could do would change the fact that it happened.

But how should I react, as a Christian writer who hopes my words and phrases inspire and encourage? What direction should I take?

With more journaling and more inward scrutiny, I discovered an ugly seed hiding within the heart of my passionate words. Pride whispered, “You’ve been blogging for years. You’ve taught other writers how to blog, and you know all the tools and techniques. You teach at writers conferences and you have over 1300 followers on your blog, for cryin’ out loud! How dare this person attack you when you have such credibility?”

Owie!

In the posture of the repentant, I knelt by my bed and honestly confronted the source. “I don’t like this hurt, God, but I admit the pride that has been wounded. I confess that sour germ to you and ask that you help me not to let is fester or cause bitterness. I do not want to be ugly back to this person. I want to learn to be a better writer, to continue to inspire and encourage as well as inform. I admit the pain, but I want to learn from it.”


Confession does not automatically heal the wound, but it sets us in the right direction for purity of heart and growth of the soul.


“The pure in heart shall see God.” My ultimate bucket list contains this goal.

So as I write and obey this new directive, I will focus on the hope that pours from my passion. I vow to not run from the truth but from the pride that deceives and confuses.

Hopefully, the words that erupt will then be more acceptable – in the marketplace and in my soul.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Hope Hides in the Pages of a New Book

Something special happens when I begin to birth a book. I’m not sure if I am unique in this. Perhaps other writers will comment and let me know if I’m weird or somewhat normal.writing pencil

Because one of my core values is life-long learning, I love to initiate research. So with the new idea, I start to look for credits that may prove my point if it’s a nonfiction book.

For novels, I start to pay attention to settings, cultures, recipes, clothing – anything that will make my characters believable.

Then I go nuts with ideas and start free writing. For nonfiction, I play with an outline.

For novels, I write letters to the characters and let them write me back (I know – weird!).

This is the most exciting part for me – similar to when the doctor said, “Guess what? You’re pregnant!”

I begin to imagine all kinds of scenarios. What will the cover of this book look like? What if this book becomes a best-seller? What if the words I write impact somebody’s life?


The beginning germ of my idea mushrooms and ripples into a story line. Even in nonfiction, it’s important to tell the story.


 

So I feel excited, fulfilled, working away at this idea and waiting to see how it will manifest itself in chapter headings, quotes, character quirks and the resolution of conflict.

As I work on the idea, I imagine my readers – feet propped up in front of a cozy fire, turning the pages inscribed with my words, wiping a tear or tilting back their heads in laughter.

Then I take the idea and play with it from the marketing standpoint. After I find my focus, how many articles can I write from this one idea? Will it be only a novel or can I also write a nonfiction book, using my research as a starting point?

That’s what I’m doing now with all my research about Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Reverend G trilogy is finished, so now I’m putting together a nonfiction book of essays and meditations to help caregivers.

For me, the best part of writing is letting my creativity loose without any roadblocks or fears stopping me. I envision the massive impact this idea will have and the huge numbers of people who will either learn from my topic or change their lives because of it.

Ultimately, I thank God for the idea because he is the one who creates life – in the womb and in my writing soul.

Then I ask him to bless the project and hope again – that it will be very good.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

CrossRiver Media Author Hunt – Stop # 1

Welcome to Stop # 1 on the CrossRiver Author HuntCR Author Hunt Pic

After you read my blog post I wrote just for you today, feel free to peruse my site and get to know me a bit, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the blog post. Join my email list at www.RJThesman.net  and answer the question I’ll give you below and you will receive a PDF of the “7 Tips for Caregivers.”

Before you head over to the next stop, collect the clue at the bottom of the post. You’ll need it to enter the drawing for CrossRiver Media’s giveaway.

Grand Prize:

One winner will receive a Kindle, loaded with CrossRiver books! The winner will be chosen randomly from among those who enter the correct phrase.

Other Prizes:

Four winners will receive hard copies of 3 different CrossRiver books, signed by the author !


My blog started several years ago as a way to encourage people who were going through a tough time. Then my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the life of our family changed.

As I blogged through my feelings, my blog became a bit more focused on providing encouragement to caregivers. But all of my original readers weren’t dealing with Alzheimer’s, so I decided to focus on the topic of “Finding Hope When Life Unravels.”

You’ll find posts about Alzheimer’s here as well as other encouragements and some of my own personal journey.

During November, which is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I’m posting about the topic: “What Alzheimer’s Cannot Do.”

I hope you’ll join me here and sign up for my monthly newsletter which features my writing life and my speaking events centered around the Reverend G trilogy. These novels are published by CrossRiver Media and include:

For my part in this Scavenger Hunt, I would love to send you a PDF version of the “7 Tips for Caregivers.” This is one of my speaking topics and an example of something you could share with a caregiver.

So how do you get this informative PDF? Sign up for my newsletter at www.RJThesman.net.

Then…in the comments section of this post, answer this question: How do you encourage caregivers, especially those who deal with an Alzheimer’s patient?

If you already subscribe to my newsletter, make a note in your comment. After the CrossRiver Author Hunt, I will be sending out a special edition of my newsletter, containing the  free PDF for all those who leave a comment.


 Thank you for stopping by during the CrossRiver Author Hunt!

Before you go to the next stop, collect your clue below. You’ll need this to enter the giveaway on the CrossRiver website.

“God”

Next stop on the CrossRiver Author Hunt: MelodyBalthaser.com

Have you stumbled onto the Author Hunt or forgotten what you’re supposed to do next?

  • Visit every author’s site that is part of the hunt
  • Collect the clue provided at each author blog
  • Sign up for each author’s email list / newsletter for extra chances at fun giveaways
  • Stop back at the CrossRiver Media’s website after you visit the last blog in the hunt and enter your clues for a chance to win the grand prize
  • Click here for a complete list of the rules

Happy Hunting!

Hope Thrives Through the Aunties’ Prayers

woman prayingAs I closed my prayer journal, I thought once again about my nieces and nephews. These dear ones were the focus of my Sabbath prayers – the next generation that will love justice, show mercy and live as Kingdom-bearers in our world.

Years ago, I determined to pray them through school decisions, career changes and life-long relationships. Now I wonder how my prayers protected them or spurred them to consider a different path, a more focused decision. No matter. I will love them and root for them forever.

And what about the intercessions of my aunties? Judging from the fruit of their lives, I would bet they also kept prayer lists and on those lists, somewhere – my name appears.


It is because of their influence that I write and serve and minister. The glorious result of their example helped frame me as they modeled how to become strong and authentic women.


Most of them now live in eternal glory, yet the memories I carry of them are as distinct as my own reflection in the bedroom mirror.

Mary: the auntie who loved me even when I could not love myself. She never saw the zits, the perm-fried hair or the thunder thighs that mortified me throughout adolescence and high school. Mary just loved me and every time she saw me, I knew she was genuinely glad to see me. How I would love to feel her arms around me again!

Lynda: the teacher auntie who expressed interest in every one of my projects, supported my ministries and showed up, smiling, whenever I sang a solo or gave a speech. I felt important in her presence and knew she cared for me. I would bet, even now, she is checking with God about my activities.

Alma Dee: a busy mother of five, who still found time to spend hours with me, listening to my recitations of Bible verses and encouraging me to study the truth of God’s word. She helped me build a foundation that I later shared with my Bible students and then morphed into the personality of Reverend G.

Ethel: the gracious and kindly auntie who surpassed Martha Stewart in hospitality and the making of home. Her beautiful house was immaculate, her décor creative while her face always carried the shine of God’s love. Even now, this still-living auntie, reflects the presence of God and wears a forever smile, probably knowing she will see Him in person someday soon.

Adina: the widowed auntie who raised her children alone and achieved a master’s degree when it was unusual for women to pursue the higher levels of education. She challenged me to pursue my dreams. Because she persevered, I could, too.

Lucille: the glamourous auntie whose red lipstick shocked and amazed me. I wanted to try that shade – just once. It was at her memorial service that I learned about the depth of her faith and wondered if she, too, had prayed for me.

These aunties are just some of the relatives whom I respected and loved. They taught me the values I still espouse and shared their faith as generously as they gave kisses on the cheek.

Without these aunties and their prayers, I might have chosen another path. I have lived the results of my aunties’ prayers. So I now pass on that treasure for the younger ones who follow me.

Who prayed for you? What difference did those prayers make in your life?

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/