Tag Archives: Christian

7 Life Lessons from Bugs of Fire and Light

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A few years ago, Robby and I had the pleasure of joining our friends Paul and Mary in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was during the month of May, and I was thrilled to experience something that had been on my bucket list for years: to see the fireflies. Since I’m from the South, I’m quite familiar with fireflies (aka lightning bugs), but I had read that these amazing insects would gather by the thousands in certain areas in the mountains. Not only would they signal to one another by flashing on and off, but they would actually blink in unison. I could only imagine what a field looked like with thousands of lightning bugs blinking on and off throughout the night.

So when Paul and Mary asked us if we wanted to share their cabin for a few days and join them in watching the lightning bugs, we jumped at the opportunity!

Now, the park in which the fireflies congregate has worked out quite a system. You have to park a couple miles away, take a shuttle to a designated area, and then walk about half a mile to the clearing where the fireflies perform their nightly ritual. The tours were well-organized…and advertised. By the time we tried to purchase our tickets, all of the tours were booked. And since the lightning bugs only perform their dance for a few weeks out of the year, it looked like we were going to miss them entirely.

We were so close and yet so far from those illusive fireflies.

Not to be outdone, though, Paul and Mary asked around. The locals told them about a different, lesser-known spot, on the other side of the mountain where the official tours took place. We just had to drive there and walk up the mountain a bit. No big deal.

I should mention that Paul and Mary were in their 70s, and Paul had hurt his knee earlier that week. I was a bit concerned for them when I heard we had to do some walking, but they assured me they’d be fine.

With restrained excitement, we drove to the park’s back entrance right before sunset. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw something else on my bucket list: a big black bear. I’d wanted to see one in the wild since I was a kid, and this one was lumbering through the picnic area only a couple hundred yards away. I was thrilled to see him so close, but it reminded me that bears called this mountainside home. And we were about to walk right through that home…in the dark. Sure, we had flashlights, but we couldn’t see the fireflies with our lights on, so we’d be feeling our way up the mountain road.

I was slightly disconcerted, but we were not to be dissuaded. So up we went. Fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes. And still we walked. Paul and Mary did fine, but my knees were starting to feel the strain. And it was dark…really dark…on the side of that mountain. My imagination ran wild as I wondered if every sound was a bear poking its nose through the trees to get a better look at us. Although the locals supposedly knew about this place, no one else was around save for a handful of intrepid climbers. I began to wonder if someone had played a trick on us…or sent us into a trap. And yet we continued to hike—for now it felt like a full-on hike.

The humble lightning bug by day.

To make matters worse, we only saw a few lightning bugs here and there. They were nice, but there was hardly enough to create the blinking-in-unison effect I was looking for. There had been rumors that more fireflies were higher up the mountain, though, so we continued to climb, and I prayed that our adventure wouldn’t end in disappointment.

Finally, at the site of an old abandoned cemetery, we saw what appeared to be lightning bugs, but they behaved differently than the ones I was used to. Instead of flying around in the air, blinking on and off, they stayed “lit” for a long time and hovered just a couple inches above the ground. Their light was a soft glow, slightly green in color. As they circled around the brush and crumbling tomb stones, I imagined so many miniature creatures, going about their evening tasks holding tiny lanterns to illumine the way. Although this wasn’t what I had longed to see, the site was surreal and lovely, and I was glad we had made the trip.

Finally, we started the long trek down the mountain. As we turned a bend, suddenly the sky lit up with hundreds of little white fireworks, each a cluster of dozens of fireflies. They danced above us in the trees. They floated down the side of the mountain, which dropped precipitously into a creek below us, once invisible but now seen in the crackling light of the lightning bugs. They even flew up to us, curious about the visitors who dared the night to join them in their dance.

I looked down at my feet and saw the same greenish lights I had seen in the cemetery. They crawled along the grass and played along a short wooden bridge that connected the path.

Solid green lights below us and brilliant flashes all around us. It was if we were floating in the darkness of night, surrounded by living stars that danced to a song only they could hear. This was more than “blinking-in-unison.” This was better than seeing fireflies from a distance. This was more than we could have hoped for or imagined.

We were speechless as we stood in awe of the magic of it all.

Since then, I’ve thought about researching the types of fireflies to learn more about the ones we saw that night. But it seems that knowledge would only detract from the mystery of the experience. So now, I like to think of the ones with the greenish light as fireflies and the ones that blinked with such enthusiasm as lightning bugs. I feel honored to be able to make such a distinction.

Not only did I have a memorable adventure, and I crossed off an item on my bucket list, but I also learned a lot that night.

  1. Make sure you have friends who are older and more stubborn and adventurous than you. They’ll encourage you to shoot for your dreams when you would otherwise give up.
  2. Life is still beautiful and breath-taking, but sometimes you have to seek it out.
  3. The most amazing experiences are often just around the bend, but you have to make the effort to get there.
  4. When life is the darkest, a single light is all the more brilliant and inspiring.
  5. If a little bug can light up the world, then so can we.
  6. The difficult, little-known path—where fewer people dare to tread—is where all the amazing things really happen. So forget the bus and take the hike.
  7. Yes, there are bears in the woods. Say your prayers, keep your distance, and keep on trekking.

Perhaps the ultimate lesson is that God is not afraid to give us more than we can imagine. He’s not a stingy God. Instead, He’s an over-the-top, wild, fully-alive, fun-loving, merriment-making kind of God who created little bugs that flash in the dark. And this is the same God who rejoices over us. Make sure your heart aligns with Him, then pray for your heart’s desire. You’ll be surprised what He can come up with!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NAS).

Are you reading your Bible all wrong? (Part 1 of 2)

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Are you stuck, spiritually speaking? Do you have a hard time understanding the Word or seeing how it applies to your life? That may be because you’re reading your Bible all wrong.

In this two-part series, I’ll share different ways that we can approach God’s Word. Some of these ways are beneficial, while others are not-so-helpful or even downright wrong.

 

In or Out?

In today’s post, I want to point out one of the biggest no-nos. I’m talking about the way we approach our Bible study, whether it’s using eisegesis or exegesis. Don’t be put off by these Greek words, though! The ideas behind them are quite simple.

  • eisegesis (ahy-si-jee-sis): interpreting a text in such a way that you introduce your own beliefs, presuppositions, agendas, and biases into the text. Referred to as reading into the text.
  • exegesis (ek-si-jee-sis): interpreting a text in a critical way using the text itself to provide explanation, without introducing your own beliefs into the text.

Exegesis is all about drawing out (ex) the true meaning of the Word, while eisegesis involves putting your own understanding into (eis) the Word.

You’re probably wondering who would ever try to insert their own understanding into the Word…and yet we all do it from time to time. Our beliefs and experiences shape our understanding of the world, so it makes sense that they would also affecting our understanding of Scripture. But when those Scriptures fail to line up with what we believe, we find ourselves in crisis.

We can either:

  1. Skim over the text and forget we ever read it
  2. Make excuses for why the text doesn’t align with our beliefs (e.g. it was a different context, it involved a different culture, it doesn’t apply to me or my circumstances)
  3. Change our understanding based on what we read in the Scriptures

Obviously, option three is the appropriate way to go. Still, change can be hard, especially when we’ve grown up believing something different…and it doesn’t even have to be a life-shattering change.

 

A New Understanding of an Old Story

I remember one such instance from Bible college. We were reading about Joseph and his multi-colored coat in one of my classes. Here’s the text in the NAS version:

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic” (Genesis 37:3 NAS).

However, the Hebrew word for “varicolored” really means “flat (of the hands or foot).” This most likely means that the sleeves of Joseph’s coat went all the way to his hands; it was a long-sleeve coat, not a multi-colored coat. And this makes sense because back then, laborers wore shorter-sleeve garments while overseers wore longer sleeves. By giving Joseph a long-sleeve coat, Israel was effectively promoting him over his brothers. No wonder Joseph’s older brothers were mad at him!

This short Bible study provides greater clarity into this well-known story, but when I first learned the true meaning behind the text, it upset me a little. I had always been taught that Joseph had a beautiful, multi-colored coat. I’d even heard powerful sermons using the multi-colored coat as imagery for the various talents within the Church Body.

But the truth is the truth. And God’s (real) Truth is always better than our (make-believe) truth.

 

The Lessons of Truth

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NAS).

It’s not easy to change our beliefs or see things in a different way, but we must approach God’s Word with a willingness to do just that. We have to humble our hearts, accepting any reproof or correction we receive from the Word, which is our training for righteousness. If we don’t, then we eventually turn away from God’s Truth, make our own religion, and go our own way. No wonder we end up feeling spiritually stuck!

This week, I encourage you to humble yourself as you read your Bible. If you come across a Scripture that differs from what you’ve believed, ask the Lord to help you understand what it means and how to apply it to your life today. If you have to change your way of thinking, then do it. You’ll never regret aligning your life—and your beliefs—with God’s Truth.


Have you ever had to change a long-held belief because you learned it didn’t line up with God’s Word? Was it a struggle for you? How do you feel about it now? I’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.

[Click to Tweet: True Bible study involves changing our beliefs to match what we read in the Word…not changing the Word to match our beliefs.]

 

Here’s a pic to pin or share!

The New Era: A New Adventure Begins in New York

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In June, this country girl traveled to New York City to attend the largest Book Expo in the US. Although traveling to the Big Apple was definitely out of my comfort zone, I felt God wanted to open new doors for me there. I had no guarantee that the trip would lead to anything substantial (or that it would even pay for itself), but I felt convicted to go…and it’s a good thing I did because it resulted in my first book contract!

At the Expo with my awesome agent Cyle and fellow author Del.

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any time, you know that I’ve been working on faith-based children’s books and a spiritual guidebook for young women called Girls with Gusto. These have been my focus and passion for several years, so when I went to New York, I was ready to pitch these books to whomever would listen.

While the Book Expo was secular in nature, it included several great Christian publishers. Unfortunately, the exhibitors were there to promote their published books, not acquire new ones. Still, God made a way for me to talk to faith-based and secular publishers about my manuscripts and even some ideas I have for future projects.

So, which book did I sell? Surprisingly, it wasn’t any of the books I’ve been working on for so long, or even the books I had in mind to write this year! Instead, God gave me a whole new idea while I was in New York, one that fit perfectly with a publisher I met there.

“He put a new song in my mouth…” (Psalm 40:3 NAS).

This new book will be…[drum roll please]…all about cast iron cookware. Yup, you read that correctly. It will be a beautiful gift book that covers the history of cast iron, the health benefits (vs. chemical non-stick pans), the types of cast iron cookware available today, how to care for your pots and pans, and—of course—delicious recipes.

I’m so pleased that this book, entitled The New Era of Cast Iron, will be wholesome, helpful, practical, and geared to young women. It’s an opportunity for me to share everything I’ve learned about healthful cooking, while using easy, inexpensive recipes. This falls in line perfectly with my passion for mentoring others as a “Big Sister.”

 

God Had a Plan

Before June, I had never thought about writing a book on cast iron cookware, or any cooking topic for that matter. But looking back, I can see that God was preparing a way for this new adventure.

Shortly after Robby and I got married, I realized that the only way for me to get healthy and banish my fibromyalgia symptoms was to drastically change my eating habits. Since then, I’ve cut out gluten, nearly eliminated sugar, greatly reduced the amount of processed foods I eat, and started cooking more at home. I’ve never eaten better, and I’ve never felt better!

About a year ago, I took my health kick up a notch by studying healthy cooking methods and cookware options, which led me to get rid of all the chemical non-stick pots and pans in our house. That’s when I started using my cast iron pans on a daily basis. (Iron in your food is a good thing. Chemicals in your food and in the air is a bad thing.)

I thought all that research was just for me and my family, but God knew better. Everything I’ve learned will now benefit readers around the world through this new book. How cool is that?!

I’m so glad I listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and went to that Book Expo in New York! And I’m glad He led me to talk to secular publishers as well as the faith publishers there. God did more than open a new door; He started me out on a whole new adventure! And all of the knowledge and experience I gain from it will only benefit me as I continue to work on my faith-based books.

 

What are God’s Plans for You?

Sometimes, we think we know what God is doing, but we really don’t. He’s so big and so amazing that we can never fully understand everything He wants to do for us and through us.

If you’re in the middle of a season where you’ve pushed and pushed for something you just know is God’s will, I encourage you to avoid tunnel vision. Stop for a second. Ask God if there are other doors for you to walk through right now…and if He says “Yes,” then be ready to go! It doesn’t mean your current project is on hold or that you were headed in the wrong direction, just that God has a bigger plan in store for you.

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS).


The New Era of Cast Iron will be released in 2020. Until then, be sure to follow me on Instagram for cast iron tips and recipe ideas.