2012 Reflections

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Most of us thought when 2012 rolled into 2013 that we would have a reason to celebrate. Instead, it’s four more years of a man with no interest in the American people and as crooked as a forest path. So it’s up to us to continue doing what Christians do best—dwelling in the hope of Jesus Christ, namely His return. And so many good things happened in 2012:

  • My book reviewing has increased. Groups like Penguin and DeMoss picked me up as a book reviewer.
  • Praise and Coffee in Anthem, Arizona and ACFW in Tempe asked me to speak at their groups.
  • Writing for The Soul was phenomenal in February. I took my first plane ride to Denver (sadly, alone) and was able to meet editors, agents, and fellow writers. At the first appointment, an agent asked to see a book proposal for, “The Rose Door,” a paranormal Christian fantasy. Even though it was rejected, her compliments encouraged me.
  • I started a crossover Christian speculative fiction called, The Anomaly and I am 31 pages into it with a soft deadline of six months.
  • Began the process of forging together a magazine called, The Relevant Christian, due to be launched Spring, 2013. We have a great crew of editors.
  • Dayspring’s “Incourage” twice published two of my devotions at incourage.me.
  • A devotion was accepted for Dena Dyer’s anthology, Wounded Women of the Bible, due out in 2013.
  • Mark Littleton accepted a devotion for his anthology, but due to complications the book was discontinued for now.
  • Elisabeth Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal interviewed me as part of her column, Dysfunctional Family Bingo.
  • I ran my first half marathon in September and got hooked on running. I ran 13.5 miles in 2:29 at the Tour De PeeVee and in December ran 10 miles in 1:40 at Frosty’s Run.
  • Ghost blogged for a business and earned my first paycheck.
  • Enjoyed a generous Christmas thanks be to God for His blessings.
  • Our refinance went through just in time for the fiscal cliff.
  • I also made valuable connections for future articles, including a movie preview (March).
  • Became a blogger for the Chino Valley Review.
  • A successful week-long series called, Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?, brought in great discussion. It was so good, in fact, that I gave it a permenant webpage so people can read it at their leisure.

2013 may look uncertain, but my trust is in Jesus. I forge forward planning to circulate The Rose Door while working on The Anomaly—two very different novels though both in the speculative fiction genre. What I would like to see from you is more discussion on my blogs and suggestions, too. What would you like to see in 2013? Please let me know. Every year I go through my blog and make some changes.

Your input would prove invaluable. And I love talking to you so I encourage more discussion. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. As long as we are kind and loving to each other and agree to disagree, discussion is healthy—it’s iron sharpening iron, as they say.

May I Pray For You?

Oftentimes, we’re too practical. In my faith, I forget the supernatural realm; that God is so much bigger and still the same God who parts the seas and rains down plagues. He hasn’t changed since our inception. I was reminded of this when I read in Kings how Elisha asked his servant to see:

“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” – 2 Kings: 6:17 (in context 2 Kings 6:8-23 NIV)

Many times in my life God has surrounded me with protection. He answered prayer in a supernatural way or gave me protection from enemies I couldn’t see or as a child protection from bullies I wasn’t allowed to fight. In this pragmatic world, even God’s people forget that God’s Word is alive and that faith is supernatural. God is all powerful.

So along that vein, is there anything I can pray over for you? Today is your day. Write or email your prayers. If you write your prayers, those coming to visit, please pray for those that leave prayers.

God is stronger than your worst enemies.

What Makes Me So Special?

We cried together. 

Hardship and grief don’t harbor any prejudice. Affliction comes upon the best of us and sometimes close together.

that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:45

People don’t know my whole story when I first meet them. They don’t know the tears I’ve cried, muffled by my pillow, or how far I’ve come in my walk with Christ. They don’t know the difficulties I’ve encountered or how God helped me to overcome them. Oftentimes, I’ve asked this cup to be removed, but how can I ask that when other believers endure far worse?

So my friend and I cried together over her difficulties, and I asked myself what makes me so special that I should be exempt from suffering?

On the way home, I counted my blessings, thankful for a husband that’s so supportive and loving, a great job, a church I can attend without repercussions, and freedom of speech to talk to you online.

What can I pray for you today?

The Hazards of Friendship

Fox preparing for friendships

“If not for our Fellowship Group, we’d hardly socialize at all.” I say to my husband.

He’s watching baseball. “Maybe if we lived closer to town…”

“That wouldn’t make a difference. It’s our schedule and the fact that we are introverts. We need to get out and socialize with friends; make that special effort, you know.” I’ve noticed these past years how I have retreated from people. Some people have caused me not to trust anymore and others are simply accidental missteps in my journey to make new friends and solidify the old ones. My words run into each other and I fear the silence more than anything.

That awkward silence where you run out of things to talk about, and you try to fill the silence with words. My husband listens to all these things as baseball runs in the background, and I’m not expecting answers. I don’t even know if there are solutions except to get up every time we fall. Just keep getting up until I can walk on my own and not fear the silence.

“Maybe we could get more involved with church social things, find people closer to our ages?” I say to him, but that’s only part of the problem. “We don’t have any kids. That’s why it’s so hard. People with kids gravitate towards people with kids. We’re kind of in an awkward spot.”

The solution isn’t in adopting kids just to reach out to people our age. I laugh at that picture. It’s pitiful. But it makes us work extra hard to make those connections that come so easily to other people. It’s the hazards of making friends—being vulnerable with others, sharing our lives with them, and making the effort to reach out even if it feels inconvenient. I’ll regret more the missed opportunities as I get older for making new friends.

Something needs to change. We both know it. But how?

How do you reach out to your friends? What special memories do you have with your friends?

The Chronicles of Church Fellowship: Scribbles

Mysteriously someone scribbles a sentence on the prayer board in our prayer center reflecting on the theme and the various scriptures and visual art. It’s like small gifts for one who helped put the center together. It pleases me that people are inspired to use it and use it as a vehicle in which to speak to God privately before, during and after service without any audience. It’s anonymous and safe. Sometimes, what they write breaks my heart.

Like the person who felt like they don’t fit in anywhere.

I want to pluck that sentence from their head, but I don’t know who wrote it. Instead, I write a response next to it for the person to find—a gift for a gift. I write that he or she is loved. It feels inadequate like a band aid on a sliced artery. It feels trite, but I can’t leave it alone. I can’t walk away and go on with my normal Sunday. Even now, the words linger reminding me what I have so often heard that every person is fighting a hard battle.

Sometimes, writing down the thing in your head helps in the healing process. It helps to differentiate what is real and what is contrived. It gets it out so you can walk away from it and work on the healing process.  Sometimes, we take it with us.

If you would like to contribute to this Friday post, click here to read my guidelines.

She Doesn’t Want To See Her Family

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They were talking nearby about Thanksgiving. Their table close enough to mine that I couldn’t help but be distracted. One woman didn’t want to go to Thanksgiving dinner. The other had so much school work and felt conflicted about her sisters visit. Relationships are certainly complicated.

When there’s trouble stirring the waters, we don’t like to entertain with the very people who love us. That conversation reminded me of the generation gap that has widened. I blame the divorce rate, consequently the broken families, and ultimately, the lack of God or a relationship with Him in their lives. Thanksgiving should be a time of joy, and it takes all hands on board to keep that ship from sinking.

“The prophet (Joel 1:2-3) is reminding the experienced, older generation to recall times past when they had gone through similar calamities and how, when they turned back to God, He faithfully restored them. Today as we witness a threatened economy taking its toll on our national lifestyle, how often do the elderly gather the young to teach them what they learned during similar times? Some say, “There’s a huge gap between our generation and the next. The younger believe our problems have passed us by; that we have nothing more to offer.” We cannot make others heed what we say, but we can and should speak out for the truth and pray that the Lord will open ears, minds, and hearts to what wisdom has to say. (Deuteronomy 32:7).” – Pg. 36, Nearing Home by Billy Graham; Thomas-Nelson Publishers

Thank you for stopping by today. If you feel led, say a prayer for Black Thursday and Black Friday; for those people in danger of being hurt by greedy crowds and that the Lord might gentle the tongues of those shopping. Pray for these two people who struggle with family relationships. Write that prayer in the comments. Or pray silently. And Happy Thanksgiving! I won’t be replying to any comments until Friday. I’m practicing being present today.

 

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And Jesus asked, “Do you love me?”

Psalm 26:1

        Vindicate me, O LORD,

   for I have walked in my integrity,

   and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.

Do I really love God?

I held the Bible open and read, beginning with Psalm 27, going backwards to Psalm 26 and 25; and then returning to Psalm 26. I walked in athletic shoes, wore jeans, and a nice shirt as I circled the building, praying and lost in the Psalms on a beautiful Sunday morning before service. The blue sky and the varied yellows of the trees across the street gave every indication of fall except for the warmer temperatures. It should feel cold today. It’s in the seventies. My soul, however, feels too cerebral; cold, like a fall day threatening snow.

I’m always planning, scheming, and thinking outside the box. It’s in my nature to plan ahead, to be creative, but I can be very cerebral—head minus heart. It’s something I grew into in my twenties and something I shed in my thirties. I like balance, but today I feel off balance. A friend had confided in me how she questions her love for God. Sometimes, she doesn’t feel the words in a song and thinks singing them anyway is anything but worship. Psalm 26:1 spoke to me.

Have I walked in integrity? Have I trusted in Him unwaveringly? Have I truly loved Him?

We all make decisions in our life that don’t always align with God’s truth. We lie to ourselves and to each other and excuse it away by saying, “everyone does it.” Does that make lying okay? Does that make your choices right? Does that help or hinder your relationship with Christ? If you answered yes to any of these, you’re lying again.

I’d like to say I walk with integrity though I really don’t bandy around that word much. I feel like such a hypocrite when I say it. I line up the word integrity with God’s perfect truth. So I rewrote the verse to read:

“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have (tried to) (walk)ed in my integrity and I have (tried to) (trust)ed in the Lord without wavering.” (Emphasis mine)

This is what prayer walks do to me when I have countless minutes to dwell on scripture. My feet are circling the building, praying for the service, the church, and I am not dressed in a dress or heels. I wear athletic shoes because I know I will walk much this morning for Him. I think hiking boots and athletic shoes portray God’s people better than high heels, like Jesus’ sandals. I think jeans and a nice shirt say to someone who has nothing nice to wear on Sunday that they are welcome. Christianity is more than an image.

I think if we are to wear the Christian label we should be ever conscious of it in our actions and words. We should not make excuses for our behavior, but work out our own Salvation by trying to live in integrity each day and walking on level ground (Psalm 26:12a); not because we live by the law, but because we love our Lord, Jesus Christ however imperfectly. So Lord, help me today to walk in integrity and trust You unwaveringly.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Have you thought about your relationship with Jesus lately? Or do walk around on automatic doing everything because it’s become a tradition or something you swear an allegiance to? Or something you follow because everyone else is doing it?

Be Heard

Social Media can create a new beast inside of us by subtly making us more self-centered and narcissistic. We’re all in danger of becoming the only voice and thereby, taking away the voice of others. Our story can become our only focus. Today be heard.

Please leave your prayer requests in the comments section. If you are not a commenter, but a reader, please pray over any prayer requests left. Take a moment out of your day to think of the other voices we sometimes forget to acknowledge. If your request is not public, you can feel free to email me yours and it will be kept confidential to my husband and I: nikolehahn@thehahnhuntinglodge.com

Dear Lord,You know who visits my blog. I pray for each one of them, for the pain they carry, and perhaps for the voice they no longer have. I pray you will infect their hearts today and give them a pep in their step. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Guest Post: Katie’s Voice

On Thursday, September 29, I shared a part of my past as part of Faith Barista’s Thursdays Jam, Who Stole Your Voice? The responses were great. God comforts us in our pain. But one response really moved me. Here is a part of Katie’s blog:

Have you ever told yourself that everything is fine and nothing is wrong?  I know I have.  I have pretended life was great and nothing hurt me.  I lied to myself so long that I believed this to be true.  I had walls around me to protect me that were lies and were actually hurting me.

The first time I shared my story my heart was racing and everything in my mind screamed, “DON’T TELL!  IT ISN’T SAFE!”  You don’t know if they can be trusted with your heart.  You don’t know if they will go gossip about you.  You don’t know what will happen. - Read More

This is why I do what I do. I get to pray for you and share my pain so you feel safe to share your pain. We can rest in God’s promises that He will fight for us (Exodus 14:14).

Jesus, I pray for Katie and all others like Katie, abused and abuser alike, that you may touch their lives, induce transformation from living a life of fear to living fully and truly in you. Thank you, Jesus for being in my life and taking the broken pieces and making them whole again. In Jesus Name, Amen

September Light

September sunlight slants through the front windows. It means Fall is just around the corner–the changing leaves, the color drooping from the branches. It means cooler weather and the beginning of the holidays. Moments like these remind me of my own changing.

The light is so clear, puddling on the carpet, and chasing away the shadows of yesterday. I stand by the glass, my palms flattened against it, seeing outside the sprigs of purple sage reaching for the sky, my purple plumbago crawling along the ground of my planter, and the bright mustard-yellow of my sunflowers—remnants of spring and summer; remnants of hope.

Tonight friends will knock on my door. I’ll feed them, set out my best china, and try to beat them soundly at Wii games. The September light reminds me that this life is short. The sun rises. The sun sets. Time passes. Moments wither and become memories like my flowers. I will not waste one more day on fear. Jesus is responsible for my season of change. I’ll choose to bask in this September light.

Describe your season of change.