The Beautiful Heartbeat of Jesus

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As many of my friends, and even some of my writer fans know, I love reading books by Beth Moore. I have also done a few of her bible studies with my ladies bible study group. And there is a moment from time to time when there is a line she has written that just resonates deep within me; a line or phrase that touches the inner sanctum of my spirit; a word or two that gives me a new perception of a bible verse or incident.

This happened once again only a few days ago. I am reading Beth Moore’s Portraits of Devotion. On page 136, Beth is describing what John the Baptist must have thought and felt when he was summoned to baptize Jesus. “…I consented, shaking all over. I placed my left hand on His back and my right hand on His chest. I felt the heartbeat of the Son of God.” Wow! Does that give you chills as it does me? I never, ever, thought of Jesus’ baptism from the point of view of John the Baptist.

Imagine being that close to our Savior and feeling His heart beating; pulsing under your fingertips. The thought overwhelmed me a few days ago and has, in fact, stayed with me ever since I read that passage. And the more I think of it, the more I realize I did feel His wondrous heartbeat…in my three children when they were born and first laid upon my chest. Even before they were born, I heard their hearts beating during several ultrasounds. How blessed we are as mothers to receive such a gift as those precious heartbeats. And to take the thought even deeper, did Mary, the mother of Jesus giggle when the unborn Savior rolled over in her womb? Did she keep her hand on her belly for long periods of time just embracing the little kicks? I cannot believe otherwise.

Am I in awe of John the Baptist and his closeness to the heartbeat of the Son of God? Absolutely! But I realize also, that God did not only give that heartbeat to John the Baptist to feel. God gave it to all of us.

Blessings!

Christine Maria Jahn

Forgotten Children

As I thought about what I should say in my blog post tonight, I reflected on a conversation I’ve been having frequently with coworkers, family, and friends. My discussions always begin like this: “What is happening to our society that children are dying terrible heatstroke deaths because their parent(s) say they forgot their child was in the car?”

 
REALLY?!?!?

 
Seriously…how can you forget you have a child in the car? Especially mothers. How can you, in all honesty, say you did not remember your infant was in his/her car seat? You gave birth to that baby. Does the infant mean so little to you?

 

According to http://www.kidsandcars.org, there have been seventeen children who have died so far in 2014 from being left inside a hot vehicle with closed windows. Seventeen beautiful, precious gifts from God have been sent home too early because of neglect, ignorance, carelessness, and just plain stupidity. That is seventeen too many.

 
I cannot seem to comprehend how this tragedy keeps occurring over and over and over. It not only saddens me, but it angers me. Words are difficult to find for this post. My head hurts from the struggle of trying to rationalize any reason for this to take place. I have seen several news casts where both a prosecutor and defense attorney or asked to explain what steps they would take to reason with the jury if this was their case. My heart still aches from hearing a defense attorney state that the parent or parent(s) had too much on their minds, or they were in a hurry to get to work and forgot to drop their child off at day care, etc., etc., etc.

 
Come on moms and dads…if you are in a situation where you don’t want to be a parent any longer, there are thousands upon thousands of couples who would love to adopt an unwanted child. Your child did not ask to be born, and I’m very certain your child is not asking to die by means similar to baking a loaf of bread in the oven. Take that child to a local hospital, police station, a friend, a coworker, anywhere…but PLEASE don’t leave that child in the car. That is a most evil and deviant way to rid your life of a child.

 
And to society in general…don’t be afraid to look inside windows as you walk by parked cars. If you hear something, or heaven forbid, see something, don’t be afraid to react to the situation. It could mean life or death for a child left behind, whether by accident or on purpose.

 
Blessings to the seventeen little angels who have been taken from this world. You are now with the best babysitter a child could ever have…Jesus. And blessings to the children who are still in its presence. May God watch over you all, each and every day.

 

Christine Maria Jahn

51st London Book Bench

Very cool. I have seen some of the benches and the artwork is beautiful. Although, I must be honest, and it pains me to say this, the bench depicting “Pride & Prejudice” is my least favorite. I was expecting that one to outshine the rest, but it did not. However, you may like the artwork. As for voting, I think it’s awesome that the public is being asked which literary story should be depicted next.

Perspectively Grateful

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Like most people in the world today, or at least in America, I live paycheck to paycheck. And like most people who live paycheck to paycheck, I do my share of whining about the bills I have and the luxuries I don’t have. I also dream and plan about what I would do if my novel would just sell “x” more copies or if the kindle version would just be downloaded “x” more times. And on and on it goes.

 
Then there’s always that one little thing that brings you back to being grateful for what you do have and what you don’t. And being a woman of faith, I know that when that little thing happens, it’s God telling me to stop complaining, because my life isn’t as bad as I think it is. In fact, there are times when God shows me that my life is awesome. This past Saturday was one of those times.

 
I sponsor a little girl, Maritza, who lives in Bolivia. When I knew I would be getting a tax refund this past February, I wanted to do something extra special for Maritza and her family. Not only did I give the monthly donation, but I gave an additional donation. I received a message that I would be sent pictures to show me what Maritza and her family bought with the extra money I had sent. Well, that was the beginning of February, and it is now the end of June. I thought surely, I would have received at least some type of communication by now regarding what they purchased. Impatience is not a good thing.

 
Well, this past payday I realized that I am in a financial bind. There will be very little money left until my next payday. Here we go again with whining about what bills needed to get paid and losing sight of what is truly important, not that paying bills aren’t important, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

 
Then in the mail this past Saturday I received a letter and pictures from Maritza’s father. What I read and saw turned around my perspective of what I have and don’t have 360 degrees. Maritza was standing next to a bag of flour, a bag of sugar, a very large bag of pasta noodles, and what really got to my heart, was the table and chairs behind her. In the letter, the father thanked me for giving them the means to buy those few staples so they would be able to make bread and have noodles for many dinners. But he also thanked me for letting them finally have a table and chairs so that they would no longer have to sit on the floor. Talk about having a moment when you can hear God say, “Stop complaining about your circumstances.”

 
So instead of how little money I have left from my paycheck, my new perspective is “wow, I have an apartment filled with furniture, three beautiful children, a car, a job, a published book, etc., etc., etc. So what if it might be a mac and cheese night with hot dogs or the 1000th night of having spaghetti, or tomato soup instead of steak; at least “I have” instead of “I don’t have.”

 
And God…You have great timing. For that, I am truly grateful.

 

Blessings!

Christine Maria Jahn

What is Your One Great Thing for 2014?

Andy Stanley posted a bible verse the other day: “I am doing a great thing and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3 NASB). It’s one of his favorite verses. So much so that he stated it’s on a plaque hanging in his house.

So what does this verse mean exactly? Why has Andy Stanley and his wife Sandra given it such prominence in their home? It’s actually quite simple. What it boils down to is this: what one thing do you need, want, or must work on that would add significance to not only your life, but increase the quality of your relationship with others.

There are those who think bible verses are too complex and therefore use that as an excuse to not read the bible or not use the bible as a guideline for their lives; when in fact, the opposite is true.

What a great verse from the book of Nehemiah. “I am doing a great thing and I cannot come down.” That great thing can be any number of possibilities. Do you want to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better student, a better mentor; perhaps you want to become a more disciplined writer, or a more disciplined dancer. Do you want to pay off a debt?

Whatever your one great thing is, the only way to accomplish that goal is to leave distractions out of the equation. Such as, cutting the time you’re on the internet in order to give your undivided attention to your children; or turning the television and all phones off while the family has dinner; or how about volunteering once a week or once every two weeks at a homeless shelter? How about forgoing that one or two cups of expensive coffee and putting the money towards that one debt you’re trying to pay off?

My one great thing for 2014? To become the most disciplined writer I can be. I let distractions such as facebook, emails, television, text messages, etc., invade what little personal time I have. Precious time that I will never get back. So starting today, my internet time in 2014 will be severely limited. I am thankful to God for giving me this desire to write. Therefore, it would be most grievous if I do not embrace it…if I do not try to nurture it the best way I can.

To become a more disciplined writer in 2014…that is my one great thing. What’s yours?

Why “NOT” Me?

I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time, but today something happened to inspire me. In fact, you could say I felt a “calling” to finally do so. Church service this morning was quite moving. Our regular pastor is away on a mission trip in Africa, so the youth pastor, Patrick Shaw, gave the sermon. What he did was give a poignant, heartfelt, honest, and very inspirational testimony. You see, on March 29th, Patrick Shaw, who is only 33, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon/Rectal Cancer.

He described the anger he felt when first diagnosed. The shock it was to him that knowing he had cancer at such a young age. The disbelief that this diagnosis he was given could not be real.

Then after thinking through what his life would be like with chemo and radiation, he stated that he realized he wasn’t afraid to die. He commented on how, and made it quite clear, that he hated having cancer, he didn’t have to like it, but he had accepted it as God’s plan for him. He quoted Psalm 139:13-16.

“For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” (NIV)

What was so raw about Patrick’s testimony today, is that he didn’t ask “why me?” He asked “why NOT me?” His faith in salvation is so strong, that he thanked God for choosing him over someone whose salvation was in question. He thanked God for choosing him because he knows where his true home is…and that is with the almighty Father in heaven. His faith has allowed him to not fear death.

It touched me deeply. How many times do we all ask God the question Patrick refused to ask, “why me?” It puts a different perspective on any situation when you add the word “NOT” to the question. The bible says we are to praise God in all things, both good and bad. To be honest, I could never understand why we should praise Him in bad times, but I did. With Patrick’s testimony today, his words gave me encouragement and helped me to understand better why we should praise God in all situations, without questioning His plans for us. Because without trials and tribulations, how can we see the wonder that is God?

As Patrick stated, he does not have to like it…we do not have to like it. But we must accept whatever happens in our lives as God’s plan. His son Jesus suffered, horribly. Who are we to say then that we should not suffer?

God is waiting for us. He is watching. And listening. Do we accept his predetermined plans? Or do we…do I…refuse to accept it? Patrick’s strong faith has given him peace to accept whatever may be his outcome. He could be one of God’s miracles; his tumor disappears, and he lives to be 100. Or his tumor may not disappear. Regardless, Patrick is at peace with God’s plan. And isn’t that what true faith is…that we accept whatever God has in store for each and every one of us. For if we refuse to accept His plan, then we are refusing God’s promise of salvation.

Prayers and blessings to all,
Christine Maria Jahn

Downton Abbey: A Writer’s Aspiration

Downton Abbey fans are not in good humor this morning. Actually, most were upset after last night’s airing of the season 3 finale. And understandably so. After all, a main character has been killed off. A character all Downton Abbey fans have loved since his first appearance. Matthew Crawley is no more. Which surprised many since only a couple of weeks ago another beloved character exited Downton Abbey: Lady Sybil Crawley.

It has become known that the two actors portraying these characters did not want to renew their contracts in order to pursue other acting roles. That is their choice no matter how angry Downton Abbey fans get regarding the demise of those delightful characters. But what is more important here is why are we upset in the first place? What has driven us to be so vocal towards the unfavorable decision of the series writer?

Two words: Emotional Connection.

And isn’t that what we want from any fiction novel we read?  And hope to achieve with any poem, short story, or novel we write? Yes, perhaps the characters could have been sent away on a trip, only to be brought back at a later time should the actors decide to return to the series. However, doing so would not have moved the story forward; the characters of Tom Branson and Mary Crawley would somehow have remained stagnant. Julian Fellowes took a risk, but a risk that I believe will create a new depth to Downton Abbey.

A retired English professor had let me read an interview clipping he kept from many years ago of William Faulkner. To sum up the article, this Nobel Prize-winning novelist stated that a writer must keep the reader wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. He used the word suspense. When you think about it, it goes hand in hand with achieving that emotional connection.

I hope I achieved that myself with my novel, Saving Alessandra; and I am working diligently to do the same with the sequels. Only time, and readers, will tell.

What are your thoughts? Please share them, whether about Downton Abbey or your own writing goals. I would love to read them.

Christine Maria Jahn

Embracing Culture Around the World

Recently I was watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, House Hunters International, and suddenly realized that when immigrants from other parts of the world move to the United States, we expect, and want, them to embrace our ways. However, when Americans (not all, but many) relocate to other countries, we think differently. But why should we not enforce the same expectations upon ourselves? After all, do we not owe a foreign country and culture the same respect we so prominently and ferociously believe should take place on our own soil? Allow me to clarify.

A couple relocates for either a job transfer or to give their children a cultural experience. Yet when looking at apartments and houses, the couple/family want American size rooms and American style floor plans. If you are there to experience a different culture, then embrace it.

If the realtor tells you that it’s not customary for an apartment to have a separate laundry room, rather it’s the norm in their quaint city to have a washer in the kitchen, then accept what he/she says. Do not argue and say that it’s a deal breaker. And it’s not the end of the world if  the bedroom is not big enough to fit king size furniture or if the yard is not big enough to fit an Olympic size swimming pool.

So many times I wish I could reach through the television screen and just smack some sense into these people. Some of you probably just said, “well that’s harsh.” And I know it is, but if I had the opportunity to live abroad in Italy, Brussels, or my personal dream, the Cotswolds in England, I would never have the audacity to expect that my way of life here in America could, or should, be expected there. It would be very shallow of me to think that a foreign country should roll out the red carpet and change their normalcy for me.

So to all who are thinking of living abroad to experience a different culture (myself included), please remember to EMBRACE and RESPECT the country and ways of that country, no matter how different it may be.

If you have lived abroad, feel free to post your comments of where and what was the most difficult adjustment. If not, where would you like to live if given the opportunity?

Love and Blessings!

Christine Maria Jahn