Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Sonja Anderson

Good morning, dear reader! This month we have a fifth Tuesday. Woohoo! To celebrate, I want to introduce you to Sonja Anderson.

Sonja, welcome to Women of Faith and Fiction. Please, tell us about yourself.

Sonja Anderson Profile PicI grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio, with a twin sister and two younger siblings, in a Christian home. I loved to read more than anything, and characters in novels were like beloved friends and companions. I actually felt pained when a book ended and I had to separate myself from them. As a result, I re-read my favorite books many times!

College and graduate school took me to exciting cities like Chicago and Boston, and then my first teaching job was at an international school in Tokyo! I’ve been happily settled in Seattle, Washington, for over 25 years now.

Wow! Tokyo. I can only imagine your excitement. I know what you mean about the characters and beloved friends. I have favorites also. When I’m not sure what I want to read, I pick up a favorite. Sonja, this month’s theme is Peace. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Sophie Topfeather’s search for peace is a major theme in Sophie’s Quest, so I’m delighted that this is your theme for the month! Isn’t God amazing the way he puts things together like that? When I think of peace, I think of John 16:33, where Jesus prepares the disciples by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I also remember the song that compares peace to a river, and it reminds me that when I have Christ’s presence in me, I don’t need to react to the world’s commotion with anxious ups and downs. Christ steadies me and carries me, no matter what else is happening.

I am continually amazed how God directs our paths! Now, life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to have peace? How did you overcome?

The two times in my life when I seriously questioned Christ’s presence in my life are, of course, as I look back, the two times when I found it the most difficult to have peace! The first time was when I lived in Japan and knew many lovely Buddhists. How could they all “be wrong”? I dove into a Bible study with friends and took God at His Word in a way I had never done before. When I read a promise, I held Him to it. By the time I returned to the United States, I was stronger in my faith than ever before and wanted to share Jesus with everyone in sight.

I thought nothing could shake my sense of peace again until I began to write Sophie’s Quest. I worried—could I discuss different religions in a way that respected the people God created and show Jesus to be uniquely Immanuel, God with us? I began to seriously wonder if a book like this should be written, despite the fact that I had felt clearly called to write it. My peace was shattered. One night, I was washing dishes and distinctly heard a voice behind me asking, “Are you sure Jesus is the only way?” I nearly panicked and prayed earnestly that God would clearly answer that question. The very next Sunday, I was visiting a church in Oregon, and the minister preached on this very question! Now, I work in a public elementary school in a very diverse community, and Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus check out my book every day. What a privilege and a blessing!

 Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sonja. I know others who’ve dealt with similar situations. It’s good to know we’re not alone. True, God’s always with us. But it’s comforting to have a kindred spirit on our journey. 😉

In what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

My published novels are children’s fiction for ages 8-12, my favorite genre to read, too! I’ve also written several picture book stories that also point children toward God, but I’m still waiting for God to point me toward the right publisher!

My faith has everything to do with my writing. It is my dearest hope and prayer that kids will find their way to Jesus through these novels. In fact, I almost stopped writing completely when someone once challenged me to “leave Jesus out of the novel” so it could get published more easily!

I also try to point kids to the idea that reading the Bible is an amazing adventure. One of my happiest moments since the books were released was a day in my public school library when two girls (who had just finished reading Sophie’s Quest) began crying over who would get to check out the only real Bible we had at the time. To me, that meant “Mission accomplished!”

I would have to agree with you, Sonja! Thank you for sharing your heart with us today.

To learn more about Sonja and her fantastic book visit:

Amazon Author Page

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Finding Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Good morning! For this month’s theme, I chose the word peace. Who doesn’t appreciate a little peace? I know I do! But what about those times when peace seems to allude us even when we’re doing all the right things? You know, those times when we’re showing symptoms of Martha syndrome.

For example, as vessels, we are in need of filling. If we’re filled to the brim with everything around us, we have no room for the things of God. Empty, we have nothing to offer those we meet along the way. That is why we must take the time to rest, rejuvenate, and connect with the Prince of Peace.  Such was a time for me this past week!

As I pondered on this month’s posts, colorful visitors kept dropping by to say hello. Less than ten feet outside my office window, their bright colors kept catching my eyes and diverting my attention from the monitor. It was as if the Creator was inviting me to come away for a moment and enjoy His gifts.

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song of Songs 2:10-13

Mama Flycatcher CHW-1

O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Song of Songs 2:14

At times, finding peace is as easy as changing our focus.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31

Perfect Tree Canopy CHW-1

Sometimes, it’s as close as lying beneath the shade of an oak contemplating our blessings.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights… James 1:17

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Peace can be as close as our backyard!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalm 19:1

 Sunset 3-1

Such wondrous beauty we often forfeit when we fail to take the time to appreciate God’s gifts. Creation is a testimony of His greatness. Take a look around and drink your fill. I promise you won’t leave thirsty!

What are some things you do, other than reading your Bible and praying, to connect with the Prince of Peace? Let me know in the comments!

 

Trust His Heart

Rainbow TreeThis weekend I was reminded of God’s faithfulness to His children as I watched my friend smiling and laughing with a friend he hadn’t seen since his surgery. It was a happy reunion as the two—like school boys—caught up on old news.

Both are walking testimonies. Both have had open heart surgery. The elder—in his eighties—has been in and out of the hospital this past year. Twice, we’ve feared for his life. Yet God decided his journey wasn’t over. The younger, not feeling well, was diagnosed with a 100% blockage of the widowmaker earlier this year. Needless to say, God was truly the strength of his heart. He is doing well. Thank you for your prayers.

On the other hand, I’ve watched several family members grieve the loss of a loved one who unexpectedly slipped from this world. Yet, through their struggles, God is still faithful in the midst of their heartache.

Why does He choose to leave some, while others are taken? I don’t know. But, I do know one thing. He has my best interest at heart. He loves me and wants the very best for me. So, with each heartache comes a choice. Do I trust Him when I can’t see His purpose?

Easy? Sometimes. Other times, not so easy. At times, trusting Him has been the hardest thing to do. But through my heartaches, I’ve held on to His promises like a drowning man clinging to a life-preserver.

His ways are higher

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

I am not alone

“for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5b

I will find comfort in Him

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:18

I will see my loved one again

Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life:” John 11:25

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” 1 Thessalonians 4:16

I have hope

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Yes, I have hope in Him. I may not always see His hands or know His thoughts. But I can always trust His heart.

 

 

 

Steal, Kill, and Destroy Part 2

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The first time I heard Annie Johnson Flint’s story was during a Gaither Homecoming program. Gloria Gaither told the story of a courageous woman who supported herself through writing, even though she was stricken with debilitating arthritis that eventually left her an invalid.

In the end, when she couldn’t hold a pencil, she held a piece of chalk and wrote on a board suspended above her bed.

When you read Annie Johnson Flint’s poems, you do not hear “Woe is me” in her verses. What you hear, is a steady peace, an active joy, and a quiet trust. Annie learned faith as a child, as a woman she learned to trust.

The difference?

Faith believes God can, while trust rests in knowing He will. Many have learned faith, but struggle with trust. “I believe God can do it; I just don’t know if He will.”

And there’s the problem.

When my peace is disturbed, my joy dwindles. My focus turns inward. I no longer offer sacrifices of praise, but worship at the altar of self. My trust waivers. I question God. How long? Why? When? Will You?

Jesus never lied to His listeners. He promised troubles and tribulations. But the object is to overcome them, not be overtaken by them.

Annie knew that joy, like peace, is a fruit. It isn’t found in happy circumstances.

It’s found in Christ Jesus. It is proof of His Spirit working in our lives. It is us decreasing, Christ increasing.

Annie understood.

When the winds of adversity blew, rocking her to and fro, Annie, like a tree used it to her advantaged and sent her roots deeper into the softened soil. She raised her limbs heavenward and soaked in the Son. She drank the water of the Word and ate of the Bread of Life. She did not bend to self-pity but was strengthened by God’s Spirit. Her fruit remains with us today, a testimony to His faithfulness. And what a testimony it is!

What God Hath Promised~ Annie Johnson Flint~ Public Domain

God hath not promised skies always blue;

Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;

God hath not promised sun without rain,

Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God promised strength for the day,

Rest for the labor, light for the way,

Grace for the trials, help from above,

Unfailing kindness, undying love. Read more here

You can read more about Annie Johnson Flint by searching her name or her poems and songs, What God Hath Promised and He Giveth More Grace.

XOXO

Gail

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Steal, Kill, and Destroy

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 KJV

 

Wave Ivan Aivazovsky public domain

Wiki Commons

Worry is often like a trebuchet’s projectile against a castle wall. An unexpected problem explodes in my life and sends my world careening. The invading circumstance steals my peace and imprisons my joy. Furthermore, if I allow it to continue disrupting my thought life, it threatens my trust as I become dissatisfied with my circumstances and begin questioning God.

Worry verb (used without object), worried, worrying. 1. to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. 3. to torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague 4. to seize, especially by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another Dictionary.com

After reading the definition, I envisioned worry as a predator. Have you ever felt as if something had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go? I have. Until I realized the goal of the enemy is to destroy me, but the Lord promised me an abundant life filled with the fruits of the Spirit, including joy and peace.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Peace is a fruit, and it must be cultivated. It doesn’t just pop up from the earth. Neither does it mean having my world in perfect order. It’s thinking differently about my world. Rather than dwelling on my problem, I ponder on Him and His promises.

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Doubt doesn’t line up with the Word, so I must discipline my mind to think of good things. Jesus didn’t doubt His Father’s love or ability to take care of Him. I must do the same. When I do, I will have peace in my spirit although the storm rages about me.

And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

“The better we understand God’s Word, the more comfort we find in it. The darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible

God has promised us true peace that can only be found in Him. Do you know that peace?

 

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