Monthly Archives: April 2015

“But I Don’t Have Time!”: 3 Ways to Fit More Bible into Your Day

Do you wish you had more time to read your Bible? Okay, let me flip that around: Do you know anyone (who’s a Christian) who doesn’t wish they had more time for the Bible?

Decorative clock faces above a clock shopfront in Vannes, France

Photo by Brian Smithson

We’ve been in youth ministry for 21 years next month. At the mention of reading the Bible and spending time with God, almost on cue one of  the teenagers pipes up in a sincere voice, “But I don’t have time to read my Bible or pray every day!” I’m sympathetic, but I also suggest that if they don’t make time now, they won’t have time as adults, either.

At least they’re honest. And if we’re honest, it’s easy to find ourselves at the end of a hectic day and realize we didn’t so much as give God a “What’s up?” nod. Here are some simple ideas to add more Bible to your day.

1. Bedside Bible. Keep your Bible, or your Kindle/reading device with the Bible loaded, by your bed. Having it close will make it easier to read before your go to bed or, my preference, as soon as you wake up. Nothing starts the day like laying eyes on scripture as soon as they open.

2. Take advantage of throw-away minutes. Read during pauses in your day–the ATM line, the doctor’s waiting room, or the checkout line at the store. So often it’s easier to do mindless things like catch up on Facebook or browse magazines. We do need those mental breaks, but try using one of those times each day to read the Bible instead. See how it affects your outlook.

3. Post verses somewhere visible. Think about your daily routine. Where does your gaze land each day? The bathroom mirror, your car, your phone, the medicine cabinet? Try posting a verse each week in one of those places. Once, I took a picture of a passage with my phone and made that the “wallpaper” photo. I saw it each time a picked up my phone.

A long time ago I told my dad, “But I don’t have time for [some task I’ve now forgotten].” He shared this wisdom: “You’ll make time for the things that are important.” That stuck with me. Spending time in the Bible each day is crucial, and we’re blessed when we take advantage of reading God’s messages to us.

How about you? What tips do you have for adding more verses to your day?

Sad Review Week

As you may know, I post a review the second Monday of each month. Anne of Green Gables (both books and the TV miniseries) starred in this month’s review, and I began writing the post early last week.

Millions of readers and fans of the miniseries have loved Anne, Diana, Marilla, Gilbert and all the rest for over a century. I started rereading the books recently. They’re even better now than when my dear friend, Courtney, introduced me to the miniseries and books back in the 80s.

But late last week came shocking news: The iconic Gilbert Blythe actor, Jonathan Crombie, died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage last week. It’s so sad for his family, friends, and Anne fans the world over.

So, I’ll suspend the usual review format this week in remembrance of Mr. Crombie. Thanks for the memories.

Related link: Jonathan Crombie


Got Fear? Three Ways to Handle It

What are you afraid of? What makes you worry?

Josie, the heroine of my current novel-in-progress, wouldn’t admit it, but she fears a lot of things. The very flying that she adores, letting her family down, loving again… I’d best shush from telling all her secrets or else she won’t speak to me for awhile.

The truth is, most of us carry more anxiety than we realize or care to acknowledge.

I know I did.

Few people know this, but, for a couple of months many years ago, anxiety trapped me in its web.

Maybe it was the newness of working with a local hospice and the realities that come along for the difficult ride. Maybe it was other things. Either way, those were some of the longest weeks of my life. Every little physical “symptom” became something to worry and obsess over. Twice I ended up in the ER with tangible symptoms that my anxiety created.

I prayed. I prayed a lot. That helped, but then something else happened.

A godly woman who’d been through something similar recognized what was going on. She sat me down and gave me my diagnosis: “You have anxiety.” The worry itself had become the problem, rivaling any real boogey man. Over the next half hour she shared her story. The light bulb went off in my head, and the peace flooded my heart.

Yes, I did have anxiety, and I also had God. It was going to be okay. And it was. Exposed and robbed of its power, the anxiety slinked away.noun_4619_cc

I’m glad I had that experience. I can say that honestly. God used it to bring me closer to Him. I came out stronger and wiser, and it has served me well.

That’s not to say that I’m immune to relapse or am a mental health professional, but God taught me a thing or two about dealing with anxiety. Perhaps there’s a nugget of helpfulness here for you or someone you care about.

1. Nip it in the bud. Spending time with God each day–real, quality time–helps head off gripping anxiety. Praying, reading the Bible, and sincerely giving over the day’s worries keeps our eyes on Him and keeps us from relying on our own strength.  Yes, bad things may happen still, but which way would we rather face challenges: with God or without?

2. Set an alarm clock. Do you ever not even realize you’re worrying excessively about something? It can be easy to ignore the soundtrack of anxieties that’s set on repeat in the background of our hearts. Ask God to alert you, like an alarm clock, to anything that fuels anxiety. This can prevent the worry from accelerating into a runaway train.

3. Nurture relationships. Anxiety festers in isolation. The worrier might feel embarrassed or ashamed of their anxiety. Godly friends and loved ones who care and hold us accountable can help deflate the worry. They can also throw that lifeline of objectivity and perspective.

The world is a scary, wonderful place. There’s a lot to worry about if we allow ourselves. Anxiety itself doesn’t have to be one of them.

Related verses:

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8 (NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Time Travel: A Flight Line Easter

Happy Day-After-Easter! Did you have a good Easter Sunday?

Last week I played a little with my newest research toy, The Portal to Texas History, which I wrote about in this post. A great picture popped up. It shows four women “somewhere in Texas” on Easter Sunday, 1944.

Photo courtesy of 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum - Abilene, Texas

Photo courtesy of 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum – Abilene, Texas

I don’t know their story or where their rambling took them. I do know that it reminds me of the women in my current work-in-progress, Wild Blue Yonder. Here’s a sneak peek at the draft, where we find Josie and friends Maggie and Otto on a pensive Easter Sunday morning at Avenger Field:

Small clusters of cadets, officers, and other staff dotted the far edge of the flight line, mostly shadows in the bluing darkness. As they hurried to the crowd for windbreak, Josie glanced over her shoulder toward the east. Pink tinged the horizon. God was about to serve up another morning. She’d never grow tired of those sunrises, those sunsets. Especially the sunsets, when she felt more alive, more awake to enjoy it. She blinked, still bleary-eyed.

As they joined a small group of friends, she did a little jig, hoping to warm up. Before long the booming male voice of the chaplain broke the calm of hushed conversation. “Let us begin with prayer. Our Father…”

While his prayer droned, Josie sneaked a peek past the chaplain’s shoulder. The light kept coming from the land. It reached up and over the rolling, open plains. Stretched to the craggy hills off to the south. Kept climbing to the sky and out to her. Was this beauty what Mitch witnessed every day, in heaven? Did Jesus see a sunrise like this that first Easter morning? Despite rapid blinking a tear blazed a trail down her cheek. She let it fall unchecked.

Another thought invaded. Pete loved sunrises, the crazy rooster. What was he doing right now? Could he see this same sunrise? Great. More grief.

After a few minutes and during a hymn, those first bright rays seared the dark and jabbed her eyes. She had to clamp her eyes shut under its brilliance. But her nose warmed a smidgen, then the rest of her face. She joined the singing. Her face felt good with the exercise.

Their voices carried far across the flight line. The thawing of the land couldn’t make their breath invisible. She peered at the group around her, past Maggie, past Otto. With each exhale it looked like dozens of tiny steam engines sighing. She grinned. Trying not to appear conspicuous, she swung her gaze to the other side of the crowd. Warmth filled her. The crowed absorbed some of her hollow grief, just a little.

The hymn ended. As the last note faded into the golden sky, movement caught her from the corner of her vision. She jerked her head. There, hurrying away from the huddled group. Betts? Chill ran through her. What was that snake doing here? Then came the shame. What was it about her that set her off so easily? The mental list grew long, sure. But did it have to? She closed her eyes. At once a mind’s eye picture flashed. Betts scurrying away, but she didn’t walk alone. Jesus matched her stride, his comforting arm holding her steady.

She snapped her eyes open. So Jesus cared about even someone like Betts? She chewed on the thought for a moment. Her own unspoken words started to sound ridiculous. Of course Jesus loved “someone like Betts.” Her cheeks puffed with a blown breath and she shifted. It might take her longer to feel the same. She held too many sorrows in her heart today to make room for the unpleasantness of Betts.

“Thank you.” The whispered words in her hear jarred her thoughts and made her jump an inch.

Josie chuckled to herself and looked at Maggie. She knew what she meant and leaned sideways into her friend for a moment. “You’re welcome, Mags.” A few heads around them turned to frown their disapproval for the disruption.

The words of the chaplain’s sermon rose with feeling, warmth matching the dawning day. He held his notes loosely and gestured with them. Then a West Texas wind gust swooshed from the east and scooped his notes, scattering them like confetti. The chaplain and those in front grabbed in vain for the dozen or so papers. Otto couldn’t help adding a “Hee heee!” of delight.

Josie stood, transfixed, and watched the papers fly to freedom. The chaplain had held them in his possession. He had ordered them just so, as he wanted them. Then nature dallied with him, on its whim. Almost made a joke of his sham of control over this morning. His careful planning all for naught. Sympathy stretched from her soul toward his dance to grab what he could.

Josie watched as some of the papers remained in flight, out of the reach of the helpers. The strengthening sun touched a few of them just right. She looked down at the packed ground. Those papers cast shadows, here and there. It struck her as a beautiful chaos, like the paper tube kaleidoscopes she’d peered through at the Taylor County Fair. The breeze kept the dance going for a several moments, some staying far, some flying away. The shadows kept bearing witness. Josie felt odd. It would stick in her memory as one of the prettiest things she’d ever seen.

The chaplain gave up with a sheepish smile. He waved his arms to conduct the congregation in a final hymn.

How about you? Tell us about a memorable Easter you’ve had.

Related link: 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum